Tag Archives: strategies

Toll-Free Phone Numbers in Radio Direct Response Marketing

You want your radio direct response marketing campaign to have all the right tools to maximize response.  If you are trying to generate phone responses, then you want to use the best toll-free phone numbers you can.  What do I mean by “best?”  I mean phone numbers that are easy to remember and call.

Easy-to-remember phone numbers minimize misdials and increase response.  When selecting phone numbers for radio direct response marketing, here is what you should consider:

Toll-free area code – in the “old” days, there weren’t any area code choices.  All toll-free phone numbers were 800-numbers.  Although the demand for more toll-free numbers expanded the options to 888, 877, 866 and 855, the most desirable and recognizable area code is still 800.  Even if you have an 888 or 877 phone number in your radio advertising, there’s a chance that some listeners will dial 8-0-0.

Today it’s no longer easy to get good quality 800-numbers.  If you need to use a phone number that has one of the other toll-free area codes, then my recommendation (in order of preference) is to go with 888, then 866.  The problem with 877 is that the number 7 is two syllables long.  So when you repeat that number several times, it takes extra time out of your copy.

The last four digits – The best phone numbers have a simple structure or pattern in the last four digits.  The premium phone numbers are “hundred” series numbers – those that end with “00,” such as 8100, 2900, 5500, etc.  The next best are those with an easy repetition, such as 5522, 3344, 4242, etc.  Another desirable combination would be numbers in a sequence, such as 1234, 2468, etc.

Vanity numbers – Vanity numbers spell a memorable word when you translate the numbers for letters on the phone’s keypad.  If your phone number is an important component to your brand, and you will not be using multiple phone numbers for tracking, then a good vanity number may be perfect.

However, vanity numbers can be problematic too.  When you call a vanity number, it takes extra effort to find the letters on the keypad, which makes dialing more difficult.

You also need to be careful in selecting the vanity word you’ll be using.  The letters Q and Z are not on every phone, so avoid words with those letters.  And there can be a significant amount of confusion with the letter O versus the number 0.  If your vanity number has the letter O, you should expect that some percentage of your respondents will press the number 0 instead.  I think it’s best to avoid vanity numbers that have the letter O in the name.

Several years ago, a major consumer advertiser initiated a very expensive awareness campaign promoting their new customer phone number.  They selected a vanity number that was easy to remember.  Unfortunately, it included the letter O.  When it was announced, I decided to call it by using the number 0 instead of the letter O.  Imagine my surprise when the “misdialed” call was answered by one of their direct competitors!

If you are using toll-free numbers in your radio direct response marketing program, select phone numbers that are easy to remember and easy to call.  Since radio is a non-visual medium, it will improve your ability to generate inquiries and make your radio advertising work smarter.