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Creating a Perfect Vanity Toll-Free Number with Neuroscience

Posted by Natalie DeCario on May 8, 2014 at 6:12 AM
Natalie DeCario

“Consumers have a 57.6% average higher recall rate of vanity 800 numbers over URLs: Respondents find it easier to recall a vanity 800 number over a URL after listening to ads featuring both response tools.” That stat was taken from a 2011 survey on Toll-Free Vanity 1-800 Numbers vs. Numerical Phone Numbers and URLs in Advertising. That means that a little more than half of your potential customers are more likely to call a memorable Toll-Free number than visit a URL.

Do you have a great Toll-Free number lined up for your business? If you do, that’s great. If not, continue reading and we’ll give you some tips straight from the neuroscientists!

What makes a good Toll-Free number?

Accomplishing this sounds simple enough, right? Well actually, yes. When deciding on your vanity Toll-Free number, you want to pick something that your potential customers are going to be able to remember not only for the short term, but for the long term. The trick is to create a number the will stick with people because it’s something they can associate with something else that is already known.

Association with a vanity Toll-Free number means that instead of advertising 1-800-438-8647, you’re using 1-800-GET-VOIP. If you noticed, those numbers (438-8647) make up the words “GET VOIP” if you’re looking a number pad. When you do something like this, it’s going to stick with people and they’ll actually remember it. If you don’t create a number that is memorable and people can’t associate it with anything then they’re going forget it as soon as something else pops into their head. We’ll talk more about how association is the key to making a successful vanity Toll-Free number further into this article.

Creating a Perfect Vanity Toll-Free Number with NeuroscienceThe last thing to remember when creating a vanity Toll-Free number is to make sure it describes what your company does. This one might seem obvious, but you don’t want to get too caught up in creating a highly unique number that you lose sight of making something simple and easy to remember.


What can a good vanity number do for your business?

One of the best things about getting a vanity Toll-Free number is that it actually adds more value to your business. Let me tell you a few reasons why this is so. The first is that it adds a professional look and higher level of credibility. A well thought out number will make your business look well put together and in the end your customers will trust you more.

Another great benefit to choosing a top notch vanity Toll-Free number is that it is going to increase your customer response rate. Did you know that by adding a vanity number in your advertising campaigns will increase the response rate 10 times more than if you were to use only a set of numbers? That means more people are aware of your brand and your services and they’re going to want to buy your services. Not only do vanity numbers bump up your customer response rates and increase sales, but they also make for some fun advertising!

What do you do if your perfect Toll-Free Number isn’t available?

Let’s say that you’ve done your planning and you’re ready to purchase your awesome vanity Toll-Free number. Unfortunately, when you try to get the number, you realize that it’s not available and you have to go back to the drawing board. You still have a few different options to work with to create a backup number.

This first alternative would be to use repeating digits rather than a word. They may not be as effective as a full-fledged vanity number, but if you’re in a pinch they’ll do a great job. By choosing the right combination of meaningful numbers or set of repeating numbers you’re still creating something that people can associate with something else. After all, association is the key to remembering things in long term memory!

The second alternative would be to look into Shared Use Routing. If you attempted to dial 1-800-GET-VOIP you would always get the same company even if you were in different locations since most 1-800 numbers are nationwide. The benefit of utilizing Shared Use Routing is that it means multiple companies can use the same number if they’re in different parts of the country. Your call would be directed to the company that’s closest to the location you’re calling from.

The last alternative to using a regular vanity number would be overdialing. You might have wondered why numbers like 1-800-MICROSOFT have become so popular and recognizable; overdialing is the reason. Overdialed numbers have more numbers than the traditional phone number would have, but they make more sense to people in the long run. When Microsoft was coming up with their vanity Toll-Free number, they probably didn’t want to lose the value of their name so overdialing was the best option for them and it might be for your business too! One thing to keep in mind with overdialing is that you still want to keep the words short. No one wants to try and dial 1-800-YOU-NEED-TO-BUY-OUR-VOIP-SERVICES-TODAY-BECAUSE-THEY-ROCK.

What are the neuroscientists saying about Toll-Free numbers?

Now it’s time to get into some of the really cool neuroscience stuff! This isn’t going to be a detailed dissertation on the neuroscience behind choosing the perfect vanity Toll-Free number. This is just a basic overview of what happens the first time a potential customer hears or sees your awesome number.

Working memory, a phonological loop and association (I told you we’d get into this later on!) are three key factors in determining whether or not your number will be remembered. That little voice that you hear in your head is what the neuroscientists call your working memory and it is the core component of consciousness. Once a message is received in your brain, it needs to end up in your short term or long term memory. If you create a generic number that people can associate with anything then you run the risk of it being trapped in the phonological loop, which is when something that the voice in your head repeats over and over again.

Creating a Perfect Vanity Toll-Free Number with NeuroscienceWhile you might think you have a firm handle on repeating that number, if you get distracted even for a second, the number is gone. Did you know that your working memory can really only handle four pieces of information at a time? If you decided to go with a generic number, people are going to need to remember each individual digit and that gets you to your maximum working memory capacity. Unfortunately in this case, the success of that number generating a call back and sale is looking to be slim.

If you want your number to really stick with a person and make it past their short term memory to land happily in their long term memory, then you need to focus on association. If you create a number that people can easily associate with something else, then it won’t be stuck in the phonological loop taking up valuable space in the working memory. Instead it will be remembered, stored and ultimately won’t be lost due to competing information. THIS is how you’re going to increase your responses and drive sales up like never before!

Tips to keep in mind when selecting your Toll-Free Vanity Number:

  • Avoid unique spellings – Don’t make people work too hard to remember your number. There shouldn’t be confusing number or letter combinations; just keep it simple and you’ll be successful.
  • Avoid hybrid numbers – A hybrid number is when you mix number and letters, other than the 1-800 piece. An example of this would be using 1-800-438-VOIP instead of 1-800-GET-VOIP. It goes back to keeping things simple for people to remember.
  • Don’t limit yourself – There are more Toll-Free area codes available for you to use other than 1-800, but keep in mind that that is the most common one for people to recognize. Other area codes available for you to use are 888, 877, 866 and 855. In December 2013 the area code 844 was added and soon enough you’ll be seeing 833 and 822 becoming available. If you want more information on the Toll-Free area codes, check out this post we did in December!

This post was inspired by an awesome article written by Craig Borowski, a VoIP and Telecommunications Researched from Software Advice, called Want a memorable Toll-Free Number? Ask a Neuroscientist. Craig’s reasoning for choosing this topic is simple: “Already a couple of decades into the digital age, it's easy to forget that many businesses still make sales, handle inquiries and do business the old fashioned way: by telephone. The Internet has augmented many business functions which in the past were done solely by telephone, but it hasn't replaced any of them. With this in mind we set out to identify some tried and true marketing strategies from the world of business telephony. Toll-free vanity numbers were, not coincidentally, one of the first that came to mind.”

We hope you found this article to very informing and helpful when deciding on how to construct the perfect vanity Toll-Free number. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave us something in the comment section below!

Tags: Entrepreneurship

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