In today’s lesson we begin a new series on VOIP services for your business with the first step in that process, choosing your business phone number. Which is best: a local phone number, 800 number, or vanity number? Here’s what you need to know!
What phone number should your business use?
Before we dive into the details on this topic, we suggest you check out Nextiva, our recommended small business phone service provider. Nextiva offers excellent customer support, easy setup, company stability and risk free 30-day money-back guarantee. Visit Nextiva to learn more.
Business Phone Number Options
Local Business Phone Number
If you’re already in business, you probably have a local phone number that was assigned when you originally purchased your phone service. The 3 digit area code that starts that phone number is associated with the “owner of the phone number” being located in a specific geographic location.
800 Phone Number
While called and 800 number, the area code can be 800, 877, 866 or others. The number indicates that the caller will not be charged for the phone call by their phone company. The number is not associated with a specific geography.
Vanity Phone Number
A vanity phone number is one can be communicated using words. For example, 1-800-TELEPHONE, is a vanity number. The actually number is 1-800-835-3746, and is not very memorable. However, when translated into words the number is easy to remember and recall. Traditionally, vanity numbers are associated with 800 numbers.
The Pros Of A Vanity 800 Business Number
- Free is always good. Even in an age where many people have unlimited minutes, the idea that a call is costing the company money instead of the customer can be powerful.
- Easy to remember and recall. This is perhaps the most important benefit of the number. If you are advertising using traditional mediums like radio and television, the person watching or listening is unlikely to remember a combination of 10 “random” numbers. (See our articles on radio and TV advertising here.)
- You appear large. A vanity 800 number can give the appearance of being larger and more established entity, with a national footprint.
Here is good article by Scott Richards in support of using an 800 number.
The Cons Of An 800 Number
- The business will pay for calls made to 800 number. For example, Ring Central (a popular VOIP phone services for business) charges 3.9 cents per minute on several of their pricing plans. In addition, there is generally a small fee for setting up an 800 number.
- Using an 800 number may limit your search engine traffic. One of the factors which google considers when generating search results is where the business is located. Those with a local number listed on their website (and google + page) have an advantage when the person conducted the search is nearby or types in a location. (Read our article on how to rank your small business website in google here.)
- People associated 800 numbers with being on hold and bad customer service. How long did you have to wait to speak to a person the last time that you dialed an 800 number to get an answer to a question?
There are obviously both pros and cons to having an 800 business phone number. However, so far this article has presented very little hard data on which is better. In a fairly extensive internet search, I only came up with one article which attempted to answer the following question:
Which is likely to generate more sales calls, an 800 number or a business phone number?
Ads with local phone numbers in print yellow page ads, received twice as many calls as those ads with 800 numbers.
You might say that the population that looks at Yellow page ads are older and perhaps not representative of the population, which has switched to online searchers.
For internet yellow pages (IYP), ads with local numbers generated around 33% more phone calls than those with 800 numbers.
The study was conducted by CRM Associates and included data from over a thousand 800 numbers across a wide range of business categories. The author of the study did express an opinion as to why the local number did better:
The reason why ads with 800 numbers fail to receive high call volumes in both print and online media is because of the general negative reaction of customers to an 800 number. Such a number suggests the following: “not a local business”, “call centre”, “long waiting queues”, “less personal service”, “automated voice systems”
– Doctor Dennis Fromholzer, CRM Associates
That’s our article for today. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below. Also be sure to stay read the next article in this series where we discuss how to set up your small business VOIP.