Confusion, Chaos and Good Intentions – When Marketing Backfires

Hybrid phone number. Partial vanity. Whatever you call them, business phone numbers that mix letters and words are BAD for sales. Numbers like 888-423-PAIN just don’t work, and produce far worse results than just using a regular phone number. 800-HURT-911 and 866-4-Cookies are the rare exception, can you think of any other variations like these?

Just look at the photo below. Not only is the toll free number totally confusing, but they include another number immediately below it, making it even more difficult for the person trying to read it. Investing in a high quality toll free business line is essential to your brand and your bottom line. You don’t want your customers to remember the competition.

confusing 800 number

Often is the case that someone will try to make their marketing more effective but what ends up happening is the opposite. Here are some examples that we’ve documented to show you what we’re referring to.


Here’s an examples of something truly confusing to consumers, trying to create a vanity phone number by using the numbers in the area code. The company above is using an 877 toll-free phone number and trying to use the last 7 of the area code as an “S”. Consumers just don’t understand these numbers and it make dialing them very confusing.

enterprise large

cropped - enterprise

The above is actually a great example of very good business phone number next to a very bad one. Enterprise obviously invested in their main phone number, 1-800-RENT-A-TRUCK, but was not as concerned about the number used to sell their trucks, 1-877-4-trk-sales. It is pretty clear which number is better, but you won’t believe the difference it actually makes. A bad partial or hybrid number like 4-trk-sales can result in 70% or more fewer calls, and that equates to a staggering loss in sales. The rules here are simple – complete phrases only: no abbreviations.

mich vet


The last two images are two examples of perfect vanity numbers. Easy to spell and direct. If you have questions or would like to learn more about good vs bad numbers gives us call.

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