Your mobile marketing: How vanity phone numbers are integral to call commerce and increasing O2O conversions.

It is no longer up for debate: inbound phone calls are an important and increasingly valuable lead form. A recent study by BIA/Kelsey shows that calls convert to sales 10-15 times more than web leads. Thanks to smartphones, mobile calls to businesses are now totaling 85 billion annually with trends indicating that this number will swell to a staggering 169 billion by 2020. Mobile calls currently account for $1 trillion in U.S. consumer spending.

Calls are the primary form of contact in high-value and sensitive transactions. For these reasons the value of these leads will continue to grow, particularly because of today’s on-demand economy. Put simply, people want instant answers through human interaction. They want to have a quick and easy sales and customer service experience. This is why, according to a recent Accenture study, eighty-three percent of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues and get advice related to making purchases.

So where do vanity phone numbers fit in this equation?

Historically vanity numbers have served as easy-to-remember marketing tools, designed to ensure businesses got the highest response possible from their advertising (which is easier to remember 586-246-1180 or 1-800-MECHANIC?). While still serving that purpose today, their use has matured to accommodate today’s digital marketing needs.

The cornerstone of call commerce is call analytics. In order to have these analytics, advertisers will use different phone numbers in their digital advertisements to determine where each call came from and how the business interacted with that caller. The advertiser gets the satisfaction of knowing where each call came from, but ultimately their advertising dollars stop there, and little to no lasting branding is accomplished. This is because a different phone number in each ad doesn’t leave a lasting impression in a potential client’s mind.

Despite the most obsessive data gathering efforts, people are still more likely to buy based on marketing that has drilled something into their memories, such as a great jingle or an unforgettable phone number. 1-800-CONTACTS, 1-800-FLOWERS, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK demonstrate this by still being #1 in their respective industries. Their memorable phone numbers give them an advantage online and offline. Even companies that are more digitally oriented utilize these numbers. 1-800-GO-FEDEX, 1-800-SAMSUNG and 1-800-MY-APPLE are used by their respective companies to stay top of mind.

Circling back to how vanity numbers fit into today’s digital landscape and call commerce, the key is combining Dynamic Number Insertion with an unforgettable vanity number. Dynamic phone number insertion (DNI) is a process that marketers use to measure the impact of digital efforts on inbound phone calls. When a lead clicks through to your site from any advertisement, DNI technology displays a number that’s unique to the specific search engine, web page, keyword or other source.

Currently, companies lacking a vanity number will simply display a different phone number on every ad. But with a vanity number you have the best of both worlds because the vanity number is always displayed no matter what the ad is. When the consumer decides to click the ad and call, they are actually dialing a tracking number instead of the vanity number shown (the click-to-call hyperlink dials the tracking number). So the consumer sees the vanity number, remembers it, but where the call came from is still accounted for.

This is important for multiple reasons: first, digital ads featuring a vanity phone number receive 33% more clicks than random phone numbers. Second, a business won’t have to sacrifice their brand and advertising dollars for the sake of call tracking. And finally, with regard to O2O conversions (online to offline) consumers can recall the vanity number when they are no longer online which increases the likelihood of sales and referrals, because they don’t have to go back online to retrieve contact information. Thus avoiding exposure to online competitors.

Vanity numbers boil down to marketing’s essence, which is getting the consumer’s attention and making sure they remember you. Now you can do it digitally and in traditional media without sacrificing branding.

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