Tips 74

Vanity 800 Numbers for Big Profits?  or Big Egos?

We've been investigating the true effectiveness of using vanity phone numbers such as 1-800-GATEWAY or 1-800-PETMEDS.

Many folks have thought that by building frequency with a memorable phone number or URL that you actually increase the overall number of inquiries and lower your cost of lead acquisition. The reasoning of course is that people remember the number more easily which translates to higher awareness and higher response.

It turns out that in direct-response categories that are need specific, such as legal for a car accident, this may not be true any more .

Recently, a local TV campaign for a famous attorney was pulled from the market after running for several years.  The long running campaign had featured a well-recognized vanity 800#. 

In its place, a series of generic 800 numbers were installed in order to track the effectiveness of individual stations within the market.  A funny thing happened...

When the advertising using the original vanity 800# was pulled, the number was expected to continue providing some residual traffic. At a bare minimum, this original 800# was expected to replace or be confused in the consumer's mind when they saw the new commercial.  They'd see the familiar commercial with 800-551-1234 but remember 800-VANITY-NUMBER.  Didn't happen. 

The volume of the vanity number dropped to zero within 5 days.

No drag affect.  No recall.  No residual benefit at all.

In this case, vanity numbers were serving only the lawyer's ego.

In the end, using individual 800 numbers to track the results of the media offered a 40% greater media efficiency over the vanity number.  It is estimated that this media tracking (not available from a vanity number) will save the client $400,000 in annual media expenses.  That's because with unique 800 numbers you can test day parts, programming, station effectiveness, and even compare markets against each other.

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