5 Reasons to Rethink Your Telephone Number
The rise of social networking platforms and the autonomous rule of search engines have led marketers to prematurely declare the death of several forms of personal and mass communications. As search engines create a moving target for marketers, and Facebook and Twitter continue to appear more and more like the Wild West, marketers are scrambling for ways to generate business leads online.
By placing all of their eggs (marketing dollars) into one basket (online), marketers open themselves to the fickle nature of the Internet. Last month, Google changed its search algorithm, which immediately affected 12 percent of search results. Sites whose rankings rose to the top found that their traffic and revenue grew, but the adjustment had a negative effect on those that fell in the rankings, effectively shutting off their marketing pipelines.
Abandoning a balanced marketing approach with tried and true tactics, such as the telephone, can cause serious damage to your new business pipeline. Marketers need to resurrect certain tactics and evaluate the benefits of using a branded, vanity telephone number as a core component in their marketing plans.
1. Recall and Retention
Businesses like 1-800-FLOWERS and 1-800-HURTNOW have created extremely profitable businesses centered on vanity telephone numbers. We find consumers are more likely to recall a vanity phone number than a numeric phone number or URL. In fact, any type of advertising featuring a 1-800 vanity number generates a higher response rate—30 percent or more by modest estimates. In six years, Ohio-based lawyer Rob Nestico of Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC, grew his firm from five to 10 cases per month to 150 to 200 cases per month using the vanity toll-free number 1-800-HURTNOW in his marketing strategy.
2. Direct-to-Consumer Connection
A telephone lead provides a direct line of communication with a prospective customer. Internal sales and customer service teams are able to quickly identify opportunities to accelerate the sales process. Product sales made over the phone provide trained representatives an opportunity to upsell and lead a customer toward a direct purchase. On the flip side, when your potential customer is left to the Internet to find your product or service, they are more likely to also find the products and services of your competitors.
The telephone can allow businesses to avoid being part of the comparison shopping experience. A recent article in Ward's Dealer Business quotes Tony Giorgione of United Family Dealerships, a major car dealer in Las Vegas. He says 40 percent of the time, a properly handled phone call will result in a customer scheduling an appointment at the store. While these calls are brief, they allow the dealership to collect some basic information and contact details for their customer relationship management (CRM) database.
3. Custom One-On-One Engagement
A recent experiment by Fortune Magazine found that one-on-one customer engagement over the telephone is the most effective sales and customer service tool available. According to the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, 90 percent of consumers say that they use toll free numbers on a regular basis—creating a direct-to-consumer connection. Leveraging a branded, vanity phone number allows business owners to connect directly with individual consumers and communicate their brand's value proposition. Chip Perry, CEO of AutoTrader.com noted in Ward's Dealer Business that on average it takes 13.5 email leads to generate one car sale, compared with 8.5 phone leads. The keys to a successful phone call are for business representatives to answer quickly and willingly, be nice and knowledgeable, always collect contact information, and always try to cue the next action—whether that is closing a sale or scheduling an appointment.
4. Reaching All Prospects
There is still a percentage of the population without Internet access or with an aversion to it. Marketers who use only Web-related marketing tools are missing out on this large segment of prospects. Companies must ensure that the phone line is well-staffed during business hours. If a call goes unanswered, that is a lost opportunity. If a call is under 30 seconds, chances are the prospect was turned off by whomever answered the phone. Avoid having entry-level employees answer calls.
Vanity phone numbers can be enhanced with other phone-based marketing tools, such as SMS messaging. You can add services that will send text message coupon codes to prospects who opt-in, or prompt the user with an option to enter a contest. This also allows you to create a CRM database and begin to track when people are calling your number, from where, and the types of offers they are or are not interested in.
Paul Faust is vice president of business development at Primary Wave Media, a Pleasantville, N.Y.-based provider of toll-free vanity telephone numbers and marketing packages. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.