Vanity numbers, despite what the name suggests, aren’t just for show. A survey of over 1,500 people found that vanity phonewords (i.e. phone numbers that spell out words) had recall rates 84% higher than those of numeric phone numbers. That can make a world of difference when your number’s going on an ad that people see or hear for just a few seconds.
Getting a vanity toll-free number can be a great strategic move. Many businesses run into a common obstacle, though: all the good numbers seem to be taken.
If you find yourself struggling to think up a vanity number because your first, second and third choices were all taken, don’t fret. Vanity numbers offer a lot of possibilities for businesses willing to get creative.
Here’s how to choose the best vanity numbers (that aren’t already taken):
Start with benefit, not brand
Unless your brand is already widely known (e.g. Pizza Hut or Fedex) you’re better off choosing a number based on your products or services. Simple terms that speak directly to what your customers need will be easy to recall. There’s a reason 1800-FLOWERS is one of the most common examples of a vanity number.
Alternatively, you can choose a number based on why your customers might call it. This could either be the benefit they expect or the problem that would lead them to call. McAFee’s VIRUS-NO phoneword took the first route, though somewhat awkwardly. Law firms typically get creative with the second, choosing phonewords like HURT-NOW.
Unique selling proposition
When you’re marketing your brand, it’s only natural to think of things that set you apart from your competitors. Why not take those ideas and use them to come up with your business phone number?
A moving company might take 1800-MOVERS, but what about 1800-BIG-MOVE or 1800-MOVE-NOW? This type of naming scheme makes you choose combinations of short but effective words, which are a good fit for vanity numbers.
Stick to simple spelling
Speaking of short and effective, when choosing a phoneword, avoid anything that’s difficult to spell or that might be confused for another word. If you’re worried you’re picking an ambiguous word, look up a list of homophones (i.e. words that sound the same but have different spellings and/or meanings) and avoid any words on it.
Be careful about mixing digits
Vanity numbers are effective because words are much easier to recall than numbers, especially when they’re shown in context (e.g. with an ad or message to go along with them). When you add numerals or digits to your vanity number, you risk losing that benefit.
There are two exceptions to this. First is, obviously, the prefix. 1800 is widely recognised as a toll-free prefix, so it doesn’t really strain people’s memory. The second exception is digits that are used as words (coincidentally, also an exception to avoiding homophones). 2 and 4 are often used to replace “to” and “for,” allowing for more phoneword possibilities.
Got an idea? Don’t delay!
Getting a vanity number doesn’t take long. Specific phonewords could be purchased at any moment, so if you’ve got your eye on one, it’s best to act fast!