What Is A Vanity Number?
You’ve likely seen custom phone numbers on every imaginable platform: television, newspaper ads, billboards, social media, bus benches...
This explainer covers the following:
- What is a vanity number?
- Why vanity numbers still matter
- Features of a vanity phone number
- Examples of vanity numbers in different industries
- Benefits of vanity numbers
- Engagement campaigns for vanity numbers
- Success stories
- What to look for in vanity number providers
- Vanity number ideas
- Best practices for choosing a vanity number
- How to set up a custom phone number
What is a vanity number?
A vanity number is a phone number that contains a customized sequence of digits.
Vanity numbers are designed to be memorable for users. Some vanity numbers use repetitious numerals to be memorable, such as 1-800-777-7777. More often, the digits will correspond to spell out words on a phone keypad such as 1-800-FLOWERS.
Why vanity numbers are still relevant in business
Companies leverage vanity numbers to expand their client base, jumpstart engagement, and provide more accessible resources to their communities.
Even in a digital world, phone conversions remain higher than web leads, keeping phone conversations crucial to doing business. In some regions the phone makes a business more accessible to its target customers. For many industries, the phone is where leads build rapport with a business, ultimately becoming clients.
Features of a vanity phone number
There’s a few different types of vanity number options to choose from.
800 prefix numbers
800 numbers are the quintessential toll free numbers we all know and remember. Purchasing a number that has an 800 area code, ensures that callers are able to call you without incurring fees.
Once limited to 800 and 888, today toll free includes new prefixes like: 877, 866, 855 and 833.
Easy dial numbers
Numeric patterns and repetition make an ‘easy dial’ number more memorable than a standard number. They’re usually toll free, which also simplifies the memorization.
The number your business received from your local phone carrier might be (555) 729-0423. You could replace it with an easy dial sequence like 1-833-300-0000.
Phone numbers with a 3 digit area code unique to its geographic origin can be used to identify where a call is coming from, or where a business is located. These days, anyone can buy their local area code of choice–no matter where they physically do business.
A local area code can also be personalized for enhanced memorability. For example a hometown pizza joint in the Big Apple might have a vanity number like 212-NY-PIZZA.
National vs. local vanity numbers
When it comes to customizing your phone number, your two main choices of prefixes are either a local area code or a national area code. There are a few basic differences between them.
Accessibility: a national number is toll-free, which enables anyone to call from any phone, anywhere. This welcomes the widest possible customer base to reach your business.
Branding: a national number confers a level of scale and stability that appeals to your target audience. However, if your business prides itself on being a part of the local community, then a local number might make more sense for your brand.
Cost: Since a national number is toll-free, it may cost more to maintain. A local number is a one-time purchase.
Ownership vs. licensing: Once you’ve purchased a local phone number, it’s yours to keep. A toll-free number can not be owned, and must be licensed.
Location: No matter where your business is located, you can maintain the same national number. If your business moves to a different area code, a local number becomes less relevant to your customers as it loses the "local feel." If your business expands to new locations/offices RingBoost has local number options available for you in every area code in the United States.
Examples of industry-specific vanity numbers
Vanity numbers are ubiquitous across industries ranging from retail stores to healthcare to law and everything in between.
Here are some examples from industries that find success using vanity numbers:
When it comes to legal practice, people expect a lot of jargon and a lot of stress. For those reasons, many law offices turn to vanity numbers to help ease their clients’ experience. It’s also a great way to put the value proposition in an immediate way.
Reliability, accessibility, and reach are all huge assets for a real estate agent. Sellers need an agent who is visible in the community, and is able to act fast when opportunities arise. Vanity numbers can amplify those traits.
For home service professionals – plumbers, electricians, landscapers, roofers – a memorable phone number provides a competitive edge in an already competitive industry. If someone wakes up to a leaky roof, they’re looking for relief immediately – and that job might go to the first number they call…
The benefits of vanity phone numbers
The practical benefits of a vanity number are clear. A well-conceived vanity number is easily learned, shared, and used.
Building Building brand reputation
- Differentiates a business from competitors
- Builds trust by welcoming toll-free calls
- Creates continuity between branded campaigns
Improving user experience
- Makes it easy to get personalized support
- Lowers barriers to access
- Delivers a message and call-to-action in one
Boosting advertising response rates
- Makes word-of-mouth referrals easier
- Generates leads before they turn to internet searches
- Converts to revenue at a much higher rate than web leads
- Low startup costs promote ROI
- Easy implementation saves time
- Third-party management eliminates labor cost
Engagement campaigns for vanity numbers
Memorability is fundamental to effective phone number campaigns.
Perhaps you’ve seen this bumper sticker on trucks: “How’s my driving? Call 800-555-555.”
Similarly, major supermarket, pharmacy, and restaurant chains print toll-free numbers on the bottom of every receipt, encouraging customers to call in with feedback. Customers can provide rich insights for your operations team that might otherwise never be collected.
Local radio ads
A memorable phone number at the end of a radio ad will stick with listeners – just ask the team at Saddletree Homes. Setting out to dominate the local airwaves with their radio spots they added a vanity number to their call to action. The result? Sustained double-digit revenue growth.
As their marketing director said, “When you’re driving and hearing our radio spot, you don’t have a pen right there. We want people to remember us in a short time, and you can’t get better than 719-BUILDER.”
Celebrities have started giving out their ‘personal’ phone numbers on social media in recent years. Miley Cyrus set up a vanity number to promote an album. Of course, these lines don’t go directly to the celeb’s kitchen, but they still got a *lot* of calls.
A vanity number was even used to promote the cable t.v. show, Better Call Saul. See for yourself, by calling 505-503-4455.
Sometimes a company brand needs to be overhauled, and a vanity number is a good place to start. You’ve probably never heard of RBDS Rubbish Boys Disposal Service Inc. – but their vanity number 1800-GOT-JUNK is iconic. So iconic, in fact, that the phone number is now the company’s primary brand name.
The same approach worked for a small real estate business known as ‘Tom the House Buyer.’ Tom built a steady business for himself, but to reach the next level of success he knew he’d need a more recognizable name. So, Tom switched to 903-FOR-CASH and orchestrated a full rebrand with increased visibility.
Their brand recognition lives in their vanity number – which has also become their URL address.
Trying to stand out from competitors and the usual round of holiday-themed sales and mailers? A vanity number could be the hook that enables you to reel in more shoppers.
Especially for temporary seasonal goods – Christmas trees, Halloween costume shops – a toll-free number is an opportunity for customers to call in and confirm that you’ve still got the products they’re looking for. Think 866-XMAS-TREE.
Vanity number success stories
Successful small businesses and global corporations alike have created vanity numbers to boost their customer engagement.
Corporations with iconic vanity numbers
- 1800-FLOWERS – The national florist chain took on the popular phone number as their actual brand name
- 1800-WALGREENS – It’s hard to imagine Walgreen’s having any other phone number. (No matter that it’s more than 7 digits.) For rural Americans with limited internet access, this toll-free number provides a reliable way to locate a pharmacy and schedule crucial vaccinations.
- 1800-CONTACTS – Their memorable and accessible phone number doubles as a domain name and encourages repeat customers who have an easy means of refilling their contact lens prescriptions.
- 1800-GO-FEDEX – FedEx handles a stunning volume of parcels and customers 24/7/365. So their simple vanity number leads customers to a sophisticated, AI-driven answering service that enables efficient self-service.
- 1800-BEACHES – What the Beaches resort franchise lacks in brand name differentiation they made up impressively with platform branding by pairing this vanity number with the simple URL: beaches.com
What to look for in vanity number providers
When selecting a phone number provider to work with, consider the following criteria to help you pick the best available choice.
Selection of available vanity numbers
Most traditional carriers have limited ability to search for custom phone numbers. Newer service providers, like VOIP, Google Voice, and virtual phone number companies offer a limited selection of generic numbers to choose from, but they’re typically not memorable or brand relevant.
Finding the perfect custom phone number for your brand is a whole lot easier with access to the largest searchable inventory on the market. Using RingBoost’s database of available phone numbers gives you access to an inventory of millions of local and toll free options at your fingertips.
Vanity number pricing
The price of a vanity phone number can vary wildly, depending on a few factors like: prefix or area code and popularity. Due to this, some businesses end up paying premium prices for their custom number, but RingBoost can find you the right number (and plan) at a price to fit whatever budget you’re working with.
Added calling features
Considering what essential features you will need for your phone line can help with choosing a provider capable of integrating them into your communications plan.
RingBoost offers valuable features with all tiers of their call-forwarding plans including:
- Real-Time Call Reporting & Analytics
- Call Notification Emails
- Caller ID Display
- Voicemail to Email
- Conference Bridge
- Multi Call Forwarding
- Simultaneous routing
Vanity number ideas
Generating viable vanity number ideas takes some strategy. Taking these actionable steps can help jumpstart your brainstorming.
1. Assess your brand goals and identity. Any decisions you ultimately make should be in line with your brand identity and support both long and short term goals.
2. Identify your target audience. Knowing who you want to reach can help you create a compelling message that hits the mark.
3. Browse by category to come up with fresh ideas.
4. Consult the experts for advice, a vanity phone number provider who understands the benefits of getting the right custom phone number will be able to offer their expertise in helping you reach your marketing goals.
Best practices for choosing a vanity number
Using a strategic approach to selecting a custom phone number will maximize its benefits.
You want to choose a word or phrase that embodies your brand or its appeal. Walgreens already has brand recognition, so using their name for the number makes perfect sense. For a less established pharmacy, it might make more sense to go with a call to action, like 1800-BUY-MEDS or 1800-4-RELIEF.
Keep it simple
Simplicity makes a number more memorable. Common language, short phrasing, and easily spelled words are a big help. For example, a personal injury lawyer named Ben Erickson could go with 1866-ERICKSON, but it might be simpler to go with 1866-CALL-BEN.
Avoid excessive numbers
If you’re going to use numbers in addition to letters, be careful. Too many numerals will make the number hard to recall. If your business sells pens, don’t settle for a vanity number like 1800-479-PENS. Instead, try to optimize it with another memorable word to fill that space, like 1800-PARTY-PENS. Even if it winds up longer than 7 characters, it’s worth it.
Have a back-up choice
Your first pick might not be available (though some numbers are shared-use). So be prepared with two or three amazing vanity number ideas as back-ups, just in case. That way, you can act on the marketing opportunities right away, rather than going back to the drawing board to find a new vanity number phrase – or, worse yet, abandoning the project altogether.
How to set up a custom number
Here are the steps you need to secure a new number:
1. Choose a number (and some alternates)
As mentioned above, putting time into the selection process pays off. Choose language that is simple, accessible, clever, and intimately tied with your brand’s value proposition. Make sure that the number you choose aligns with your greater marketing strategy – this includes your back-up vanity number ideas too.
2. Choose the best type of phone number for you
Evaluate your needs. Do you need a Local or national prefix? A vanity number, or a less customized, easy-dial number? Different businesses have different needs. Make sure you choose the best fit for your situation.
3. Decide on your calling plan needs
Will this new number connect directly to your in-house receptionist? Or will it go to a third-party reception service? Do you need caller ID or conference bridge capabilities? Knowing what kind of features you want, will help you find a provider who can seamlessly integrate them into your telecommunications plan.
4. Consult your current phone carrier
It’s worth checking with your current carrier to see what custom phone number options they have available for you. (Note: carriers don’t always have the most options.)
5. Work with a vanity number provider
For faster results, working with a professional vanity number provider (like RingBoost) gives you access to the largest inventory of relevant phone numbers, and omnichannel support every step of the way. A quality phone number broker can also offer you a wider range of pricing and plans.
6. Activate your new number
Activation is straightforward, but will require a few key decisions and a timeline to get it done. Here are your options:
- Port – this just means moving it from the carrier that owns the number, to yours. After purchase, you’ll receive simple instructions on how to do it. It’s not instantaneous and can take a few days, so be sure to have a plan in place to avoid missing calls in the interim.
- Pick a plan - RingBoost offers call forwarding plans to your phone line. This also works as a temporary solution while you wait for your new number to be ported.
- Park – if you’ve found the perfect number but aren't ready to make the switch just yet, parking allows you to purchase it and retain ownership for a fraction of the cost of a plan.
7. Promote your custom digits
Once you’ve chosen your new number and a carrier for it, you’ve entered a new era in your company’s marketing. Updating your website and marketing materials is the final step to implementing a vanity number.
Write new ad copy that showcases your new number. Vanity numbers can be used as the centerpiece of marketing campaigns across platforms, from radio to social media to personal branding. Tell the world!
RingBoost can help you find a vanity number for your brand
So, What Are You Waiting For?
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