In this guide all about toll free numbers, we outline all that business owners should know about toll free numbers. Plus, how to get these numbers so you can set your business up for optimal success.
What is a Toll Free Number?
Before we can dive into the benefits of toll free numbers and how to get one, we’ll explain what they are. Essentially, they are numbers businesses can use to provide a free way for customers to call them. This works by having the business cover the cost of all phone service fees. If you decide that you want to offer a toll free number, remember that you’ll be paying for these calls. Likewise, offering a free way for customers to call your business can be greatly successful as it can boost the number of calls to your business. Regardless of the industry you work in, toll free numbers can be a great asset for your business.
The History of Toll Free Numbers
1-800 numbers have been around since 1967. They’ve been effective for over 50 years in helping businesses better communicate with their customers. This means they have survived many years of advancing telecommunication technologies. This includes beepers, cell phones, and even highly versatile virtual phone numbers.
Until 1984, toll free numbers were all available only through the same company, The Bell Telephone Company. Up until this date, as a result of this monopoly, a 1 800 number for business was highly expensive. In 1984, a judge considered the impact of this monopoly. It was then ruled that the company should merge into regional establishments. This way, more businesses could utilize this asset and purchase these numbers for their use.
The Introduction of Vanity Numbers
Shortly thereafter this ruling, vanity phone numbers were introduced. Thus, giving businesses the ability to choose their own toll numbers which associate with specific alphabetic symbols on the keypad. And, also allowing them to become more memorable. For example, this meant you could now have a toll free number for a car wash business as 1-800-CAR-WASH (1-800-227-9274).
In 1994, another ruling sought to benefit businesses that use toll free numbers. This law allows businesses who have 800 numbers for business to keep their numbers if they switch carriers. Consequently, this leads the way for additional versatility when using these numbers in business. These benefits have been long-lasting, with effects that are still useful today.
The Addition of Prefixes
Finally, since 1994, more and more businesses began to see the benefits of using these numbers. Accordingly, the number of 800 numbers available was running out. Hence, the need for more toll free prefixes. As a result, more 800 prefixes were created to accommodate more numbers (888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833). Today, there are 7 different toll free number prefixes to choose from. And, each prefix offers over 10 million different phone number options. So, you can imagine the number of toll free numbers still in use and relevant today.
What are the benefits?
While toll numbers offer a no-cost way for customers to call businesses, there’s more to them than just that. However, providing a free way for current and potential customers to call your business is an advantage. This way, you’re likely to hear from them more often. And, have more chances to sell your products or services. But, besides that, they provide big advantages as far as marketing goes. Hence, the reason almost any major business has at least one of these numbers available for consumer use.
Giving Business a Central Location for Calls
Do you have a business with multiple locations? Or, do you have a business that runs primarily with the use of remote employees? If so, it can help to offer a central location, or phone number, for customer calls. This is best done by way of establishing a toll free business phone number. When you provide a toll free number for customers, they won’t have to search for the specific department they’re trying to reach. Or, a specific associate in a set location. Instead, they just have to dial the toll free number so they can route to the department or person they’re looking to find. Specifically, this makes calling a business less of a hassle. So, having a central business number can help to increase customer satisfaction efforts and make doing business easier.
Using Toll Free Numbers for Internet Marketing
When most people think of toll free numbers, they imagine a 1-800 number for business. However, nowadays, with fewer actual “800” numbers available, other toll number prefixes such as 877, 866, and 855 are being used very commonly. Even if you are less familiar with these newer prefixes, rest assured, they work just the same. If you are considering using your toll free number for marketing campaigns, it’s good to know that all prefixes of toll numbers can be utilized in website advertising efforts. Using specific numbers with specific campaigns gives you the ability to track exactly where traffic is coming in regard to each channel used. You can employ a different toll free number for each campaign; one for a landing page, one for social media, one for a running ad, and you’ll know directly where the traffic originated.
Toll Free Numbers and Call Tracking
Call tracking allows you to track phone calls made by customers from specific marketing campaigns. This way, you can effectively analyze marketing metrics to establish which marketing campaigns are effective. Additionally, it also indicates which endeavors you may be wasting your precious marketing budget on.
Toll free numbers are great for call tracking because they can be set up as virtual phone numbers. Essentially, virtual phone numbers use the internet for connection. Toll free numbers set up as virtual numbers have connectivity over the internet. Thus, giving them the capability to pair with call tracking software, which most businesses already have. For example, if you place a “click-to-call” toll free number on your PPC landing page, the calls you get from this specific advertisement can be recordable. As a result, you can better determine if the investment you’re making on this specific advertisement is worthwhile or not. The same goes for virtually any other type of online marketing campaign. So, if you’re looking to boost your internet presence, adapting toll free numbers isn’t a bad place to start.
Toll Free Numbers Allow for the Extension of Business Hours
Because toll free numbers can be set up as virtual phone numbers, they can also be set up with call forwarding. In essence, call forwarding is the capability to forward calls to a voicemail box or another phone line. So, for example, you could set up call forwarding on your toll free business number. Then, if someone were to call the number, the call would forward to another line. This gives your business greater mobility and you will determine exactly how you want your toll number to operate.
In most cases, call forwarding with toll free numbers is how big businesses offer 24/7 customer service support. Since businesses cannot offer available agents in the same location all day long, they forward the line at certain times of the day. This way, they can offer fresh and ready agents to answer customer support lines throughout the day. The result will be increasing customer satisfaction with better support and improving all-around business operations.
Getting a toll free number for your business is relatively easy. But, there are a few steps to follow if you want to get the most out of your toll free number. These are the steps to follow:
How to Get a Business Phone Number That’s Toll Free
Takes About 2 minutes
Steps on activating a toll free phone number.
The 7-day free trial will begin at this point, allowing you the opportunity to try out the service for up to 7 days, or a total of 132 minutes; whichever comes first.
Toll Number Vs. Local Phone Numbers
While toll free numbers are a great virtual phone number option, there is another choice for business owners. Local virtual numbers use specific area codes of certain locations. This way, businesses from anywhere can reach specific target audiences without relocating to purchase these phone numbers. Thus, strengthening customer rapport over the phone and giving the business a better opportunity to convert leads. In many cases, businesses find that local virtual phone numbers work better than toll free numbers. However, this really depends on the type of business and how customers respond in specific locations. For the most part, outbound calling sales businesses do better using local phone numbers. On the other hand, though, more service-based industries do better offering toll free numbers to customers. In either case, virtual phone numbers offer numerous benefits to business owners looking to expand marketing reach. Therefore, they’re both great options to consider; regardless of the business you have.
How to Choose the Perfect Phone Number
While having toll free numbers for a business is not mandatory, they can be exceptional tools. Because toll free numbers instantly communicate that a business is established and considerate of their customers, you can use this to your advantage. One of the best ways of tailoring your toll free number to your business is to use a vanity number.
Vanity numbers are not your average toll free number. They are unique because they are crafted with deliberate numbers that represent letters. This allows you to spell out certain words or phrases, which can be specifically poignant to your business. You also have the option to use specific numbers/ patterns of numbers to give your number a memorable arrangement.
Famous Toll Free Vanity Numbers
The power of a well-placed vanity number can be monumental. In fact, entire businesses have been founded on the simplicity of using a vanity number as a name and a marketing reference. Here are a few very famous examples that offer some insight into this clever, yet brilliant way to define your business.
- 1-800-CONTACTS: Due to their catchy advertising and their stance as a leader in the industry just because of their name, they stand as a foremost leader in providing contact lenses.
- 1-800-FLOWERS: There is no flower delivery service more prominent than 1-800-FLOWERS. Couple with their eye-catching commercials, the name is synonymous with the service, and the one everyone turns to for any occasion that requires a gift of flowers.
- 1-800-MATTRES (leave off the last S for savings): Dial-a-Mattress, a New York-based mattress company quickly became a top player in the US in the late 1980s and when they began promoting their vanity number, 1-800-MATTRES. After gaining nationwide popularity, their name was officially changed to 1-800-MATTRES, remaining one of the top companies in the US for mattresses.
- 1-800-PET-MEDS: AKA PetMeds Express, Inc, is a well-known online pet pharmacy. Their name and branding emphasize their focus on ease and simplicity, allowing pet owners to get everything they need for their pets through a trusted online resource.
- 1-800-MICROSOFT: For a company as large as Microsoft, using their name as their vanity number was kind of a no-brainer. Any company can potentially go this route, however, in their case, it’s extra potent because it is such a well-known business.
- 1-800-GO-FEDEX: FEDEX has a reputation for fast, convenient service and their number is a clear indication of what they offer. By using their vanity number in advertising efforts, on their website, and television ads, they make it very clear how to contact them. Also, the name is really hard to forget, which is the most obvious point of having a vanity number.
Considering Toll Free Numbers for Your Business
Now that you know more about the history, benefits, and how to set up a toll free number, you can better determine if they’re right for your business. And, you can go about using them for yourself. The truth is that they have been around for many years. They’ve always been successful in helping to increase both business and customer satisfaction. They’re never a bad idea to look into; even if you’re just now jumping on board. Even with incoming technology and the ever-expanding internet, toll free numbers are still here to stay. And, above all, they will be for many years to come.