‘Non-Geographic’ telephone numbers can be an important part of your marketing mix. They are very under-used by organisations, but they can be a really effective marketing tool in terms of generating revenues, increasing customer bases and also tracking the calls they have received.
Originally devised in the US, Non-Geographic numbers are special phone numbers that don’t pin you to a geographical area but can help gain customers or extra revenue, and makes marketing your company easier. BT introduced the freephone numbers into the UK in 1985 and, although most of us recognise and understand the concept of an 0800 number, the extent of its use is still nothing like in the US.
Freephone numbers have an 0800 prefix and are free of charge to the caller. This means that your business pays the cost of all the calls. An 0800 number gives your company a national image and can increase incoming calls by up to 300% more than a standard number. Research shows that 61% of UK consumers are more likely to call a company with a freephone number in preference to a comparable competitor without one.
If paying for your customers to call you means that you can develop a substantial number of sales leads and drive up your profits, then a freephone number is definitely worth the investment. Offering a free call also inspires trust in your customers and offers an incentive to call more often, meaning that you can build a lasting relationship. It can also work well to establish your company as having caring after-sales services and can even save you money by replacing personal sales visits.
Local – or 0845 – numbers enable the customer to call you for free from most landlines, no matter where they are in the country, and your business pays nothing to receive the calls. As with freephone numbers, 0845 numbers are proven to generate three times the response from customers and enable you to attract customers from beyond your local area. It also promotes a certain amount of professionalism and distinguishes you from your competitors. Most Internet service providers use 0845 numbers, as it allows them to offer low-cost calls to subscribers nationwide.
If firms wish to generate income from their call volumes, then 0871 and 0844 numbers should be looked at. The advantage of adopting one of these telemarketing numbers is that you can generate an additional income for your business. Small companies can generate £1000’s per year, while for medium and large enterprises this figure is in hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.
Meanwhile, 0870 numbers can no longer generate income for your company, but they convey a professional, national image. They are usually used for a variety of different activities, for example providing technical support, helplines, order lines and information services.
One area where there is still a huge opportunity for a company to make its mark is in acquiring an alphanumeric number is where a word is dialled in place of a number. For example, ‘0845 121 FREE’ would be 0845 121 3733.
Alphanumeric numbers can be freephone, local or national numbers and, but they can be extremely memorable. A large number of companies feel that the novelty value and high memorability of alphanumeric numbers draws customers to use them. Not all handsets have numbers etched on to the keys so always make sure you print the full number, and you’re also fixed to a maximum of six characters.
Finally, there is an increasing use of 0700 numbers, also known as ‘Personal Numbers’, ‘One Numbers’, ‘Follow Me Numbers’ or ‘Call Shield Numbers’. Personal Numbering services start with 070 and can route incoming calls to a selection of numbers specified by you. The service gives you the ability to forward all incoming calls to a phone of your choice such as your office, mobile, home or another temporary number, and all free of call charges.
The world of Non-Geographic numbers is extremely advanced and diverse, and is just waiting for companies to think how best to use it when deciding on their most effective marketing strategy.