Take a moment to think about all the social media, messaging and other communications apps and platforms you use for your Marketing and Sales campaigns. You probably need at least two hands to count them all, and each one likely has unique usernames. For example, your company’s Twitter handle is different than your handles or IDs on Facebook, Instagram, etc. But there’s at least one identifier that likely hasn’t changed in years: your phone number. That’s why creating a vanity number is essential to any company’s Marketing program.
The myriad of digital tools customers can use to communicate with you, including email, online chatbots, and instant messaging portals have not diminished the value of compelling a customer to call you. Increased call volume drives sales, and a vanity phone number makes it easier for customers to make the phone their first option.
Think of the phone number as the new URL of the mobile age, and a primary identifier of both your business and the individual customer. When a customer can quickly and easily remember a vanity phone number he saw on an advertisement or other Marketing vehicles, he’s more likely to use it.
The phone call remains a critical communications channel for your current and potential customers, no matter what generation or demographic they fall into. Research shows that calls consumers placed over mobile phones totaled 60 percent of all inbound calls to businesses in 2016. That’s an annual total of 85 billion global calls – a number that is expected to continue growing every year and hit 169 billion by 2020.
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And when you make it easier for your customers to call you, you can (with their permission, of course) start building a database of their preferences, likes and dislikes, etc., and tailor your engagements accordingly in ways that other Marketing vehicles do not enable. This makes encouraging customers to call your sales and support personnel critical to fostering greater loyalty, increasing efficiency, developing more effective marketing campaigns, and growing revenue.
That’s not to say the phone should replace other tactics in your Omnichannel Marketing campaigns. Phone calls are one component of an effective Omnichannel campaign that may also include TV, online advertising, email blasts, social media posts, and even chatbots. The key to success is creating one overarching goal for each campaign, such as driving customers to your e-commerce portal or visiting your physical stores, and integrating the various channels in a way that maps to that goal.
For instance, if someone sends an email to your company one day, they should expect a quick reply. But, they should also feel free to engage with your business via an online chatbot, on Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms, and by phone.
The goal of the initial phone call is to launch your omni-channel marketing strategy, leading people down the proverbial digital yellow brick road so they can engage with your customer service/support teams across multiple channels. That’s the key to offering a compelling customer experience, building brand loyalty, and turning first-time customers into vocal brand advocates.
The experience of visiting a company’s website and seeing the “How can I help you?” chat messaging window appear has become commonplace. Often, those interactions are driven by Artificial Intelligence technologies, not a live person. We hear so much about how Automation and AI will replace the need for people to interact with other people, but just the opposite is true. No matter how “smart” AI becomes, it will always be a complement to talking to a live person via phone or messaging platform, not a replacement.
Yes, AI can be invaluable in its ability to quickly answer questions and direct customers to specific web pages or other resources. But if a customer has a complex question or issue, AI should still transfer that person to another person.
The question on your mind now is likely “how do I select an effective vanity phone number?” There is a science to it, and here are three key things to keep in mind:
1. Just like when speaking, choose your words carefully: You want to come up with wording that is easy to remember and describes what your business offers. Maybe you incorporate your company’s name or tagline. But you need to walk the line between being too specific and too general. For example, and company that sells and services air conditioners and heaters could come up with some variant of the words “hot” and “cool” or “cold”. But if it uses only one or the other, it’s ignoring half of its business.
2. Don’t get too clever: Avoid combining numbers and letters. For instance, staying with the above example, don’t go with 1-800-786-COLD. The “1-800” and “COLD” parts may be easy to remember, but there’s no way the customer will remember the middle three digits.
3. Don’t be shy: Get your vanity phone number in front of customers in every piece of Marketing collateral you produce. Print ads, your web site, email blasts, chatbot responses, swag you hand out at trade shows and public appearances, etc. If your customers don’t see it, they can’t remember it.