The tired trope that toll-free phone numbers are a thing of the past could not be further from the truth. Cell phones and unlimited long distance calling plans have been around for almost a decade now, and toll-free numbers are more popular than ever. Why? It’s because they have more functional capabilities than local phone numbers. Unlike local phone numbers, which are subject to entirely different regulations, they can be used to collect data, geo-route calls, and track ROI. Here are three things you probably did not know your toll-free number can do:
Customer Caller ID
Toll-free is free for the caller. That means the business who uses the phone number foots the bill. Since 1996, when the telecommunications act that regulates toll-free passed, the rules have established that the company paying the bill has a right to the caller ID information of those who dialed the phone number. Businesses who use toll-free numbers have a right to see the caller ID information for their phone number, but not all carriers give out this information up front. Sometimes, it takes some digging around with your corporate representative to get the information sent to you.
Having caller ID information is useful to businesses in the age of information, and can help advertisers track and monitor the effectiveness of their campaigns. It can also help customer service centres track and monitor calls for quality purposes, and to track where a majority of callers are located.
Toll-free numbers can encode complicated routing instructions to geo-locate callers and route their calls to different locations. This is a handy tool for companies with numerous sites. For example, if a company has three different locations in three different zip codes, a toll-free number can be programmed so that callers from each zip code will ring to the locations nearest to them. This means that large companies with many locations nationwide only need one phone number, which will send phone calls the appropriate place based on the caller’s location.
Geo-routing is also useful for franchises who do national advertising campaigns on behalf of their franchisees. Franchises can use a single phone number on all their radio and television ads and set up their toll-free number to route calls to franchisees directly based on the caller’s origination information.
Marketing Analytics and Tracking
The ability to route calls made to a toll-free number to multiple locations can also track marketing response rates. Companies can set up a multitude of destination phone numbers, called ring-to numbers, for call tracking purposes. A single vanity toll-free number can display prominently on advertisements across the country, but calls from each market can be tracked with a separate ring-to number to gauge the effectiveness of the ads. This is how large companies such as DirecTV (1-800-DIRECTV), T-Mobile (1-800-TMOBILE), and 1800Contacts (1-800-CONTACTS) track their ROI on national TV commercials.
A company does not need a national ad campaign to make use of this feature. Toll-free routing can get as granular as routing by zip code. In this way, a company in a market with multiple zip codes can track and gauge the effectiveness of their ads in specific areas. This can be done with many kinds of ad campaigns, such as billboards, direct mail, and radio.
For companies who want more than just a phone number, toll-free numbers offer an array of tools to improve and track advertising response rates. They can be used to strengthen a brand, promote a product ubiquitously across marketing channels, all while making use of detailed, customized reporting to track marketing response rates and ROI. It’s a business tool that has proven time and again to be one of the most effective and useful in marketing, even today.