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Consumers have a 45% higher recall of toll-free, vanity 800 telephone numbers than they do of many companies’ website addresses, and those that do remember web URLs often go on to research an advertiser’s competition, finds a recent survey.

The first-of-its-kind research (pdf), commissioned by 800response, tested recall of both vanity 800 numbers and URLs in advertising and found that in six out of seven tests, consumers have an overall higher recall rate for vanity 800 phone numbers.

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As an example of one recall test, a sample radio ad for a fictitious company, Bayside Auto Sales, featured 1-800-NEW-AUTO as the vanity number, and baysideautosales.com as the mock URL. Survey respondents had a 52% higher recall of the vanity number compared with the URL, despite the fact that the URL was an exact match to the company name.

Recall data also demonstrate that vanity 800 numbers are also more memorable than URLs when used in print, outdoor, and broadcast advertising formats.

Researching Competition is First Step
When asked what steps they take when visiting an advertisers website, the majority of consumers surveyed cite “Research the Advertiser” and “Research the Competition, while fewer than 10% say? they would communicate with the advertiser as their first step.

Moreover, 800response’s examination of multiple industries (auto, home improvement, education and health care) reveals that as many as 40% of consumers research an advertising company’s competition as their next step after they move on from an advertiser’s web site.

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“The results suggest that advertisers who use their websites as the exclusive consumer response tool risk losing potential customers right from the start, with about one-fifth of consumers citing ‘research the competition’ as their first step,” said Laura Noonan, VP of Marketing at 800response.

“The higher recall for the phone number over the web address is significant for a business when they look at return on advertising investment. If companies aren’t including a phone number in their ads, then they are losing that valuable direct communication with consumers who are already beyond the research phase and ready to buy,” said Noonan.

About the study: The survey was conducted online among 1,000 customers by independent research firm InfoS. The advertisements shown to respondents represented multiple industries including automotive, home improvement, wireless, education, and health care.

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