A guide to phone words, the best phone numbers in marketing

Samuel Howieson
Samuel Howieson
A guide to phone words, the best phone numbers in marketing

If you want to bring in more business over the phone, one important consideration is which phone number you choose. And when it comes to phone numbers that callers will remember, it’s tough to beat phone words.

Phone words are phone numbers that spell out a word when dialled on a phone’s keypad. A phone word can spell out your brand, product or service (a common example is 1800-FLOWERS), which is why they’re often called vanity numbers—but there’s more to phone words than marketing.

What are phone words?

A phone word is a kind of smartnumber: an easy-to-remember virtual phone number. They can be 13, 1300 or 1800 numbers, which take incoming calls and then redirect them to other existing phone lines.

As we showed earlier, a phone word includes a prefix (in numerals) and a word (in letters with a numeric equivalent). For example, you could have 1800-FLOWERS, while 1300-FLOWERS would be a separate number altogether (though the same business could own both).

The type of phone number you choose determines the number of letters you might have. 1300 numbers and 1800 numbers need at least six digits (or letters) after the prefix. 13 numbers only need four digits (or letters). You can have up to ten digits or letters following the prefix, since anything after the minimum is disregarded.

Why do businesses use phone words?

The most obvious reason is for marketing. Words are generally easier to remember than numbers, making phone words better for advertisements and promotions.

A phone word can also be integrated into wider campaigns. For example, having a phone word that matches your website domain name makes both of them more effective, since each one reinforces the other.

Beyond marketing, phone words also have benefits as virtual inbound numbers. You can use these numbers to reach callers outside your region, route calls for more efficient handling, and establish a unified phone presence across multiple offices.

How do you get phone words?

Smartnumbers are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which sold the rights to over 4,600 smartnumbers over the course of 2017-18.

To register a phone word under your business, you need to secure the rights to use it from ACMA. There are two ways to do this:

  • Visit the ACMA numbering system website, search for the phone words you want (you can search by word or by number) and secure it directly through there; or
  • Talk to your telephone service provider to have them secure the phone word for you

Either way, you need to find a telco to activate your phone word for you. Without a telco to activate your phone word, you won’t be able to use it. If you leave your phone word inactive for too long, the rights to it revert to ACMA.

What if you can’t find the right phone word?

You might find that your preferred phone word is already taken. Don’t give up too soon—there are steps you can take to find a great phone number, even if your first choice isn’t available.

Try other prefixes. If your preferred phone number isn’t available as a 1300 number, then try it as an 1800 number (or vice versa). Of course, this entails some changes in call costs, so make sure to look at the big picture.

Try various related words. You might have started your phone word search by looking up your brand. Instead, you can try looking for phone words based on your main product/service (e.g. MOVERS) or on what sets you apart (e.g. FASTLOANS). In some cases, you can try a combination of numbers and letters (e.g. FOOD2GO or 24-7-FOOD)—just make sure it’s as easy to remember.

Use repeating digits. When words fail, remember that strings of digits can be easy-to-recall too. Smartnumbers also include phone numbers with lots of repeated digits. They might not be as intuitive, but they can stick in the mind just as well.

Looking for the right phone number?

Alltel specialises in helping Australian businesses improve their communication systems. Our inbound phone number experts would be happy to help you find the best phone number to suit your needs. Call us at 1300 255 835 (1300 ALLTEL) or visit www.alltel.com.au

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