When a Southwest Florida small business owner buys a 60-second commercial on a Fort Myers radio station, she is limited to about 160 words to persuade listeners to become customers. To be successful, then, each word needs to be carefully selected to fulfill the desired marketing objective.
A telephone number comprises seven words. Ten if the area code is included. If the number is repeated three times during the commercial, then it will consume 21-30 words or up to 18% of the total.
So, should a SWFL business owner sacrifice a significant portion of a radio commercial to insert a phone number? Except for certain circumstances, described below, the answer is no.
Here are the facts.
Nine-out-of-ten people forget a phone number within five seconds of hearing it, according to research published in the New York Times and The London Daily Telegraph. It turns out that 70% of people recall their best friend's phone number. Half cannot remember their parents' phone numbers.
Contributing to the inability to remember phone numbers is a phenomenon called "digital amnesia."
As consumers grow more reliant on personal technology to remember things like phone numbers, they use their brain less often to preserve this type of information.
In other words, consumers' brains are being remodeled to depend on smartphones, tablets, and laptops to preserve information such as phone numbers. As a consequence, they no longer invest the cognitive resources necessary to store this information.
When a Fort Myers area business owner finds it necessary to include a phone number in radio commercials, then a vanity number should be considered. These are numbers that actually spell words. For instance, 1-800-GOT-JUNK or 1-800-FLOWERS. The types of numbers are most powerful when it refers to the product, service, or benefit that a company offers.
Research indicates that the use of vanity telephone numbers in radio commercials drive higher response rates than a straight numeric option.
A study conducted by Creative Broadcast Concepts compared responses for two different numbers utilized by the same car dealership in Chicago. Half of the ads used the vanity number, 1-800-TRADE-NOW. The other half used 1-800-954-2828.
After two weeks of advertising on local radio stations, the vanity number produced 58% higher call volume than the strict numeric version.
“The study shows that more calls rang into the vanity number during the radio test," says Bill Park of Creative Broadcast Concepts. "This proves to us that not only are vanity numbers effective for the radio medium, but that businesses are missing out on potential sales when they advertise with a straight numeric phone number.”
There are companies that can help SWFL small business owners find powerful vanity numbers. This includes Ignition, a Michigan based company whose vanity number is 1-800-STRONG-SALES.
Even when ads on Fort Myers radio stations have no phone number, consumers have no problem finding the business.
According to research by Sequent Partners, radio advertising created a 29% increase in online search activity for the product categories and brands that were involved in the study.
The study measured the website visitation increases generated by 2100 local radio ads across six different product categories. The results were definitive. Radio drove listeners to the web for more information.
The study first looked at the typical number of Google searches that typically occur for the subject product category and brands. This information creates a baseline of pre-radio expectations.
Next, search activity was measured for the times when radio advertising occurred for the subject categories and brands. The results were overlaid on the baseline.
The green bars above indicate the days and time radio advertising aired. The green peaks highlight the incremental search that is attributable to radio advertising.
Most importantly, radio proved to be successful for every brand involved in the study.
- Automotive Brand: +7%
- E-Commerce Brand: +9%
- Wireless Communication: +18%
- Auto Aftermarket Retailer: +65%
- Insurance: +73%
- Jewelry: +370%
It is evident, then, that injection of seven digit phone number in a radio commercial is not a best-practice for SWFL small business owners. There is only a slim chance it will be remembered by target consumers.
It will be a much better use of each precious word of a radio ad to use either a vanity number or depend on the resourcefulness of the listener to search for the company's information online.