Does a Vanity Number Improve Sales? - NumberBarn Vanity Number Study
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Will a Vanity Number Help Your Business? (Study)

You’ve heard the claims that Vanity Numbers can increase your business’s sales, but is that true? Maybe it was in the days of yore, but so much has changed since then. Vanity Numbers surely don’t make any sort of impact for businesses anymore… right?

We had the same questions, but we couldn’t find any recent, hard data on Vanity Numbers and businesses. So we decided to take matters into our own hands.

Enter NumberBarn Vanity Number Study.

When we originally created our survey, we set a goal to get 100 responses. That may seem like a small number, but being a relatively small company, it felt ambitious. We ended up blowing that out of the water with 1450 responses. The following data is based on those responses. We surveyed from various platforms including but not limited to social media, ads on Facebook, and email replies from past and current customers.

Key Findings From 2021 Vanity Number Survey:

  • Almost 85% of people are likely to remember a Vanity Number after seeing or hearing it in an advertisement
  • You’re likely to earn business from 35.59% of people by having Vanity Number as opposed to not having one
  • 21% of people have attempted to text a Vanity Number, with Generation Z being the most likely to text a Vanity Number
  • Gen Z is the generation that you are most likely to earn business from by having a Vanity Number at 28.57%
  • You’re .57% more likely to earn business in Canada with a Vanity Number than in the United States

How did we find this data? In our survey, we asked our participants four questions about what they think about their habits as consumers. We also asked them which generation they’re a part of and what country they live in to see if there were any differences in opinion based on those factors. To alleviate some potential confusion, let’s define these terms real quick.

How We Define our Terms

We don’t want you to misinterpret the results because you define “Vanity Numbers” differently than how we defined it in our survey. So before we get to the results, it’s important that we cover our bases and have an understanding on how we define a couple of terms.

What is a Vanity Number?

At the very top of our survey, we clearly defined a Vanity Number as this:

“A vanity telephone number is a number where the digits spell out a word or phrase for ease of memorization and recall. Popular Vanity Numbers that you’ve likely heard of include 1-800-FLOWERS and 1-800-CONTACTS. In this definition, we also include easy-to-remember telephone numbers with repeating digits and patterns, like 279-222-2222 or (628) 444-4444.”

What is each generation’s age range?

There are many different sources that define generations differently. Some sources say that the cut-off year for Millennials is 1996, whereas other sources say it’s 1995 or even 1994.

While we’re not here to discuss why there’s so much debate around this topic, we want to discuss how we defined each generation:

  • Gen Z (After 1997)
  • Millennials (1981-1996)
  • Gen X (1965-1980)
  • Baby Boomers (Before 1965)

Yes, we’re aware that defining Baby Boomers as “before 1965” means it’s possible that older generations may be a part of those results. However, we don’t think any of those responses would make any significant impact on the results. According to the Statista Research Department, the Silent Generation and the Greatest Generation make up only 7% of the entire population in the United States. And not to mention which of them are likely to have responded to our survey on LinkedIn, Facebook, or our email.

Now that we got that cleared up, we can move on to the actual results and what we took away from them.

A Clear Trend: Remembering Vanity Numbers

We’ll start off with the easiest (and most predictable) results to interpret. We had our 1450 survey participants rate whether they are “more likely to remember a vanity telephone number than a NON-Vanity Number after seeing or hearing it in an advertisement.”

These are the not-so-surprising results:

Line, bar and pie charts by Flourish team

As you can see, a large majority of people agree they’re more likely to remember a Vanity Number than a non-Vanity Number – about 84.97% of people to be exact.

What makes this information interesting is when considering the difference in answers of each generation.

A closer look into remembering Vanity Numbers

If you haven’t yet noticed, above the horizontal bars are the titles of each generation we received survey results from. If you click on each one, you get to see the respective results of those generations to give you more insight of the views of each generation.

What’s worth noting from this information is that Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to remember a Vanity Number, both at over 90% (91.44% and 90.48% respectively), with Gen X close behind at 88.19% and Baby Boomers the furthest behind at 80.38%.

Further on the Baby Boomers’ low favorability, they are also the only generation to have a higher “disagree” percentage (at 5.12%) than the overall disagree percentage, which is 3.31%. Whereas no Gen Z’s disagree and only 4.76% strongly disagree.

What’s significant about this finding is that as younger generations seemingly prefer to communicate via digital channels with increasing fervor, phone numbers aren’t going out of style any time soon.

Why is remembering a Vanity Number so important?

Two words: Brand Awareness.

And you all know how important brand awareness is.

If the phone number you’re posting on your ads is just that – a string of numbers – anybody who sees it is likely to disregard or forget. That means they’re disregarding and forgetting your brand. Ouch.

On the other side, if the phone number they see is an eye-catching, on-brand word or number pattern, the statistics show they will remember it. Resulting in them remembering you as a brand. Then when they need your product or service, they will remember you and your phone number — ahead of your competition.

Now the question from here is will that be enough to pick up the phone and call you?

The Next Step: Actually Calling A Vanity Number

I think we can all agree that what we came here for is to see if having a Vanity Number will lead to actual phone calls and sales/conversions. Well, here you go. This is what our 1450 survey participants rated on whether they are “more likely to call a vanity telephone number than a NON-Vanity Number after reading or hearing about it in an advertisement.”

The results:

Line, bar and pie charts by Flourish team

If we’re being honest, these results came as a surprise to us. We knew people wouldn’t be as favorable to calling a Vanity Number as they would remembering one. But we expected something closer toward the middle, around 50-60% of people in agreement.

This graph tells us otherwise, with 35.59% agreeing they’d be more likely to call a Vanity Number than a non-Vanity Number and 37.38% having a neutral stance. But that isn’t a small amount by any means.

That means having a Vanity Number gives you an edge in converting 35.59% of people who see your number over your competition’s.

Or you can think of it this way: only 27.03% of people disagree that they’d be more likely to call a Vanity Number than a non-Vanity Number. That gives you a greater advantage over your competitors that don’t have Vanity Numbers of potentially receiving calls from the other 72.97% of people.

If your response to that is, “But what about the people who said they had a neutral stance? Doesn’t that mean there’s no advantage or disadvantage?”, then I would have to say, “No. Do I have to talk about the effects of Brand Awareness again?”

A hand holding a cell phone that says "Call Vanity Number?"

A closer look into calling Vanity Numbers

The first (and really the only) noticeable trend across all generations is that they all have a mostly neutral stance on whether they’re more likely to call a business with a Vanity Number over one without a Vanity Number. Where the data gets really interesting is when you look closer at Gen Z’s and Baby Boomers.

While Generation Z is the generation that is most likely to call a Vanity Number at 47.62%, they’re also the only generation that has more people who “strongly agree” more than they “agree” that they’re more likely to call a Vanity Number (at 28.57% and 19.05%, respectively). That makes that 47.62% much more impactful knowing that a majority of those Gen Z’s have a stronger stance than other generations.

On the other end of the spectrum, Baby Boomers also have a strong stance but leaning in the other direction. They’re the only generation that has a higher percentage of people that disagree, at 31.63%, than people that agree they’d be more likely to call a Vanity Number at 30.75%. So if your main demographic is Baby Boomers, a Vanity Number may not have as big an impact on your inbound calls as it would if another generation were your main demo.

The meaning of a “neutral” stance

It can be frustrating seeing that the majority of people have a neutral stance on calling Vanity Numbers. How are you supposed to interpret that?

Maybe ask yourself this instead. How else are you marketing your brand and trying to get more calls?

If you’re only posting your number on billboards and benches, then you may not be as successful in swaying those with a neutral stance in your favor. If you’re advertising where people most frequent – like the internet – chances are they’re going to see your business and your Vanity Number… a lot. (Oh my gosh, look at that. Brand Awareness.)

If you’re hard to find, you’re hard to call. If you’re easy to find (and easy to read!), you’re very easy to call. That’ll make it that much easier for people with a neutral stance to call you up when they’re in need of your product or service.

While a Vanity Number by itself may not lead them to call you, their exposure to you as a brand and their understanding of who you are along with an easy, catchy phone number to remember, you’re more likely to get that call.

Closing the Sale: Choosing a Business because of a Vanity Number

So, you have your number in front of your customers and you’ve gotten them to call you. Now it’s time to close the deal. How likely is it that a customer will choose your business based solely on the fact that you have a Vanity Number?
This is what our 1450 survey participants rated on whether they are “more likely to choose to do business with a company that has a vanity telephone number” rather than a business that doesn’t have a Vanity Number.

The results:

Line, bar and pie charts by Flourish team

You can see the downward trend continues, but not as drastically. Predictably, the further down the sales funnel you go, the less people you’re likely to convert. We all know sales is a numbers game. But when going off of Vanity Numbers alone, you’re likely to earn business from about 18.14% of people.

If you don’t have a Vanity Number, that’s 18.14% of people whose business you’re losing. That’s a big deal.

I mean, maybe you have a chance with the 38.83% of people who don’t use Vanity Numbers as a deciding factor, but your chance with them is the same as your competitor who has a Vanity Number. They just have a guaranteed 18.14% that you don’t.

That means you didn’t just draw the short end of the stick; you chose it.

A closer look into earning business with a Vanity Number

Of the 18% of people whose business you’re likely to earn, which generation does a majority of that come from? You don’t even have to look at the graph above to find that out (although I recommend it. It’s a lot of fun).

You guessed it: Generation Z

An elderly couple on the right and a younger person on the left.

28.57% of Gen Z’ers agree that they’re more likely to choose a business that has a Vanity Number. That’s almost 7% ahead of the next likely generation which was Millennials at 21.39%.

Gen Z is also the only generation that had a higher percentage of people who “strongly agree” than “agree” at 19.05% and 9.52% respectively.

Another trend that’s similar to the results in calling Vanity Numbers is that Baby Boomers, once again, are the least likely to choose a business that uses a Vanity Number at 14.64%. And not only are they the only generation lower than that total percentage, Baby Boomers are also the generation with the highest disagree percentage at 41.58%.

Even when you take away the Vanity Number and just look at online advertising in general, the younger generations take the cake. Criteo conducted their own survey on consumer habits and online ads, and their findings are very similar to ours.

When they broke down their responses by generation, they found that younger generations “feel the most positive about online ads and are most likely to take action after seeing an ad.”

If your business’s main demographic is Baby Boomers… things aren’t looking too good for you.

But what about Generation X?

Don’t worry Gen X, we didn’t forget about you.

One interesting thing about these specific results is that, yes, Gen X placed third in likeliness to choose a business at 20.93%, but they actually had the smallest percentage of people who disagreed. 

You read that right. They were the only generation below the total percentage with 34.88% of people who disagree they’re more likely to choose a business with a Vanity Number. With a low percentage of people who both agree and disagree, that means they had the highest percentage of people who were neutral, at 44.19%.

What does this mean?

That means they’re a toss-up. You still have a 21% advantage with a Vanity Number, but you better have a number of other things going for you to earn business from the other 79%.

Offering SMS: Texting a Vanity Number

Now that we’ve covered calling Vanity Numbers, we can go over texting. Why? You may just be missing out on potential customers if you don’t offer SMS with your Vanity Number. This is what our 1450 survey participants rated on whether they “have attempted to send a text/SMS message to a vanity telephone number at least once in [their] life.”

The results:

Line, bar and pie charts by Flourish team

This graph looks very different from all the other topics we discussed, but the generational trends are still very predictable. Texting a business telephone number isn’t common practice unless they explicitly mention you can. Even then, it’s more than likely an SMS short code (those 6-digit numbers you text for promo offers).

That doesn’t mean customers aren’t attempting to get a hold of you over text.

According to our survey, 21.24% of people actually have attempted to text a Vanity Number and only 61.52% of people haven’t. Sure that’s a majority of people, but it’s really not a significant majority.

When it comes to the generations, Generation Z still has the highest percentage of people who agree at 38.1%, and Baby Boomers have the lowest at 16.4%. And this makes sense, knowing that texting is more common the younger your generation is.

The converse could also be said about them. 47.62% of Gen Z’ers haven’t attempted to text a Vanity number, being the lowest percentage, and Baby Boomers had the highest percentage of people who haven’t texted a Vanity Number at 63.54%.

Millennials are the second-most likely to text a Vanity Number at 27.27% followed by Generation X at 24.51%.

How many of us actually attempt to send a text message to a company to see if they will respond? That may be a wake up call for some. But we think that this will increasingly become a cultural norm and customer expectation. If you don’t offer SMS messaging, you’re missing out.

Vanity Numbers: USA vs. Canada

We’ve covered each generation and their stance on Vanity Numbers, but what about countries? Since the United States and Canada are the only countries with the 10-digit format that we at NumberBarn support, we’re only going to focus on those results.

We also won’t go as in-depth for this section as we did with each generation. Not because this data isn’t important, but because, as you will see, the results don’t differ that much in each category.

This is what our 1450 survey participants had to say about Vanity Numbers, broken down to show responses from the US and Canada separately.

Line, bar and pie charts by Flourish team

See what we mean? When clicking between “United States” and “Canada”, there isn’t that much of a difference between the two.

There are only two instances in which there is more than a three-percent difference in their responses. Even then, the difference still never goes above 5%.

But just because there isn’t a lot that’s different, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other notable trends.

Who’s more likely to call and recall Vanity Numbers?

Short answer: Canadians

That’s right. Canadians are 1.24% more likely to remember a Vanity Number at 86.11%, meaning only 84.87% of Americans are likely to remember one.

Interestingly enough, of those who said they disagree they’re likely to remember a Vanity Number, Canadians also had a higher percentage. Yup. 6.48% of our respondents from Canada disagree that they’re more likely to remember a Vanity Number, whereas only 4.84% of Americans disagree. However, they’re both very small numbers and it’s only a 1.64% difference.

Even though more Canadians overall agree they’re likely to remember a Vanity Number, more Americans strongly agree. When comparing just the results of those that strongly agree, Americans have a higher percentage of 44.86% and Canadians are just slightly below that at 43.52%.

Now what about calling Vanity Numbers?

That would be Canada again… by .57%.

36.11% of Canadians are more likely to call a Vanity Number than a non-Vanity Number and 35.54% of Americans are more likely to call one.

And again, of those who disagree they’re likely to call a Vanity Number, Canadians took the lead at 28.7% with Americans right under that at 26.9%.

Let’s keep this trend train rolling and look deeper into these categories. Just like with remembering Vanity Numbers, more Americans strongly agree they’re more likely to call a Vanity Number than Canadians strongly agree (14.38% strongly agree and 10.19% strongly agree, respectively).

So far, these results are telling us two things:

  • If your business operates in both Canada and the United States, you’re more likely to raise brand awareness and receive calls in Canada with your Vanity Number. Just not by much.
  • While Canadians are more decisive in their opinions, Americans feel more strongly of theirs.

But what about when it comes to earning business?

Who’s more likely to earn business and receive texts?

Short answer: Americans

With a Vanity Number, you’re likely to earn 18.26% of business from Americans, whereas with Canadians, you’re likely to earn 16.67% (difference of 1.59%). That tells us that of the calls you get to your Vanity Number, you’re more likely to convert them to actual customers in America than in Canada. That’s even with Canadians getting more calls.

Americans also have a smaller percentage of people who disagree that they’re likely to choose a business with a Vanity Number over a business without one. Only 38.6% of Americans disagree, whereas 41.67% of Canadian disagree. That’s a 3.07% gap; not much, but the biggest one we’ve seen yet.

When it comes to texting, it’s the same story. You’re likely to get texts to your Vanity Number from 21.46% of Americans compared to 18.52% of Canadians.

That story continues for those who aren’t likely to text your Vanity Number. 61.18% of Americans disagree they’re likely to text a Vanity Number and 65.74% of Canadians disagree, making the difference the biggest one at 4.56%.

Person holding a cell phone with the words "Increase Your Sales With A Vanity Number" above them

So What Does This Mean?

What we interpret all of this information to mean overall is that Vanity Numbers are important to have in both Canada and the US.

Even though you’re likely to get more attention in Canada, you should have an active Vanity Number in both countries.

You might raise more awareness and get more calls in Canada, but of the calls you get in America, you’re likely to convert more of them into actual customers. Of the 477 people in the US who said they’re likely to call you, 245 of them said they’re also likely to choose your business. That’s a conversion rate of 51.36%!

Of the 39 Canadians who said they’re likely to call your Vanity Number, only 18 of them are also likely to end up doing business with you. That’s a conversion rate of 46.15%. Still impressive, but about 5.21% less impressive.

Vanity Numbers Summed Up

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted with all that data. Kudos to you for making it this far (or if you skipped everything and came straight here for the TL;DR).

There are multiple ways to interpret this data, but no matter how it’s spun, Vanity Numbers help your business. How beneficial they are for your business is up to you.

Strictly owning a Vanity Number won’t do you any good if you don’t market it properly. You’ll likely get more calls by putting your Vanity Number in front of younger generations. Yes, even if your product or service is for everyone.

Focusing solely on marketing your number won’t be as helpful if you lack a solid customer service team. Sure, you’ll get a bunch of calls, but if the other companies they’re calling are easier to get a hold of and more friendly… then don’t say we didn’t warn you.

And if you operate in both the United States and Canada, you don’t need to choose between both countries. Vanity Numbers are effective in both, so that’s just extra coverage for you.

Overall, having a well thought-out strategy will help you tremendously when owning a Vanity Number. Don’t buy one just for the sake of owning one. Know what you’re doing with it and it will play a large role in the growth of your business.

If you need a nudge in the right direction, browse through our marketplace to find the Vanity Number you need. There’s a vast collection of millions of local and toll-free numbers available for you to search through.

We answered your question about Vanity Numbers, so let’s put that to rest. The new question now is are you going to take advantage of the proven advantages of Vanity Numbers?

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Joel Arnold