CTM Blog


Vanity Numbers for Business | Your Guide to Vanity Numbers, Toll-Free Numbers, and Short Codes

by CallTrackingMetrics

Did you know that the average American sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ads a day? From their YouTube and Instagram accounts to billboards, bus wraps, calls, and texts, the average person is drowning in ads. For marketers, this means each day is a knock-down, drag-out fight for both attention and conversions.

Thankfully, there are ways that any marketer can shortcut their way to attention through the place customers spend the most time: their phone.

Using vanity numbers for business, toll-free, and short codes are impactful choices any business can make to sidestep the noise and reach customers in a memorable way.

Phone calls are not dead (and texts definitely aren’t). There are ways to make both your phone number and your text messages to leads and customers work harder for your business. Doing so may require an upfront investment in a new (or new kind of) phone number, but the likelihood of a steady payoff is high. 

The 3 Kinds of Phone Numbers You Can Use for Marketing Success

There are three kinds of phone numbers you can use to bypass the spammy calls and texts your potential customers are receiving from scammers and get through to them as a legitimate business with offers they want. These numbers are: 

  1. Vanity Numbers e.g. 1-888-FLOWERS
  2. Toll-Free Numbers e.g. (877) 541-808 (CallTrackingMetrics)
  3. Short Codes e.g. 988 (short code for the United States’ Suicide Prevention hotline)

We’ll review: 

  • The top three phone number types for business
  • Cost vs. benefit for each type
  • Why these phone number types are effective in attracting and retaining customers
  • How to select and purchase one for you and your business. 

Let’s start with one of the most popular (and recognized) options: vanity numbers for business.

Vanity Numbers for Business

graphic of vanity number 1-800-flowers

A vanity number for a business is a phone number that spells out your business, service, or offer using a short word or acronym so that callers can easily remember what it is you do. Vanity numbers are often used by large corporations (1-800-FLOWERS, 1-800-GO-FEDEX, etc.) to make it easier for customers to remember their business, place a call, and make a purchase. 

Vanity numbers come in two flavors: local and toll-free. Telling them apart is easy once you know that all toll-free numbers start with one of the following combinations: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833. 

Local vanity numbers, on the other hand, will direct you to a local business that’s paid for their vanity number. It’s not unlikely that, for a local business, customers or leads will recognize the area code, because local vanity numbers are purchased expressly for their trust-building familiarity. And when a new number pops up on your phone, you’re more likely to pick up if you recognize the area code. 

Millennials and Gen Z customers are more likely than other generations to remember a vanity number over a regular phone number. For the Gen Z market, the likelihood of them calling a vanity number for business over a regular number is nearly 30%! And, no matter the generation, 85% of people are more likely to remember a vanity number over a non-vanity number after hearing it just once in an advertisement. (And in an attention economy, being memorable is half the battle of a new conversion.)

Graphic of 85% with text 85% of people are more likely to remember a vanity number over a non-vanity number

Businesses that make calls and texts a routine part of their marketing efforts will generally see a great return on investment (ROI) on their vanity numbers, whether or not they’re toll-free. Using a cute, funny, or informative acronym or description (1-800-GOT-JUNK?) or pairing it with a familiar local number is a time-proven way to increase brand awareness and drive calls.

How Do I Get a Vanity Number for My Business?

To get a vanity number for your business, you’ll need to contact your phone provider or carrier and request a vanity number. Together, you’ll work to find a vanity number that both meets your brand goals and is available for purchase. 

Once you’ve found the vanity number that matches these criteria, you 

will need to pay a one-time setup fee to activate that number. This setup fee is determined by customer demand for that pattern, area code, word or acronym, etc., and can range from $80 to $40,000

Call tracking and marketing attribution companies, like CallTrackingMetrics (CTM), offer a streamlined process for getting your business a vanity number. After finding the perfect vanity number for your brand, customers pay a setup fee and then proceed to pay the standard local or toll-free rates on their plans. It takes two to three weeks to set up a vanity number; afterward, it’s yours to keep! After three months in CTM’s system, a vanity number owner can easily take it with them to another carrier 

Toll-Free Numbers for Your Business 

What makes a number a toll-free number? And why should your business invest in a toll-free number?

Toll-free numbers are easily recognizable because the majority of toll-free numbers will start with 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, or 833. These numbers mean that you can call that business or service without paying any fees from your landline, and are useful for reaching out-of-area, and even international,  businesses.

Many toll-free numbers are used for customer service so that customers can, for example, discuss details of a bank loan or credit card, negotiate a return of purchase, get more information, or any number of services easily and for free. Toll-free numbers can also be used for texting with businesses (as long as those numbers are text-enabled).

5 Reasons You Should Get A Toll-Free Number for Your Business

Not every business needs a toll-free number, but for businesses that contain a customer service or call center of any kind, a toll-free number is a worthwhile investment. 

  1. Toll-free trust: Toll-free numbers provide an easy, trusted way for customers to reach a brand or business. Unlike a local number, toll-free numbers are recognized as legitimate business numbers across the United States (U.S.) and internationally.
  2. Better service at higher volumes: You can serve more customers at the same time by showing the same number to every caller and then routing them to various extensions for faster call pickup.
  3. Stand out from the crowd: If your toll-free number is a vanity number or pattern, you get added customer stickiness by standing out from your crowd of competitors. 
  4. Take your number with you anywhere: Like vanity numbers, toll-free numbers are portable. You could move your business from Pennsylvania to Lithuania and your customers wouldn’t even know!
  5. Brand building: Toll-free numbers are widely recognized and trusted as a sign of a serious or premium brand; you don’t have to have a large business to benefit as a brand from a toll-free listing. 

How Do I Get a Toll-Free Number for My Business?

The process of getting a toll-free number for your business is very similar to that of getting a vanity number. 

First, you contact your FCC-approved provider and make a toll-free number request with the prefix you want (the most popular is a true 800 number). If you want to make it a toll-free vanity number, this is the stage at which to do it!

Next, your provider will port the number into their system. This may take two to three  weeks. 

Finally, after setup (again, you will most likely need to pay a setup fee for any toll-free number you purchase), you’ll be ready to use your new toll-free number!

Remember, however,  it’s recommended that you do not start advertising your fancy new toll-free digits until you get the go-ahead from your provider! Not every port goes according to plan, so it’s best to wait on marketing your new number until it is fully operational and has been tested.

What’s the Difference Between a Toll-Free Number and an 800 Number?


When you see a phone number that starts with 800, you can be sure that number was an investment for the company. Toll-free numbers that start with 800 i.e. 1-800 numbers are the most popular and widely-recognized. Combined with a vanity number description or acronym, these numbers help signal brand stability and trustworthiness.

Because 800 numbers are the most popular toll-free variation, 800 vanity numbers for business can be scarce (and expensive). If you’re thinking of investing in one, you may instead want to consider opting for an 888 or 833 number, rather than accepting a less-catchy 800 number. To purchase an 800 number, you follow the same steps as you would for any toll-free number. 

Do You Text Your Customers? Consider Buying a Short Code

Graphic of a woman texting on an orange background

The last popular phone number for businesses are short codes, which are used by companies that rely heavily on SMS traffic to communicate with their leads and customers. 

Short code numbers,  only five to six digits long, are used by businesses to send text communications about things like shipped purchases, appointment confirmations, sales or discount offers, donations, RSVPs, or opt-ins for marketing communications. Before the company can communicate regularly via text,  the receiver must consent to continued communication with a “yes” or “no” at the start. This is incredibly effective in engaging the right audience and maximizing your ROI because your team won’t be wasting time and money texting updates, deals, or discounts to uninterested leads or customers. 

Why Are Short Codes So Effective for Sales and Marketing? 

  1. You can reach a large audience super fast (and scale with your business): With a short code, your company can send up to a hundred messages simultaneously. With a regular text-enabled number, scheduled texts can only go out individually (one per second), making short codes the clear winner in text campaigns over regular phone numbers. And, the more customers you attract, the more you can reach at one time with an offer.
  1. They’re more memorable than regular phone numbers: Telling a customer in an ad to “Just text 555-55 to get 25% off your first purchase” is a lot easier to remember (and to do, for the customer) than asking customers to text or call a regular number for their discount.
  1. Text messages yield higher conversions:  Text messaging can increase conversions by up to 328% after three or more follow-up texts. A follow-up text after the first conversion i.e. an online form can boost conversion rates by 112%. Not only that, but short codes show delivery receipts, so you can calculate conversion and delivery rates with ease.
  1. Consumers prefer texts over phone calls: Over 40% of customers prefer to start a conversation with a company over text, and over 50% of consumers (in the US) who receive a text from a company later make a direct purchase!
  1. Credibility: Receiving a professional opt-in message from a crisp, short number lessens the likelihood that your text will be mistaken for spam. Short codes are the 800 numbers of the texting world – they carry a real sense of legitimacy and brand recognition for the average receiver. (More trust = more conversions.)

Some businesses run their entire marketing and sales campaigns through these powerful short codes, and get results. So the question is – is a short code worth it for you?

How Do I Buy a Short Code for My Business?

Just like vanity numbers for business and toll-free numbers, getting a short code starts with a beloved provider. However, unlike those other phone numbers, a short code is leased to companies, rather than purchased outright. 

Your provider should apply on your behalf, either for a dedicated short code (a memorable one you get to choose that aligns with your branding) or a random one. Approval can take a few weeks, so it’s best not to plan a campaign around a short code until you’ve been cleared.

Is Your Business Ready for a Vanity Number, Toll-Free Number, or Short Code?

Whether you’re looking to send hundreds of offers out via text, plaster your company’s mission on a billboard, or get your phone ringing from your next Google Ad campaign, getting a memorable phone number or short code for your company is a proven way to increase brand recognition, trust, and sales. Once you figure out what your main goal is for getting a vanity number, toll-free number, or powerful short code, you’ll be ready to start the acquisition and approval process with your provider.

CallTrackingMetrics is one such provider with a team of regulatory experts and engineers ready to not only help you buy or lease one of these numbers but to work closely with you to find the perfect one to scale with your business as it grows. With CallTrackingMetrics, you can track and measure the effectiveness of your ads with a suite of marketing and sales attribution tools, top integrations, and a number pool of both local and international numbers. 

Just reach out to  or call (906) 2-TRYCTM to speak to someone who can start the process for you.

And, if you’re not already signed up with CallTrackingMetrics, we’d love to show you all of the other amazing things that our platform can do! 

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