Using the right telephone measurement

This may contradict much of what you’ve recently heard and discussed at the marketing water cooler over the last few years, but not everyone is going online to do everything under the sun. I know this is not what your SEO consultants and website developers want to hear, but it’s true.

While the use of the internet continues to rise each year and there are polls that say 75 percent of car buyers use the internet, it is important that prospective new and used buyers have multiple avenues to reach your dealership so that you can achieve your sales goals. For instance, a recent study polled one thousand consumers to measure recall rates of two response tools when used in ads: URLs and toll-free vanity 800 numbers.

The results reveal that overall, people have a 45 percent higher recall of vanity numbers than they do URLs. And interestingly, one of the broadcast ads in the study tested recall of a phone number and URL, specific to an auto dealership. Survey results show that respondents had a 52 percent higher recall of 1-800-NEW-AUTO than they did of

Furthermore, after listening to the radio ad, 40 percent of the respondents stated they would first “research the competition,” once they moved on from the advertising dealer’s website and only six percent would find the phone number online and call the dealership, or complete an online contact form.

An analysis of the recall rates among specific age groups shows that people of all ages have a higher recall rate of toll-free vanity 800 numbers compared to web addresses. For instance, 61 percent of survey respondents ages 18-24 (which may be a significant portion of your target) correctly recalled the vanity 800 number presented in an advertisement, while only 46 percent could correctly recall the web address. Further age analysis reveals that all age groups have a higher recall of vanity 800 numbers:

Age Group Average Higher Recall for Vanity 800 Numbers
18–24 years 32.2%
25–34 years 31.4%
35–49 years 45.2%
50–64 years 62.5%
65+ years 98.2%

Source: 800response, 2009


Survey results suggest that you will benefit from featuring a memorable toll-free number in your advertising campaigns, regardless of the age groups in your target set. So, why limit your audience’s choices for contacting you to just your website? Remember, popular television shows such as “American Idol” give people the option of calling or texting a vote for their favorite performer. During the show’s season, there are millions of callers dialing into toll-free numbers to voice their opinions, making the phone an important communication device, despite our use and familiarity with websites.

Be sure to give future car buyers multiple ways to contact you. Highlight your website and a phone number in your advertising campaigns, and make the phone number easy for people to remember so they don’t have to look it up or write it down. You will gain a business advantage by including both of these important response tools in your ads, driving your opportunities for lead generation, reducing your cost-per-lead, and moving more units off the lot as a result.