5 minute read |

What is a vanity number and why you should buy one

VoIP phone service background

Almost everyone in the business world is aware of VoIP phone systems and how they can help organizations. Whether a business owner wants to reduce phone bills or an easier way to manage phones in the office, VoIP has something for you. Even traditional phone carriers have quietly switched to VoIP and a few have also given estimated dates to shut down their PSTN connected networks.

Over the years several VoIP myths have also fallen to the wayside. For instance, small businesses can use hosted VoIP services to benefit from this technology, instead of having to purchase and maintain the equipment for it. Security and call quality have improved to the point where most people (customers and other users) can no longer tell the difference between VoIP and landline calls.

At this point, the only companies who are using analog phone systems do so because they don’t have the internet infrastructure to support it or due to industry regulations. However, while VoIP adoption has been on the rise, not all businesses utilize VoIP features effectively. There are quite a few lesser-known features that can help transform your customer service, marketing campaigns, or even collaboration between teams.

One such feature is vanity numbers. At first glance, it may appear to be a simple feature that only some companies need. But the truth is that vanity numbers can help companies enormously with:

  • Customer awareness
  • Brand-building efforts
  • Marketing and advertisement campaigns
  • Provide your business with an edge over the competition

What is a vanity number?

A vanity number is a custom phone number that you can construct to spell out a word, phrase, or business name. You can also select custom phone numbers with a specific repeating number frequency such as 999 or 1234. Providers may offer a wide range of area codes to choose from and there are few rules when it comes to selecting a vanity number. The most important thing to remember is that the number string you pick should be memorable.

Some examples of vanity numbers are:

  • 1-800-PLUMBER
  • 888-PET-FOOD
  • 843-TAX-TIPS

Tips to construct a memorable vanity number

While there are few rules to vanity numbers, you do want to select one that is relevant to your business, is memorable in some way, and easy to say or spell out. Some tips to help you construct a good vanity number are the following:

  • Be sure to avoid misspellings of common words. Even if your business name is such a word, don’t use it in the vanity number. Most people won’t notice the extra/missing letter and will simply dial the regular spelling. This means they contact someone else instead of your company
  • Try not to use letters such as Q or Z which are hard to pronounce or that are silent when saying the word. Your audience may not realize those letters exist in the number and again end up calling the wrong number
  • If your business name is too complex, long, or otherwise not suitable for a vanity number, opt for using a descriptive word instead. Suppose your cake shop is called Grandma Mae’s Homemade Cupcakes. It’s quite hard to construct a good vanity number from the name. However, something like 800-CUPCAKES will resonate with your customers
  • Could be you advertise on social media or your audience skews young, then you can also use a word or phrase that the customer already associates with your brand. It could be a hashtag that you normally use or a tagline that all your campaigns sign off with.
  • Test the vanity number in every way you can. Write it down, ask people to say it, and consider misspellings, accents, and other nuances for the phrase/word. You can also run a quick search to ensure the word is not inappropriate or offensive in most English-speaking countries

Types of vanity numbers

Vanity numbers can be toll-free or regular numbers. The benefits of using toll-free vanity numbers are immediately obvious. You are giving potential and current customers a memorable number to call and they don’t have to pay call charges either.

However, not every organization can afford to purchase a toll-free vanity number. These can get quite expensive which can put this option out of reach for smaller businesses. As with every other VoIP feature, you can choose something that fits your budget. You can purchase regular vanity numbers where customers are charged the typical rates to call.

Do keep in mind that some providers will only offer toll-free customer numbers. So if your current VoIP phone provider does not offer a number you want, you can always purchase one from someone else.

Vanity number coverage

The most common vanity numbers you will see are toll-free with nationwide coverage. It means anyone within the country can call the number without any charges. However, you can purchase custom numbers with specific area coverage as well such as a number that only works in one or more states.

If you buy a toll-free vanity number with state coverage, then only customers with the local area code can dial it. If you have offices in a couple of neighboring states or mostly service customers in a particular region, then you can buy a number with regional coverage.

Businesses can also purchase custom numbers that work across the USA, Canada, and sometimes even Mexico. These numbers can be harder to find from most providers and are also typically more expensive.

Features of custom numbers

Most, if not all, vanity numbers come with a plethora of features you may already be used to with regular VoIP numbers.

Call tracking

Most vendors will offer call tracking for your vanity number. What this means is that you can access detailed reports regarding various characteristics of incoming calls. For instance, you can break down calls from a particular state or region to see where most of your callers are. It can help you decide to focus on a particular market or launch a new product in that area first.

Call tracking may or may not include caller information as well. This will allow you to identify potential customers and untapped markets. You can also gauge demand for your products and services across the nation.

Call recording

All of us have heard the familiar voice advising that the call may be recorded and monitored for quality or training purposes when contacting a business. You may want to enable call recording for your vanity number as well. Most businesses purchase a custom number for marketing and promotional purposes. So incoming calls will focus on converting potential leads into sales. Recording these calls will allow you to analyze them later to identify areas of improvement for your agents or to help in training new recruits.

Missed calls

No matter how many people you have answering the phones. It’s highly improbable that you will answer every single call every day. A record of the total number of calls versus the number of missed calls can give you a better idea of how to staff the phone lines. You may wish to assign different shift schedules for your employees to minimize missed calls during peak hours. This data can also help you predict when call volume will peak during the day or if you need extra hands on deck for the busy season (time of year, just after an ad campaign, etc.)

View call analytics

After monitoring the call records for a few days, you will likely see patterns emerge. Detailed call logs and analytics will help you understand why and when customers are most likely to call your business. Suppose your TV ad runs on a specific day of the week or the radio jingle plays several times during a particular show. Your call log should show a spike in numbers corresponding to the advertisement. Based on this data you can calculate the return on investment for various campaigns and make decisions on which ones are better for the business.

How to get a vanity number?

There are many providers who specifically offer toll-free vanity numbers and others who provide all kinds of vanity numbers. Your current VoIP vendor may also have a few options for you. While it is convenient to use a number from your current vendor, it can pay to shop around, especially if you have a small budget.

Some websites offer a simple search tool so you can find available vanity numbers for your business. Once you’ve found what you want, they will email you a quote to purchase one. Be sure to get a number from a reliable provider with a robust infrastructure to support it. You should be able to integrate the vanity number easily with your phone system.

Cost of vanity numbers

The cost of a vanity number can vary based on the features/coverage options you need. For instance, a toll-free vanity number with nationwide coverage will be much more expensive than a local custom number with state overage.

Unfortunately, that can make it quite difficult to compare prices between vendors. When getting quotes, make sure to check that you are comparing apples to apples. Also, read the fine print and associated conditions for each quote. Some vendors may have restrictions that can affect how you can use the vanity number or the price you pay for it.

How to get a vanity number

Benefits of vanity numbers

Now that you understand the logistics of getting and using a customer number, let’s take a look at the benefits of having one.

Brand awareness

Using a vanity number is a cost-effective way to improve brand awareness over the long term. It may take you some time to get the perfect number and set it up. But once it’s out there, the number constantly extends the reach of your brand. Every time someone sees the number on a billboard or hears it on TV in the background, your brand is making its presence felt. Over time, your audience will remember the brand and reach for the phone when they want to call you.

Easy to recall

Vanity numbers are memorable. It means they are easy for customers to remember, especially during those times when they cannot write down your number. Suppose a person hears your radio jingle while driving. They certainly cannot write down your contact number but a vanity number is easy to remember without much effort. 800-123-HVAC is easier to remember than a random 10-digit string of numbers.

A potential customer crossing the street may catch a glimpse of your ad on a passing bus. A vanity number will stay in their memory more than a random phone number. When they need your services, they will recall the custom number and call you.

Streamline marketing campaigns

Your new vanity number is a huge asset, so make sure to use it across all channels and mediums. Do you have vehicles that deliver your products on the road? Paint the number on their side. Put it on billboards, newspaper ads, on your letterhead, etc. The more you use it, the higher visibility it gets. Your customers won’t have any doubts about contacting you, they should instantly remember the custom number.

Word of mouth marketing

Another benefit of using a vanity number is that people can share it with their friends and family. Word of mouth – when your customers refer new leads to your business – is the best form of marketing you can get. These potential leads already have personal testimonials from a trusted source, so your sales team can easily convert them to completed sales.

A vanity number makes it easy for your audience to share it across their social circle. Just think, which number is easier to say out loud or type on social media – 888-HOME-HELP or 308-412-6859? You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to refer you to their friends and family. Using a vanity number is a cost-effective way to do precisely that.

Improve response rates to advertising campaigns

Research has shown that using a vanity number can significantly boost response rates to advertising campaigns. You can test this yourself by running two campaigns, one with the vanity number, and one with a regular number. This is especially true if you are launching your product in a new market or region. Your target audience may not have any idea about your business but the vanity number will make sure the advertisement is memorable.

Competitive advantage

Using a vanity number, especially one that describes your business rather than a name, confers an edge over the competition. For instance, your vanity number is 800-FLOWERS and you use it on all your marketing materials. Over time, people will associate the product category with your brand rather than a competitor.

If they want to buy flowers, they will pick up the phone and call you. They won’t consider anyone else and probably won’t remember their generic number if needed. Any marketing expert will tell you this kind of association is priceless when it comes to the consumer mindset. It can drive sales and improve profitability several times over.


There is a prevailing idea that only big companies can afford to buy vanity numbers. As a consequence, people assume that any business with a vanity number is credible and professional. When you are a small or local business competing with larger organizations, a vanity number is an effective way to even the playing field. A startup or emerging business can use vanity numbers to get visibility and show they are trustworthy.

If your business is expanding to a new market, having a nationwide toll-free vanity number can also improve visibility to potential customers. It gives you a national presence with very little investment. You may gain significant traction with customers beyond your local area since your vanity number has a big presence.

Call routing

You can set call routing rules for your vanity number just like any other VoIP phone number. Depending on the size of your business and anticipated call volume, you may have a few people answering the phones or an entire department. In either situation, you can set call rules regarding where incoming calls go to.

For instance, you can set rules based on the time of day so that there is someone available to answer calls regardless of the time zone. This works beautifully if you have multiple offices in different states or across the country. Even if you don’t have several offices, you can allow employees to work remotely and answer the phones at their local time when your main office is closed.

Alternatively, you can route incoming calls to a voicemail box during holidays and return calls when the office opens back up. Individual users can also set their preferences as to which device should ring for incoming calls. VoIP numbers offer several call routing options, so you can set yours up to ensure no customer call is ever missed.

Disadvantages of using vanity numbers

Vanity numbers are a powerful marketing tool and they can be very beneficial for organizations. So why doesn’t everyone have a vanity number? It’s crucial to remember that not every business has a good case for using vanity numbers. It’s an amazing tool for any business that relies on voice communication and phone calls. But not all companies rely on the phone to communicate.

If you run a small dressmaking service that relies on local clientele with an established phone number, you may not need a vanity number at all. Or maybe your customers prefer to come into the store for personalized services. The same business may still purchase a custom number when they are ready to expand but until then, they may not need a tool like this one.

Managers should also remember that vanity numbers have a cost attached. It’s not necessary to use them until you need to. Unlike traditional phone contracts, you can buy or remove vanity numbers whenever you like and only pay for usage. The only constraint is the availability of the desired number.

Having a vanity number may not fit with your overall brand messaging as well. A company that makes and sells custom luxury cars may feel that a vanity number will not attract the customer segment they are looking at. Suppose a brand caters to young adults and has a trendy, youthful image. Using a vanity number may look outdated to their audience, negating any potential benefits.

Another potential drawback is number availability. The perfect custom number for your business may be taken already or too expensive. Your business name or industry may not be conducive to creating a good custom number. Either way, it may be better to forgo using one rather than pick a clunky/misspelled vanity number.

Should you buy a vanity number?

As you can see, the benefits of vanity numbers far outweigh any disadvantages they have. Those drawbacks are also applicable to niche use cases, just like businesses that rely on analog phone systems. For many companies, using a vanity number provides significant benefits from a customer service and marketing point of view.

You should remember that VoIP vanity numbers are flexible. You don’t have to commit to any annual contracts or service agreements. You can test-drive a number and then decide to continue using it when you see the results come in. Most vendors also provide different pricing options so you can select one that fits your requirements.

Vanity numbers can help your business stand out from the crowd and compete against much bigger organizations. It can help build brand awareness and makes it easier for customers to contact you. For a tool that requires very little upfront investment, it’s a truly impressive set of features suitable for businesses. So what are you waiting for? Get a vanity number and start building your brand today.

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Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Start a free 30 day trial now, no credit card details are needed!