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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Toll Free Numbers Across the World

Wednesday, January 23, 2013



One of the best things about being in marketing, and specifically search engine optimization (SEO), is that you get to meet people from all over the world interested in pretty much the same thing.  I recently met an internet marketer from Melbourne Australia and we had a great knowledge share about toll free numbers and how they support businesses of all shapes and sizes.


What I found particularly interesting is that our concept of toll free is pervasive throughout the world - with one twist.  Our 800 or 888 toll free numbers are different and used differently in other parts of the world.  In fact, Australia uses 1300 numbers as their standard to deliver marketing related promotions and messaging via text.  Different countries also use variations of the 1-800 theme.  I asked my new best friend from Australia to provide some insight into the 'toll free' phenomenon and how to choose the best one for your business. 

The difference between a 1300 number and an 1800 number is that a 1300 number attracts a local call connect fee (around 25 cents) when dialed from a land line. A call to an 1-800 is free here in the US when dialed from a landline. Note that higher fees usually apply when either type of number is dialed from a mobile phone. When a 1300 number is called by a user in the same local call area there is usually no cost to the recipient for the first 20 minutes. The recipient is usually charged at a set rate per second for each call, depending on plan and destination. This makes the 1300 number similar to a combination of our toll free and 900 numbers - something the US has not yet adopted.

In Anthony's country, 1300 numbers work a little differently than 1-800 numbers given the difference in regulation (Do Not Call Lists). With all of the toll free numbers that exist, it might be hard to track down what works best for small businesses or those seeking an online subscription via phone but the use of toll free or fee based calling is nothing new. 

Creating customized toll free numbers and offering it to your customers is a great way to stand out from competitors. If you have personalized numbers you've just released for a promotion, they'll know exactly whose number they are dialing and what for.  Having a standard toll free number for a business is ideal but using these numbers for specific promotions and really enhance campaign effectiveness.

There are many types of programs you can find to assist with the acquisition and promotion of toll free numbers in the US and Internationally.  It's essential that you take your time to make your 1300 numbers and 1800 numbers fun for your prospects and customers if you really want it to be effective. As someone is out there waiting for a bus, listening to the radio, or reading your ad, they could be exposed to a number that is easy to remember and prompts action.

There are numerous resources available such as phone research or dialing that can help you gain insights into your market and promote your services. There is so much information to be gained that it can be hard to know where to begin when thinking about the use of toll free marketing in your marketing strategy. Spend some time reading and developing a comprehensive marketing strategy around using toll free numbers.  This is essential if you want to make the most of your promotional dollars.

When 1-800, 1-300, or even 1-900 numbers are created, try to include the number's name in the message. This personal approach makes customers feel important, instead of like just a customer number. Successful businesses help each of its customers to feel individually important because they are important to businesses growth and success.

If you are designing a toll free number, get the most mileage out of your number by promoting the number in your internet marketing campaign. This will work to ensure that your promotional material is distributed to as many people within your target market as possible. There really is no reason to keep your effort separated, using different campaigns.  Integrate your toll free number wherever and whenever possible into your marketing communications.

Try to limit the amount of offers you're sending via your toll free phone number. It can be a little tedious for you to sit there and devise a number of alert messages and call-to-action lines to send out, and it can be really annoying to the people receiving them. Keep your messages at a minimum unless you really have something important to say.

There are a lot of different ways that you can get your toll free numbers out there (1800, 1300, 1900, etc.), but few are as direct as phone-based toll free marketing. Hopefully it works well for you.


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