Vanity Phone Number Advertising is More Memorable to Car Buyers than URLs Listed in Offline Advertising
Posted by Ralph Paglia on March 16, 2009 at 12:57am
Consumers have a 45% higher recall of toll-free, vanity 800 telephone numbers than they do of many car dealer website addresses, and those that do remember web URLs often go on to research a dealer’s competition, finds a recent survey..
The first-of-its-kind consumer research (pdf), commissioned by 800response, tested recall of both vanity 800 numbers and URLs in advertising and found that in six out of seven tests, car buyers have an overall higher recall rate for vanity 800 phone numbers.
As an example of one recall test, a sample radio ad for a fictitious car dealership, Bayside Auto Sales, featured 1-800-NEW-AUTO as the vanity number, and BaysideAutoSales.com as the mock URL. Survey respondents had a 52% higher recall of the vanity number compared with the URL, despite the fact that the URL was an exact match to the dealership name.
Recall data also demonstrate that vanity 800 numbers are also more memorable than URLs when used in print, outdoor, and broadcast advertising formats.
Researching Competition is First Step
When asked what steps they take when visiting an advertisers website, the majority of consumers surveyed cite “Research the Advertiser” and “Research the Competition, while 800response’s research showed similar results to what J. D. Power and Associates has been reporting for Automotive Internet Users (AIU) for the past 5 years,.. Fewer than 10% of car buyers that see a dealer’s online advertising say they would communicate with the dealer prior to physically visiting the dealership. J. D. Power and Associates also has been reporting for the past 5 years of studies that fewer than 21% of car buyers who visited a dealer’s website before arriving in person on the showroom floor, contacted the dealer in any way prior to their physical visit.
Moreover, 800response’s examination of multiple industries (auto, home improvement, education and health care) reveals that as many as 40% of consumers research an advertising company’s competition as their next step after they leave from their first visit to the advertiser’s web site. It is important to note that multiple car shopping behavior research studies show that when a consumer uses certain types of features within a dealer’s website, they are far more likely to show up at the dealership in person… These known pre-showroom visit activities are called Key Buying Activities (KBA) by some automotive marketers and others refer to them as Key Performance Indicators (KPI) when used to evaluate advertising campaigns and media placements.
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“The results suggest that advertisers who use their websites as the exclusive consumer response tool risk losing potential customers right from the start, with about one-fifth of consumers citing ‘research the competition’ as their first step,” said Laura Noonan, VP of Marketing at 800response. This brings us to the obvious “Best Practice” conclusion that all dealership advertising should prominently feature BOTH the dealership’s easiest to remember toll free phone number, AND a unique and easy to remember URL dedicated and assigned to that campaign. This is further enhanced by placing a different 800 number prominently displayed on the targeted landing page so that marketing managers can differentiate between call volume from the ad itself and call volume generated after consumers visited the dealer’s designated campaign landing page.
“The higher recall for the phone number over the web address is significant for a business when they look at return on advertising investment. If companies aren’t including a phone number in their ads, then they are losing that valuable direct communication with consumers who are already beyond the research phase and ready to buy,” said Noonan. Again, the obvious correlative to Noonan’s statement is that the phone number used in the dealer’s ads, regardless of media channel, should be an easy to remember vanity number for best results.
About the study: The survey was conducted online among 1,000 customers by independent research firm InfoS. The advertisements shown to respondents represented multiple industries including automotive, home improvement, wireless, education, and health care.