If you are taking on a radio advertising campaign, you no doubt are looking to get inquiries to convert to sales. Over the years, there have been many radio advertising experts who tackle the always controversial topic of phone numbers in radio advertising. Does the phone number in the spot get results? Clients want them in there so that the phone will ring. Copywriters believe phone numbers take up valuable real estate in a commercial that can be used more productively to convert potential customers. As a radio advertiser, what should you do?
If you are a regular reader to our radio advertising articles, you know that we do our best to get advertisers to approach the content of their radio spots from the point of view of the customer. Many times the advertiser is just too close to the product or service and has a hard time keeping an objective viewpoint. As always, when in doubt – ask! Ask your customers about what they do when they hear radio commercials with phone numbers. Do they write down the number when listening to the radio advertisement in the car? At the office? How did they contact you? Did they even call at all, or did they just stop by the showroom? Do they remember your phone number? You can gain some valuable insight from your customers. However, keep in mind that this information needs to be reviewed carefully. If a customer tells you he definitely remembers the phone number from your radio commercial, but all you have run are print ads, be careful!
At RADIO LOUNGE, we have used our years of radio advertising experience to develop a few general rules of thumb when it comes to phone numbers in radio ads.
The first question is – how important is this number in the purchase of my product or service? Will a clothing store make a sale via the phone? Probably not. If your restaurant does not take reservations, why have a phone number. Use common sense. You have limited air time (:60, :30, even :15’s, :10’s and the infamous Clear Channel :05’s, and :02’s)..stick to what’s important! For effective radio advertising, stay true to the singular focus that makes your product or service meet a need or solve a problem. Don’t waste time with a phone number no one can remember and really isn’t important to the actual purchase anyway. Make the point of purchase the key factor in the radio advertising. Is it a physical location? Steer the listeners to the location (and don’t use mailing addresses…in Houston, I know right away where Southwest Freeway at West Airport is at…but I haven’t a clue where 10502 Southwest Freeway is). Direct the listener to a website where purchases can be made or visual contact information is available. Locations and website are usually much easier to remember than phone numbers anyway. A website is typically the name of the company dot com (leave off the “www dot” in front, and make sure your website is easy to remember). Which leads us to…
The next big question – IF the number is key to the purchase, is this number memorable? Research has shown over and over that a very tiny percentage of radio listeners ever stop and write down a phone number from a radio ad. Especially while they are driving! Because radio works as a strong branding medium, most research shows that radio advertising builds up the awareness and curiosity about the company, product or service. Radio advertising creates a desire for the product when it makes the connection to listener who has a specific need or impulse want. A lot of research shows that the majority of potential customers will build upon the radio advertising message they’ve heard and either use a third source to find contact information (phone book, internet) or they remember contact information because it is memorable. So, if you have a totally unmemorable phone number (such as our toll free number that no one – EVEN US – can remember – 866-428-3469) you have a few options.
1) Purchase a vanity phone number. If you are investing in radio advertising, make the extra small expenditure to get an extra line with a memorable number. The extra line can also help measure the impact of the radio advertising campaign if the line is solely used to retrieve inquiries from the advertising. We just completed a project for a metal recycling facility. Their number in Houston is 713-4-RECYCLE. Excellent! Easy to remember even if you can’t write it down.
2) Build the spot around the phone number. It’s not the best option, but in some cases it can stick. It may sound dated, but jingle sings of the phone number can still be catchy enough to stick in the minds of listeners.
3) Drive listeners to an easy to remember website where the phone number is in clear sight. We mentioned earlier, many time the URL for the website is much easier to remember than seven to ten random digits. Yes, it adds one more extra step in the sales conversion process, but it’s better than the phone not ringing at all.
The best tip for using phone numbers in radio advertising is to use common sense. Think about your own listening behaviors. Ask about the listening behaviors of your customers. Think about whether the phone number is even necessary to make the sale. If so, how can you make it as easy as possible for potential customers to reach you?