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Freephone Numbers – What They Are and How They Work

Freephone numbers have been around since 1967, when AT&T first introduced them in the United States.

Freephone numbers are popularly well-known as toll-free or 800 numbers, but to the rest of the world they are known as freephone numbers.

What are Freephone Numbers?

Freephone numbers are special telephone numbers that allow callers to reach businesses, companies, and/or individuals without having to pay for the call. The charge of the call is paid by the owner of the 800 number, and not the caller.  They have become an extremely powerful branding and marketing tool for businesses around the world. Some of the most famous examples are 1-800-Flowers, 1-800-Contacts, 1-800-PetMeds, 1-800-GotJunk, and 1-800-JetBlue.

Why Are Freephone Numbers So Popular?

Freephone numbers are very popular for just about any business, especially because a memorable toll-free telephone number can serve as a primary marketing channel to drive new sales.  Since their inception, they have been heavily advertised around the world to fuel consumer awareness of freephone numbers.  Now toll-free numbers are expected by the general public. If you want business, provide your customers with a memorable toll-free phone number to call. Companies have been known to dramatically cut advertising cost by simply leasing a 1-800 number. A big reason businesses also love toll-free telephone numbers, is the ability to easily track and measure ROI. Businesses can easily measure ROI from different marketing channels such as website, newspaper ads, magazine ads, radio ads, television ads and direct mail.

Does Memory Chunking Make Freephone Numbers Effective?

Let’s take a quick look behind the science of why toll-free 1-800 phone numbers are so powerful among consumers and why businesses love them for marketing.

In 1954, Dr. George Miller of Princeton University published a groundbreaking paper, that demonstrated how people can only remember a few things in their working, active, immediate or short-term memory.  He called the principle Memory Chunking. In 1956, he was the author of “The Magical Number 7, Plus or Minus 2,” which suggested that people can retain about 7 “chunks” of information.  [Source: The Magical Number 7, Plus or Minus 2: Some Limits on Our Capacity]

This is very exciting research that applies perfectly to marketing and advertising with toll-free phone numbers. Especially using a vanity toll-free number, makes it even easier for customers to remember your brand with ease. A very famous example is 1-800-GotJunk among many others already mentioned above.

How Do Freephone Numbers Work?

A freephone number forwards the call to any local number you set. There are no special equipment or installation requirements, everything is in the cloud.

When a phone call is placed to a freephone number, the real-time database systems known as Service Control Points (SCPs), route the incoming calls based on the call routing instructions set inside the SCP system. SCPs are updated by SMS/800 with call routing instructions. The Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) query the SCPs to determine how to complete a Toll-free phone call. Basically,  the call is completely free for the caller, and the owner of the freephone number pays for the cost of the incoming call. [Source: What is SMS/800?]

These incredible innovations in telecommunications have been around for a long time and freephone numbers will not go away anytime soon. They are much more powerful than simply saving callers money, freephone numbers are amazingly captivating branding tools for small and large enterprises alike.

Freephone Numbers – References

Salvador Stabler

Salvador Stabler

Email Marketing Specialist at AVOXI
Digital Marketing Manager @AVOXI.
Salvador Stabler
Salvador Stabler

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