How to display your telephone numbers

Do you still remember landline numbers from your childhood? Have you ever wondered why some telephone numbers are easier to remember than others?

Is it when they contain repeated digits? Maybe a memorable sequence of numbers? Or is there something else that helps a number stick in your memory? And why is it important for businesses to understand and use to their advantage.

The format of your company’s telephone number is more important than you may think. In this blog, we’ll explore how displaying telephone numbers in a format that is easy for consumers to read and understand will ultimately help ensure your prospects pick up the phone and call your business.

Why the anatomy of a phone number is important

For most of us, our own mobile numbers are embedded in our brains. But have you ever given your mobile number to someone and had it repeated back to you in a way that you’ve really had to think about whether it was right? If they don’t repeat your number back in the same way you’re used to, it sounds alien; whether that’s saying each number individually, breaking it up into three or four digit blocks, or using “double” or “triple” when you don’t normally use it.

This proves that the way in which phone numbers are both displayed and spoken has an effect on how consumers view, remember, and respond to them.

Telephone number formatting guide

All telephone numbers need to have spaces between the digits for ease of reading. Since the introduction of different number codes by the telecoms regulator (currently OFCOM) there has been a standard way to display numbers.

However, it’s surprising how many companies ignore the standard formats and show numbers on a website and in advertising that customers struggle to read because it goes against the familiar display.

Examples of how misplaced digits can make numbers look odd can be seen by looking at examples for the London code and the Sevenoaks code:

London code:

  • 02072458791 – no spaces
  • 02072 458971 – space after 5 digits
  • 020 7245 8971 – space between 3 and 7 digits (OFCOM recommended)
  • 0207 2458 971 – space between 4 and 7 digits

Sevenoaks code:

  • 01732823270 – no spaces
  • 01732 823270 – space after 5 digits (OFCOM recommended)
  • 017 328 3270 – space between 3 and 7 digits

Looking at these two examples, the OFCOM recommended format is the easiest to read and remember. This is how we have all been trained to look at numbers, therefore to go against the perceived formats just makes it more difficult for customers.

To make sure that you don’t make the mistake of displaying your numbers incorrectly in your advertising and on your website, here’s a useful guide:

Name Number type How to display
Non geographic – 08 0800, 0808, 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870 08XX XXX XXXX
Non geographic – 03 03XX 03XX XXX XXXX
Geographic – 5 digit code 01XXX 01XXX XXXX(X)
Geographic – 4 digit code 01XX 01XX XXX XXXX
Geographic – Cities 0121, 0131, 0141, 0151, 0161, 0191 01X1 XXX XXXX
Geographic – London 020 XXXX XXXX 020 XXXX XXXX
Geographic – Cities 02X 02X XXXX XXXX

Adapting your phone numbers to drive customer engagement

A small tweak to how you display your telephone numbers can have a huge impact on your customer engagement and inbound enquiries. For the majority of businesses, telephone numbers should either be geographic (they start with the code 01 or 02) or non-geographic (starting with the code 03 or 08).

  • Geographic numbers relate to particular areas or towns, and people learn these codes from an early age (your childhood home landline number, for example).
  • Non-geographic numbers are not tied to a specific location. They are typically used by businesses to facilitate easy communication with customers, location neutrality, call routing, and disaster recovery.

Depending on how a company wants to present itself to its customer base, both number types have different roles to play within a marketing strategy:

  • A care home group may use a dynamic 08 or 03 tracked phone number on their website for enquiries, but the Google Business Profile for each home would use the geographic number for the region they’re located in.
  • A car dealership brand with multiple locations listed on their website would use geographic dynamic call tracking for each of those listings, so they have complete visibility of the marketing sources that are generating their inbound leads.
  • Local home services businesses, such as plumbers or electricians, may prefer to use a geographic number relevant to the region that they operate in. Home services that form part of a larger group, however, may prefer to use a non-geographic number as a way to route calls through to the appropriate region.

Summary

It’s easy to overlook the importance of telephone numbers. But phone numbers are a critical component for connecting and engaging with prospects. Used correctly, the right phone number format and strategy will significantly impact your inbound enquiries and lead generation.

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About the author - Harry Bott

Harry Bott, Director at Mediahawk, has over 20 years of experience helping marketers generate a better response from their marketing. He has enabled businesses to improve their conversion rates through his consultative approach and deep understanding across various sectors, including automotive and care homes.

Call tracking and search marketing - the combination you didn't know you needed. Mediahawk.
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