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Monthly Archives: January 2010

After Google Voice from last week, I wanted to get back to the basics and describe some of the uses, both standard and more complex, that consumers and businesses can put to toll free numbers. I’ll touch further on consumer use of vanity toll free numbers in a future article, but first, let’s discuss what toll free numbers can do for your business.

New products, new competition, new mailing lists, new government regulations — there are always reasons why you should be updating your direct marketing materials.

One of the best ways to test and compare the effectiveness of new materials is by using toll-free numbers. That way you can tell immediately which offers are getting responses. Plus, response rates can be tabulated automatically through your phone system.

Direct response consultants will tell you that you need to be constantly testing and refining. Here are a few of the ways you can test your materials:

  • Test your new campaign to your current customer base. Mail to existing lists, or advertise in the existing channels. See how the new campaign compares to previous ones to the same lists.
  • Test current directing marketing campaigns to a new customer base. Try a new mailing list, put your ads in a new periodical or on a new radio station. See how the new customer lists responds.
  • Try out preliminary versions of a new campaign, testing to sub-sections of your existing customer list. This will help you determine which version of the new campaign to roll out to your full list.

When you sign up for toll-free numbers with Custom Toll Free, you get access to an online management tool that assists you with direct response tracking. There’s even a free campaign analysis tool included; input advertising costs and see your return-on-investment expressed in terms of cost per call.

Find out more.

Did you think Google Voice was simply a tool for professionals who had entirely too many ways for people to get a hold of them? Well, it is that, but it’s also an opportunity for you to get the word out about your business. With a little ingenuity, you can create your own “Google Voice 800 number” that will go a long way toward helping your prospects find you.

If you haven’t heard of Google Voice, it’s a service from Google currently being tested that gives you a single point of contact and has a number of neat features as well. One of these, and perhaps the most important one for a small business, is call routing. This will allow you to answer only those calls that come in on your forwarded toll free number and route other calls to different locations. For example, if you’re in your home office, and someone calls your cell number, which rings through to your Google Voice number, you can route the call to any of the numbers in your Google Voice profile, such as your main home number, where someone else can answer the call. If you’ve got a bigger operation, you can even have calls from your 800 number forwarded to other parts of your business or to the phones of individual employees. The possibilities are endless.
Of course, there are some down sides as well. You’ll just have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in your particular situation. One thing’s for sure, a Google Voice toll free combination could be a life saver for a small business.

To get things up and running, you’ll first need a toll-free number that you can forward to Google Voice. After that, you’ll need an invitation to join the service, at least until Google launches the full version later this year. I’m working on getting an invitation for myself, so I hope to have a first-hand review of Google Voice in the near future. I’ll also be highlighting other features that small business owners will find particularly useful.