On 1st July 2015, Ofcom introduced new measures that made UK Freephone 0800 numbers free to call from mobile phones, as well as landlines. Until then, calling an 0800 number was completely free if you rang from a landline. However, many mobile providers excluded these calls from their inclusive packages. Ironically, this meant that while mobile customers could call any other phone number for free (including other mobile networks) as part of their package, calls to numbers which were classified as “free to phone” ended up actually costing extra. How ridiculous is that?
A brief history of 0800 numbers
0800 numbers were first introduced in the United Kingdom back in 1985, as a free-to-call service (from landlines only). BT was the exclusive provider of these freephone numbers, which were meant for business use only.
in 1985, mobile phones were only just starting to hit the consumer market. Landline usage was predominant both domestically and commercially, so almost all calls to 0800 numbers originated from landline phones.
Seeing the opportunities that came from allowing callers to contact them for free, many forward-thinking businesses purchased 0800 numbers to give them a competitive advantage. Unsurprisingly, many charities and helplines followed suit.
Mobile phone growth & its impact on 0800 numbers
In early 2011, experts predicted that calls from mobile phones would outstrip landlines by the end of the year.
Between 2011 and 2015, the take-up of 0800 numbers among businesses slowed significantly.
Why was this?
This massive growth in mobile usage, combined with the confusion around the cost of calling 0800 numbers, meant many businesses were reluctant at that time to adopt a “freephone 0800” as their main contact number.
Since July 2015, 0800 numbers, and other freephone numbers impacted by Ofcom’s call charge ruling), have seen a surge in popularity.
The removal of mobile call charges to 0800 numbers has meant consumers are more willing to call 0800 numbers from their mobile phones.
We often get asked: “With most mobile phone providers offering unlimited calls to all numbers, what benefits does an 0800 number give a business over a landline or mobile phone number?”
And that’s a very fair question.
5 reasons why an 0800 number is better for your business
1. When everything else changes, your phone number can stay put
In an ever-changing corporate world where business details change constantly, 0800 numbers are one thing that remain constant.
0800 numbers are “non-geographic” so aren’t tied to any specific region. So, while your registered office address, locality or email address might change, your 0800 number will remain the same. Provided you retain your 0800 number, and have it routed through to a landline or mobile number that someone will answer, callers will always get through to your business.
2. Get better results from your advertising by testing multiple 0800 numbers
Drive more sales by spending more on the marketing channels that work best. Say you’re promoting the launch of a new product, but you’re not sure what type of advertising or channel will deliver the best results – e.g. newspaper/magazine ads, Radio, TV or online pay-per-click? Rather than throw all your eggs into one basket and hope for the best, you should test the waters with a small budget before committing to a bigger spend.
The flexibility and ease of 0800 numbers means you can allocate different freephone numbers to each advert (across all channels). Then, you can view the call analytics offered by the best cloud-based virtual number providers to see which test campaign was most successful.
If there’s a clear cut winner (or winners), you can direct more budget to the most effective channel (or channels) when launching your full campaign.
3. Expand your audience reach with a nationally recognised phone number
If your business is based in Cornwall, but capable of servicing customers throughout the country, there’s no reason to limit your national appeal by advertising a local area phone number.
Because 0800 numbers are used by so many respected businesses and charities, they don’t carry the stigma that other non-geographic numbers have. In fact, having an 0800 number has been shown to increase the appeal of a company in the eyes of prospects and customers.
Studies have shown that consumers who are offered the choice of phoning a “free to call” number or traditional geographic number are more likely to choose the free option. The appeal of 0800 numbers was further strengthened by the July 2015 Ofcom ruling which made calls to 0800 numbers free from all mobile phone networks.
4. Make sure your number won’t be forgotten
One of the first jobs I had after leaving college was answering calls for Nickelodeon, the Kids TV production company. I still get cold sweats when I hear or see the number “0800 801801”. For many years, that was one of the most popular phone numbers on the planet.
Apart from the fact it was mentioned so often during Nickelodeon programmes, the number was so easy to remember. Obviously, for a company trying to encourage callers, that’s a pretty high priority!
The beauty of 0800 numbers is that they come in all sorts of shapes & sizes. You have the standard numbers, which are cheap to rent and used by businesses that just need a functioning contact number. Then you have cherished or memorable 0800 numbers that are much more attractive and easier to remember – similar to a private car number plate which carries some extra gravitas and makes it stand out from other vehicles on the road.
5. Manage stuff like redirects and voicemail messages in the cloud
There’s a fair bit of mystery surrounding the “cloud”, especially when it comes to telecoms.
Cloud telecom terminology can be confusing, and sometimes you get the feeling companies like it this way, as an excuse to charge more for their services!
0800 numbers are basically, non-geographic virtual phone numbers. They are a type of telephone number which do not require a direct connection to a traditional telephone line. In most cases, virtual numbers are used to forward calls to one of a series of phone numbers pre-configured by you. These can be a combination of fixed landlines, mobiles or even VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
Premium virtual phone number packages typically include access to an online portal that gives you control over the number and its redirect configurations. The best platforms also allow you to upload a bespoke voicemail message, as well as access a bunch of useful analytics about call sources, volume and duration.
If you want to buy an 0800 number for your business, ideally you should try and find a package that includes incoming minutes to your chosen UK landline or mobile number. Otherwise you could end up spending a lot more than you bargained for.
We offer 3 types of 0800 number packages to suit every type of business, from freelancer right up to busy call centres. Obviously you pay more for additional bundled minutes and functionality, but you’re also getting unrivalled call quality and industry-leading customer service. Check out our choice of 0800 number packages here.