When an 800 Number May Work Against You

GeoTarget Phone

If your company provides services throughout a major metropolitan area, or even in multiple areas, you may think you're improving the odds of attracting new business by offering a toll-free 800 number on your web site.

However, a recent test by the Engine Ready team actually proved the opposite.

Using our call tracking software, our team designed a test that would alternately serve up their client's 800 number and local number on specific landing pages to determine which phone number generated more inbound calls.

We setup an A/B split test by creating different campaigns that geo-targeted specific cities. Half of the traffic was directed to the landing page with an 800 number; the other half was taken to an identical page displaying the local phone number.

Table 1

shows conversion rates for the landing pages displaying our client's 800 phone number versus their local number:

Table 1 - Conversion Rates by Phone Number
City Conversion Rate
800 Number
Conversion Rate
Local Number
Oakland 8.8% 14.3%
San Francisco 15.6% 34.4%
San Jose
Seattle 9.9% 17.3%
Total Test 10.4% 21.9%


Table 2

shows the percentage of phone calls received from the landing pages testing the display of our client's 800 phone number versus their local number:

Table 2 - % Calls Received by Phone Number
City % Calls Received With
800 Phone Number
% Calls Received With
Local Phone Number
Oakland 38% 62%
San Francisco 31% 69%
San Jose 24% 76%
Seattle 36% 64%
Total Test 32% 68%


Based on this limited test, our team observed that a local number on landing pages converted more visitors to call at over twice the rate of the identical landing pages displaying the 800 phone number.

Due to the nature of this client's business, they do not have an online form as a conversion option, so the only action that can be classified as a conversion is a phone call. Based on this, we were not able to determine what impact, if any, would accrue to online conversions.

The takeaway here is that if you sell services in more than one area, you'll definitely want to setup an A/B test of phone numbers within geo-targeted campaigns.

You may want to even consider performing a 3-way test: A page displaying the 800 number against an identical page displaying the local number against yet another identical page displaying both numbers.

If you don't have a call tracking solution to measure the calls, you can learn more about Engine Ready's Call Analytics software here.

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