Make Your Phone Number Big and Put It in Your Header to Increase Trust

Multi-Million Dollar Brands Are Built on Successfully Displaying Phone Numbers

Most tech startups don’t have a phone number for visitors to call for support or sales. But if you offer any sort of solution that might normally – offline – require a salesperson to close the sale, such as an enterprise-level offering that costs more than $100 per month, you should strongly consider hiring a sales agent – or making yourself available – to take calls.

Here’s the point: If you have a phone number for customers to call, place it prominently.

And here’s why: An easy-to-find phone number can boost conversion because people feel comforted that, if they need you, they can call.

It’s not that they will call. It’s that they can call.

The presence of a phone number is the presence of assurance. It’s a cue to trust you.

Trust Is Important to Converting People
When your visitors trust you, they can stop being suspicious… and start letting your message flow in.

  1. Always imagine a wall between you and your customers. Converting is largely about breaking down the pieces of that wall most consumers have built up. As soon as your visitors begin to trust you, great big sections of that wall start to come down – which brings you closer to them, and them closer to you. That’s HUGE for sales.
  2. Trust helps your visitors feel good. And feeling good – as any conversion consultant will tell you – is a very powerful thing. People are at their most flexible – and most open to being persuaded by you – when they feel good. More so when they feel good about you.

This is very similar to a persuasion strategy that most startups are already using: offer money-back guarantees. Like money-back guarantees, phone numbers are there not to drive people to take advantage of them but to give people the assurance they need that they’re not stuck, over-committed or alone.

When you prominently display your phone number, this is the big bonus: If your visitors do call, you are more likely to close a sale with them. Why? Because they’ve just taught you something critical about your ideal market: at least a portion of potential customers must talk to someone before buying. They need to talk.

People who call in are the sorts of shoppers who need to speak with someone first. They require human interaction.

People who need 1-to-1 interactions to purchase have a harder time buying on a website that lacks live chat or phone. Put live chat or phone in an easy-to-find space, and you’re that much closer to converting more of those chatty visitors. The shoppers who don’t need phone or chat simply won’t use them. Done.

Common Concern: Showing a Phone Number Will Drive Calls
Making a phone number easy to find does not increase your visitor’s desire to switch channels – that is, to switch from shopping online to shopping over the phone.

The only thing it does is help those visitors who already want to call and talk to someone actually do what they want to do: call and talk to someone.

Hence, the prominent placement of your phone number is not a call-driver.

Rather, it’s the smart thing to do to close more sales.

(Anyone who’s ever worked in a business that has a call center knows the skilled sales people who work the phones have insanely high conversion rates that simply can’t be matched on a website. Let your site be the lead generator… and let real live people close the sale.)

Here are a few examples of startup sites that get this persuasion strategy right:
A serious startup that’s managed to become huge. Certainly their focus on talking to customers didn’t hurt their success.
Blue Nile does mondo business online and knows that, at the price points their products have, both Live Chat and a phone number need to be placed prominently in the header.
This voice talent agency knows that a prominent phone number can only help their sales.
Not just one mention of the phone number… but two. Both in the top 100 pixels of the page. Is it any wonder sites likes Bloomex have insanely high conversion rates?
On Pricing & Signup, the phone number is positioned directly below the catalogue and highlighted to be noticed.

Why Put Your Number in the Header?
Placing important anxiety-reducers – like phone numbers, but also like money-back guarantees and free shipping messages – in the header ensures that these messages are shown to all visitors across all pages.

TIP: If you want to see your conversion increase quickly, test the addition of prominent anxiety-reducers in your header. With 1 exception, I’ve seen this sort of header test result in a lift of 8 to 10%. That’s not an enormous increase, but in combo with other optimization activities and when compounded over time and tests, it can mean big money.

What Happens If You Make Your Number Hard to Find?
Those who want to find your phone number won’t enjoy having to search your website to get it. This unnecessary foraging activity can lead to frustration.

People who want to call you are eventually going to find your number and call (or they’ll bail on you entirely). So don’t put potential or existing customers in a bad mood by hiding your number. Any dollars you save in the call center will be bigger dollars you’ve lost acquiring or retaining customers.

Don’t think you’re preventing expensive phone calls by hiding your number.

In fact, when you hide your number, all you’re doing is making it more difficult for the sales agent to close the sale when, at last, that customer finds the number and calls in.

If You Only Offer Support – Not Sales – by Phone…
Support leaders Zendesk (August 2011) claim that phone is still the most preferred and efficient method of support for customers. If you offer a support number, consider showing that, too – with the clear message around it that that number is for support calls only.

Letting people know someone will be there to guide them at any point is a credibility-booster and an anxiety-reducer.

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copyhackers"

  • lancecj

    All great points… but like most things, it depends. For a sole proprietor or partnership, it may not make sense to provide your phone number due to the reasons you cite, PJ. But I’ve also seen great lifts in *Web* conversion on A/B tests when companies place their phone number within easy reach.

    In addition… I work for a massive software company, and our phone reps convert at 5x the rate of our Web site (which is already well above the much discussed 2%). For our products, people close way better than the Web site. And we’re not the least bit worried about time wasters or hangers on… as our reps know how to handle those situations, too.

    It all depends what you’re aiming for, but the “comfort factor” of seeing a phone number is hard to argue (at least based on all the data I’ve pored over).


    • admin

      Great points, Lance!

      The impetus for this post was that I’ve seen phone reps convert much better than websites do, as you mention. Of course, that doesn’t mean phone reps will ALWAYS convert better… but that they may be able to close more sales – and cross-sell more items – in some industries and/or for some products.

      Who doesn’t want to drive customers to the highest converting salespeople? 🙂

  • One more thing. Some advice I read somewhere, I think from the book Scientific Advertising: “Never allow someone to contact you till they know your story.”

    From a UX point of view, this makes sense too. Fighting clutter and directing attention is a constant battle. If you don’t know anything about me yet, why would you want to, or need to contact me? So I think people should have to do SOME reading before they get contact details.

    This is why “Contact” is not even an option in my navigation!

    • admin

      BTW, if “Contact Us” is your primary call to action on your home page (as it is on yours 🙂 )… that’s as good as putting it in your nav.


  • 1. I would post my phone number but then my phone would ring all day, mostly from people who read something on my blog and then assume because I’m a programmer I can hack their cell phone or something random like that. I’ve considered writing something like “If you’re not here for A, B or C, you’re in the wrong place.” but I think that would turn off people seriously interested in my services.

    2. None of my best clients came from phone calls. Worst clients came by phone! All talk and no substance–those are clients I don’t want. Some level of exclusivity with my phone number seems to work.

    3. I think “phone people” are more likely to call you at the worst possible time when email would be better. If you ask people to fill out a form contact form, this allows you to skip through junk quickly and you’re guaranteed some level of literacy working with that person in the future. My clients have my phone number but they know I prefer email or Skype and my phone number is for emergencies. I never want another “client from hell” who calls and calls just to bitch.

    4. Often with voicemail people are talking fast or there’s a voice compression artifact and you can’t make out every word. Then there’s “telephone tag” where you spends lots of time getting nowhere. Also you don’t have a paper trail and you can’t run a search–many times I have searched Gmail or Skype logs for an important detail I needed. Again, the phone is inefficient.

    5. If you list your phone number, you’ll get nailed by robo-dialers selling junk.

    Sure we want to break down communication barriers but at the same time we got to respect ourselves and our time. Also people are so plugged into email all day long now, it’s a faster, more reliable form of communication for most people.

    • admin

      Great discussion-starting points!

      Your phone will ring more when you present your phone number, yep. But I’m definitely not arguing that everyone needs a phone number. Just that, if you’ve got one, show it off! Let people who need to call you call you.

      How you handle phone calls is another story. You could send them all into a voicemail box with a message that informs them they’ll get faster response times if they just hang up and email you directly. (Of course, how you say that will be important!)

      If you’re a business owner, you’re in the customer service industry… Shutting down phone options may limit your ability to serve your customers in a way that will delight ’em and keep ’em coming back.

      Thanks for the comment!

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