The difference between 800, 888, 877 and 866

There are four toll free area codes, 800, 888, 877 & 866.  Technically they all work the same.  However in terms of their marketing image and results for the advertisers, there are obviously some differences. 

The simple explanation is that 800 is essentially .com, 888 is .net and 866 and 877 are like .info, .biz or country codes.  They all technically work the same, but from a marketing standpoint 800 is the king.  800, or 1-800 is more than just a toll free area code but it’s a brand name.  That’s the real difference between 800 and 888 at this point, just the “brand name” value.  It’s the industry default that the one the biggest advertisers use. 

888 is understood and is has some uniquenes to it.  There’s no 777 or 999 and it’s able to be remembered as one string.  For all but the largest advertisers or the ones that rely heavily on credibility, it’s often an acceptable alternative, just like the .net in domain names.

 866 & 877 are like .info or .biz in that even though they technically work the same, they give a smaller home based or newer type of image.  They look more like regular area codes and you definitely have to reinforce that they’re toll free.  You may also lose some callers who think toll free and wind up calling the 800 version.

“800″ is the original toll free area code and has had billions of dollars in advertising and become so wide spread and accepted that the term “800 numbers” is basically a generic term for all area codes of toll free numbers.  By the way, that’s also why 800 is the only area code we usually put a 1 in front of.

888 numbers were introduced in 1996 after several months of rationing. 888 is intrinsically good and memorable and has some uniqueness since there is no 777 or 999 area code. There has also been a fair amount of use, particularly with companies that couldn’t get a good 800 number because of the way they were issued. So although the biggest companies still tend to use 800, 888s are extremely popular and recognized as toll free.

877 was introduced in 1998, and 866 numbers were later added in 1999. They functions exactly as 800 and 888 numbers do, and although they work exactly the same, as “800″ and “888″ numbers, they don’t have the same marketing power. First of all, 877 and 866 look like any other new area codes and have no intrinsic numerical significance or memorability. Secondly, they don’t have the same amount of public use. Both 877 and 866 had only a fraction of the promotion that 888′s did at their introduction and they simply haven’t had the volume of public use that 888 had, even at the same stage in it’s life. Additional area codes such as 866 have also added to the confusion.

866 and 877 have their place, but that’s generally more for personal non-business or smaller business uses because they get fewer wrong numbers. If the calls are revenue generating and you are spending money in advertising to generate the calls, 866 or 877 numbers will cost you money. Just as it is harder to build a brand name around a country code domain name. They may technically function the same as .com, but they don’t generate the same results in marketing. The same is true with 800 numbers.

800 is the .com. It’s the default and the one that the big money and fortune 500 companies have used and will continue to use. 888 is the equivalent of .net. It has some uniqueness and is somewhat memorable. It’s seen and understood by most as an alternative. The main difference between .com and .net is the brand name, and the same is true for 800 and 888. You’ll still lose some calls to the 800 version, especially for applications which involve spontaneous recall or require the caller to dial from memory but at least it gives you an alternative. That doesn’t mean though, that if you can’t get the first 800 you wanted, that your second choice should automatically be the 888 version of this number.

You also have to realize that you have to not only know what you want, but you also have to take what you can get too.  The more advertising you do, the more you need a better number, and the less advertising you do, the less you need a “brand name” 800 number.  If you’re small and just starting out, you already know you can’t afford the best of everything, and that’s probably true with your toll free number too.

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 3.88 out of 5)
    Loading ... Loading ...

    3 Comments »

    adam boyd says:
    February 17, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Would you recommend we place more importance on an 888 over an 877, or take the key word we want most in the number?

    Adam

      Bill Quimby (666 comments.) says:
      February 17, 2009 at 9:22 am

      Hi Adam,

      There’s no absolute answer to your question of area code or terms. Overall I usually say that what you say matters more than the voice you say it in, but it’s definitely a judgment call. The more advertising you’re doing and the more you’re aiming for a fortune 500 big company image the more important it is to have the ‘800’. This is even more important for an elderly audience or situation where credibility is a key factor in the sale.

      But overall the most important thing in your advertising in general as well as the toll free number, is the message. Many people confuse a generic term related to your business as the message though. Your message is essentially the point of your advertising. And if the point of your advertising is that you’re in X business then you’re never going to get past “Me To” marketing and stand out. Find a creative slogan and stand out.

      Bill

        Sean says:
        May 31, 2010 at 9:08 pm

        Bill,

        Sorry to bring back a relatively old post alive. I’m looking to get a toll free number for our company.
        Would you recommend we get a vanity 866 or 877 number, or an obscure 800 number?

        In our business, the remembering of the number is not THAT important, most people who’ll call will be calling us by looking up our number through our website or our business cards, not a billboard or a tv/radio advert.

          1 ping

          Business_link says:
          October 11, 2011 at 11:38 pm

          [...] 877 Toll Free TollFreeNumbers.com » The Internet’s Toll Free Search Engine for Vanity 1-800 Numbers [...]

            RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

            Leave a comment

            Random Testimonials

            Testimonial 1439 out of 1983

            I just wanted to say thank you for going above-and-beyond and helping me get my tollfree number back into service. You folks are a class act.

            Thanks again!

            Steve Misel
            Misel Consulting



            Testimonial 1814 out of 1983

            I have been using Toll Free numbers for many years and never before encountered the ease, convenience and efficiency with which TollFreeNumbers has manage the search, reservation and activation of the number I purchased. I would no doubt return here for my entire further toll free number needs.
            Thanks for a job well done.

            Paul Siska
            First Consumer Debt Management



            Testimonial 1548 out of 1983

            What a great experience. Your company is one of the most efficient company's I have ever dealt with. From my initial contact wright thru to the follow up from your service proffesionals. overhead doorsI am envious and making changes to my business to make my company more efficient. I also thought your pricing was very fair.

            Thanks again, good luck.
            David Plouffe
            Company: New England Overhead Door



            Testimonial 853 out of 1983

            A great Toll Free Number should be critical to any marketing-savy company,
            but finding AND obtaining a decent number can be time consuming and
            frustrating. It was for us until we found your website:
            TollFreeNumbers.com. We absolutely love your service!

            No one makes it easier to find a number, brainstorm additional numbers,
            obtain the number, own the number, and monitor for new numbers. Plug in a
            few key words and an email address on your home page the automated system
            goes to work immediately. And no upfront costs! Seriously...it doesn't get
            any better.

            Best regards,

            Sam Willis



            Testimonial 728 out of 1983

            I am currently using an 888 number that I purchased from Bill Quimby. The whole transaction was simple and smooth. Bill provided me a huge pdf document with everything I needed to set up, and transfer my 888 number. It was my first time going through this whole process and it took me a while to figure out everything - but Bill provided everything I needed and there was not one glitch along the way.

            Thanks,
            A.B.
            theautolog.com



            Testimonial 920 out of 1983

            Talk about professional! IN a world where things are OVER promised every day, I am STUNNED to discover such an INSTANT service !!!

            Iwill be back again and I will most certainly tell my associates!

            Daniel DHondt
            Tropical Frontiers Intl.



            Testimonial 929 out of 1983

            In a world where everything seems to be overstated and over promised, YOUR service was incredibly fast and easy. Your service delivered everything that was promised, including the phone ringing to my location within MINUTES !

            Absolutely AMAZING!

            Daniel L DHondt
            PanamaLandRush.com



            Testimonial 448 out of 1983

            Thanks so much Bill,..for all your help !My website is at 747fico.com.
            Thanks for that too.

            Kevin
            www.747fico.com



            Testimonial 52 out of 1983

            Bill Quimby went out of his way to help me secure a toll-free number. I am new to the business world and needed more assistance than the average client. Bill is professional, enthusiastic and very adept at 'walking' someone like myself through the process of purchasing a telephone number. I would recommend Bill to anyone seeking solid information, without being totally overwhelmed.

            Cynthia L.J.



            Testimonial 961 out of 1983

            I just wanted to let you know how appreciate I am of your help
            regarding obtaining a vanity number.
            The patience you demonstrated throughout our calls, (in every our of the day ..)
            Was great.
            And above all the efficiency of your system which activates the number in seconds is just amazing.
            We will work with you in the future and recommend every one I know of to use your service.

            Sincerely
            Eran M
            Hercules Van Lines