Why your ads and signs with phone number MUST include the area code

Estimated read time: 2 minutes


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As a child of the 1980s, local phone calls was a thing. I – like many children – were reminded not to talk to long to a friend a town over! Long-distance charges cost money!

My kids – children of the 21st century – have no idea of what long-distance calls even are. We also don’t remember phone numbers anymore. That chapter closed when my mom changed the number she had for my entire childhood and two decades beyond.

The only calls that actually cost money for us cell-phone only people are international ones. Of course, we just use FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype for that. So it’s free again.

Today all calls are one-click. And when that doesn’t work, that’s a problem.

And when that doesn’t work that’s a problem. Usually the problem is when companies forget about that and maybe are reminiscing about the old days when you didn’t have to type an area code.

So phone numbers should be listed like this:

555-555-5555

On the web, most phones just let you click them – even when the company didn’t add a call to click link. I would recommend the call to click link so you can track calls and even set up an Event in Google Analytics.

But instead of having

555-555-5555

I see way too many

555-5555

out there.

That’s not clickable and we now have to know what the area code is. And remembering numbers to type them is harder than ever! People are used to clicking!

And there are places in the USA where you have to type the area code even when you are in it for some phone numbers.


Phone numbers on signs

I see the same issue on signage and vehicles. In fact, this article was prompted by when I was out on a 4-mile run and a catering business drove by.

Their van was missing the area code. Ugh. Sure, I can google it, but why not just include it.

These realtors – spotted on the same run – are doing it right:

The full number is listed. And those numbers are easy to remember.

They also list QR codes which isn’t a bad idea either.


Just like outdated social media logos on marketing materials these phone numbers should be updated.

Making it easy for customers and prospects of course is customer-focused and the easier it is for customers to connect with us the easier it is to stay relevant and make money.