According to the FCC, over 25 million toll-free numbers are in operation in North America. And there's a good reason for that: when it comes to running a small business, having a toll-free number can have a tangible effect on your bottom line.

When introduced in 1967, toll-free numbers were something of a novelty and a way for businesses to eliminate long distance charges for their customers. Now, toll-free numbers have come to be expected by customers seeking to make purchases and ask questions about products or services.

Here are some signs that your business could benefit from a toll-free number:

You Sell Products or Services Online

The advent of e-commerce created a boon for the toll-free industry. 'When shoppers migrate away from brick and mortar stores to make an online purchase, they know they cannot go back to a store clerk to resolve a problem,” says Insight Research's president Robert Rosenberg, speaking about research his firm conducted. “In this context, the toll-free call that the customer can make to register a complaint or resolve an issue takes on an even more strategic role than the 800 call did when first used to build recognition in the late 1980s.”

Providing a toll-free number for customer service lends credibility to your brand and reduces barriers to purchasing products online.

A Phone Number Is Key Part of Your Marketing Campaigns

If leads from your marketing and advertising efforts come in primary through a phone number, having a toll-free number can significantly increase your conversion rates. Not only does a toll-free number establish trust with your potential customers, it also reduces their calling costs.

This is particularly important if your campaigns span multiple geographic areas. A toll-free number doesn't have an association to one particular state or city, so customers won't be driven off by the fact that your contact number isn't local.

You Plan to Expand Your Business Nationally

If you're serving customers in a small region with no plans to expand, a local number may work fine for you. However, if you're planning to expand your business to a national level, it's best to start with a toll-free number to begin with. Having a toll-free number won't hurt your branding locally, and it makes expansion into other areas easy. Toll-free numbers are also portable, meaning you can bring your number with you should you choose to switch providers.

What are the other benefits to having a toll free number for your business? Tell us in the comments section below!