A virtual number is a key marketing campaign element. The virtual number helps with both campaign segmentation and customer satisfaction.
Virtual Number Defined
A virtual number is a telephone number that can be programmed to forward to any other phone number, or series of phone numbers. The target phones can be land lines or mobile telephones, for example.
Sometimes a pool of virtual numbers is assembled in support of a marketing campaign. Each virtual number associates to the campaign so that marketers recognize that inbound calls on the number represent a campaign connection with a potential customer. Virtual numbers in a pool can also be assigned to a particular geographic area for use in advertising in print ads or PPC ads.
Virtual numbers can also be assigned by any market segment – so that one virtual number is used to reach a single market segment. For example, a clothing retailer could use one virtual number for its Big and Tall Men’s Attire, and advertise a different virtual number for Teen Casual Wear.
The virtual numbers could be assigned to ring in different sections of the clothing retailer’s online call center, allowing customers to reach the most knowledgeable sales representative who can do more to help the customer get the right styles, sizes, and colors. This can lead to both better market segmentation (for marketing budget allocation) and to improved customer satisfaction.
How a Virtual Number Works
A virtual number is a real phone number that can be dialed from any desktop telephone, cell phone, or VoIP phone. It is usually cloud-hosted, meaning that a VoIP service provider provisions the number as well as a web-based control panel. The virtual number owner uses the web-based control panel to easily program the number to forward to other numbers.
The owner of the virtual number can program the number to forward to other numbers, in series or simultaneously. The target numbers that will ring can be conditioned on time of day, day of week, or geographic location of the caller, as examples.
For example, a small software publisher may want to answer customer support questions at its offices during weekday office hours, but have support calls go to an answering service during evening and weekend hours. This is easy to program and only takes minutes, as simple as ordering from a menu at a restaurant.
Choosing the Right Virtual Number for Your Campaign or Business
Marketers and business owners have a wonderful variety of virtual numbers from which to choose. Many businesses use many virtual numbers of several types so that marketing campaigns and customers can both be well-served. In the list following, you’ll see a few popular types of virtual numbers that work well for most entrepreneurs and growing businesses.
|Virtual Number Type||Definition||Example|
|Local Numbers||A telephone number that in format and numbers is indistinguishable from other numbers serving a local area such as a city or county. In the US, a local number would have a 3-digit exchange and 4-digit number. Customers are up to 7 times more likely to call a local number than an international number.||555-1234|
|DID Numbers||DID numbers are intended to serve cities and metro areas. DID (or DDI) numbers are a local numbers served by voice over IP. When a local customer calls the DID number (which looks like a local number), the call is forwarded to a remote location, such as your business in another country. A marketing company in Mexico can have a local number in Santiago, Chile to serve Chilean customers, as an example.||Santiago Telephone Numbers|
|ITFS Numbers||ITFS stands for “international toll free service”. Customers call ITFS numbers in their country and reach a business in another country, toll free to the calling customer. ITFS numbers are best used as countrywide toll free numbers. When a customer in Germany calls an ITFS number, the call can be forwarded toll free to a UK tourism office in England. The German customer’s call is toll free, and enables the travel agency to help the German customer book a tour in the UK.||UK Toll Free Numbers|
|UIFN Universal InternationalFreephoneNumbers||UIFN Universal International Freephone Numbers are similar to ITFS numbers, except that one number can be called from several countries. In other words, customers in several countries can call the same toll free number, and calls are forwarded to your office.||Germany Toll Free Numbers|
Virtual Number References
- Virtual Number Overview
- International Toll Free Numbers
- UIFN Freephone Service
- Wikipedia on Virtual Numbers