Virtual SMS numbers are still viewed as a ‘nice addition’ to have for sending SMS messages or perhaps an added expense but I think virtual SMS numbers should be seriously considered for various reasons which I’ll cover inside this article.
What are Virtual SMS Numbers?
Virtual SMS numbers are mobile numbers that are not attached to any hardware i.e. a landline or mobile or SIM card.
This means that you can assign multiple virtual SMS numbers to a single SMS account.
Virtual SMS numbers are purely for text messaging, meaning that you cannot make calls.
Here are 5 quick reasons why businesses who are using SMS marketing should be using a virtual number.
Keep your number when people leave the company
One of the most important things to maintain as a company is your ability to be consistent in this case you want to be using the same mobile number for each of your campaigns.
One of the problems we see with companies using a personal mobile number from an employee for example is that people often change jobs or roles within that company which means they will pull their number from the SMS communications account – Angus Barrett, 160.com.au.
This means you now need to plug in a different number and now your recipients are seeing a different mobile number.
By using a virtual SMS number, it doesn’t matter how many team members come and go you will keep that same virtual mobile number.
Maintain brand consistency
What is a brand?
A brand is not a “logo” it is a persona it is how we think and feel about a company. As humans, we tend to humanize things animals, cars, etc. and the same is true for businesses.
When do you think about Disney what thoughts and feelings come to mind? What about Cartier?
Each of these businesses has put thought into how they want people to feel about them and this doesn’t happen randomly.
Disney is about fun, adventure, wonder, etc. Cartier is about exclusivity, luxury, even celebrity for example when you go to Cartier there is a doorman who lets you in and when you purchase an item it is unlike the typical retail experience.
Companies like this are consistent with their brand right down to the tiny details.
Do something as small as having the same number show up on your recipient’s mobile phone creates instant familiarity and trust in your brand as well.
Shortcodes look like ads
Shortcodes are another popular option and one of the main benefits here is that they’re short and so easy to remember.
Shortcodes are 4 or 5 digit numbers but the main problem with these is that it doesn’t look like it’s coming from a person, it looks like it is coming from a faceless company.
Text messaging is a very personal communication channel and so as marketers, it is important to foster that personal approach.
Virtual SMS numbers look exactly like real mobile numbers and so it feels like it is coming from an actual mobile device from a single person.
There are other things you need to do as well like using personalized messaging rather than obvious advertising.
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This style of SMS marketing is not keeping in line with that personal feel and will often see higher opt-out numbers.
It’s better to use something like this:
Hey Nicky, Jen here just a quick heads up we have a sale going on @ website.com thought you might be interested.
Obviously, this is a promotion but it is a lot more personal, it is coming from a real mobile number and a real person.
Keep your privacy
Oftentimes when businesses set up their SMS accounts they will often use their personal mobile numbers as the main number that recipients see when they shoot out a text message.
While this is not a problem for small businesses who have small clientele it can be a serious problem for businesses that have hundreds or thousands of customers or contacts.
One of the problems with using your personal mobile number is being inundated with text messages day and night.
I made this mistake myself, I decided to use my own personal mobile number to collect inbound leads, and let me just say I never made that mistake again, my phone was buzzing non-stop for two days.
Let alone knowing that hundreds of people now have my personal mobile number – thankfully I never received another text after that promotion.
One of the main advantages that separates a virtual SMS number from a virtual mobile number is that unlike a virtual mobile number no one can make a phone call to the virtual SMS number.
When you use your personal number for SMS campaigns there will invariably be people who feel like they need to call you to discuss the text message which can be irritating.
By using a virtual SMS number you prevent anyone from trying to call your number.
Are there alternatives to virtual SMS numbers?
There are two other alternatives you can use besides using a dedicated SMS number but they tend to violate the benefits above.
Sender ID allows you to send an SMS using your business name instead of a mobile number – while this sounds like an ideal solution there is one major drawback which is that people cannot reply back to your text messages which also means people cannot opt-out making this a potential legal headache.
Shared pool numbers
Shared pool numbers are virtual SMS numbers but they are shared with every other user and business that wants to use them as well.
This does not mean that any data or contacts are shared. You are only sharing the use of the virtual number.
This means that your recipient will see a different mobile number show up on their mobile phone every time you send them a text message.
If you’re a business may temporarily raise a red flag for customers since they won’t recognize the number.
Virtual SMS numbers are a great option for businesses who either want to maintain brand consistency and keep their personal mobile numbers private.