Online SMS has really taken off over the past few years mainly due to the rise of advertising costs and especially the high adoption rate of mobile phones not just as a means for calling and texting but for being a device where we handle our banking, shopping, communication, etc.
This means our mobile phones are attached to us 24/7 even while sleeping.
This allows businesses and marketers to reach customers wherever they are.
Alongside SMS messaging businesses are starting to use other handy features and add-ons one of them being virtual SMS numbers.
Many online SMS features will benefit different businesses in different ways but virtual SMS numbers are an add-on that is used by large marketing teams all the way down to a one-man operation.
In this article, I’ll share with you the top 5 reasons why businesses are using virtual SMS numbers for their SMS messaging.
What are Virtual SMS Numbers?
Virtual SMS numbers are SMS-only mobile numbers which they look and act exactly like a mobile number except that you can only send and receive text messages, they are not used to make phone calls.
No hardware limitations
One of the problems with the old school mobile and landline numbers is that they are attached to a piece of hardware that is either a landline or mobile device. One number, one device.
With the creation of virtual numbers, you can now assign as many numbers as you please.
This means that you can have a virtual SMS number for different customer groups if you are a marketing team or have a personal virtual number as well as a business one.
Insurance against employees leaving
Typically, when businesses sign up they will use a personal mobile number to set up the account and then they will often times just use that as a way to send text messaging campaigns.
This is not something I’d recommend in most cases since it puts your personal number “out there” – Angus Barrett, 160.com.au.
The other downside to this is when that person leaves the company they will unassign their mobile number so then the company needs to replace it with another employees number.
Or worse the person forgets their number is still on an SMS marketing system only to be reminded by random people texting or calling them up when a campaign goes out.
This change in mobile numbers means recipients will be receiving a strange number which can make them a little nervous initially.
By using a virtual SMS number it doesn’t matter how many team members come and go you will have the same number which maintains that familiarity and trust with your customer base.
Short codes vs. virtual SMS numbers
Short codes are great for collecting leads because they’re easy to remember but in my opinion are not so great for ongoing communications.
People prefer to communicate with other people and when you use a short code or even your business name it feels less personal.
A better strategy is to communicate with your customers as if they were receiving a personalized message from person.
This means that it is coming from another mobile and uses the recipients name and of course references the business.
When signing up to an SMS service you will (at the time of writing this) need to enter in your personal mobile number.
Some organizations will feel a little nervous about doing this mainly because it means their number will be sent out to potentially thousands of people.
Of course there are other options like using a shared pool number or a sender ID which in both cases will keep your personal mobile number private.
The problem with shared pool numbers is that this number is shared amongst the other clients of that SMS service provider, also this number rotates around which means that each time you send out an SMS your recipients will see a different number.
Another options is using your organizations brand name instead of a mobile number, this is called a sender ID.
This is a perfectly good option if you do not want to have replies coming back from your recipients in other words you’re sending out updates or delivery notifications.
This option is not good for marketing purposes since it does not allow people to opt-out ultimately meaning legal implications.
Virtual SMS numbers allow you to use a dedicated number that never changes and allows you to both send and receive text messages while obviously keeping your personal number private.
Since virtual SMS numbers are only for text messaging this means that recipients cannot call you back. You might be thinking who tries to call numbers on SMS messages, it happens more than you think.
Downside to virtual SMS numbers
There is no technology out there that is 100% upside, and virtual SMS numbers are no different. One of the main downsides is when people use a virtual SMS number to harass and bully others who had blocked their original number.
Unfortunately, for the recipient since this number looks legit they are unaware that this person is using a virtual number so will likely not have the awareness to go looking for an SMS company.
The good news is that good SMS services will have measures in place that notifies them of any fraudulent or harassment type of behavior.
Secondly, it’s likely that the offender will only be able to get access to one number per account and it costs that person a monthly fee to have that number so it is just a matter of blocking the offender’s mobile number.
Luckily this type of issue is in the very small minority and is discovered fairly quickly.
Virtual SMS numbers are a great option for businesses who either want to maintain brand consistency and keep their personal mobile numbers private.
Whether it is for marketing or sending out reminders having a number dedicated for your SMS messaging is a smart idea.