It can be argued that virtual phone numbers are changing the game for businesses looking to break into international markets. In this article, we’ll explore how virtual phone numbers work and how they can be used to advertise to new international customers.
What are Virtual Phone Numbers?
Virtual phone numbers work as follows:
A caller dials your business’ virtual phone number. The call is then instantly routed to another phone number, known as the “destination phone number.” This process is instantaneous, so there isn’t a delay in communications. This is due to innovations in technology (particularly VoIP, or “Voice over Internet Protocol”), where audio signals are converted into digital packets; then, the recipient encodes these digital packets into an analog signal. This process emulates how phone calls of the past were once made, but now can be augmented with digital technology to exponentiate their usage.
Virtual phone numbers can come in a variety of different types (see below) and are identical in usage to “normal” phone numbers. Additionally, virtual phone numbers are identical in appearance look to local country codes and area/ region codes.
How Does This Benefit Businesses?
Take, for example, a Dubai-based caller dialing your Dubai virtual phone number. When the call is made, it is instantly routed to a call center based in Florida. Callers may not be aware of the location of where the call ends up, but the effect is the same: virtual phone numbers aid in the localization process, where your foreign business can penetrate new markets to build authenticity with new customers, allow access for individuals that can’t call out of their country, and many other benefits.
This means that for businesses, they can expand their international business presence by marketing in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look at a few methods of marketing virtual phone numbers in international markets.
Ways to Market Internationally with Virtual Phone Numbers
One of the easiest ways to market your business in foreign markets is to list your virtual phone number on marketing materials, and especially on your website (in conjunction with a top-level domain that matches the country). This allows customers to reach your business.
These are fairly simple methods, but there’s also using other types of technology on the market to bring your business in alignment with the 21st century. For instance, virtual locations can help with the following:
- Help to create a virtual presence in your country
- A virtual phone number can act as a way to facilitate communication between customers and your business
- Allow you to establish your business quickly, without the overhead of a physical office
Among the Most Versatile & Useful Tools: Toll Free Numbers
As mentioned before, virtual phone numbers come in a number of varieties. For instance, you can get toll free numbers. Toll free numbers give your international business a professional sheen, while also allowing international callers to reach your business without incurring a charge (the subscriber is charged instead). If you use a domestic toll free number, callers would be either a) unable to complete the call, or b) charged long-distance rates (which defeats the purpose of having a toll free number in the first place. Toll free numbers are available in nearly all markets, which are known as ITFS numbers (short for “International Toll Free Service” numbers). By using the power of virtual phone numbers, you can adequately market your business with unlimited access.
Consider Using Vanity Numbers
One good way to market your business is to use vanity phone numbers. Vanity phone numbers are phone numbers with a visually-appealing set of digits. Typical examples include businesses such as 1-800-FLOWERS, where the business model is implied through those digits. Similarly, there are phone numbers which correspond to local customers. However, one should be careful about vanity phone numbers. For instance, using the number “4” in Chinese-speaking countries is a sign of bad luck or death — not good for a business trying to penetrate a new market.
Lastly, virtual phone numbers can come with a host of features. In the past, when a recipient would receive a phone call from a virtual phone number from another country, their caller ID would display a long string of numbers, which can be off-putting. Luckily, virtual phone numbers now come with “outbound calling,” which enables businesses to not only receive calls from other countries, but to also take the initiative and contact individuals on their own terms.
Tom Senkus is a freelance writer and entrepreneur. He seeks to create work that helps startups and small businesses gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. Visit tomsenkuswriter.com for a full list of his services and published work.