How to Get a Virtual Number for your Business

Following on from our first blog in the virtual number series: “What is a Virtual Phone Number? How to Send & Receive SMS via a Virtual Number", it’s time to get your hands dirty.

You know how virtual phone numbers work and why they’re essential for businesses, but how do you go about getting one? We promise it’s easier than you’d think.

Make sure you read on to find out everything you need to know about getting a virtual phone number. We’ll take you through how to set up your virtual number in a way that streamlines your workflows and consolidates your tech stack.

Options for acquiring a virtual phone number

When looking for a virtual number provider, you should research the types of services you want. From there, you can purchase your virtual SMS number from a vendor that ticks all of your boxes.

  • SMS providers - Look for an SMS provider that offers virtual phone numbers and other essential SMS services like bulk text message sending, Two-way SMS conversation view, personalised messaging, OTP for cybersecurity, SMS API's & robust sms integrations.
  • Virtual phone system providers - Purchase a virtual phone number with a company that offers the features you need, such as routing, recording, analytics, automated menu guidance, voice message solutions, vacation call forwarding, etc.
  • SMS and VoIP - You might want to choose a platform that offers both SMS and VoIP features to consolidate your vendors and services.

Can you use a traditional phone number as a virtual phone number?

If you already have a dedicated business phone number, you can convert it into a virtual phone number. Most virtual phone number providers offer this capability, which is known as ‘porting.’

When vetting a provider, just check with their sales or customer service team if you can port your personal phone number. At SMSGlobal, we allow businesses to use a verified number (the mobile number they sign up with) for their SMS messaging.

Sending via a verified number is an excellent option for small business owners as it works similarly to a dedicated number once you port into the MXT SMS platform.

Verified numbers, however, don’t support keyword triggers, and two-way SMS replies are sent directly to the owner’s mobile rather than through the platform. So, keep that in mind when considering a verified number for your business communications.

Are virtual phone numbers free to use?

Communication providers usually offer shared virtual phone numbers for free. For instance, businesses that use SMSGlobal for their business messaging can send from a pool of shared numbers on the MXT SMS platform. A shared number itself is free, but you still pay for the SMS messages you send through the SMS provider.

It’s common for virtual phone number providers to charge you for an exclusive service, including unique dedicated virtual numbers. Costs can also vary depending on the length of the number:

Long codes - a cost-effective option but harder for recipients to memorise given its length.

Short codes - come at a premium as they’re concise and easier for customers to recognise and text-in.

Do you need a virtual phone number for every country?

A good SMS provider should allow you to acquire numbers for different countries. But keep in mind you only need a virtual phone number for the countries you’re sending to. Select a virtual number that allows you to reliably communicate with local customers, vendors, or partners via text.

For example, if you are an eCommerce company that only provides customer support via chat and email, you don’t need a virtual phone number for every market you sell in. But if you provide SMS service to several markets, you need numbers in those countries (so your customers don’t have to pay international tolls).

If you’re an established, global company, your sales team may need to communicate with leads and customers in several countries. So, you’ll need a virtual number for each target market.

You may also want to purchase virtual phone numbers wherever you have manufacturing facilities, warehouses, or distribution centres, to communicate with local staff and vendors.

What countries allow virtual phone numbers?

You can purchase virtual phone numbers for most developed and developing countries; however, some SMS vendors might only support a few dozen countries. When choosing a communications provider for SMS, be sure to check that they support the countries that matter to your business.


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How to use virtual phone numbers as a team

A virtual number is designed to improve the Customer Experience and your company’s communication processes. To get the most out of this technology and ensure virtual numbers work for your team, we’ve come up with a few tips:

Set up your automated menus based on business hours

Create an automated menu based on keyword triggers that customers can follow to reach the right person after messaging your virtual number. For example, the customer can follow the menu and enter the appropriate keywords to talk with someone. After hours, they can be prompted to leave a message or call back during business hours.

Connect the virtual phone number to your support desk, CRM, etc.

You’ll want to connect your virtual SMS number to the platforms you rely on every day. If you have purchased a dedicated SMS number, you’ll want to leverage that technology on your support desk software, for instance. So your customer service team can stay on top of SMS queries without leaving the software.

Similarly, if you’re using a short code for marketing messages, you’ll want to integrate with your CRM for automated workflows and marketing blasts. SMSGlobal’s HubSpot SMS integration enables users to send automated SMS campaigns and two-way conversations using a dedicated virtual number.

Communicate the correct number(s) to customers

With your foundation set up correctly, you need to let your customers know about any changes to customer support processes and more. If you’ve acquired a short code, you could include that number on your website, email newsletter, various marketing campaigns and collateral.

Clarify text message responding responsibilities

The software systems you integrate with should enable team collaboration—so you can divvy up your team’s communication workload. However, if your company is new to SMS, then an SMS specialist can take you through a demo with your team to show them how to utilise enterprise SMS effectively.

Managing your Virtual Numbers online with SMSGlobal

SMSGlobal makes using Virtual Numbers seamless with a quick setup process. Setting up your Virtual SMS Number on your SMSGlobal account is as easy as:

  1. Navigate to ‘Virtual Numbers’ on the left-hand menu on MXT
  2. Select Request under the Virtual Numbers section
  3. Next, you’ll need to:
    1. Enter in the country you’ll send SMS to most frequently
    2. Choose which number type you would like: Standard, Silver or Gold. Gold mobile numbers have the most numerical repetition, followed by Silver numbers, then Standard (which have no repetition).
    3. Select the number you want from the options provided
    4. Choose whether you want to own the virtual number for 6 or 12 months
  4. Click Select
  5. Once you’ve completed the request process, you can view and manage your Virtual Number under the Virtual Numbers tab on the left-hand side of MXT
Managing your Virtual Numbers online with SMSGlobal

One of the best things about using a Dedicated Virtual Number is the ability to receive texts directly from customers and staff. And with SMSGlobal, you have the flexibility to choose where your incoming messages are sent to suit your business processes. You can configure how your virtual number behaves and handles SMS replies with a few different methods.

All incoming messages to your virtual number can be:

  • Sent to a chosen email address
  • Stored in an online inbox within the MXT gateway
  • Forwarded to a URL via our HTTP API
  • Delivered to your account via our SMPP API

Set up a virtual number for SMS and start sending and receiving text messages with a free SMSGlobal account today.