How to Get a Virtual Phone Number and Use it to Generate Leads

Share Button

A “virtual” phone number is a telephone number that isn’t associated with a physical, hard telephone line. Instead, it uses internet telephony to direct calls to a user’s main telephone number over data lines. Virtual phone numbers are typically used by businesses to set up toll-free lines, or to operate local telephone numbers in different locations.

How to Get a Virtual Phone Number and Use it to Generate LeadsFor example, a business located in San Francisco may wish to attract new customers from Dallas. In this case, the company would use a voice over IP service (VoIP) to purchase a telephone number with a Dallas area code. The service provider will use the internet to “point” that number to the business’s main line in San Francisco. When a customer in Dallas calls that new number, they do not incur any long distance charges, and they will not be able to tell that their call has been re-routed, even though the call is answered from California.

Businesses can also choose to purchase toll free virtual phone numbers. Toll-free numbers give customers from any location in the United States or Canada a free way to reach an agent. Companies can also purchase virtual vanity toll free numbers. Vanity numbers, such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK, spell out words or phrases to help brand an organization and improve customer recall.

Using Local Phone Numbers to Generate Leads

Expanding a business into new geographic territories can be costly. Companies must create a local presence in order to manage new customers and generate leads. In some cases, this means putting salespeople on the ground. In all cases, this means ramping up marketing and advertising efforts in that location. The remote sales team may work out of hotels, or the company may choose to lease out office space.  But the strategic use of virtual phone numbers can cut expansion costs and ease the transition into new markets.

All a business needs to do in order to test a new market is to purchase a local, virtual number within that area code and route it to their main sales line. The number can be added to all advertising and marketing materials scheduled to go out in that location. Interested potential customers in that market will call the local line, and calls will be answered by a salesperson at headquarters.

How to Get a Virtual Phone Number and Use it to Generate LeadsBut why bother? Why not just advertise your main line? A virtual local number can help establish a presence, without the need for a physical office space. Customers will feel comfortable with a local telephone number. They’ll be far more likely to call a business they don’t know if that company has a local area code. Trying to convince customers to dial a strange area code could be an uphill battle.

As this new customer base grows, it may be necessary to send employees to that area, but a virtual phone number can be an organization’s “advance team,” helping companies test the waters and connect with a strong base before committing to a new business location.

Using Toll Free Numbers to Generate Leads

Toll free virtual phone numbers can also be useful to help a growing company generate new leads. These numbers help establish trust with potential new customers. Over the years, consumers have been taught to trust businesses with toll free telephone numbers. They associate the toll free prefix with large organizations and teams of customer service reps.  But thanks to internet telephony, even solopreneurs can purchase toll free virtual numbers, helping them create an image of a large organization.

And many companies choose to brand themselves with vanity toll free numbers. When you use your phone number to spell out words and phrases, it improves customer recall and makes print and broadcast ads more effective. Potential new clients will be able to remember 1-800-LOANS4U much more easily than 1-800-562-6748.

How Can Your Business Get a Virtual Phone Number?

How to Get a Virtual Phone Number and Use it to Generate LeadsVoIP has given companies easy access to virtual telephone numbers. All an interested business needs to do is contact a virtual telephone provider. Together they can choose toll free numbers or local numbers in any location. There is no hardware required to add new lines, and service can be connected in a matter of minutes.

The costs for virtual telephone numbers are extremely low, and many businesses choose to both local and toll-free numbers to help them brand their business, generate new leads, and create a solid foundation for growth.

 

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with an Open Source Softphone

Share Button

Cloud computing and open source software have become an integral part of daily business operations, regardless of a company’s size or its nature of operations. Cloud computing saves server space, reduces energy costs, and allows employees to connect to critical applications from any computer. And through cloud-based internet telephony, employees can remain connected by voice to their through their personal computers and mobile devices.

Many companies are taking advantage of internet telephony in the form of open source softphone technology. These systems allow the workforce to operate on a unified network, no matter where they may be physically located. Through internet telephony and open source softphones, daily operations can be conducted at a lower cost, with greater flexibility, and with a reduced carbon output.

What Does “Open Source” Mean?

The term “open source” gets tossed around quite a bit when talking about software. But what does it really mean? Most of the software that is purchased off-the-shelf is what’s known as “compiled.” Compiled means that the coding that was used to develop the software (the source code) has been run through a program that translates the code in a way that the computer can understand. Complied software is “locked.” It very difficult to modify, and it can be quite impossible to see precisely how the developer created the program. Major software producers compile their products as a means of quality control and protecting their interests against competitors.

Open source software takes the exact opposite approach. All source code is made available with the compiled version of a program. In fact, customization and modifications are encouraged. Developers who operate in the open source camp believe that giving everyone access to all code can improve the software over time.

What, Exactly, is a Softphone?

The rise of IP telephony for business has led to the development of softphones. Softphones are not actual telephones. They are software that allow users to place telephone calls over the internet directly from their laptop or desktop computer. Think of placing a call from your computer through Skype – that is softphone technology.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with an Open Source SoftphoneSo how to open source softphones work?  They allow users to communicate freely over the internet via voice, text, instant message, or video. Users can download and redistribute the softphone software as they like, and it is able to be used on a variety of platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile, etc.).

When companies begin investigating open source softphones, they may come across the term “WebRTC.” WebRTC is a specialized open framework that stands for “real time communication.”  This simply means that users can instantly communicate with one another through the internet, without the need to download and install extra programs.

WebRTC works through a web page, rather than outside software. Users can communicate with each other through voice, video conference, instant messaging, simply by visiting a website. Some examples of WebRTC in action include:

  • Video customer service chats – clients simply visit a contact page to connect with an agent face-to-face.

  • Real time document collaboration between employees.

  • Video conferencing through smart TV’s (eliminating the need for extra cables and AV equipment).

  • Place and receive “traditional” phone calls with a single click on a web browser.

The uses for softphones and WebRTC are customizable based on the needs of an organization. Communication is completely personalized, without having to add extra hardware or infrastructure.

How do Open Source Softphones Reduce Carbon Footprint?

Open source softphones can benefit businesses by saving them money – internet telephony is far less expensive than traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN). They use the infrastructure that an organization already has in place to connect users with the PSTN. They can be scaled as-needed without adding extra hardware, and advanced features can be added at a much lower cost.

They also help employees stay connected with one another, and with customers, no matter where they may be. While traveling, key team members can connect to the company network from their open source softphone, right from their laptop. All calls will appear to come directly from their office line.

But softphones can also help organizations reduce their overall carbon footprint. Sustainability is becoming more and more important for business operations. A commitment to sustainability saves money and improves a company’s public persona. But how can a simple telephone software application help reduce carbon footprint?

The internet has made it less imperative for all employees to operate out of a corporate headquarters. Remote workers can now access critical applications via the cloud, which means they can conduct their daily activities from any location. A virtual workforce significantly reduces a company’s daily energy consumption and carbon output. And when workers do not have to physically travel to work, they can save 340 gallons of gas per year, and reduce their carbon emissions by three tons. A typical commuter with a one-way commute of 22 miles can save around 80,000 Megajoules of energy simply by working from home on a regular basis.

Through the use of internet telephony and open source softphones, organizations can offer their employees a more flexible work schedule, while allowing them to remain connected to the company network. This simple and customizable technology can open the door for companies to conduct business efficiently, while reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Smartphones are the New Office: Virtual Phone Numbers and Call Forwarding for the Mobile Enterprise

Share Button

It is not just the consumer world that has gone mobile over the last several years. As smartphones got cheaper, faster and more powerful, they became appendages of the consumers who came to rely on them. Those consumers, however, had jobs. The “bring your own device”, or BYOD, revolution emerged as employees realized that their personal mobile devices — specifically their smartphones — were at least as capable, if not more, than the technology they were supplied with at work.

Their smartphones allowed them to work remotely, unshackling them from the traditional constraints of workplace tech and workplace schedules. Managers, security specialists and IT departments initially struggled to keep up. But as entrepreneurs now realize that mobile employees — working on their own, familiar devices — are happier, more productive, and require no learning curve or training for phones they already own, businesses are evolving and smartphones are quickly replace the traditional office.

Smartphones: The Backbone of the BYOD Revolution

The mobile-enterprise movement is advancing so quickly through the business world that providing the means for businesses to mobilize their operations is, in and of itself, big business. Recent research suggests that revenue gleaned from mobile business users will grow to $370 billion by 2017. 30 percent of the mobile-services market currently comes from enterprise, and mobile enterprise is expected to grow at twice the rate of the mobile consumer market. The overwhelming majority of this growth comes from BYOD in general — and smartphones as business tools in particular.

Apps Turn Phones into Cloud-Based Offices

Cloud-based computing has already revolutionized the way offices function. Remote hosting has allowed businesses to access software — and the mountains of data that go along with it — without storing and securing it locally. This freed companies to focus on their core competency while letting an outside firm worry about hosting and storing crucial software and data such as that used for accounting operations.

Apps have taken that concept and individualized it — literally putting remote cloud computing in the palms of smartphone owners’ hands. Mobile employees can now turn their phones into virtual offices with a complete menu of enterprise apps. Apps related to enterprise mobility management, or EMM, and advanced mobile management, or AMM, are among those most commonly used by employees whose phones double as the portal to their workplace.

Case Study: VCC Construction

Virtual Phone Numbers Call Forwarding

VCC, a mid-sized construction company, wanted to extend to its project managers real-time access to information that was critical to servicing their accounts, retaining the best customers, managing customer data and collaborating with colleagues. Using apps and software, the company established a system that fed information such as messages, job schedules and workflows from a project manager into a central system. The system then distributed the information to the smartphones of all relevant employees instantly and in real time. With this new ability to analyze, organize and distribute data, VCC boosted new business by 40 percent and saved roughly 400 employee hours a month.

Whether launching a startup or converting an established business, smartphones are becoming venues in and of themselves. Although it requires an elevated level of vigilance for IT security, smartphone-based BYOD can — and has for many businesses — dramatically reduce infrastructure costs and streamline business operations, all while allowing employees the flexibility and familiarity that their own devices provide. Mobile business is big business — for businesses of all sizes.

Vanity 800 Numbers and Marketing Analytics: Strategies and Results

Share Button

By assigning more than one toll-free vanity number (or local number or any number) to different advertising strategies, businesses can determine which ads are generating the most valuable responses. This strategy is called call tracking. With one vanity number, for example, on a website, another on a billboard campaign and a third in a series of newspaper ads, call tracking allows a company to clearly see which ad medium generated the most calls, the most conversions, the most sales, etc. This service is offered by many different firms that specialize in marketing analytics. Different businesses use the service differently, but several features should be universal to all call-tracking campaigns.

Case Study #1: Paychex

Vanity 800 Numbers with Paychex A company specializing in payroll, human resources and benefits outsourcing, called Paychex, hired an analytical firm specializing in call tracking. Paychex received a large chunk of its inquires from phone calls, and previously had relied on a rudimentary system of asking callers how they had heard about the company or which ad they had seen. With more than 12,000 employees in 100 offices serving more than a half million businesses, this system was grossly inadequate.

After just one year of analytical call measurement, tracking and attribution, Paychex increased paid search lead volume by a full 98 percent. Perhaps more importantly, CPA dropped by 43 percent. The time that Paychex had to spend reporting and assessing their ad campaigns was cut in half.

Case Study #2: VersaTube

 

Vanity 800 Numbers with Versatube

 

VersaTube, a supplier of DIY building kits, underwent a massive marketing overhaul, the first and most important element of which was a call-tracking program. The company steering VersaTube’s new strategy used call tracking to differentiate whether calls were originating from VersaTube’s website, Google ads or their email campaign.

They replaced the phone numbers in all three ad locations with unique, trackable numbers. Year over year, VersaTube increased leads by 208 percent, while seeing an increase in sales of 89 percent. Moreover, they integrated their call-tracking software into their existing Google Analytics account, allowing them to constantly monitor any future changes.

Features

There are a large number of marketing specialty firms that offer call-tracking services — most of which include vanity 800 numbers. Their services, price structures and potential benefits vary widely depending on the size, industry, age and location of the client business. There are, however, several universal features that should be consistent to any call-tracking service your business considers hiring.

The service should track keywords, ad groups, campaigns and ads within pay-per-click campaigns that lead to phone calls. It should track calls that originate from both third-party referring links as well as specific search channels. Your service should provide aggregate-level tracking and trace calls back to specific placements in display campaigns.

Call tracking adds fuel to the already powerful marketing boost provided by vanity 800 numbers. Vanity numbers are easy to remember and can boost advertising simply by becoming part of the company’s name, as in 1-800-LAWYERS. Whether it’s to determine what the company’s full-time vanity number will be, or to track which ad campaign is working the best, call tracking backs up vanity numbers with a powerful analytical strategy. Make sure your provider offers the services you need — and no more. This will ensure you don’t pay for features your campaign doesn’t require.