Porting a Phone Number All You Need to Know

Moving to a new phone service provider doesn’t have to mean losing a favourite number. Phone number porting is an industry-standard process that allows customers to take an existing number with them to a new service. In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to know about porting phone numbers. 

What Is Number Porting?

Porting a phone number is a simple process that allows customers to continue using their existing phone number after they switch providers. It generally takes between seven and 10 days to port a number and there should be no downtime while the switch takes place.

Why Would I Want to Port a Phone Number?

Many people keep the same number for years and this is especially true for businesses. If you’ve spent years building a loyal customer base who are familiar with your business phone number, you won’t want to create confusion by suddenly switching numbers. If the number is part of your marketing materials, it will be time-consuming and costly to edit it everywhere. There is also likely to be a period where two numbers appear, one of which may no longer be operational. This could lead to missed calls and lost business. A phone number is an important element of business branding and porting allows companies to maintain a consistent brand message and high levels of customer service. 

Number porting allows consumers to use a service provider that meets their business needs and their budget. If porting were not an option, many people would be trapped using the same provider indefinitely because of the potential damage that switching numbers could do to their business. Porting supports fair competition between providers and promotes consumer choice. If the needs of your business change, you are free to switch to a new provider that offers a different or more affordable service, without losing the business number your customers are familiar with. 

How Does Phone Number Porting Work?

If you choose to keep an existing number when switching providers, the process should be relatively straightforward as your new provider will do all the work for you. Your most important job is to provide the correct information. Make sure the address, payment information and account details you provide match those on your current phone bill.  Once account information has been verified, you’ll be asked to authorise the porting process. 

Some numbers can be ported within a day, other processes, such as porting international numbers, may require a little more patience. 

When the porting process is complete, the original number terminates — along with all services associated with it, such as broadband.

Troubleshooting Phone Number Porting

Some consumers find porting a frustrating process, but any delays or complications are often due to avoidable errors. 

  • Conflicting information provided. If an address or postcode provided does not match the details held on record by the current network operator, porting may be rejected or delayed.
  • Incorrect billing information entered. A new service provider will not complete the porting process if there is any suggestion that there will be an issue with collecting payment. 
  • The number has previously been ported. Occasionally, if a number has previously been ported, problems can arise. 
  • No porting agreement between providers. Porting can only occur between providers with a service agreement.

If you live in the UK and your current provider is unfairly sabotaging the porting process, you can submit a complaint to Ofcom’s website, which may result in the new provider being authorised to override the issue and proceed with number porting. 

There may be many reasons that a consumer or business owner wishes to retain an existing number. Porting allows you to choose the best service for your requirements and budget. It is generally a simple process that takes little more than a week to complete, although you’ll need to allow longer for international numbers. Most delays are due to errors or inconsistencies in the information provided by the consumer. Be sure to enter the same details used during the initial account set up and there should be no downtime or frustrations.

Switch to City Numbers for a cost-effective, feature-rich solution with excellent customer support. Contact us using our online form or call us if you have any questions about porting a phone number.

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Do You Need a Business Phone Answering Service?

Running a small business can be both exciting and overwhelming. Just a handful of people often manages startups,  sometimes a solo entrepreneur, and there is rarely room left in the budget for additional staff. Each person has to juggle several roles and responsibilities, which can lead to inefficiencies, mistakes, poor customer service and employee burnout. This can also be true of more established enterprises that are growing rapidly. A business phone answering service is a cost-effective way to ease the pressure on staff and boost efficiency. 

Save Your Business Money 

Small businesses generally don’t have huge budgets to play with. The business owner must prioritise the resources needed and spend wisely. Employing staff is one of the biggest costs to a company, yet creating a professional first impression on potential customers and partners is essential for business success. Investing in a business phone answering service is much more cost-effective than hiring a receptionist or call handler. For a low monthly subscription, calls can be handled professionally 24 hours a day. The cost of hiring a new staff member is significantly higher. In addition to annual salaries, the business will have to cover the costs of recruiting, onboarding and developing that individual. 

Manage Business Growth Effectively

As a business grows, it requires more resources to ensure standards of service are maintained. Trying to run a rapidly developing company with the same level of staff and basic equipment will result in mistakes, inefficiencies and ultimately, lost customers. Staff need to focus on developing and growing the business, which often means tasks such as answering calls are neglected or handled poorly. A telephone answering service can fulfil the role of a full-time receptionist, ensuring customer service standards are maintained and staff are free to concentrate on business growth. A good business answering service will offer a range of advanced features such as call whisper, fax-to-email and call recording, allowing you to scale the service with your business. 

Create a Professional Image

According to research by Enterprise Nation, 70 per cent of new businesses in the UK start at home. Whether you’re running a business from the kitchen table or a plush office in Westminster, it’s important to create a professional image from day one. Consumers buy from companies they trust. Using a personal mobile phone number for business is a big no-no. IT looks unprofessional and damages the credibility of the brand.  It may also contribute to burnout as there is no separation between professional and personal lives. A business answering service can make a startup appear more established and trustworthy. You can also choose a number that benefits the business. Enhance customer service by providing a toll-free 0800 number or choose a local number to give you a presence in a new geographical location.

Provide 24/7 Customer Service

Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding and they expect to be able to contact a business at any hour of the day or night. A company that limits communication to office hours is likely to miss out on a lot of business. Sticking rigidly to office hours in your time zone will also exclude international customers from getting in touch at convenient times for them. A business answering service can provide support around the clock. It doesn’t need to sleep and will never take a day off sick. An answering service can take voicemail messages and signpost customers to other sources of support that can be accessed when office staff are not available. This allows you to provide a consistently high standard of customer service while achieving a healthy work-life balance. 

Improve Employee Efficiency

You’ve taken the time to recruit and train a team of highly-skilled and experienced staff. Do you want your staff spending hours answering phone calls and taking messages? Are they frequently distracted from the job they were hired to do because the phone keeps ringing and there is no designated call handler or answering service? An efficient business phone system can be relied upon to manage calls effectively, allowing your staff to focus on the job at hand. They will have more time, fewer distractions and thus will become more productive. 

Add Credibility to an Online Business

Many businesses run entirely online, but some customers still need the reassurance of being able to reach a company over the phone before they commit to a purchase. Adding a business phone number to your website can enhance the credibility of the brand and increase customer trust. Providing an alternative means of communication via a business answering service also demonstrates a commitment to customer service. Consumers want to have a choice of how they get in touch and offering this allows for more personalised service.  

A business phone answering service is a cost-effective way to make your business more efficient and maintain the highest standards of customer service. It’s quick and easy to set up your service with City Numbers and our range of additional features allow you to scale the service as your business grows. Contact us today to find out how we can help you. 

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What is an International Virtual Number?

What is an International Virtual Number?

The range of business telephone services available can be overwhelming. For people outside the telephony industry, it can be hard to keep up with the constantly evolving technology and the terminology that goes with it. VoIP, virtual assistants, porting, virtual numbers — what do they all mean? 

Let’s take a closer look at virtual phone numbers. Virtual numbers offer a whole host of business benefits. So it’s worth taking the time to understand what they are and how they could help improve customer service, brand reputation and sales. There are many different types of virtual number. But for business owners and entrepreneurs who wish to reach out to new markets worldwide, an international virtual number is the best choice. Check out our handy guide below to find out all you need to know about international virtual numbers. 

What Is an International Virtual Number?

A virtual phone number, or “Direct Inward Dialling” (DID) number, is one not tied to a particular device. Instead, you can use the number to divert calls to any preferred device. There is no physical phone line associated with a virtual number.

An international virtual number allows a business to set up a number with a local area code for any city worldwide, regardless of the business’s location. Consumers will dial the “local” number and the call diverts to the chosen device, which could be in an office on the other side of the world. 

How Do International Virtual Numbers Work?

International virtual phone numbers work in the same way as any other type of virtual number. An individual or business selects a phone number service provider and purchases a virtual number. This number can be used with existing devices; there is no need to invest in additional hardware. By downloading an app, the user can manage their phone number using the software provided, including choosing where to divert calls to. 

When an individual dials the virtual telephone number, they transfer to the chosen destination. This could be a landline, mobile or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system in any destination worldwide. The virtual number operates as a call forwarding service. The caller will be unaware of this process occurring. It will appear to them as if they are calling a local phone number. 

How Can an International Virtual Number Benefit My Business?

There are several benefits that all types of virtual number provide to users. They allow businesses greater flexibility by enabling entrepreneurs to handle business on-the-go wherever they are. Virtual numbers operate without the need for specialist hardware, meaning businesses can upgrade their business phone system without the added expense of buying new devices. A company’s brand can also receive a considerable boost from a business number.  It lends them credibility, suggests they have a wide reach and shows they are established enough to have a presence in multiple locations. 

International virtual numbers offer all this, in addition to a unique set of benefits. They allow a business to establish a local presence in a target location. If a business owner has identified demand for their product or service in another country, they can easily reach out to prospective customers using a virtual international number — without the cost and hassle of setting up a physical office abroad. An international virtual number is also a great way to test the waters in a new location, before committing to setting up a brick and mortar store or office. Consumers will be much more likely to call an affordable local number than an international one for which their phone carrier could charge them a high fee. 

A company with an international presence appears more established, successful and trustworthy. Thus international virtual numbers can significantly improve a brand’s reputation, in turn leading to more sales and a healthier bottom line.

A virtual number will also save your business and customers money. International calls using a virtual number will cost a business much less than they would with a traditional phone carrier. The customer is also charged at the local rate.  An international toll-free number can increase incoming calls further still, as prospective customers are not charged for contacting you. This is a great way to enhance customer experience and increase sales. 

How do I Get an International Virtual Number?

City Numbers can set up your new international phone number the same day you order it (provided it is in stock). Visit the International Virtual Numbers page and select the country and city you wish to purchase a number for. We provide numbers in over 4000 cities worldwide. Select a number and enter your information. There are no lengthy contracts involved; the minimum term is for one month. Configure your number and away you go! 

We have designed the signup process to be as simple and efficient as possible.

An international virtual number could transform your business. Get a number today and start testing new markets, boost your brand and improve the customer experience. There’s no need for expensive hardware or complicated setups. Give your company global reach without the time and expense of setting up premises abroad and watch your business grow. 

Find out more about our Worldwide Virtual Numbers and explore the range of additional services we offer. If you have any questions about our services, please get in touch.

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5 Reasons to Get a Virtual Phone Number for Business

As a business owner, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to reduce costs, increase brand awareness and grow. But with so many services and products vying for your attention, how do you decide which ones are worth the investment? A virtual phone number offers a range of business benefits and does not require a significant investment of time or money. Check out our top five reasons why a virtual phone number for business should be top of your list of “must-haves”. 

  1. Never Miss an Important Business Call

    The number of start-ups has reached record levels in recent years and many entrepreneurs begin running their enterprise from home. Funding is a major concern for new businesses and most owners have to set up on a small budget, so removing the cost of renting premises makes sense. However, there are some corners you should not cut when running a small business. Using a personal mobile number as the main business number may seem like an economical choice, but relying on one mobile device seriously limits the communication capabilities of a business.

    If the mobile network goes down or a fault occurs with the handset, customers and prospects will be unable to reach you. Even if there are no such incidents, there will be times when you are unavailable and calls go unanswered. This will result in frustrated customers and lost business.

    A virtual telephone number allows you to divert calls to any device you choose. The business is not reliant on one piece of hardware. Advanced features such as auto-attendant, divert on busy and voicemail allow consumers to reach a business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers receive a consistently high standard of service and you never miss an important business call. 


  2. Reduce Costs

    Getting a virtual phone number can save a business considerable amounts of money. Calls to certain numbers, such as international numbers, are likely to be much more cost-effective with a virtual number provider than with a traditionally based carrier. Costs are also reduced for the customer. If you select a local business number for a target location, consumers in that area will pay the local rate even if the call routes to a national or international number. 

    A virtual business number does not require any specific hardware; it works with existing devices. Your virtual phone system will operate in the cloud and route calls to selected devices — such as a mobile phone, desktop computer or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system. There are no expensive set-up or maintenance costs.

  3. Improve Credibility and Brand Reputation

    Running a business via a personal mobile phone not only makes it vulnerable to communication system failures, but it also looks unprofessional. Potential customers will be dissuaded from calling a personal mobile number as it makes the business appear untrustworthy and small-scale. Even if your business is a start-up, it’s important to convey to customers and prospects that it is reliable and you have the necessary expertise to meet their needs.

    There are several types of virtual phone numbers, including toll-free numbers, local numbers, national numbers and international numbers, to name a few. You can even create a bespoke “vanity number”, such as 0800-BUILDER, that will help promote the business and drive customers your way. Virtual numbers boost the credibility of a business in several ways:

    National numbers such as 0871 can establish a national reputation for your business even if you’re operating out of a bedroom. Consumers are more likely to trust a company that appears established enough to have a national reach. As a bonus, these numbers can even turn a profit as customers pay a higher rate for their call.

    Local numbers that use the area code for a specific location allow a business to establish a local presence in a target area without the need to set up premises. Many people search for services or product providers in their local area, e.g. “plumbers in London” and are more likely to reach out to local companies.  

    Toll-free numbers suggest a business is invested in providing excellent customer service. Consumers are more likely to make a free call than one they have to pay for. Offering a toll-free number for customer service, support lines or inbound sales will enhance the business reputation.


  4. Manage Business on the Go

    Why restrict yourself to working in one location when you could have the freedom to handle business from anywhere in the world? A virtual number is not tied to a particular device — unlike a mobile or landline number. There is no need for a traditional phone line. You can route calls to wherever you choose. Most entrepreneurs start a business to be their own boss and give themselves the ultimate flexibility and control to manage their work as they see fit. A virtual number offers the ultimate flexibility. 

    It’s easy to route calls to a mobile phone, to other members of staff or voicemail. With Time of Day Routing, calls automatically divert to any chosen number at set times. Perhaps you want to send all calls to your mobile in the evening and voicemail during the weekend? 

    A virtual number also allows staff to work flexibly. Route incoming sales to the relevant team members even if they are working remotely from home. Remote working is an increasingly popular “work perk” that attracts top talent and increases employee retention. 


  5. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Business owner burnout is on the rise and this is often due to long work hours and feeling overwhelmed. Technology is sometimes blamed for making people feel they should be constantly available — responding to emails on mobile phones and taking calls on holiday. However, if used wisely, it can also promote a healthy work-life balance.

    Using a personal mobile number to run a business means there is no separation between work and personal lives. Getting a virtual business phone number allows business owners to control when they are available to work and when they need some downtime. Set up the business phone system to route calls to voicemail or another staff member outside of your chosen work hours. Advanced call routing makes it easy to set up a routing plan that ensures work calls are confined to work hours and you’re not interrupted during free time. 

    A virtual phone number for business is a savvy investment. It involves minimal time, money or effort to set up and maintain yet it can deliver considerable business benefits. 

Take a look at the range of virtual numbers available at City Numbers and learn about the additional incoming call features that could transform your business. Contact us to discuss your requirements today. 

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How to get a Custom Phone Number for Business

A custom phone number is a great way for small businesses to improve brand recognition and credibility. A phone number can reveal a lot about a company — its location, how established it is and even how much it values customers. In this guide, we’ll explain the types of custom number available, the business benefits of getting a custom number and how to get a custom number for business.

What Is a Custom Number?

A custom number, also known as a “vanity number” is a telephone number that has been specifically chosen by a business or individual. Customers can select the seven digits that follow the area code. These can be numerical or alphabetical, for example, 0800-FLOWERS. Vanity phone numbers are a type of virtual business phone number,  meaning calls can route to any device chosen by the business owner.

What Types of Custom Phone Number Are There?

There are several types of custom number to choose from. Each type has its benefits. To determine the best one for your business, consider what you want to achieve and what budget is available.  

Custom Free Phone (Toll-Free) Numbers

In the UK, 0800 numbers are the most popular toll-free phone numbers. 0808 and 0500 are also free to call, but these numbers are less familiar to people. Providing a free way for customers and prospects to contact a business shows a strong commitment to customer service. Support lines or customer service often use toll-free vanity numbers. They can also be used to increase the number of incoming calls to the sales team. An 0800 number is instantly recognisable as a toll-free number. Add a business-relevant word to the code to make it even more memorable and boost brand recognition.

Custom Local Phone Numbers

Local numbers, also known as “area call numbers”, “ghost numbers” and “remote call forward numbers” are a simple and cost-effective way for businesses to expand into areas where they do not have a physical office. In this way, they can save a business thousands of pounds in rental costs. A company based in Nottingham could use a custom local number for London to attract consumers from that area without paying the high rental costs of setting up an office in the city. Callers dial the local area code and are routed to a chosen device, for example, a mobile phone or the head office. The caller is unaware of this process as they only see the local business number. 

Why Should I Use a Custom Number?

A custom number can be great for business for several reasons:

Enhanced Brand Recognition

Some area codes, such as 0800, are instantly recognisable. Adding a word that is relevant to your business can make a business telephone number even more memorable. It gives a powerful boost to a company brand.

Improved Customer Service

Toll-free numbers allow customers and prospects to contact a business at no charge, even from a mobile phone. This represents excellent customer service and instils trust in the company. It can also increase the number of inbound calls,  meaning your sales team will have more leads to work with. Local numbers also keep costs low for the caller and the business.

Greater Credibility

Developing a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy company can take time and it is often difficult for startups to compete with more established businesses. A business using a mobile phone number as its primary business number will look unprofessional and untrustworthy. An 0800 or 0845 number will make a company appear established with national reach. 

Track Marketing Activities

There are several creative ways you can use a custom number in marketing campaigns, including tracking marketing activities. By linking a custom number to an advert, it’s easy to track the number of calls generated from that marketing campaign. This allows a business to identify successful marketing activities that they can expand or repeat and to cut spending on campaigns that are not delivering results. 

How to Get a Custom Number for Business

Step 1. Choose the custom number you want. This could be a string of memorable or meaningful numbers or a word. There are three to four letters assigned to each number on a telephone dial pad. Make a note of the numbers that correspond to the word you wish to spell out. The seven numbers selected will be added after the area code. Make the number as memorable and relevant to your business as possible.

Step 2. Choose an area code. Do you want to offer customers a toll-free number? Or is the priority to branch out into a particular geographical area with a local number? 

Step 3. Identify a telephone service provider. City Numbers offers highly memorable 0800, 0845, 0844 and 0771 numbers. There are over 4000 virtual city phone numbers available, covering most of the world. Our state-of-the-art portal allows businesses to manage calls, assess real-time statistics and access additional features. 

Step 4. Contact the telephone service provider to find out if your chosen number is available. As there are multiple letters assigned to each number on the dial pad, another business may be using your chosen combination.

Step 5. Consider your expected level of usage and select an appropriate plan. The easiest way to do this is to look back at recent phone bills to get an idea of the number of minutes per month you are likely to use. City Numbers offers three price plans, allowing businesses to scale the service as they grow. For 0800 numbers, the Pay As You Go plan starts from as little as £5 per month.

Step 6. City Numbers can have your business up and running with a new number in minutes. Once we have accepted your payment plan and payment has cleared, your number will be live and ready to use.

A custom number offers a range of business benefits. It’s a great way to increase brand recognition, expand into new locations and enhance the customer experience. Obtaining and setting up a custom number is quick, easy and cost-effective. What are you waiting for? 

Find out more about the local numbers, toll-free numbers and international numbers available from City Numbers and take your business to the next level with a custom number. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

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Advantages & Disadvantages of SMS Marketing

According to research by RescueTime, people spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day. Worldwide, there are 5 billion people with the capacity to send and receive SMS messages. It’s no wonder that businesses are increasingly taking advantage of the opportunities provided by SMS marketing. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of SMS in business communication. 

 

What Is SMS Marketing?

Companies can use SMS, or “Short Message Service”, marketing to reach a wide audience at a click of a button and without busting their budget. Under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), consumers must “actively and voluntarily consent to receive your message”. Once they have done so, the company can send them messages detailing promotions, product updates, event information and more (depending on the level of consent given). SMS marketing is a fantastic way for a company to build a solid database of engaged customers and prospects, which can be used to increase customer loyalty and convert leads into sales.

 

Advantages of SMS Marketing for Business

For businesses wishing to communicate with and engage their community, whether customers, partners or prospects, SMS marketing offers several benefits. 

 

  1. Awesome Open Rates 

    The average open rate for SMS marketing campaigns is 98% — compared to just 20% for email. This means a business can almost guarantee that its marketing campaign will reach the intended target audience, making it an incredible investment. Research by Mobile Xco suggests that 48.7 million people will opt-in to receive business SMS messages by 2020, which represents an increase of 23% on its current levels. With open rates as high as 98%, that’s a staggering increase in the potential audience for businesses’ marketing efforts. 

  2. Impressive Response Rates 

    The response rate of marketing texts is nearly 30%, while the average click-through-rate for email marketing campaigns is around just 2.5%. Consumers are also 10 times more likely to redeem promotional codes and vouchers sent via text than any other platform. This is great news for Marketing Managers seeking to achieve stakeholder or senior leadership level buy-in for an SMS marketing campaign, as they can demonstrate the potential return on investment (ROI) compared to alternative methods. 

  3. Immediacy 

    On average, it takes just one to three seconds for SMS messages to be sent and received. Although not all messages will be delivered, 90% of all text messages are read within three minutes, and the average person replies within 90 seconds. This allows businesses to send flash sales, last-minute deals and other time-sensitive promotions and be more likely to elicit a response.

  4. Cost-Effective 

    An SMS marketing campaign will consume more budget than sending out bulk emails, but it’s still a relatively low-cost option when compared to other marketing activities, such as running a PR campaign, printing and distributing flyers or purchasing ad space on Facebook. SMS marketing can also often be included in a business phone service package at a relatively low cost, allowing you to take advantage of the many benefits of having a professional number. Taking into account the potentially high ROI due to the exceptional open and response rates, SMS marketing represents a cost-effective option for any business. 

  5. Customisable 

    Personalised marketing can return a significantly higher ROI than a blanket approach if it’s done right. Receiving a text is a more personal experience than being shown an advert on social media or receiving a mass-produced marketing flyer in the post. With bulk SMS software, it’s easy to send promotional messages to an entire contact list, a sub-group or an individual. By sending consumers only relevant messages, an SMS campaign will achieve a higher response rate while delivering better customer experience. Many SMS marketing services also allow consumers to “blacklist” themselves if they do not wish to receive further promotional messages, meaning your SMS list becomes a goldmine of highly targeted and primed customers ready to engage.

  6. Reliability 

    Marketing emails often get filtered out by an individual’s inbox spam settings and it’s impossible to ensure 100% deliverability. Recent research revealed that over half of all email traffic worldwide is categorised as “spam”. Mobile spam filters are much less stringent and if a consumer has opted to receive marketing emails from a company, it’s unlikely that marketing messages won’t reach the intended recipient. This makes SMS marketing an extremely reliable method of business communication.

 

Disadvantages of SMS Marketing for Business

No marketing method is perfect and there are some potential disadvantages of SMS marketing for business.

 

  1. Content Restrictions 

    SMS messages are restricted to 160 characters, so marketers have to be much more concise than they would in an email. It is possible to exceed this limit, but the message will be split across multiple texts, which could prove costly for the business and frustrating for the recipient.

  2. The Requirement for Opt-In 

    If a customer or prospect declines to opt for marketing texts or restricts consent to a specific purpose, they cannot be included in SMS marketing campaigns.  Equally, if an individual opts out, the company must stop sending them marketing messages. There is a benefit to this, though, in that all customers on your mobile marketing list will be highly qualified — you won’t want to waste budget sending SMS messages to consumers who are unlikely to buy.

  3. The Need for Fresh Content 

    The highly personalisable nature of SMS marketing means that content cannot be recycled and repurposed in the same way it can on social media or for display advertising. One sure-fire way to disengage customers and have them opt-out is to send repeat text messages with identical content. Marketing teams must continually create new content for their mobile campaigns.


The advantages of SMS marketing for businesses far outweigh any potential disadvantages. SMS is a cost-effective and highly personalisable channel for marketing, allowing businesses to expand their database of contacts and run engaging and reliable campaigns that deliver a high ROI.

Find out more about the advanced business phone service features City Numbers can offer your business or contact us to discuss your requirements today. 

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Advantages and Disadvantages of SMS in Business Communication

by Audrey Oh

According to research by RescueTime, people spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day. Worldwide, there are 5 billion people with the capacity to send and receive SMS messages. It’s no wonder that businesses are increasingly taking advantage of the opportunities provided by SMS marketing. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of SMS in business communication. 

 

What Is SMS Marketing?

Companies can use SMS, or “Short Message Service”, marketing to reach a wide audience at a click of a button and without busting their budget. Under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), consumers must “actively and voluntarily consent to receive your message”. Once they have done so, the company can send them messages detailing promotions, product updates, event information and more (depending on the level of consent given). SMS marketing is a fantastic way for a company to build a solid database of engaged customers and prospects, which can be used to increase customer loyalty and convert leads into sales.

 

Advantages of SMS Marketing for Business

For businesses wishing to communicate with and engage their community, whether customers, partners or prospects, SMS marketing offers several benefits. 

Awesome Open Rates
The average open rate for SMS marketing campaigns is 98% — compared to just 20% for email. This means a business can almost guarantee that its marketing campaign will reach the intended target audience, making it an incredible investment. Research by Mobile Xco suggests that 48.7 million people will opt-in to receive business SMS messages by 2020, which represents an increase of 23% on its current levels. With open rates as high as 98%, that’s a staggering increase in the potential audience for businesses’ marketing efforts.

Impressive Response Rates
The response rate of marketing texts is nearly 30%, while the average click-through-rate for email marketing campaigns is around just 2.5%. Consumers are also 10 times more likely to redeem promotional codes and vouchers sent via text than any other platform. This is great news for Marketing Managers seeking to achieve stakeholder or senior leadership level buy-in for an SMS marketing campaign, as they can demonstrate the potential return on investment (ROI) compared to alternative methods.

Immediacy
On average, it takes just one to three seconds for SMS messages to be sent and received. Although not all messages will be delivered, 90% of all text messages are read within three minutes, and the average person replies within 90 seconds. This allows businesses to send flash sales, last-minute deals and other time-sensitive promotions and be more likely to elicit a response.

Cost-Effective
An SMS marketing campaign will consume more budget than sending out bulk emails, but it’s still a relatively low-cost option when compared to other marketing activities, such as running a PR campaign, printing and distributing flyers or purchasing ad space on Facebook. SMS marketing can also often be included in a business phone service package at a relatively low cost, allowing you to take advantage of the many benefits of having a professional number. Taking into account the potentially high ROI due to the exceptional open and response rates, SMS marketing represents a cost-effective option for any business. 

Customisable
Personalised marketing can return a significantly higher ROI than a blanket approach if it’s done right. Receiving a text is a more personal experience than being shown an advert on social media or receiving a mass-produced marketing flyer in the post. With bulk SMS software, it’s easy to send promotional messages to an entire contact list, a sub-group or an individual. By sending consumers only relevant messages, an SMS campaign will achieve a higher response rate while delivering better customer experience. Many SMS marketing services also allow consumers to “blacklist” themselves if they do not wish to receive further promotional messages, meaning your SMS list becomes a goldmine of highly targeted and primed customers ready to engage.

Reliability
Marketing emails often get filtered out by an individual’s inbox spam settings and it’s impossible to ensure 100% deliverability. Recent research revealed that over half of all email traffic worldwide is categorised as “spam”. Mobile spam filters are much less stringent and if a consumer has opted to receive marketing emails from a company, it’s unlikely that marketing messages won’t reach the intended recipient. This makes SMS marketing an extremely reliable method of business communication. 

 

Disadvantages of SMS Marketing for Business

No marketing method is perfect and there are some potential disadvantages of SMS marketing for business.

Content Restrictions
SMS messages are restricted to 160 characters, so marketers have to be much more concise than they would in an email. It is possible to exceed this limit, but the message will be split across multiple texts, which could prove costly for the business and frustrating for the recipient. 

The Requirement for Opt-In
If a customer or prospect declines to opt for marketing texts or restricts consent to a specific purpose, they cannot be included in SMS marketing campaigns.  Equally, if an individual opts out, the company must stop sending them marketing messages. There is a benefit to this, though, in that all customers on your mobile marketing list will be highly qualified — you won’t want to waste budget sending SMS messages to consumers who are unlikely to buy.

The Need for Fresh Content
The highly personalisable nature of SMS marketing means that content cannot be recycled and repurposed in the same way it can on social media or for display advertising. One sure-fire way to disengage customers and have them opt-out is to send repeat text messages with identical content. Marketing teams must continually create new content for their mobile campaigns. 

The advantages of SMS marketing for businesses far outweigh any potential disadvantages. SMS is a cost-effective and highly personalisable channel for marketing, allowing businesses to expand their database of contacts and run engaging and reliable campaigns that deliver a high ROI.

Find out more about the advanced business phone service features City Numbers can offer your business or contact us to discuss your requirements today.

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Top 5 Reasons Getting an International Phone Number Improves Sales

by Audrey Oh

For small businesses, it can be a challenge to break out of the local area and reach new markets. If you lack the human resources and budget to establish multiple branches, how do you reach an international audience?

Virtual international phone numbers are a great way to extend the reach of your business into other countries. There’s no need to hire new staff, invest in premises abroad or wade through international law. All you need to do is buy an international phone number and potential customers will see your business as local. Check out our top five reasons for getting an international phone number that improves sales and boosts business.

  1. 1. Build Trust with Customers and ProspectsMany consumers feel more confident buying from local businesses or those with local branches. You can buy an international phone number for almost any city in the world to make yourself look like a local. The customer sees the international number you have purchased — which to them seems like a local number. But when they dial it, the call diverts to the location and device of your choice. So if your office is in London and you know there is a strong market for your product or service in Hong Kong, you can buy a Hong Kong number and divert calls to your telephone system in the UK.Trust and familiarity are two key reasons why people choose to buy from a particular provider. Giving your business a number local to your target geographical location will improve sales in that area because people will have more trust in your company.
  2. 2. Improved Customer ExperienceIf you streamline your business phone service by using one provider, you can manage international and local business on the same system. This makes it easier for you to track sales and marketing efforts, manage high call volumes and effectively prioritise calls. All of which supports a positive customer experience — vital for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.You can choose to direct inbound calls to different extensions, enabling you to pass a customer to the most appropriate member of staff quickly. You might have specialist sales staff for each target country so that you can direct calls from different international numbers to the relevant employee. This flexibility means customers have their needs met quickly and efficiently, rather than bouncing between various staff members until they reach the one who can help.
  3. 3. Expand to Markets Where There Is DemandSetting up physical branches in other countries is extremely time, resource and cost-intensive. If you take the plunge before you’ve tested the waters, you could spend a lot of money establishing your business in a location where your sales team will struggle to hit their targets.An international phone number is a simple and cost-effective way to test the customer base in a different country before you commit to further investment. With a “local” number, you give your business the best chance of success. If there is insufficient demand to justify further expansion, you can refocus your efforts elsewhere without having sacrificed significant budget resources. By testing new markets before committing to them, you will improve sales as you can focus on areas with high potential for conversions.
  4. 4. Boost Your Company’s ReputationSmall businesses often struggle to compete against big brands that consumers instantly recognise and trust. Buying international phone numbers is an effective way to boost the profile of your business, from small and local, to successful and global.You could be working from a garden office in your hometown, yet international numbers create the impression you have offices worldwide! Having a global presence with multiple offices makes your company look more professional and reliable. This will translate into improved sales.
  5. 5. Additional Services Can Boost SalesMany international phone number providers offer a wide range of additional telephony services. These services can make your business run more smoothly, enhance the customer experience and increase sales. Incoming call features such as Call Whisper gives your sales team a heads up about where a call has come from. Call Queuing and Auto Attendant (IVR) will help you to deliver a consistently high level of customer service, which will impact your sales figures.

International phone numbers are an easy and cost-effective way to branch out into new markets, boost your company’s reputation, enhance the customer experience and build trust with customers and prospects. All of which will lead to improved sales.

If you’re looking to take your small business to the next level, contact us to find out more about how to buy international phone numbers. City Numbers has over 20 years experience in the industry and we provide virtual city phone numbers in over 4000 cities across the world.

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What Is a Virtual Landline and How to Get One

by Audrey Oh

If you’re a small business relying on a traditional landline, you’ll be familiar with breaks in service, costly bills and limited features. A virtual landline is an essential service for any business looking to succeed and grow. Virtual landlines are a cloud-based service that allows you to divert calls to any device you choose. This ensures faults connected with a particular device or events such as business relocation will not impact your business. A virtual number offers many benefits, such as lending credibility to your business and negating the need to publish your personal number in marketing content. 

Virtual landline services often include a wide range of additional services that can significantly benefit your business, such as call queuing and forwarding. All of which means a better experience for your customers, enhanced brand reputation, more sales and increased profit. Read on to find out more about the different types of landline services available and how to get a virtual landline number. 

 

Types of Virtual Landline Services

A virtual landline means your business telephone number is not fixed to a particular device. You can divert calls to any device you choose. Beyond this, there is a wide range of virtual numbers and services to choose from. 

Freephone numbers such as “0800” allow people to contact your business without paying a penny. These numbers are a great way to boost incoming calls and give your sales team more leads to work on. 

Local rate numbers such as “0845” keep costs low for callers and your business. They hide your geographical location making it easy for small and startup businesses to create the impression of being an established company with a wide reach.

National numbers such as “0871” can become an additional revenue stream as callers pay a higher rate to place calls. They are often used to reduce the number of incoming calls, for example to out-of-hours support lines. 

Local numbers allow you to build a customer base outside of your geographical location by using a local area code. Worldwide numbers work similarly, allowing a small business to establish a presence in another country. 

To find out more about alternate phone numbers for business, read our blog

Additional virtual landline services include: incoming call features such as fax to email, voicemail and call queuing, telephone answering and audio conferencing. Virtual landlines offer so much more than a traditional landline. They can help you to manage calls during peak times and deliver outstanding customer service. Virtual landlines also expand your reach and increase the number of warm leads your sales teams have to work with.

 

How to Get a Virtual Landline Number

So we’ve convinced you, your business needs a virtual landline number. But how do you get one? 

First of all, identify a provider you can trust and that offers everything your business needs. Look for experience, breadth of the service offer and transparent pricing. City Numbers has over 20 years of experience in the industry. We make it easy, quick and cost-effective to set up a virtual number. 

 

  1. Select Your Preferred Type of Virtual Number. City Numbers offers Freephone 0800, Local 0844 and 0845, National 0871, 0300 for public services, UK virtual numbers, worldwide virtual numbers and international toll-free numbers.
  2. Choose Where to Route Your Number To. You can divert calls to mobiles, landlines or VOIP numbers, depending on the service you select.
  3. Set up a Monthly Payment Agreement We do not tie you into lengthy contracts and there are no hidden costs. We offer a variety of tariffs for different services and users. Pay As You Go starts from as little as £5 per month for 0800 numbers.

  4. Choose Additional Services Virtual landline services offer a wide range of useful business services. You can tailor-make a package to suit your specific business needs by selecting the additional services you require. Incoming call features such as IVR (auto-attendant), call queuing and voicemail can help you to effectively manage calls even at peak times.

  5. Go Live! Once your order is complete and payment received, we can set up your new number within minutes during business hours.

If you’re a small business or a startup, it’s always daunting committing more of your budget to new investment. A virtual landline number can increase service levels, cut costs, increase profits and boost your company’s image. It’s a cost-effective solution to a host of business challenges and an investment you won’t regret! 

If you’re not sure which is the best virtual landline service for your business, contact us. We can supply, test and support numbers in the UK and internationally. We are committed to providing transparent pricing, outstanding customer service and innovative services that are constantly evolving. Let us help you to grow your business. 

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How Can I Get an 0800 Number to Grow My Business?

by Audrey Oh

Are you a small business owner looking for ways to grow your business? Freephone 0800 numbers offer a wide range of benefits to new and established businesses. They represent a great investment and are quick and easy to set up. Telecommunications are developing all the time. So, there are plenty of advanced features you can add to your phone service as your business grows, such as audio conferencing, fax to email and incoming call features. But how can a telephone number grow a business? Read our top tips for using 0800 numbers to boost your business.

Track Marketing Campaigns

0800 numbers allow you to track where high-converting leads are coming from. You can also identify where your advertising costs are failing to pull in warm leads and redirect your budget elsewhere. This could save you thousands of pounds and increase the number of good leads passed to your sales teams. 

Assign a unique virtual phone number to each marketing campaign. You’ll have a simple and effective method for identifying where your marketing spend is working best. When someone calls in using the unique number, you can link that lead to the specific campaign that triggered it. Restricting the budget for marketing activities that reap a significant ROI is a great way to support business growth.

 

Attract New Customers

By offering an 0800 number to your customers, you are helping your business to grow. Potential customers are much more likely to call a free number than one that charges them. 0800 numbers cost the caller nothing, whether they dial from a landline or a mobile phone. A higher call volume gives your sales teams more opportunities to sell, which could mean a significant boost to profits. If your competitors don’t offer potential customers free calls, you could also pull traffic away from them and towards you.

0800 numbers also make a small business look more professional and give them a national reach, which builds consumer trust. 

 

Make Your Business Number Memorable

In any industry, a business is likely to be up against multiple competitors offering similar services or products. 0800 numbers are much easier for people to remember than a random string of digits. So you stand a better chance of a prospect calling you. 

0800 numbers can increase the response rate for marketing campaigns because the prefix is instantly recognisable and memorable. 

 

Expand the Reach of Your Business

A business with an 0800 number could be anywhere as the prefix does not tie your company to any particular geographical location. If you’re keen to grow your business beyond the local area, an 0800 number can help you to establish a national reach. People are less likely to buy from a small company located miles away. An 0800 number suggests you have a successful company that spans the UK.

It also instils trust in your brand, as it shows you value your customers enough to provide a way for them to contact you without incurring a fee. Even if you’re running a business from your home study, an 0800 number can create the impression yours is a successful company that a consumer can purchase from with confidence.

 

Maintain Consistency and Trust

Consumers have a wealth of choices when it comes to choosing providers of services or goods. They are also constantly encouraged to switch and save. However, many customers remain loyal to a brand and are reluctant to change, whether it be phone providers, energy services or their favourite fashion store. After all, it’s human nature to trust in the familiar and consistent. 

An 0800 number helps you build familiarity and trust with customers. There’s no need to change numbers if you choose to relocate your business. Your customers need not even know there is any change occurring! Businesses often lose customers when they implement major changes due to concerns about interruptions or changes in service. With a free phone number, you can grow your business by moving into larger or better-located premises without losing contact with your customers.

 

Manage Fluctuations in Call Volume Effectively

When you leave customers or prospects on hold for more than a few minutes, they often become frustrated and hang up. With an 0800 number, you have complete control over how you manage your calls. Many virtual phone service providers will allow you to control how calls are directed online. You can change where your 0800 number is pointing to as required by call volumes, location of staff or your schedule. Customers who receive a positive service are much more likely to turn into repeat customers. 

You might also choose to add some advanced features to your 0800 service to help you deliver outstanding customer service. Features such as call forwarding, queuing and voicemail can help you to maintain the highest levels of service even at peak times. 

 

Avoid Service Disruptions

Nothing drives customers away quicker than major or repeated interruptions to service. Businesses using a traditional landline are vulnerable to faults and breaks in service that could make it impossible for customers or prospects to contact them. With an 0800 number, it’s easy to re-route calls to a device that is functioning if another fails. This means no break in service for the customer and higher levels of customer satisfaction.

 

How Can I Get an 0800 Number?

0800 numbers are a great way to grow your business. At City Numbers, it’s quick and easy to order a free phone number. Once your order is complete and payment is received, we can make your number live in minutes. Find out more and order your 0800 number today!  

Contact us to find out more about 0800 numbers and the additional services we can provide your business. We won’t lock you into a lengthy contract and our pricing structure is completely transparent with no hidden costs.

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