Got a virtual number for your home business? If you are a self-employed professional, an artist selling crafts online, or you run your micro business from a home office, there are several compelling reasons to consider using a virtual number- whether or not taking calls is part of your operational or marketing strategy. Below, I’ll run through seven convincing arguments for using a virtual number in your home-based business that you may not have thought about.
But, I already have a phone number on my site…
1. You can track your website’s lead generation. If you already have your number on your site replacing it with a virtual number will allow you to track how many enquiries are coming from your website, rather than other sources. It’s a simple matter to divert all calls to your virtual number onto your existing number and monitor how many calls your new number gets. From your customers’ end, nothing is different except for the number they dial.
As a side note, make sure your phone number is visible and easy to find on the major pages of your site. People will generally look for contact numbers in the top right-hand corner of a website (in the header area) so that’s a good place to display it. Make sure it’s in your site footer and on your contact page, too.
2. Protect your privacy. With a virtual phone number, you can maintain your privacy and add a layer of protection between you and people wanting to call you. For example, should you be unfortunate enough to pick up a nuisance caller, you can simply block this person’s number(s) and he or she will not be able to get through. This is a huge time saver, and it can also save you a lot of frustration. It is a much better option than being harassed or having to change your home number or a mobile line.
3. Receive calls any time from anywhere. Virtual numbers and services are based in the cloud and are not tied to any specific physical location. If you do want to be able to take calls you can divert calls to any other number (landline, cell phone, international), so you can receive calls wherever you are. This is perfect if you travel around and want to stay in touch. It’s usually simple to change the number being diverted to and you can still send calls to voicemail when you aren’t available. You can even set up a schedule to do this for you automatically.
4. Automatically forward messages and calls to the ones who need it. If there are people helping you run your business, whether freelance contractors or full-time employees, you can have both audio and text messages routed directly to them- even if they are in a different country.
5. Appear more credible. Adding a virtual phone number to your site makes you appear more trustworthy and more like a ‘real’ business. The internet is an anonymous place, so people will instinctively look for reassurance you are genuine and that they can contact you should they need to. Most will never call, but they like to know they could.
6. It may help your website rank better. As Google continues to transform the way businesses are found online, there is good reason to believe that having a consistent name, address, and phone number attached to your business can affect how it shows up in search results for relevant terms.
I don’t want to take calls, so why do I need a virtual phone number?
Even if you don’t want people to call you, it’s still a good idea to display a phone number on your site. You just need to set things up differently to ensure you don’t have to deal with the calls directly.
7. You can receive calls without having to speak to anyone. There’s no need to answer live, or even hear the call from your virtual phone number. You can send all calls direct to voicemail. Any messages you get are emailed to you as an audio file attachment, so you can listen to them when you want and respond in your own time. If you’d rather not to receive any communication at all by phone, you could play a recorded message directing people to your website or giving alternative instructions instead.
Basically, with a virtual phone number you can enjoy the kinds of features and advantages that big companies tend to have at a mere fraction of the cost. In the process you can take your home-based business to a whole new level of efficiency and professionalism.
Matthew Guise is a digital marketing expert for Callagenix Ltd, a UK-based telephony services provider that specialises in business grade hosted phone solutions. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: +44 (0)333 247 0000.