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What is Virtual SMS & How Can SMS Online Help Your Business?

Imagine a phone number that you can't call, but it can send and receive text messages. Learn what this looks like as we take a deep dive into virtual SMS.

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The evolution of the phone has brought us from clunky wall-mounted monstrosities to cordless cradles, from car communicators to texting pocket computers.

Fast forward to present day, and smartphones are slowly becoming the dominant method for telecommunication.

According to studies conducted by Pew Research, around 77% of Americans have smartphones, a number that is up from just 35% in 2011. And with the rise of smartphones has come a surge in texting.

More than 26 BILLION texts are sent in the U.S. each day. Which brings us to the question— is anyone even answering phone calls anymore? As a business, does it even make sense to have a dedicated landline?

Whether you’re ready to ditch the landline or not, chances are you didn’t even know it was possible to have a phone that doesn’t ring.

And so it is with great pleasure we introduce you to virtual SMS numbers—the next step beyond the smartphone and into the future.

What is Virtual SMS?

Think of virtual SMS like old school AIM chat. But instead of both parties being on the web, one is texting through a virtual phone number. You can’t call the 10-digit number like a landline, but it can both send and receive text messages.

Virtually every business uses some form of internet connectivity in their operations. Virtual SMS simply capitalizes on that fact and reduces the need for additional hardware for businesses looking to get into the SMS marketing game.

The Pros of Virtual SMS

Aside from not having to purchase a cellphone to text customers, there are some other big benefits virtual SMS offers:

  • With the ability to add multiple logins to your virtual number’s account, the members of your staff can field communications from the same number at the same time.
  • With a dedicated business number, you no longer need to use your personal device for any communications, which can lead to mix-ups (not to mention a seriously unbalanced work-life situation!)
  • Communicate in real time. Receive replies without delay, and reply immediately.
  • Ability to register a local number (a 10-digit number with an area code local to your business) or choose a toll-free number and communicate with customers’ phones anywhere in the world.

Choosing Your Virtual SMS Number

Of course, when talking about virtual SMS, you’ll also need to decide which type of number to text from.

We strongly recommend local numbers to our users for a couple of reasons. First, the fact that your texts come from a local, recognizable area code helps your customers trust your messages, and makes them more likely to engage (as opposed to a toll-free number, which can look impersonal).

Second, local numbers are the most convenient option when it comes to setup. You can generally get up and running with your local number in a day or so.

If you do choose a toll-free number, be sure to have it verified to avoid increasing limits on your traffic by carriers. It’s also important to note that, when you choose your toll-free number, you’ll have limited throughput (message capacity) for a few weeks until you’re verified.

Virtual SMS Facts and Figures

When it comes to virtual SMS some people know a little, others nothing at all. But most have a least some spammy misconceptions.

To help clear all of that up (and make you the small talk king or queen of your next dinner party), we’ll give you some facts that’ll equip you with everything you need to know on the topic.

Virtual SMS is Widely Used

We’ll start by sharing that virtual SMS is most commonly used as the primary tool in text marketing. After all, it’s what gives businesses the ability to reach thousands of people in an instant. If you’ve ever received a text from an organization, the odds are very high you received a virtual SMS message!

Online SMS is Regulated

It’s important to note that businesses don’t just have free rein to invade your personal cell space. Not to mention, carriers are imposing new requirements for number registration and verification (as you heard above) that keep spam senders out of text inboxes. And, if you choose the right SMS provider, they’ll help steer you toward the best, most above-board texting practices.

Strict FCC guidelines state that businesses must receive express written consent for each recipient before sending out any kind of promotional material. And as a consumer, you can opt out of receiving these texts at any time you please.

The Market is Growing

There’s a reason many organizations have elected over the last few years to reach their audience on their phones. Rich Communication Services (RCS) is estimated to be worth $74 billion by 2021!

The fact of the matter is, marketing messages are getting heard over mobile. There’s simply less competition for attention against other brands.

Open your phone now and look at your last 5, 10, even 15 message threads. How many of them were friends, family, co-workers? How many were businesses? From that perspective, you can imagine this is a space any organization would be pleased to inhabit.

Numbers to Know

If you’re still not sold, here are some of the most prevalent virtual SMS statistics that might surprise you:

  • 80% of people use texting for business purposes.
  • More than 50% of customers prefer contacting support through text messaging compared to other channels.
  • 75% of people wouldn’t mind receiving an SMS text message from a brand (after opt-in).
  • The response rate of SMS text message marketing is 45% vs email response rates at 6%.
  • 90% vs 20% – Open rate of SMS compared to email open rates.
  • Over 35% of phone users in the world are best reached by SMS text messaging.

Virtual SMS is becoming a part of our everyday lives right before our eyes. And no matter if you’re a consumer or a marketer, the more you know about what’s happening, the more you can get and expect out of your favorite brands.

Have a specific business or organization you wish you could text? Send them our way, and we’ll happily show them the light.

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

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