Virtual phone numbers: What are they and why do you need them?

Traditional phone lines are outdated. Virtual phone numbers help businesses connect better with their customers. Here's how they work.
Picture of Faye Chong
Faye Chong

Digital Marketing Executive

Reading time: 6 minutes

Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate. Traditional phone systems are increasingly being replaced by virtual ones due to the many benefits they bring.

But what is a virtual phone number and how do they work? Continue reading as we delve deeper and explain what virtual phone numbers are! 👇


What is a virtual phone number?

Virtual phone numbers are cloud-based numbers that allow businesses to be reached without having a traditional phone system. These numbers can be used to make or receive calls with any device over the internet, providing businesses with more flexibility when connecting with their customers.

How does a virtual number work?

Virtual phone numbers work just like traditional phone numbers, except that they don’t require SIM cards to make calls. It connects calls between the caller and the recipient via the internet, and this connection is known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

VoIP is a technology that allows voice communication to be transmitted and received in real-time over the internet. Think Whatsapp calls or Skype voice calls.

Your voice is digitized and turned into a signal which is then delivered to the recipient.

Differences between virtual and regular phone numbers

Regular numbers are, well, regular 😆

Ok, jokes aside, regular numbers are location-specific and device-specific. Regular phone numbers, or traditional phone numbers, are installed into traditional private branch exchange (PBX) phone systems.

PBX phone systems are traditional phone systems installed in fixed locations such as offices.

These numbers were designed to work with a single phone line that telcos to a specific phone unit. This means that the number can only be used in the locations where the system was installed.

Virtual numbers, on the other hand, are not tied to one location. They rely on the internet to allow calls to happen. This eliminates the need for physical cables, making your calls accessible via any device. This includes mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. No SIM card is required for calls to be made using virtual numbers.

This means that your team does not need to be in one fixed location to pick up and make calls. This is super helpful if you want to build remote teams. Let’s quickly summarize the differences between the two:

Alt text: Differences between virtual and regular numbers.


Types of virtual phone numbers

1. Toll-free numbers

Toll-free numbers are numbers with distinct three-digit codes that can be dialed without incurring any fees for the caller.

As its name suggests, these numbers are free of dialing costs. This means that any call-related charges are only incurred by the receiver. They typically come with any of these 3-digit prefixes: 800, 855, 877, or 888.

These numbers are used to encourage people to call businesses as callers will know that t is free-of-charge for them.

2. Vanity phone numbers


Vanity numbers have alphabets or repeated numbers to make them catchy and easy to remember.

Many vanity numbers come with letters associated with the business. For example, a vanity number of Novocall could be 1-800-NOVOCALL.

Meanwhile, they can also come in the form of numbers without letters. However, a part of the phone number consists of repeated numbers.

The inclusion of letters and repeated numbers are meant to make the vanity numbers catchy and easy to remember.

3. Local numbers


A local number is a number with a specific area code

Numbers that have specific area codes to make long-distance calls in different markets. There are no restrictions dictating that only locals can buy local numbers. This means that if you are from an Indian company that wants to call US leads, you can still buy a US number.

Application of virtual phone numbers

1. Internet telephone service 🌐


Google Voice is an app that lets users with the ability to make calls via the internet.

Internet telephone services like Google Voice simply provides users with the ability to make calls via the internet. Users need not rely on a fixed phone unit and can make or receive a call from anywhere in the world with a variety of devices.

Other such software include ZoomSkype, and Google Meet.

2. Call automation ⚙️

Click-to-call software like Novocall allows inbound site visitors to schedule an automated callback with businesses.


Click-to-call software allows inbound site visitors to schedule an automated callback with businesses.

These types of software are typically integrated with Google and Outlook calendars, allowing leads to pick time slots based on the sales reps’ availability.

When the scheduled time arrives, the software will automate a call between the sales rep and the lead. The use of a virtual number means that both parties need not use a fixed phone unit to pick up the call.

For businesses, this makes sales operations easier as all sales-related activities can be done via a single software on their computers.

3. Cold sales outreach ☎️

Outbound call software allows users to create automated outbound calling campaigns to dial a long list of numbers on a contact list. 

Outbound call software allows users to create automated outbound calling campaigns to dial a long list of numbers on a contact list.

Novocall’s outbound call software allows businesses to purchase virtual numbers to conduct their outbound sales call campaigns. This allows businesses to conduct their cold sales outreach from anywhere in the world.

Using virtual numbers, sales reps can also mask their personal numbers should they be calling from their personal phones.

4. Call tracking 🔀

Call tracking software utilizes virtual numbers to allow businesses to attribute their calls to their source marketing campaign.

DNI assigns unique tracking numbers to online campaigns to allow businesses to track them.

Using dynamic number insertion (DNI), these software dynamically swaps the phone number on a marketing campaign ad with a tracking number. This allows marketers to track the performance of their campaigns by looking at the number of inbound calls that come in through each campaign.

Benefits of using virtual numbers

1. Eliminate expensive fees that come with traditional landlines 💰

Remember, a virtual phone system allows you to make calls over the internet. This means that you can skip the expensive calling charges.

For example, you’re running a cold call campaign to reach out to leads in the USA while your business operates in Singapore. Instead of paying to call from Singapore, you can simply purchase an international virtual number.

This allows you to make several phone calls to the USA without paying a hefty sum!

2. Expand your business overseas with reduced cost 🌏

As we’ve mentioned a few times, using virtual numbers allows you to communicate with people from all over the world at any time.

Whether you want to set up a new branch abroad, or simply hire talent from another country, virtual numbers reduce disruption to your operations by simplifying communication between teams.

Using virtual numbers also allows you to easily access the best talent from around the world. With over 38% of companies already having remote employees, many companies should start looking into making communication via virtual numbers the main mode of communication.


3. Improve your sales rep-lead fit and customer experience 😄

Unlike traditional landlines, virtual phone numbers can be easily routed to any business rep or department. This works because a virtual phone number is not limited to just one number and one line.

Businesses can set up lead routing rules such as availability of sales reps or location of caller to route these calls to the most qualified sales rep to answer their question.

For example, if a lead calls your business via your virtual number and is interested in a product demo, this call will be routed directly to a rep in the sales team.

This ensures that there is a good lead-sales rep match so that leads don’t waste their time explaining their problem to the wrong rep. It also improves the customer experience and can improve the odds of closing a deal.

4. Improved campaign performance visibility 📊

Keeping track of your calls is key to measuring campaign performance. This is where virtual numbers really come in handy.

You can purchase these virtual phone numbers and assign them to campaigns that you want to be receiving calls from. You can then use call tracking software to attribute these calls to get an idea of how well your campaigns are doing.

Also, the virtual phone numbers are disposable. This means that for every campaign you run, you can purchase a new virtual number. By tying a specific number to each campaign, your campaigns are more clearly distinguishable. This helps with tracking the performance of individual campaigns.

5. Improved credibility 🤝

Because of the lack of restrictions on who can buy local numbers, foreign companies can use local numbers to disguise the fact that they are a foreign business.

This can help boost the credibility of your business in the eyes of the call recipient. Imagine receiving a call from a number with a country code that you don’t recognize. Chances are, you’ll probably think that it is a spam number.

What’s next?

We hope that this article has given you some insight into virtual phone numbers!

Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise company, virtual phone numbers are vital for business growth. It provides you with a better way to connect with your customers and vice versa.

To find out more about how VoIP systems can help your business, check out more from our blog! 😊

Picture of Faye

Faye is a digital marketing executive at Novocall. When she’s not busy writing articles for Novocall’s blog, she spends her time baking and playing with her dogs.

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