There was a time when each phone call came through a phone operator and each letter had to be sent through the post office. Less than thirty years have passed since the end of that era, but in terms of technological advancement, we are light years apart.
Since 1993, email has been a popular shorthand for sending messages which marks the end of the postal service as we knew it. Today, virtual phone numbers have the same effect on traditional phone systems.
Using a virtual number to receive WhatsApp messages enables businesses to take advantage of the full potential the instant messaging application has to offer. Thanks to their advanced technology and widespread usage, more and more businesses choose virtual phone numbers over traditional ones.
In this article, you can learn what are the benefits of virtual phone numbers and the best services you can use for your WhatsApp Business account.
What is a virtual phone number?
Virtual numbers have the same working functionality as regular numbers. The difference is, they use the internet, so they don’t need the physical infrastructure of the traditional phone systems to connect calls to a landline, to a mobile phone - or even to a computer system.
The most significant advantage of virtual phone numbers is their programmatic nature, which provides virtually unlimited possibilities for integration with any communication software, application, or platform via API.
What are the benefits of using a virtual number for WhatsApp?
Virtual phone numbers have a variety of benefits. Freelancers find them ideal for remote work because they let them organize and optimize their business life without using their private number. Furthermore, using a virtual phone number allows them to:
- Separate work and personal life.
- Enhance their privacy.
- Increase productivity beyond the office.
- Save money.
There are many additional advantages virtual numbers have to offer to businesses as well:
- Forward SMS to email or mobile phone.
- Speech recognition and recording transcription.
- Use WhatsApp and other communication apps.
- Send and receive images, calendar invites, and GPS location markers.
Virtual phone numbers give you full control with programmable Interactive Voice Response. The programmatic IVR can enable interactions with callers and gather information by giving them choices via a menu. It then can perform actions based on the answers of the caller through the telephone keypad or their voice response.
They give you full programmatic control over how incoming calls are routed. You can set up a single phone number that automatically forwards calls to an available agent, or sends calls straight to voicemail outside of business hours.
With virtual phone numbers, you can have fully programmable automated phone calls, meaning you can play messages, present an IVR or connect to call out to another phone.
Virtual phone numbers are ideal in a digital-first economy since they are device-neutral. They are easy to set up as a business-friendly marketing tool that offers auto-reply, voicemail, customized call greetings, etc.
WhatsApp is, without any doubt, the biggest messaging platform in the world. Over two billion people use Whatsapp in 180 countries worldwide and over five million businesses rely on WhatsApp Business to interact with their customers.
WhatsApp has many functionalities that a traditional phone number can’t provide. For example, with the instant messaging application it is possible to share audio and video files, documents, and even our location.
Using WhatsApp with a premium virtual number will provide you with improved features unavailable with free numbers which can have limited or no customer service, and may come with ad support. Additionally, before you pick your provider, you should be looking at the extra features that different CPaaS providers offer.
What Is a Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS)?
CPaaS is a collection of tools that make it easy to integrate essential communications features — such as SMS, chat, or video calls — into various software. They’re essentially API platforms.
With this cloud-based technology, you can integrate a programmatic virtual phone number and add incoming and outgoing calls to your communication platform. It even allows you to add new phone numbers and calling features so customers can reach a specific team or point of contact at your company.
CPaaS providers offer a wide range of communication services you can use to add real-time communications features and channels for marketing, customer service, sales, and business support.
Top providers to consider for a WhatsApp virtual number
Many CPaaS providers offer diverse sets of features, at different prices. This is a list of platforms that, in our experience, provide the best solutions for small, medium, and large businesses.
This communications and connectivity platform is one of the few CPaaS companies registered as licensed carriers with services on a private, global IP network. Their private infrastructure spreads across North America, Latin America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Telnyx also provides easy-to-use APIs, adding on to the Mission Control portal to access all features in one place.
Every Telnyx customer has access to 24/7 in-house engineering support, as well as complimentary services like configuration management, enterprise-level security, and fraud detection.
Pricing starts at $0.007 for outbound calls, $0.0040 per outbound SMS, and $1 per number, with sustained-use discounts for continued customers. If you want to use your existing phone number, with a local prefix, the price is $0.10 per month.
One perk that comes with Telnyx virtual numbers is that companies can register their WhatsApp Business accounts directly through them. Once you register your WhatsApp Business, you can use its API to integrate it into a customer communication platform like Rasayel and ramp up your sales by automating conversations, deploying chatbots, developing campaigns, sending or scheduling bulk messages, creating templates, and tracking results.
Twilio is the market leader in the CPaaS industry with a robust API cloud platform that enables companies to integrate multiple communication means (including SMS, and voice chat) into their web and mobile devices.
Twilio’s virtual numbers are supported in more than 180 countries with more than 1500 global carrier partners.
Twilio Super Network is a set of APIs for voice, messaging, video, email, IoT, chat, and AI. The programmable APIs of Twilio offer notifications at scale, CRM integration, monitoring, chatbots, 2FA and OTP verification, and a visual editor for ease of configuration.
The service also offers a comprehensive partner ecosystem with players like IBM Watson, Zendesk, and VoiceBase; enterprise-grade security with ISO 27001 and SOC 2 certifications, and GDPR compliance.
Twilio’s virtual phone numbers are in more than 30 different nations with simple, flexible pricing options, volume, and committed-use discounts. The price for Programmable Voice starts at $0.0085/min to receive and $0.013/min to make a call, Programmable messaging at $0.0075 to send or receive a message and WhatsApp Business API at $0.0042 to send a WhatsApp Template message and $0.005 for WhatsApp Session messages.
Beyond offering virtual numbers, Twilio allows you to apply for a WhatsApp Business account directly through them.
MessageBird is one of the top players in the CPaaS market. This is a cloud messaging platform with coverage in 138 countries and more than 250 direct telecom provider connections worldwide.
MessageBird is primarily designed to allow businesses to integrate their omnichannel communications with many popular messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Line, Telegram, Apple Business Chat, Viber, and more. APIs for SMS, Voice, and email are also available.
With MessageBird you can centralize your incoming calls and messages via Voice and SMS-capable numbers, or simply open up two-way messaging capabilities. This CPaaS provides a visual editor for API development, geo-location tracking, real-time location monitoring, webhooks for integration with other applications, and smart chatbots to increase customer engagement through sentiment analysis and suggested replies.
MessageBird’s virtual phone numbers are available in over 50 countries, focusing its offers across Europe, the Asia Pacific, and the United States. The Voice API costs $0.006 per minute, with $1.6 per month per number. $0.006 is charged per outbound SMS and is charged $1 per month per SMS number.
Similar to Telnyx and Twilio, these virtual phone numbers can be registered with WhatsApp Business directly through MessageBird.
Vonage is a voice-over-internet protocol service provider that offers local and long-distance telephone service, as well as broadband data services across North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. The platform also offers developer tools, SDKs, sample code, and an accessible API to ensure ease of use across different kinds of enterprise customers.
Vonage offers an affordable VoIP phone plan for domestic use and international calling plans for international use. As for the pricing, sending an SMS message costs $0.056, and managed customers can also purchase packages of conversations per month with volume-based discounts that will bring conversation prices as low as $0.012 per conversation.
Infobip is a global communications company that provides SMS, voice, chat services, and a full-featured set of cloud communication APIs. Furthermore, this solution also features automated workflows to reduce time to market, as well as several pre-built integrations for popular platforms such as Shopify, WordPress, and Magento.
Infobip is hosted on a private cloud run on 10 data centers, which affirms the claim that this CPaaS has some of the best security features, reducing reliance on third-party cloud vendors. Additionally, the platform offers many other security features like Secure Sockets Layers (SSL), message encryption, granular password policies, auditing for account activities, and number masking.
Infobip has a reach of 50 countries across North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, and offers a 14-day free trial with 30 SMS, 30 emails, and access to advanced features. The pricing is variable depending on the location of the traffic, country regulations and restrictions, and other factors, however, they provide payment solutions that make it easy for companies to take payments and run transactions anywhere in the world.
Plivo is a cloud communications platform that enables developers to build voice and SMS applications. Plivo’s simple APIs allow you to integrate voice and SMS into your web and mobile applications.
Plivo offers IP Messaging, voice, SMS, MMS, and AI services like NLP, Chatbots, intelligent sentiment analysis, and powerful features like call recording, IVRs, and routing rules. They have a reach for inbound voice and SMS in more than 190 countries and local phone numbers in more than 100 countries.
This platform features a visual editor known as the Plivo High-Level Objects editor which greatly increases the usability of the platform. However, it lacks omnichannel functionality and offers more restricted methods of communication.
As for the prices, Plivo rents local numbers cost $0.50/month, toll-free numbers are $1/month, and short codes start at $500/month. Customers are charged $0.005 per SMS and $0.0120 per minute for calls.
RingCentral is a CPaaS designed to assist small, medium, and corporate businesses with APIs for voice, SMS, Glip messaging, Meetings, and fax. Many countries, including the United States and Canada, France, Australia, Germany, and others, have phone support.
This platform offers toll-free, local phone numbers in over 100 countries, and deeper customer data insights with communications data APIs, voicemail transcription, and call recordings. The plans in Ringcentral start from $20 to $50 per month per user.
If your business needs a quick deployment of an easy-to-use and secure solution for increasing your brand’s reach, driving interactions with customers, and boosting productivity and efficiency of internal communications, these CPaaS companies offer you the best tools and features.
In addition to their cost-effectiveness, their virtual phone numbers have coverage in multiple countries, in-app voice and texting capabilities, message personalisation, and are ideal for registering your WhatsApp Business account.
With WhatsApp Business API, connected to Rasayel you can unlock the unlimited possibilities of making killer sales and giving the best customer support.