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What is a Virtual Phone Number?

A virtual phone number is a standard telephone number(link takes you to an external page) that is not locked down to a specific phone. A virtual number can route a voice call or text message to any phone or workflow. With virtual numbers powered by an API, complex software workflows can be built that are triggered by calls and texts.

Virtual Phone Numbers and the Twilio API

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With Twilio, you can get instant access to local, national, mobile, and toll-free(link takes you to an external page) virtual numbers in 50+ countries. You can programmatically search for available phone numbers via API and purchase numbers via the same API. Or, log in to find and purchase phone numbers(link takes you to an external page) via the Twilio Console.

Below are just a few of the ways virtual numbers can be used.

International Local Presence

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Using a local number allows foreign business to have a local presence in multiple countries.

Due to the high cost of international long distance, customers are far more likely to dial a local number. Similarly, individuals with friends and family in other countries can use a TwimlBin(link takes you to an external page) to setup their virtual number with simple call forwarding. This allows their loved ones to call them on a local number.

Businesses use virtual phone numbers to track the effectiveness and conversion rates of marketing campaigns. By putting a unique phone number on each campaign (e.g. different search engine ads, billboards, or maganize ads) marketers can track which ad recieved the most calls.

Marketplaces and on-demand services can use virtual phone numbers to anonymize interactions. For example, Lyft allows riders and drivers to call each other without revealing their personal phone numbers(link takes you to an external page).

Businesses can give each employee their own phone number and route the call into their extension using Direct Inward Dialing (DID). DID allows callers to skip a queue or phone tree and ring directly through to the phone of the specific person they want to get in touch with.

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