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VoIP texting: Benefits, setup, use cases, and more

VoIP texting

As businesses shift away from landlines and toward VoIP systems, VoIP texting has become an essential part of every business owner’s toolkit.

That’s because Voice over Internet Protocol (aka VoIP) lets you make calls and texts from any device with an internet connection.

Here’s what you need to know about VoIP texting, how it works, and why it could be the best solution for your team’s communication needs.

What is VoIP texting?

VoIP texting refers to the use of a virtual phone number to send and receive text messages. There’s no need to subscribe to a traditional phone plan to start texting with a VoIP service — all you need is an internet connection and a VoIP app that supports SMS messages (and MMS messages if you want to send group texts, pictures, GIFs, videos, and audio files).

VoIP texting makes it easy to stay connected with clients and team members from just about anywhere. You can even jump on a mobile device or text from your computer. And on top of standard texting features, you can save hours every month using automations and text message templates.

How does VoIP SMS work?

VoIP texting: How VoIP works

VoIP texting allows you to send and receive texts over the internet using a virtual phone number. 

Let’s break it down:

  • You send an SMS message from a text-enabled device (think your phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet).
  • Your VoIP texting service converts this information into digital data.
  • The data routes through your WiFi connection to the company’s VoIP servers.
  • The VoIP server routes your text data to the recipient’s device.
  • The text finally reaches your customer, who can now read your message.

Since VoIP texting uses virtual phone numbers, your internet connection replaces the need for cell service. Plus, your text message recipients won’t be able to tell the difference between your VoIP texts and standard mobile phone texts.

How to start VoIP texting with your business phone

Want to start VoIP texting but don’t know where to begin? Here’s an easy step-by-step process to set up your VoIP number for texting:

VoIP texting: How to start VoIP texting

1. Choose a VoIP provider

VoIP texting has grown in popularity in the past decade, especially with the rise of remote work, so you have plenty of VoIP providers to choose from. 

Here are some criteria to look out for when you’re choosing a VoIP provider:

  1. Features: Does a VoIP solution have advanced messaging features like auto-replies and scheduled messages? Prioritize options based on  their calling and messaging features, team collaboration features, and third-party integrations.
  2. Pricing: Look at how providers organize their plans and how they charge for their messaging features. Some providers require user minimums in their more expensive plans, which increases their overall cost. Other providers charge extra for each message — avoid a per-message pricing model and opt for unlimited texting instead. 
  3. Reviews: See what customers are saying about the providers you’re considering. Pay close attention to the quality of customer support and level of reliability. 

2. Select a phone number

VoIP providers offer local and toll-free numbers so you can choose the number(s) that make sense for your business. You can also port existing numbers to your new VoIP provider, often for free once you confirm the provider is a good fit.

The best providers let you try their product during a free trial so you can confirm they’re a great fit. For example, OpenPhone offers a free seven-day trial.

Make sure you don’t cancel your existing provider before your porting is complete so that you don’t disrupt your customer experience. 

Want to go deeper on porting? Check out our VoIP number porting guide.

3. Complete your 10DLC registration

After you get your new VoIP number (or finish porting your existing one), you can start using it to make calls. But due to emerging regulations from US cell carriers, you can’t send VoIP texts to US numbers until you complete 10DLC registration.

In 2023, US cell carriers added another step in the VoIP registration process for businesses to help prevent their customers from receiving spam — ten-digit long code (10DLC) registration. 10DLC registration verifies the identity of every business that uses a virtual ten-digit number to text their customers.

You can complete your 10DLC registration in your VoIP provider’s platform. OpenPhone has a 10DLC registration form you can complete in-app (after you’ve had a chance to try out the platform). We guide our customers each step of the way so you can start texting customers soon after registering.

Want to know more about 10DLC? Here’s our 10DLC registration guide for small businesses.

4. Start VoIP texting

Once you’ve completed your 10DLC registration, you’re ready to start texting customers. But that’s not all you can do with some VoIP providers. Watch the video below to see how OpenPhone can save you more time texting:

How businesses use VoIP texting

VoIP text messaging has better open rates, more advanced features, and higher client satisfaction scores than traditional business communication methods (like email).

You can also use VoIP texting to complement many different departments, which will keep your business running smoothly.

Here are some ways to use VoIP texting in your business:

For sales

Whether you’re looking for a fresh way to reach out to sales-qualified leads or save yourself time, here are a few ways sales teams use texting: 

  • Confirm meetings if you experience a lot of no-shows
  • Provide sales quotes to customers who request them on your site
  • Follow up with leads as an alternative to emails
  • Automatic logging through a Salesforce SMS integration or another CRM
  • Automate appointment scheduling by sending reminders after a trigger (like when someone fills out a form on your website)
VoIP texting: Call logging in HubSpot with OpenPhone
Automatic CRM logging in HubSpot using OpenPhone.

For customer support

You can provide a better customer experience by taking a multi-channel approach to support.

Here’s how you can use VoIP texting in your customer support team or business call center:

  • Answer questions from customers promptly and encourage them to text you by adding an SMS link to your website
  • Send automated appointment reminders to clients one week before their service
  • Offer walkthroughs to customers who are struggling to use a product feature
  • Collect screenshots and videos from customers so you can fix bugs with your engineering team 
  • Follow up after a customer service call with a text containing more information

For recruiting

Texting job candidates can save recruiter hours and get better responses from candidates. Plus, VoIP texting keeps your personal number private while texting applicants; that way you don’t need to worry about getting texts in the middle of the night.

Here’s how VoIP texting can complement your recruiting efforts:

  • Reach out to candidates about new opportunities
  • Send interview reminders a week before a scheduled meeting
  • Get feedback from candidates about their interview experience
  • Use appointment reminder software to ensure candidates show up in the right place at the right time

For field service teams

Whether you specialize in HVAC repairs or property maintenance, you can use a VoIP app to send real-time updates. This makes it easy to meet customer expectations while sprinkling in delight and maintaining a good rapport.

You can:

  • Notify customers when a service rep is on their way
  • Share updates with customers during a service visit
  • Send photos and videos (MMS) to customers as proof of service
  • Automatically reply outside of business hours so customers know when to expect a response from you
VoIP texting: Auto-replies in OpenPhone

Benefits of VoIP texting vs. sending SMS from a cell number

VoIP numbers offer significantly more texting perks than the average cell phone.

Here are six reasons why you should use a VoIP phone for business text messaging:

  1. Use text templates for common responses: Want to speed up your responses? With canned responses (we call them snippets), you can create text message templates for frequent conversations so you don’t have to retype the same message each time.
  2. Send auto-replies and scheduled messages: With VoIP texting, you can reply to customers at times that are convenient for you and them. Auto-replies let you respond to missed phone calls and voicemails outside business hours, and scheduled messages let you show up in your customer’s inbox at the right time. You can also use third-party integrations like Zapier to send automated texts, which saves time for your team to focus on more complex tasks.
  3. Build automated message workflows: VoIP texting numbers give you the ability to create automated text workflows so your team can do more with less. For example, send pre-written texts to remind customers about their Shopify carts, schedule sales meetings after a web form submission, and so much more.
  4. Get voicemail transcriptions over text: Some VoIP phone systems automatically send voicemail transcriptions as a text so you know how urgent it is without having to listen to the full recording. You also can forward text messages or send voicemails to your email inbox so you never forget to call clients back.
  5. Collaborate on messages with your colleagues: If you have a dedicated phone line for clients to text, you’ll likely need more than one person to take on incoming texts. VoIP enables you to share phone numbers, which lets you share the same notifications, collaborate on conversations, and add custom properties so the work gets done faster.
  6. Save money on your business phone solution: Many VoIP providers offer small-business-friendly pricing plans and texting rates that are lower than those offered by traditional phone carriers. For many providers, international texting is also available at a low per-message rate based on the destination.
VoIP texting: Inbox viewers in OpenPhone
See which colleagues have seen a message in OpenPhone.

Get more from VoIP texting with OpenPhone

Many modern VoIP providers support texting, but not all are created equal.

Here are some VoIP texting limitations from a few popular providers:

  • Grasshopper doesn’t support text messaging on toll-free or Canadian phone numbers
  • Nextiva only supports texting through its mobile app; texting isn’t available on its desktop app or with its lowest-tier plan
  • Google Voice only offers texting to US customers

VoIP providers like OpenPhone, on the other hand, offer unlimited SMS and MMS in the US and Canada with all pricing plans. OpenPhone also provides essential business features like auto-replies, scheduled messages, and a Zapier integration so your team can increase productivity and stay efficient. Plus, you can text from your desktop, web, and mobile apps starting at $15 per user per month.

Start your free trial of OpenPhone to begin text messaging with ease and efficiency.

FAQs

Can you text a VoIP number?

You can absolutely send text messages to VoIP numbers — as long as their VoIP service provider supports SMS. If you’re sending multimedia messages, which include pictures and group texts, your recipient’s provider needs to support MMS as well.

Similarly, you’ll need a provider that supports SMS and MMS to receive all the texts your clients send you.

What are the differences between SMS and MMS?

The main difference between SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Message Service) is that SMS sends plain text messages and MMS sends multimedia content (think images, video, and audio in messages).

Another difference between SMS and MMS is the former has a character limit of 160 characters per message. The latter is constrained by file sizes per message. OpenPhone lets you send MMS messages up to 5 MB in size in most cases.

Can I send and receive texts from a toll-free number?

Yes, you can send and receive texts from a toll-free number just as you would with a 10DLC number. Keep in mind you’ll need to complete some form of registration due to emerging regulations. OpenPhone customers with a toll-free number can complete toll-free number verification

Are VoIP texts traceable?

VoIP texts look identical to normal SMS messages. Your recipients won’t know whether you used a VoIP or non-VoIP phone number to text them. 

Also, VoIP providers can trace VoIP texts to ensure your business sends messages that comply with their terms of service. 

Is VoIP texting free?

VoIP texting is free for personal use if you’re an individual user. Google Voice, for example, offers a free plan for individuals in the US that allows you to send VoIP texts for free. 

However, if you want VoIP texting for business use, you won’t find a free solution that provides all the benefits of VoIP texting (like auto-replies, scheduled messages, automated messages, shared numbers, and integrations). You should expect to get a paid plan with a VoIP provider.

You can try OpenPhone’s Starter plan for free with our seven-day trial to see whether we’re right for you.

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