One of the great things about an internet phone service is the opportunity you get to choose your own business phone number. Traditional phone service providers will allocate you a random number; with VoIP, you get to pick your own. You even get to choose which area code you want your phone number to start with – even if it’s not the one that’s local to you.
It can be hard deciding which phone number is right for you; whether you want to look like a local company or opt for a non-geographic number, it has to depend on your business and who your target market is.
Geographic numbers are numbers with a local area code, such as 0121 for Birmingham, 01865 for Oxford, or 020 for London. If you choose a number with a particular area code, it helps to link your business with that region this can be useful for ‘bricks and mortar’ business, as well as local businesses trying to build trust and authority.
In the past, businesses also chose these numbers because users on mobiles and landlines alike could call them using their inclusive minutes on their call plan. However, there are some new numbers that are non-geographic but are included in call plans, so this isn’t a clear-cut choice any longer.
03 ‘UK-wide’ numbers
Non-geographic numbers have developed something of a bad reputation in the last decade. This is partly because people are usually charged a premium rate for calling them, particularly on a mobile, but sometimes, businesses also take a cut of the profits, making the phone number a kind of sneaky earner on the side.
03 numbers were introduced to overcome this problem. They’re non-geographic, so you get the status of having a national number with no link with a particular city. At the same time, calls to these numbers do not cost extra on mobiles; they’re taken from inclusive minutes, or, if you’ve run out of minutes or are on pay as you go, the call will be charged the same as a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number.
Note that 030 is reserved solely for charities and organisations in the public sector. If you’re a limited company, you’ll be able to buy an 033 number.
Other non-geographic numbers
The most well-known non-geographic numbers are probably 0844, 0845, 0870, 0800 and 0808, with the latter two being freephone numbers. These dialling codes are charged at varying rates based on your network and whether you’re using a landline or mobile – historically, calls from mobiles have always been expensive to these types of numbers, though 0800 and 0808 numbers became free from mobiles back in 2015. You might also occasionally encounter premium-rate 09 numbers, which are commonly used for competitions, chat lines, and horoscopes, which are charged at anything up £3.60 per minute.
When choosing a number, you have to factor in your target audience and whether you’re operating in a B2C or B2B market.
Freephone numbers are always a plus point in marketing campaigns, but they don’t necessarily promote your business’ local presence. Likewise, a local number is great for a plumber or a glazing company, but many digital services businesses prefer to have a more general number.
Most telecoms providers will charge companies the cost of the incoming calls if they buy an 0800 number. For startups, they’re not the cheapest option; you must ensure the number pays for itself if you go down that route.
If you’re still not sure what to choose, get in touch with us and we’ll be able to help you out. Nimvelo have a range of local, non-geographic, freephone and international numbers, all available for affordable monthly rental.