Look Legit: Get a Phone Number for Your Startup Using Twilio

You want to add phone number to your website and business cards in order to make yourself more accessible as a startup. You also need a phone number when you register your domain name and send emails.

But you don’t really want to put your personal number on the website.

An easy way to grab a programmable phone number with your specific needs is through Twilio. They have a simple way to buy, program, and manage phone numbers.

Getting Started

It’s free so sign up on Twilio, so grab yourself an account. You don’t even need a credit card and you can get a free number using your trial.

Now you have your account and you can see the Twilio Console, which gives you access to tons of features and APIs that Twilio offers.

What we are interested in is “Buy a Number” in the left sidebar.

Buy a phone number

Twilio let’s you do some pretty advanced searching against their Super Network of phone numbers. You can search for capabilities — like SMS and MMS features–, numbers that are toll-free numbers, or local numbers.

If you want, you could buy a phone number with a local area code of an area you would like to target customers; that way those customers think they are being called from a local business.

You can also search for numbers with digits or phrases in them at the start, end, or any part of the number. This is great to search for numbers that contain your business name, or an action word you use in your marketing campaigns.

Local or Toll Free?

One of the big choices is whether to use a local or a toll free number. Local numbers give your customers the feeling that you are a local business to that area code. While toll free numbers give that feeling of a large, multi-state business.

Toll-free numbers are slightly more expensive to own and operate, since you take on the total costs of the calls and messages sent. With local numbers, your customers take on some of that cost as well.

In the end, it depends on how you want to represent your business. You can always buy multiple numbers for different market segments. Maybe you use a toll-free number on the footer of your website and your business cards. And then you compliment that with additional local numbers for your marketing campaigns that target specific locations.

Routing Your Number

Great, we have a number! Now what? 🤔

In the Phone Numbers dashboard, click on your number and you will be able to configure it. Let’s wire up our number so that when someone calls it, it forwards the call to our cell phone number. We’ll do that using a TwiML bin.

TwiML is just XML that uses Twilio declarations to route calls in our case.

We’ll create a new TwiML bin by clicking the plus button. And our TwiML will be very simple:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Dial timeout="10">+YOUR-NUMBER-HERE</Dial>

Save and you’re done! Try calling the number you put in from a different number (if you call from YOUR-NUMBER-HERE it will probably go to your voice mail).

Some More Numbers

Let’s go edit that TwiML that we just created. TwiML bins live in the Runtime section in the sidebar.

If you want to try to reach multiple numbers, its pretty simple:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Say voice="woman">Connecting you to a representative</Say>
<Dial timeout="10">+YOUR-NUMBER-HERE</Dial>
<Dial timeout="10">+YOUR-NUMBER-HERE2</Dial>
<Dial timeout="10">+YOUR-NUMBER-HERE3</Dial>

In the above example, when you call the number, you will hear a woman’s voice say “Connecting you to a representative.” Twilio will then try to route the call to the first number, and if that person does that answer, the second number will be called, and so on.

And it’s just that easy! Twilio lets you quickly buy and program phone numbers from an easy to use console. It’s great for getting up and running fast!

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