Further fun with Twilio: two easy, clever things you can do

logos_downloadable_roundOn my last post I detailed a simple way in which you could use Twilio to be a central phone number directing on to wherever you happened to be (home, office, abroad etc). What I didn’t detail though was some of the extra stuff I’ve done with my number which underlines why I use Twilio and don’t just buy a Skype number, for example.

First up: Twilio and Zapier. Zapier is very similar to IFTTT; it allows you to feed one API into another to make something happen. A large number of services are supported and you connect them up to do things like tweet when a new Mailchimp campaign has been sent, for example. In this instance though, what I’ve done is set up a “zap” where if I text an email address to my own number, it adds that address to the Daily Digest mailing list. I often have people ask about signing up when I’m at events or meetings, so this is a perfect way to take action on that; I can just text their email to my Twilio number, and it then adds that address to the Daily Digest list, then sends a confirmation email to the subscriber. Simple, but hugely effective. In time I’ll probably buy a separate number so I can publicise the feature – ie “text your email to [number] to subscribe”.

If you do have a Twilio number, Zapier is really a must-have service as it just opens up the possibilites no end – particularly to non-developer types like myself. For example, you could have Twilio call you when one of your artists updates their Facebook page. Or you can have it text you when someone adds a new file to your Dropbox. The possibilities are endless, so do check it out.

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Twilio: getting hands-on with phone-number-meets-web fun

logos_downloadable_roundPermit me a small backstory here. Like most people, I tend to be contacted most on my mobile where work matters are concerned. Now I work from home a lot more though, I’ve found that the reception here is, in short, appalling. I could change network, but my deal is an awesome one that makes that a pretty unappealing prospect. Similarly, I don’t want to give people my home number, and fitting a second line could prove expensive – a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.

Enter Twilio. For a while now I’ve been curious about this service, which interfaces telephony with the web. My mate Syd Lawrence has done some very clever stuff there, which in turn had me interested in what was possible from a marketing perspective. However what tipped me over the edge into using it was this post, explaining how you could use Twilio to dodge roaming costs when travelling. From that, I learned a few things. Firstly, you could buy a number for a tiny amount ($1 per month). Secondly, you could then do a LOT with that number. In some respects, Twilio is like a more powerful version of Google Voice – a service unavailable to anyone outside the US.

Twilio has solved my problem. How? By giving my business a flexible landline number (and a local London one too!) that my clients can call. How the number behaves it entirely up to me – and believe me, it can do some funky stuff if I so desire. In the simplest terms though, I can have the number forward on to either my home landline, or my mobile. Alternatively, I can just have it dial me on my computer, allowing me to use it in the same manner as a Skype phone number. As the above blog post demonstrates too, I can also use it to handle my being abroad, by having Twilio forward to a local SIM that I’ve bought in whatever country I am in. Similarly, whilst I am there I can use my laptop to call clients via the web and it won’t cost me the earth. Usefully, they also just see the same number calling them, so they always know it is me. It allows a reliability that my clients will appreciate (only one number to call, anytime, to get hold of me) and with that brings a touch more professionalism to my business.

So – how do you go about doing all this? Well, its pretty simple really:

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