The first SMS message was sent in 1992. Today, 97 percent of smartphone owners send text messages, making it the most widely used smartphone feature. Since its introduction, the service has evolved to become a valuable marketing channel for businesses to interact with their customers. And we can see why. It’s reliable, cost-effective and has a noticeably higher open rate than email.
However, SMS has failed to keep up with changing customer expectations and advancements in technology. For example, messages are still text-based and depend on a cellular connection. So, it’s about time the service entered the 21st century and became as competitive as other messaging apps.
This is where Rich Communications Services (RCS) comes in.
How RCS Works
In 2007, a group of industry promotors formed RCS to replace SMS and limit the restrictions of basic text messaging. However, a number of factors prevented it from gaining any steam for almost a decade. It wasn’t until 2018 that Google announced it was teaming up with the cell phone carriers to adopt the RCS protocol.
This modern take on texting offers more engaging interactions between customers with the ability to send interactive messages such as forms, high-resolution images, audio and video clips that SMS does not support. RCS upgrades the messaging experience and reduces friction at all stages of the buyer journey. Alongside the features you would expect from a messaging app, RCS has some nice surprises in store and far exceeds the current capabilities of SMS.
Here’s a look at why RCS messaging is becoming a mobile messaging game-changer.
Seamless Customer Journey
RCS is changing B2C interactions, making it possible to send customised campaigns and improve customer experience at the same time. Take an airline company for example. A message sent to customers reminding them to check-in for their flight can now take advantage of rich media and interactivity to provide a fully branded check-in journey, all within the messaging experience. For instance, flyers can retrieve their boarding pass, get flight updates and gate maps on-demand via RCS messages. Users can also book appointments, make payments, submit surveys, receive package delivery notifications, receive promotional marketing and more. This creates a seamless customer journey and improves the entire brand experience.
Replacing Mobile Apps
For many brands, RCS can replace the need for a mobile app as a channel of rich communication with consumers. Using the airline example, flyers can check-in and get their boarding pass through the messaging app, rather than in an app that is probably shunted off to a folder somewhere or deleted. Let’s face it, most of us don’t want to have to download a mobile app that we may only need to use a handful of times and takes up unnecessary storage on our smartphones. It’s not the most optimised user experience.
RCS messaging is also much easier than developing an app. Brands can create this rich experience without needing to download a mobile app and update it every time the phone’s operating system requires it. Even other mobile messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger require an app download. The RCS platform is an advanced mobile messaging successor to SMS. This means it is part of the default messaging app and can deliver services directly through cellular data channels, making it more universal.
Enhanced Customer Experience
Rich communication offers a wealth of interactive capabilities and major advantages over traditional SMS consumer marketing. Company branded interfaces (name, logo, colour) verifies the sender resulting in higher engagement rates and customer peace of mind. The platform provides suggested and customised replies for the user to choose from, along with suggested actions such as specific URLs.
UnoTV, which delivers news via carriers across Latin America, has seen encouraging results in a pilot test with RCS messaging. “Just giving the reader a more graphical interface has an impact on the way they interact with the platform,” says Alfonso SanchezNavarro, UnoTV’s head of digital initiatives.
Another major benefit of RCS is the ability to boost data gathering and analytics. With SMS it’s difficult to even tell if the message has been delivered to the user. On the other hand, RCS analytics show delivery, open and interaction rates. It gives brands a much better understanding of their market and provides a more interactive means of reaching the customer. This transparency allows brands to learn what content their audience wants to receive, and provide that content in a more media-rich experience.
The Growth of RCS
As Google continues to roll out RCS globally, businesses need to ensure they are ready for what’s to come. According to a new market research report published by MarketsandMarkets™, the RCS market size is projected to grow from USD 4.5 billion in 2019 to USD 10.6 billion by 2024. If businesses want to ensure they are competitive in 2020, RCS needs to be part of their strategy.
As an agency at the forefront of marketing technology, Sales Promotions has already started running RCS campaigns for major consumer brands.
Contact us to find out more about RCS messaging and the possibilities it can create for your brand.