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EDITORIAL RCS versus enhanced SMS: messaging battle heats up in the CPaaS age

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Another week, another push for RCS – but this time, things are getting more urgent. According to a report from Upstream, RCS is slowly starting to evolve into the next generation marketing channel for MNOs and advertisers, a boon for operators, aggregators and marketers.

According to Upstream, RCS messaging allows MNOs and advertisers to create highly targeted media-rich messages that can be heavily personalised to engage and convert users. Performance metrics, including open-rates and message interactions, can also be used to help advertisers optimize their content for maximum impact.

This emerging trend toward rich mobile messaging comes as third-party cookies, once the cornerstone of digital marketing, are to be retired permanently. Advertisers that can no longer tap into third-party cookies as a means of reaching wide audiences with broad but often superficial marketing campaigns will instead turn their attention to creating engaging and highly personalized experiences to grow their first-party customer base.

However, the urgency comes from SMS fighting-back. While the telecoms world dithers with RCS, SMS has just gained click-to-buy functionality. Yotpo, an ecommerce marketing platform that helps brands strengthen their relationships with consumers, has launched a first-of-its-kind feature to its SMSBump offering. Click-to-Buy will enable advanced personalisation through text messaging.

SMS marketing is becoming a key way for ecommerce brands to accelerate consumers’ path to purchase and maximize results and revenue. With Yotpo SMSBump’s new Click-to-Buy feature, brands have the flexibility to send individualised product recommendations via SMS (down to specific product variants like colour, size, or sale item); add GIFs automatically with product images from a Shopify store; and pre-populate a discount or loyalty reward code at checkout once the consumer clicks the text message.

This is an interesting development; RCS’s big selling point is adding rich content, which can be clicked and bought. Adding this to SMS suddenly makes it look very much more like a contender. Why invest in the complexity of RCS when you can just use SMS, only SMS that is better than SMS?

The move also marks the continuing shift towards messaging tech as a business comms platform.

According to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen, 56% of people would rather message a business than call customer service, and 67% expect to message businesses more over the next two years.

And businesses are clamouring to get the tech to interact with their customers though any channel necessary – be that RCS or SMS or others – and this is driving a boom in CPaaS. This week BT becomes latest MNO to look at how to rapidly add this functionality at speed. It has partnered in the UK with Infobip to make this possible and places BT in a very strong position to leverage all messaging tropes, including OTTs – which let’s not forget are also going to give SMS and RCS a run for their money.

Working with Infobip, businesses will have access to Infobip’s entire suite of customer engagement solutions, including SMS, RCS, which enables brands to deliver rich, branded messages via an SMS inbox, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. They will also be able to centralise customer data through one platform to understand customer preferences and quickly action data on behaviour, engagements, payments, shopping history, across these channels.

One thing that none of these players mentions, however, is fax. Some people reading this may be too young to remember fax, but it is still there and is still being used.

In late 2021, eFax conducted a major research project to gain greater understanding of the cloud-based electronic faxing market and its dynamics. The survey polled 1001 senior IT and business decision-makers in large enterprises, small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and public sector organisations.

It found that just over a third of us send and receive secure documents every day, a further 34% do so 3 or 4 times a week. When asked our sample base 22% stated they send and receive secure documents at least weekly.

The number of fax users in organisations is also far higher than you could ever imagine. Over half of our sample – 54% – had between 6 to 50 users; A full fifth claimed that there were 51 or more users in their organisation. Fax usage is also expected to increase in over 37% of our sample, with 28% stating there would be no change, while only 35% felt they might see a decrease.

So, let’s see how many players start adding fax to their CPaaS offerings.

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