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RCS: who’s getting the message?

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What are the biggest challenges and opportunities that brands are facing rolling out RCS on a mass scale? Nick Lane, Chief Insight Analyst at Mobilesquared takes a look

With 67% of the world’s population expected to own a mobile device by 2019, mobile surpasses any other platform for digital advertising. It is, therefore, no surprise that 75% of a brand’s marketing budget is currently spent on mobile advertising.

Many brands will soon be turning to Rich Communication Services (RCS) as a better way to engage with their customers with expectations around the platform gaining significant momentum over the past couple of years.

Combining the power and effectiveness of SMS, the engagement and interaction of over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps such as WhatsApp, and the functionality and richness of an app, RCS seems the perfect marketing approach for brands.

Despite its potential for brands, and the monetary value for the operators is palpable, the uptake of RCS has so far been slow, with a total spend on RCS at just $181.12 million forecast for 2019.

However, this number is set to rise to $18.04 billion by 2023, so why are so few using it and where will the sudden flourish of adoption and implementation come from?

Firstly, operators are notoriously slow to adopt new platforms, with many happy to stick with tried and tested channels such as A2P SMS messaging. Brands are also hesitant as they each wait for someone else to take the lead and show that results from this new platform are both cost-effective and beneficial.

And it’s no surprise, with marketing budget widely recognised as always being first in line to go, that brands are inclined to stick with what they know works and brings back some form of profit.

In addition, mounting Brexit concerns have helped to spread subtle anxiety for many businesses and their future plans, making the implementation and adoption of a mysterious messaging platform even less appealing.

However, recent research presents a clear and simple message: RCS Business Messaging (RBM) is coming; RBM works; and, RBM will work for your brand. The challenge therefore lies with the brands and operators, knowing when to strike, as those who wait too long could find themselves lagging behind and struggling to keep up with this brave new world of enterprise messaging.

Increase conversion rates with RCS messaging

RCS delivers richer and more immersive IP-based experiences to fulfil consumers’ needs, like customer service updates and reminders, or receiving promotions, discounts and vouchers.

RCS is a secure ecosystem in which messages can be sent without the threat of grey route traffic, defined as a route legal for one country on one end, but illegal on the alternative end, undermining pricing models and disintermediating the mobile operators.

It also provides a pure messaging environment whereby mobile operators remain an integral element of the value chain. The entire value chain showcases its advantages through an uplift in click through rates (CTR), increased customer satisfaction and conversation rates compared to SMS.

Research has shown that the rise of RCS as an SMS replacement is inevitable. It is therefore a case of when to implement the highly engaging messaging platform rather than if, if the business wishes to survive in an age of distracted mobile users.

Rather than going headfirst into global markets, brands can look to strategically try and test the business messaging in cheaper markets where the damage would be less of a financial impact, should the marketing tactic go wrong for any reason.

This tactic also allows for smaller brands to have a fair attempt at communicating with their customers, without blowing the cash at first go. Recent research has shown that the global opportunities at hand are perhaps more accessible than it appears, with the option to begin with cheaper markets to gain enough momentum to then explore more expensive regions and developing a global outreach.

For example, rather than an immediate global rollout, brands should look to start with locations like North America where more opportunity lies, given the average spend of $0.26 per user per month forecast for 2023 opposed to more expensive markets, like Western Europe, averaging spend of $1.37 per user per month.

RCS messaging is still a largely undiscovered method of communication between brands and consumers, yet very much up and coming, and extremely relevant. As we’ll get to see over the next few years, brands will begin to recognise its potential and adopt the messaging more and more. Without this acceptance and appreciation of RCS, brands risk getting left behind in the ever evolving enterprise messaging revolution. Starting with more affordable regions makes the transition practical while coming to terms with what works for your brand, in order to see a global roll out of RBM through.

Author

Nick Lane is Chief Insight Analyst at Mobilesquared

So who’s using RCS and how is it going?

One of the pioneers of RCS has been Openmarket, which has rolled out trial services fior many big name clients. So who has tried it and what was it like?

Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains is trialling RCS to deliver mobile train tickets to user, with a QR code to be scanned at the terminus. But it goes beyond that – and really shows what RCS can do – in that it shows platform information, coach details, times and more.

The company says: “We’re always thinking about our customers’ journeys and their next one. Virgin Trains is working with OpenMarket to explore RCS and the evolution of mobile messaging.”

Sky

Sky is using RCS to deliver a rich chat interaction with customers setting up repair and installation visits. The service lets the user see a picture and details of the agent who is coming, as well as scheduling info and details of the visit.

The company says: “RCS messaging can offer our customers a simply brilliant way to manage their install and service appointments.  Exceeding our customers’ expectations and ensuring that we don’t send engineers to properties when the customer is not home is of great benefit to both Sky and the customer.”

Philips

Philips is using RCS to deliver rich and detailed medical alerts to service representatives when things go wrong – offering insight into the problem and what action needs to be taken. The company says: “RCS messaging from our MRI systems can inform our service representatives with critical information to take corrective action quickly.”

ReplyBuy & Detroit Pistons

US sports team The Detroit Pistons is working with sponsor ReplyBuy to offer an interactive service to let fans get more out of the team’s sporting events, such as details of the fixture, and the ability to click through and buy memorabilia.

The team says: “The Detroit Pistons and ReplyBuy believe RCS messaging can provide a better mobile customer experience by making it easier for fans to attend and engage with their favorite team at sporting events.”

 

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