As leaders in the mobile space, we get a lot of questions from our clients about what’s next in mobile. The leading question these days: “What is RCS messaging?”, and, “What’s in it for me as a marketer?”
Let’s start with the basics.
RCS, Rich Communication Services, is the standards-based carrier messaging protocol which leverages data connectivity to deliver ubiquitous, next-generation messaging features. In short, it brings app-like functionality, including rich media and suggested actions/replies directly to the phone’s native messaging client—without having to download or update any mobile apps. Often referred to as the next generation of SMS, RCS messaging has the support of all major US and global carriers and has begun to roll out in stages to smartphones supported by Google and Samsung. According to Mobilesquared, there will be one billion RCS users by 2020.
The power of RCS lies in the features it brings to native mobile messaging. RCS messaging harnesses advanced device capabilities and enhanced UI elements to provide an app-like experience to traditional text messaging—an upgrade to the 160-character, plain text messages of SMS. Here’s a look at some of the most powerful features of RCS and why they matter to brands and consumers alike:
- Message Delivery and Read Receipts: Users can see when messages have been delivered, read, and even when the other party is typing.
- Rich Media: Brands are able to send high resolution images, videos, audio, and files to consumers.
- Rich Cards: Users are presented with a media-rich display of information with the ability to take an action.
- Rich Card Carousels: Brands can create rich media cards arranged in a carousel which can be scrolled through horizontally by the user.
- Suggested Replies: Responses appear to the user as buttons or “chips” beneath a message with the intention of guiding user interaction without the need to type a reply.
- Suggested Actions: These links provide the ability for the user to take an action within in an RCS flow—whether linking to web, or deep-linking to apps such as maps, calendar, and wallet.
For the past few years, the GSMA— a leading trade body representing the global mobile communications industry—has worked to develop the Universal Profile, a set of standards adopted by mobile carriers to ensure a consistent, ubiquitous experience for consumers world-wide. This is extremely important in order ensure the diverse mobile ecosystem provides the same core capabilities across different platforms, regardless of phone type or carrier.
As consumers become more comfortable with OTT chat apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, it’s essential for brand marketers to take a look at how RCS messaging can significantly improve customer engagement and provide powerful mCommerce functionality.
We’ve seen brands start to use RCS across a variety of use cases—from promotional and loyalty communications, to concierge and customer care. As more capabilities become available in the near future such as the addition of NLP (natural language processing) and mobile payments, it becomes possible to create almost any application that was previously only available from a brand’s website or app by just using RCS.
To learn more, check out our guide Understanding RCS and Why it Matters to Marketers here.
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