Understanding RCS and Why it Matters to Marketers
Text messaging is a staple in communication that allows marketers to connect to virtually every consumer’s phone. This method of marketing boasts a 98 percent open rate and drives real-time conversational engagement. However, SMS also comes with its limitations, including a constrained message size, lack of branding, limited media support, and a text-only interface.
How Brands Are Reaching Consumers’ Mobile Devices
To reach consumers on their mobile devices, brands have filled this gap with apps, push notifications, mobile websites and email — all staples of marketing today that have benefits and pitfalls. Apps and push notifications provide a richer experience than text messaging, but users must first download to use. Mobile websites deliver rich functionality on smartphones, but don’t provide an engagement channel to generate action. Rich communication service (RCS) fills the gap between the richness of the app/web experience and the timeliness and ubiquity of the messaging world. By bringing rich interactions to a device’s default messaging application, RCS enables brands to transform the types of conversational interactions with their customers.
What is RCS?
By bringing rich interactions to the default messaging application, RCS represents the next level of mobile messaging and enriched calling, an upgrade on a global scale. It's a solution that takes traditional voice and SMS and enhances with instant messaging, chat functionality, photo sharing, live video, video calling and file sharing across devices on any network, and enables new, richer interaction experiences. Consumers will enjoy all of this without the need to download a thing.
Components of RCS
RCS messages can contain many content formats ranging from free form content such as text and media (e.g., images, video, audio) to structured/templated content (e.g., rich cards and carousels). A key difference between RCS and multimedia messaging service (MMS) has to do with the size and quality of the files that are shared. Limitations that existed on MMS don't apply to RCS, leaving businesses free to be more creative in how they communicate to their customers in a fully branded experience.
Businesses that use this tactic incorporate more creative aspects into their messages, such as branding, logo and color scheme. They can also provide images, videos and contact information. These additional features create more value for customers by enabling more message interaction.
Another key feature of RCS is the ability to offer a chip list with each message. This is a selection of suggested replies/actions or “next steps” associated with each message. When consumers receive a message, a selection of responses they can invoke with a click appear, allowing the customer to instantly and effortlessly interact with the brand. These responses trigger a message back to the brand or they can trigger an action on the device such as loading the maps app, adding an event to their calendar, opening a website, or starting a voice call. Either way, end users can easily identify next steps in the conversation.
Rich cards and rich card carousels are another RCS feature that put this messaging strategy above standard mobile messaging. Rich cards combine an image, video, text content, and suggested replies and actions into a single message experience, which can be presented in different sizes. Rich card carousels take that a step further and combine multiple rich cards into a single interactive unit, allowing users to scroll through up to 10 cards and select the offer that's best for them.
Why Marketers Should Be Using RCS
RCS goes above and beyond what normal text messaging can provide for consumers. This new way of delivering mobile marketing strategies engages customers with branding, images and response options that drive higher brand interactions and can result in more sales and customer loyalty. RCS will usher in a new disruption in mobile not seen since the app store opened, enabling brands to develop rich mixed-media contextually relevant conversations with their customers.
Ramy Raid is Senior Product Manager overseeing RCS at 3Cinteractive, a mobile marketing company.
Related story: Why Text Messaging is Relevant for Retailers