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RCS or the future of mobile marketing?

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is on everyone's lips. While some see it as the revolution of mobile marketing, others are more skeptical. But what exactly does it consist of? Does it have an impact on your business? Is it the new technology that will boost your marketing? Let's dive into this fascinating universe.

RCS or the future of mobile marketing?

What is a RCS message?

RCS, which stands for "Rich Communication Services", is often described as the next generation of mobile messaging, intended to replace traditional SMS. But what makes RCS so special and why is it considered the future of mobile marketing?

Unlike SMS, which is limited to 160 characters of text, RCS is an enriched and standardized communication protocol provided by Google and inspired by OTT (over-the-top) instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Messenger or Telegram. This means that businesses can send images, videos, audio files and even interactive carousels directly in the message. Imagine receiving a promotional offer from your favorite brand with a high-resolution image of the product, a detailed description and a button to buy it immediately.

RCS allows two-way interaction between businesses and customers. For example, a user can view a restaurant reservation, confirm their attendance, choose a seat and even place an order, all directly from the RCS message.

With RCS, messages can be highly personalized based on user preferences and behavior. This opens the door to more targeted and effective marketing campaigns.

Moreover, RCS messages offer enhanced security compared to SMS. Each message is verified, reducing the risks of phishing and fraud.

Although RCS is still being deployed, many modern smartphones are already compatible. With the support of industry giants like Google, RCS adoption is steadily increasing.

While platforms like WhatsApp have dominated the instant messaging market, RCS does not require a separate application. It is natively integrated into Android devices, making it more accessible for users.

RCS is therefore much more than just an "enhanced SMS". It is a complete communication platform that offers businesses new opportunities to engage their customers in a meaningful way. With its multimedia capabilities, interactivity and growing reach, RCS is well positioned to revolutionize mobile marketing.

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Deciphering RCS features

RCS offers a range of features that position it as a powerful tool in mobile marketing. Here is a detailed overview of these features:

Rich content

RCS allows the integration of multimedia elements such as image carousels, photos and videos. Unlike SMS which is limited to text, RCS offers a rich visual experience, allowing brands to present their products and services in a more attractive way.

Real-time dialogues

One of the major advances of RCS is the possibility to engage in real-time chat dialogue. Users can not only receive information, but also interact directly with brands, ask questions, get instant answers and even make transactions.

Geolocation

RCS offers the possibility to geolocate a point of sale or a service. This can be particularly useful for marketing campaigns aimed at attracting customers to a physical store or for providing contextual information based on the user's location.

Advanced personalization

Thanks to RCS, messages can be tailored according to the user's preferences, behavior and location. This allows brands to create more targeted and relevant campaigns.

Security and authentication

RCS offers enhanced security with account certification. This reduces the risks of phishing and ensures users that they are communicating with an authentic entity.

Payment reception

A growing feature of RCS is the ability to make financial transactions directly from the message. Users can, for example, see a promotional offer and purchase the product without leaving the messaging interface.

Integration with other applications

RCS can be integrated with other applications and services, thus offering a smoother user experience. For example, an RCS message could allow a user to book a taxi, order a meal or make an appointment, all without leaving the conversation.

In summary, RCS is a multifunctional communication platform that offers businesses new opportunities to engage and serve their customers.

What are the differences between SMS and RCS?

SMS or Short Message Service has been a pillar of mobile communication for decades. It has allowed users to send short text messages, usually limited to 160 characters. However, with technological evolution and changing consumer needs, RCS (Rich Communication Services) has emerged as an advanced alternative to traditional SMS messages. But what are the main differences between these two modes of communication?

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RCS compatibility

RCS has significant penetration in France. Indeed, 74% of devices are based on Android (Huawei, LG, Samsung…), and among these, 40% are compatible with RCS. This represents about 24 million active mobile phones in France.

One of the major advantages of RCS is that it is native, meaning it is pre-installed on compatible devices without the need to download an additional application. This makes it particularly attractive for brands and businesses looking to reach a wide audience without having to convince users to download a new application.

Apple's position

After a long period of hesitation, Apple has just announced the upcoming integration of the RCS standard, thus paving the way for a more unified and enriched messaging experience for iPhone users.

"Over the next year, we will add support for the RCS Universal Profile, the standard currently published by the GSM Association. We believe that the RCS Universal Profile will provide a better interoperability experience compared to SMS or MMS."

This development is particularly important because it will reduce the fragmentation between iPhone and Android users in terms of messaging. Previously, iPhone users were limited to iMessage or standard SMS to communicate with Android users, resulting in an often inconsistent experience devoid of the advanced features of RCS.

However, iMessage is not expected to disappear.

"[RCS] will work in parallel with iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users."

RCS is therefore expected to be integrated into iMessage, as SMS and MMS are today.

Innovative RCS formats

RCS offers a variety of formats that go far beyond simple text. These formats allow businesses to communicate more dynamically and interactively with their customers. Here is an overview of the different formats available with RCS:

  • Rich text

Just like SMS, RCS allows you to send text messages. However, unlike SMS, RCS offers the possibility to use rich text, which means you can bold, italicize, underline, and even use colors.

💡 Ideal for highlighting important information or for styling your messages.

  • Rich cards and carousels

Rich cards allow you to create an element combining media, text and buttons. Carousels can contain multiple rich cards that the user can scroll through, each with its own title, description and action buttons.

💡 Perfect for presenting a range of products, special offers or news.

  • Videos and GIFs

RCS supports the integration of videos and GIFs, allowing for a more dynamic and engaging user experience.

💡 Ideal for product demonstrations, tutorials or simply to capture the user's attention.

  • Action buttons

RCS messages can include action buttons that allow users to quickly respond, visit a website, or even make a purchase.

💡 Perfect for encouraging the user to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter, booking a table or buying a product.

  • Suggested replies

These pre-formatted responses allow users to quickly respond to a message without having to type a response.

💡 Ideal for surveys, appointment confirmations or any other interaction requiring a quick response from the user.

  • Geolocation

RCS offers the possibility to geolocate a point of sale or a service, thus allowing a more contextual user experience.

💡 Perfect for guiding customers to a store or event, or for providing location-based information.

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RCS offers a multitude of formats that allow businesses to communicate in a richer and more interactive way. Whether it's to present a new product, engage customers or provide support, RCS offers the necessary tools to do it effectively.

RCS KPIs: measuring the impact of enriched communication

KPIs are sometimes difficult to obtain with SMS campaigns but not with RCS which offers a multitude of KPIs allowing companies to measure and optimize the effectiveness of their campaigns. Here's why these indicators are crucial:

  • Open rate: In the world of mobile marketing, grabbing attention is the first step. A high open rate means your message is relevant and arrives at the right time. It's the first indication that your RCS campaign is on the right track.

  • Click-through rate: Beyond opening, it's the action that counts. If users click on your content, it means they are engaged and interested in what you are offering.

  • Delivery rate: Even the most captivating message is useless if it doesn't reach its target. Make sure your RCS messages are well received.

  • Conversion rate: This is the holy grail of KPIs. What do you want users to do after reading your message? Do they buy a product? Do they sign up for an event? A high conversion rate means that your RCS doesn't just inform, it prompts action.

  • Interaction duration: In our fast-paced digital world, time is precious. If users spend time interacting with your RCS, you've captured their attention.

  • Suggested replies: RCS is interactive. If users choose your suggested replies, it means you are correctly anticipating their needs and questions.

  • User feedback: There is no better indicator than direct feedback. Listen to your users, adjust and constantly improve.

RCS KPIs are therefore not just numbers. They reflect the effectiveness of your communication, the relevance of your message and the strength of your commitment to your customers.

Will RCS replace email?

With each emergence of a new communication channel, the death of email is announced. But yet, email is still here and is not ready to be dethroned!

In 2022, nearly 4.2 billion people use email and this figure is expected to rise to 4.7 billion estimated users by 2027, or more than half of the world's population (Source: Statista 2022).

Also in 2022, more than 333 billion emails were sent and received every day! And despite the development of social networks and emerging channels, this figure is expected to grow further to 392 billion by 2026 (Source: Statista 2022).

Many services allow you to sign up without using an email address, using Facebook for example, but Facebook itself requires an email address to sign up.

Some services offer you to sign up with a mobile phone number instead of an email address, but mobile numbers have ownership issues. Indeed, your old number can be assigned to another person after a termination without portability for example.

Moreover, email is universally accepted and used around the world, regardless of operating systems or devices. This is not yet the case with RCS. It also allows you to send longer and more detailed messages, which is ideal for communications such as newsletters, order confirmations or instructions.

So NO! RCS will not replace email. The two channels have their own strengths and weaknesses, and they are likely to coexist, each serving different communication objectives. While RCS may become the preferred channel for instant notifications, promotions and customer interactions, email will likely remain the preferred choice for formal, professional and detailed communication.

How to leverage RCS in your multichannel campaigns?

The functional richness of RCS allows brands to create more engaging and personalized multichannel campaigns:

Promotion and engagement in store: RCS is an excellent promotional channel. It can be used to dematerialize a product catalog, suggest offers or promotions, and even geolocate a point of sale. The objective is to improve the conversion rate of campaigns and encourage store visits. With initiatives like "Oui Pub", which allow residents to choose whether they want to receive flyers, RCS can offer a digital alternative to reach consumers.

Personalization and geolocation: RCS offers advanced personalization capabilities. Brands can send targeted promotional offers based on a specific audience, create drive-to-store scenarios, and even offer impulse purchases through the generation of QR codes for click and collect.

Customer relationship and loyalty: RCS can be used to strengthen customer relationships. For example, it can be used to encourage consumers to join a loyalty program or download a loyalty card. The key is to make the experience as seamless as possible for the consumer.

Automation and chatbots: RCS can be automated through the use of chatbots. This opens the door to a multitude of scenarios, ranging from customer activation to transaction and customer loyalty.

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About the author

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Isabelle Henry

Head of Inbound and Growth

Always on the lookout for new skills and always ready to launch new marketing projects at Actito, I rely on my personal experiences but also on everything that is happening in the digital world to continue to learn, educate and share with you through inspiring content. My little extras? Video editing and photography!

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