The number of smartphone users worldwide is expected to reach around 2.5 billion this year and, with an open rate of 98 per cent, it should come as no surprise that SMS marketing is highly effective.

Businesses across the globe are using SMS marketing to reliably reach their customers in an instant and timely manner.

Regardless of whether you’re new to SMS or are well versed in its ways, the widespread adoption of Rich Communication Services (RCS) is something to get excited about. Put simply, RCS is the next generation of SMS messaging. This Google and mobile-backed tech brings app-like functionality to everyday messages, enabling businesses to include rich imagery and interactive elements in their communications to customers.

Later this year, we will start seeing more RCS-led consumer engagement campaigns that will offer a huge leap in functionality for both businesses and customers alike. Early trials of RCS have already demonstrated its effectiveness in other markets, such as Subway’s US business, which saw a 60 per cent increase in its click-through rate (CTR) following the use of RCS’ rich imagery feature.

With this in mind, here are six reasons why you and your customers will love RCS once it launches in Australia soon.

  1. Beautiful rich text messaging

RCS takes inspiration from the world’s most popular over-the-top (OTT) messaging channels to ‘beautify’ business messaging. One-way communications such as payments, appointments, and travel reminders are boosted with elements including images, maps, and one-tap calendar invitations.

Businesses can drive more expansive two-way messaging by giving customers simpler one-tap response options, and engaging high definition media and image carousels to help show off the business’s brand and strengths.

  1. Better insights

SMS technology was first developed in 1992. While for the past 26 years SMS has been – and continues to be – a vital form of communication for personal and business use, RCS is better equipped to handle the data-fuelled customer lifecycle journeys we crave today.

Its additional functionality can provide real-time read receipts, typing indicators, and response and action notifications (e.g. you can find out if your customer has clicked to add the event to their calendar). This dramatically improves the ability for A/B testing of content to improve overall communication strategies.

  1. Higher engagement

RCS drives higher customer engagement. Research by GSMA found that 70 per cent of respondents are more likely to communicate with a brand using RCS business messaging, and 80 per cent found it appealing. This positive sentiment for the technology is reflected in the aforementioned trials that have demonstrated enormous increases in engagement.

The biggest drivers of increased engagement are RCS’s response and action buttons, which help consumers quickly respond or perform actions on their device. This could include adding an event to their calendar, opening an address or direction in a mapping app, opening the phone app, and many others.

  1. Trusted senders

The impacts of SMS phishing (or smishing) attacks should soon be a thing of the past, as each RCS sender is authenticated by a verification authority. This ensures consumers can trust that the RCS message they receive is from whom the sender claims to be.

RCS messages are also delivered via a business ID, rather than a phone number, and each message can be branded with the company’s colours and logo. Moreover, the RCS sender contains all the important information about the business, including their website, email and contact phone numbers – giving consumers quick and easy access to contact information.

  1. No need for an app

For years, businesses have used mobile apps as a major customer engagement channel. But many businesses are questioning the upfront and ongoing investment required by mobile applications as more and more consumers are disabling their app notifications and deleting non-critical apps to make way for more photos and videos.

Half of smartphone users (51 per cent) don’t download any apps in any given month and most app users access 20 or fewer apps per month, with half their time on apps spent on their one favourite app.

  1. Ease of adoption

No mobile app, no social media account, no push notification tokens. RCS messages instead are sent to recipients’ standard messaging platform using the same mobile phone number used today for sending SMS. The same do-not-call and anti-spam regulations extend to RCS as those covering carrier-delivered technology. This makes it easy for businesses to legally harness the same opt-in lists they have today to message consumers in a richer and more engaging way.

While RCS is not yet commercially available in all markets, businesses can test it out through a trial.

By  Chief Product Officer of MessageMedia Ken Johnstone