If you’ve been implementing an emailing strategy for several years, you might have already thought about using text messaging. It’s the perfect way to build a close relationship with your audience. With the right approach, you can convert quickly. But innovations around messaging are growing fast. SMS is already threatened by RCS.
Let’s go over the details about RCS compared to SMS and why its growth is not soaring despite innovative features.
The future of text messaging has arrived
An overview and definition of RCS
RCS is probably the future of SMS. RCS allows you to do the same thing as apps like Whatsapp or Messenger, but in a native way: so unlike these apps, RCS does not need to be installed. It is directly supported in every Android messaging app.
(Some technical details are coming, skip to the next paragraph if you want to go directly to the operational part)➡️
What is RCS technically speaking?
RCS stands for « Rich Communication Services ».
It is a mobile communication protocol that is considered the future of SMS. RCS uses 3/4/5G or Wi-Fi unlike SMS which uses mobile networks.
It was first developed by the GSMA consortium, an organization composed of mobile operators and manufacturers. Google is mainly responsible for its rollout and growth.
You may also have heard of RBM (Rich Business Messaging) to refer to communications using RCS between companies and their customers (Application 2 Perso). Although it’s a variant, the logic is roughly the same.
(End of the technical details, back to the operational part!)⬅️
Be present where your audience is
Conversations between friends and family no longer take place by text message. Most French people prefer Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram… In the native app of your smartphone, you probably have…
A long list of transactional and advertising text messages.
This is not a bad thing for your business. It means your audience is looking for corporate texts once in their messages. Now it’s up to you to make the most of it.
To stand out from the old, boring and cold text messages, RCS is a great alternative. Most importantly, you don’t need to send multiple types of messages:
You only send one communication, and a “fall back” system allows the recipient to receive the RCS version of your communication if their mobile allows it. If not, they receive the text message version.
Top 11 RCS features in 2023
- To identify a sender
- Enriched content sharing
- Group conversations
- Sending hypertext links and documents
- Using components (carousel)
- Add buttons/chips to the chat window
- Share your location
- One-to-one chats
- Adding events to the calendar
- Display an icon when a message has been read
- Display an icon when a message is being written
How many characters can an RCS message have?
When we first went through the features, we started to worry: How do you fit one of these components into 160 characters, like a regular SMS?
Well, the good news is that RCS is not limited to 160 characters. You can write an unlimited number of characters. Just be careful not to lose your audience’s interest with a lengthy text.
What does an RCS look like compared to an SMS?
Here is an example of what an RCS can look like:
These are just two components among a range of possibilities available with RCS. Here are some other contents you can leverage:
On the last picture, you can see chip lists. This is a very useful component for your marketing strategy. Chip lists can be used as suggested answers.
It enables you to add predefined replies or even actions to a message. Basically, a chip triggers the action of your choice. You can create advanced scenarios to drive your sales funnel.
The value of an SMS / RCS strategy to build trust
As an SMS router, Mindbaz understands the importance of a proper SMS strategy. It enables you to reach your audience at the right time and straight onto their phone. According to the State of mobile 2022 report by data.ai, people spend an average of 4h48 on their phone per day. The French are slightly less addicted, with 3h06.
It is evident that SMS marketing strategy introduces new challenges compared to email. These same challenges can be found with RCS. We recently published a special content series on how to set the right SMS strategy:
By getting your strategy ready, your SMS and RCS will exceed your goals and the averages of those who have already looked into it.
RCS statistics in France
According to af2m, 9 out of 10 people open an RCS message. In comparison, 70% of business messages are read on Whatsapp. This shows that a message received on a business specific channel is more relevant.
The conversation rate is even 6 times higher than with a conventional SMS.
The click rate is also multiplied by 6, this time compared to an email, for those who haven’t yet switched to SMS.
Google reports that just over 40 brands have sent at least one RCS in France. These include:
- BNP Paribas
- Hello bank
- Le Figaro
But why are there so many finance companies in this ranking? Because they’ve understood that RCS allows them to build trust with their audience. A great way to convert, but also to build customer loyalty.
Have a look at your competitors. Have they launched an RCS strategy? Why not be the first in your industry to introduce an innovative marketing strategy?
If you’re not sure, start with an SMS strategy to test your audience’s appetite for mobile messages. With a lower cost, SMS is a good way to run A/B test campaigns.
The long and slow RCS growth: Apple
Google VS Apple: the clash of the titans
We started this article with a dream. But why didn’t RCS take over SMS?
The answer lies with the GAFAMs and especially with the first two letters: G / A
Google is not wasting any time to promote RCS, as we told you. But Apple is holding back and has refused to implement RCS technology on iPhones.
How long before Apple fellows?
Today, there are 17 million Android Messages users and 12.4 million Apple iMessages users.
In France, 1 out of 3 smartphones is RCS compatible.
In the US, the pressure is on for Apple
The United States is a high growth market for RCS. Major carriers support its rollout, including T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, which already support the RCS protocol.
The total number of RCS messages sent by businesses is expected to exceed 170 billion by 2027, if Apple supports the protocol within the next three years.
Scarlett Woodford, a Juniper Research analyst, looked at the development of RCS and Apple’s reluctance:
“Apple must support RCS to facilitate smooth and secure communications between mobile operating systems. The RCS protocol is likely to be deployed over the existing iMessage interface on iOS devices, in order to capitalize on user familiarity and maximize adoption.”
Yet Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO makes no secret of his reluctance:
“I don’t see our users asking us to put a lot of energy [into the RCS protocol] at this point. I’d like to convert you to the iPhone.”
Tim Cook, Apple CEO – Code Conference Sept. 2022
Can the rise of the RCS force Apple to make the move? In 2022, according to smsmode, only 12% of brands have heard of RCS. The company that promotes SMS is excited about RCS and sees a change in Apple:
“Today, there is a divide with on the one hand a low awareness of these new channels and on the other hand a very high satisfaction rate. For example, for RCS, only 9% of the professionals surveyed have already received one. On the other hand, nearly 90% of those who have already received one are convinced by it! These channels have only been around for two years and were first introduced during the pandemic.
Fabien Andraud, Sales Director at smsmode.
Launch your first SMS campaign
Using RCS to improve the customer experience
If industry players are so enthusiastic about RCS, it’s also because they know that brands can benefit from investing in this innovation: acquisition, customer experience, loyalty… An RCS strategy covers your entire sales funnel:
Use RCS to increase your brand awareness
Branding: create a branded communication channel
In terms of design, all companies’ SMS messages look the same. It’s hard for your audience to tell the difference between your brand, your competitors and other companies that use SMS.
El RCS es diferente.
RCS is different.
You can customize the background of the conversation with your potential customer. Use your brand colors and design specifications so customers immediately recognize you.
We’re talking about the background, but that’s not all. Add hints of your editorial policy with additional elements. For example, the “+” button allows you to insert emojis, gifs and other details based on the colors you define.
Reassure your audience to avoid ending up in spam
RCS helps identify the sender of a message.
The protocol includes a certification symbol next to the name of the message sender.
This reassures your audience in the blink of an eye, which in turn leads to more interest.
It’s no wonder your contacts are reluctant to click on a link: fraud, spam and cyber attacks are on the rise and are getting increasing media coverage.
Be proactive and find solutions. The question remains paramount for your RCS, SMS and even emails.
Leverage components to improve your brand image
Create more than messages: bring customers into your world with rich cards.
Rich cards let you send an image enriched with content. Different types of content can be used: text, title, description, answers or suggested actions (up to 4).
They are usually displayed as “Chips”.
You can use them to
- Link to a website, a web page
- Trigger a phone call
- Locate a store
- Track a package
- Download a mobile app
- Add an event to the calendar…
By switching to RCS, you can showcase a vibrant and innovative brand image. If Generation Z is also part of your audience, it’s an additional asset. They are very sensitive to your brand’s reputation. Meet their demands.
RCS: the innovative way to convert your audience
Address your audience’s pain points with related content
Once you’ve made contact with your audience, it’s up to you. You need to identify their expectations to provide them with valuable content so they spend more time on your communication channels
These contents can be:
- A discussion on an RCS channel
- A blog post
- A podcast episode
- A white paper
- A social media post
- An email…
What matters is that you understand your audience’s pain points. And for that, make some tests!
Provide content that you think is relevant and then look at the statistics. What works best? Adjust your content after you’ve made an action plan based on your statistics.
The RCS has a content suggestion feature that you can use as you wish.
Don’t forget to use the data visualization features of your router to save time on your analysis.
Monitor your contact’s actions to convert with RCS
Open rates are tracked in an RCS message. You can easily access statistics such as:
- The number of messages sent / completed / read
- The number of opens is tracked depending on the date the message was sent: if a message is sent on October 1st and openings occur on October 2nd, 3rd and 4th, then they are “attached” to the message sent on October 1st.
- The “User engagement”: this is a statistic that shows whether the message has generated interactions and of which type
- The “Interaction type”: to know the type of interaction: sending a message, clicking on a suggested reply, a CTA
- The “Agent responsiveness”: a statistic to measure the response time of an agent to a response received
Get your audience involved with events
One of the RCS components you can leverage is the event feature.
Events are an interesting conversion tool. You involve your audience in events to make them feel important: private sales, parties, openings…
Offer them content at a key moment: webinar, showroom, customer case…
But don’t hesitate to increase your sign-up rate thanks to RCS. By sending them the invitation at the right time, you will have a better response rate.
To achieve your goals, consider targeting with efficiency. We’ve shared some tips on how to target your SMS campaign, which is just as relevant for RCS.
With RCS, you can add a component to sign up for the event without leaving the chat. Easy and efficient, use it to convert.
Improve customer experience to build loyalty using RCS
The built-in chat bot for your customer experience is called RBS
RBS is the flagship feature of RCS:
A native channel directly into your prospect’s phone with an automated story tree.
This popular feature is called RBS: RCS Business Messaging.
We’re not going to lie, we’re excited about it. The bot is also called “Agent”. The agent’s responses are customizable and you can even add components to it.
Here is an overview of the benefits of RBS:
- A customized customer experience with your brand colors
- Available right in your customer’s smartphone
- With customizable and predefined responses
- Your customer service can take over at any time
- Option to displace the “Writing…” feature so your customer knows they are being answered
- Components can be included in the conversation (automatically or not) such as
- Buy an item
- Sign up for an event
- Carousel with different products like on Instagram
This feature allows you to create a unique customer experience.
Add quality content to RCS
Let’s go back to the other benefits of RCS. Quality is essential when engaging with your customers, both in terms of content and form. We’ll let you manage the content, but as for the form, rest assured:
RCS allows you to send HD visuals as well as videos. The maximum size of a file sent with RCS is 10MB. Beyond that, the file is compressed and its quality is reduced, just like an MMS.
Leverage geographic proximity to drive traffic to your store
By using RCS rich cards, you can easily share the location of your stores, for example. Promote your stores to increase sales and encourage customers to take action at the right time.
What about the transaction part of RCS?
RCS makes it easy to track packages. This is very important especially after years of pandemic, as Europeans have become accustomed to buying and using all the possibilities of online shopping:
- BOPIS “Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store”
- Delivery at pick-up points
- M-commerce, or 100% mobile shopping
- Social commerce
- Online booking…
For these purposes, transaction messages have become essential and highly expected by customers. But you cannot ignore these reassurance elements, either by email or by SMS / RCS.
These transactional messages are unique and customized and are sent after a user’s action. For example:
- Purchase confirmation
- Abandoned cart
- Delivery tracking,
- Order delivery confirmation
- Order delivery in pick-up point
- Sending of access code
- Temporary password
- Appointment confirmation
- Booking confirmation
You can use location, supported by RCS, to further reassure your customers.
Use case: 3 companies that have successfully implemented RCS
Jennyfer: case study of a retailer that has implemented an RCS strategy
With its Don’t call me Jennyfer RCS campaign, the brand was awarded the RCS challenge by Af2m. Jennyfer stood out with a business managing RCS campaign operated by CM.com, a major player in conversational commerce. Let’s take a look at the campaign together.
Jennyfer, the women’s ready-to-wear brand
In late 2021, Don’t Call Me Jennyfer is experimenting with RCS to customize and digitize its Christmas catalog. Carousels were used to display the Christmas looks. The goal is to drive traffic to stores as well as to the Jennyfer website. Jennyfer did not want to share any figures on this.
Customers were offered products based on their reactions and preferences. A successful challenge:
“Customers are truly ready to browse a product carousel, to interact with the brand, with a chat duration that reached nearly a minute on average. This is clearly a new deal for us, and we think that the next step could be to experiment the M-commerce features of RCS, and to really move into ‘conversational commerce'”
Julia Foucher, CRM manager at Don’t Call Me Jennyfer.
In short: The figures of the RCS Don’t Call Me Jennyfer campaign for Christmas
0.6% conversion rate VS 0.3% for the same SMS campaign
1 minute is the conversational time recorded by Jennyfer
30% of the Jennyfer database is RCS compatible
Le Figaro: 115% increase with RCS
Le Figaro, a French daily newspaper, won the innovation award with CM.com for implementing an RCS solution.
In short: The figures of the RCS campaign of Le Figaro
115% click-through rate increase
233% increase in the number of accounts created.
97% deliverability, a new record even for a channel known for its great deliverability
Orange: tenfold increase in read rate between RCS and SMS
Orange, a French carrier, is working on an RCS campaign to offer customers nearing the end of their contract a new cell phone.
By leveraging rich cards, Orange has prepared a customized campaign. Rich cards can be used to send an image enriched with text content and suggested answers or actions.
Orange also optimized campaign monitoring, especially the “interaction type” which allows to track the type of interaction preferred by the audience.
In short: The figures for the Orange RCS campaign
80% increase in the read rate of the campaign sent compared to the same campaign sent by email
Sales volume generated by the campaign sent by SMS to 58,000 people is 3 times higher than the campaign sent by email to 200,000!
The exciting growth of the RCS
The figures listed in the case studies in the previous section give you an idea of the opportunity that an RCS strategy offers. If SMS already provides a good start for your relationship with your audience, RCS is an asset for a great customer experience.
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