SMS Marketing Podcast: What the Future of RCS Means for Text Marketing

SMS Marketing Podcast

 

Still working remotely, Drew and Nate discuss the innovations taking place in RCS (Rich Communication Services) and what it will mean for business to consumer texting in the future. RCS is scheduled to be rolled out across all major carriers in the United States later this year. Dubbed by many the “App Killer,” RCS will elevate and enhance mobile users’ native text messaging applications, making it more interactive than traditional SMS/MMS.


Drew:
Hello and welcome to Left on Read. My name is Drew. And with me, I have Chatitive VP of marketing,Nate Odell].


Nate:
Hey drew, how’s it going?


Drew:
I’m doing good. You know, we are adjusting to a new normal, but the normal seems to be going good for, for some people – worse for others. I just, I just keep thinking about how important it is to be in isolation right now. And that’s as much as I’m going to say about that.


Nate:
Yeah, very, very much so. I think it’s worth acknowledging, you know, those for our listeners that it’s not lost on us, that you know, many folks are navigating uncharted waters and we’re sort of all in this together and you know, chat of continues to operate and function as we normally would without, you know, any interruption to our service or business. And so that’s certainly important for us in terms of maintaining our customers. You know, mobile messaging platform. But most importantly, you know, acknowledging and, and being empathetic and sympathetic and, and our hearts go out to all of those that are, you know, impacted health wise or otherwise by the trebled IRS. So I think it’s words of wisdom from you, Drew, it’s best to, you know, isolation right now is the best thing that we can do as a global society. And fortunately we live in a world where technology can allow business to continue. So that’s all a good thing.


Drew:
Yeah, it is. It’s a really good thing and it’s important. I feel a new found sense of obligation to our customers and to direct consumer brands to enable them with tools to reach their customers during this time when, you know, it might feel like everything seems so far away.


Nate:
Yeah, yeah, for sure. You know, the, the businesses in particular that are struggling because they don’t have that face time, if you will with, you know, with consumers coming to a store or you know, a Ricoh shop or a pop up store or you know, whatever it may be. You know, technologies are available now. Mobile messaging being one where you have the ability to continue to have those relationships no matter how distributed or disconnected physically you might feel with your customers. And we, we, we take that very, very seriously here and and make sure that we support our customers in doing that very time.


Drew:
No, I wholeheartedly agree. And it’s actually a pretty good segue into our topic of discussion today which is RCS or rich communications services. It is a messaging protocol that is going to be rolled out here in the later part of this year by all carriers in the United States. And we are going to speak today about how it’s going to impact the channel, ultimately enrich the channel and make your SMS and MMS marketing efforts even more personalized and colorful. So, yeah. So with that, I guess I would just like to pose the question to you, Nate. Can you sort of explain RCS and what it is?


Nate:
Yeah, sure. So the best way, I think, or maybe the easiest way to, on a fundamental level to understand what RCSA as you mentioned, it stands for rich communication service. But really to think of it as SMS and V to bring into today SMS the text messages that you receive either from your friends and family or from, you know, businesses is a very effective way of getting information to people on their mobile device when it matters the most. And but there are certain limitations to what SMS can do and it, you know, or MMS for that matter, which is the picture or video equivalent of an SMS message. The graphics aren’t very good and there’s limitations on characters. It’s not super interactive and all of that is going to change in a very dramatically positive way with the introduction of RCS. Cool.


Drew:
And this is available in some channels now, but not specifically over your native messaging applications. Is that right?


Nate:
Yes and no. New RCS is available in North America, in the United States and supported by some carriers, mobile carriers. And there’s, and there’s, you know, we’ll get into some of that here in a minute. But today it’s only available on Android phones. Okay. And, and it’s not widely available. It’s being slowly rolled out. But, but it’s a, it’s, you know, SMS as a quote, quote unquote technology if you will, is pretty old for, it’s like a 15 year old technology. And so we’re moving to a place where RCS is going to provide a much more user friendly, much richer user experience that will be beneficial for brands as well as for end users and consumers.


Drew:
Oh yeah. Of all products. I guess what I was getting at is that think of RCS is maybe existing in what you might find as an experience in like Facebook messenger or, or I mean Facebook messenger is like the most analogous to what an RCS experience on your digitally native phone messaging.


Nate:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,


Drew:
But that’s not necessarily, yeah,


Nate:
Yeah, no, go ahead. Sorry. I keep talking over you.


Drew:
Oh, that, that’s, that’s not, that’s not necessarily available to a wide range of mobile users through their carriers, a Verizon or an at and T right now over there native their native messaging applications.


Nate:
That’s, that’s right. So like when you’re getting to Drew is that experience that, you know, if you cause you’ve ever had you know, a chat with a brand or, you know, frankly, just like anybody else over Facebook messenger, you know, and I’ve come to expect a very application centric experience. It feels, you know, it feels like a sort of a mini app within the greater, you know, Facebook, you know, universe. But your point is that it is like a separate app that you have to download on your phone. The thing that’s exciting about RCS and what’s coming is you will have arguably a better, more richer and what you would get with Facebook messenger or you know, any other what’s called, you know, over the top applications, OTT applications. But it will be native to every phone.


Nate:
Meaning you don’t have to download a new app. So you don’t have another unknowing tile or circle or whatever it is on your mobile phone. And you won’t know, you won’t necessarily have to learn a brand new user interface, an inherent challenge with apps on mobile phones. So it’s going to be like, I’m very, very pro RCS. I’m super excited about it. Cause I know the power of, you know, just text editing for businesses anyway. That our RCS is gonna unlock a tremendous amount of opportunity. And it’s going to be, it’s going to be a really great thing.


Drew:
Yeah. I think that one of the big things is that it’s going to provide brands with just a more robust opportunity to engage with their customers throughout the life cycle. Their specific customer life cycles, what, however they may be defined. And it will make use of that ATP that, that business messaging component of their marketing structure or organization. It’ll make it more easily adaptable to the use of chatbots, the use of artificial intelligence and that sort of stuff. And, and it’s that sort of innovation that I do, that platforms such as Chatitive have been working toward an anticipation for RCS. And it will create a lot of competitive advantages for the brands that are early to adopt it.


Nate:
Yeah, I’ve seen some examples of RCS and you know, Apple’s somewhat similar technology called Apple business chat. And we fully expect that Apple will also support RCS in the near future. That’s, you know, sort of what we’re hearing anyway. But those, what I’ve seen, of both of those platforms is a stronger foundation for innovation. So, you know, RCS in particular is going to, you know, a tremendous amount of competitiveness or messaging services, whether it’s text marketing or chat bot or you think, you know, over the top applications. And there’s going to be this whole new wave of different applications that support RCS and that make it even better. You know, there’s rich graphics. You, you’re not limited to the, you know, the smaller MMS that you’ve been accustomed today. You can zoom in on pictures, you can send a video you can, you know, offer products and sell products all through all through messaging that is native to your phone. That is a tremendous step forward. And you know, those things are going to inevitably unlock a whole new world of startups and innovation to support and extend messaging into broader use cases across industries. So it’s, it’s like one of those sort of paradigm shifts in my opinion in terms of technology.


Drew:
Yeah, that’s great. I mean, it’s exciting for me to hear that there’s going to be this incredible opportunity that lays ahead in space. But what about, you know, what about the brands that are looking to leverage this new technology? How do you see brands and therefore their end users or consumers benefiting from RCS?


Nate:
Yeah, I think another area is trying to move to a world of ubiquity. And I think what I mean by that is there’s so much fragmentation today across the globe and domestically, frankly for these over the top messaging apps. So you’ve got like, you know, Facebook messenger, you’ve got WeChat, you’ve got SnapChat, you got, you know, SMS and MMS. You’ve got, you know, a whole bunch of other stuff in this out there. And I think it is challenging for brands because they have to be everywhere, right? We’ve got to like if, if he’s got, you know, a million subscribers that you’re trying to sell products to this type of chemical in, you know, to some degree with confidence, you know, the 20% of those with live in snap chat and 5% live from, you know, messenger, yada, yada, yada. You have to be everywhere. And then it’s like, Oh well we also have to build a mobile app. And so it’s just, it’s like, it’s like this never ending. I have some, I have to be everywhere where my customers are. Yeah. I think that RCS is a step forward to greater your equity. Meaning like we all benefit in this world from access to the internet and drew, you don’t have a different internet than I have.


Nate:
Like we have different providers, so like you get the same access to the worldwide web that I do. We might have different bills and different plans, but like there isn’t a D like I can connect with you if I need to. But OTT application applications don’t make that easy. And, I believe that is making RCS, richer a better experience and making it native to where people don’t have to choose between Facebook and Snapchat. And I’ve got six different messaging apps on my phone. I have one, it levels the playing field a little bit. And I think ultimately that makes it better for consumers as well.


Drew:
Yeah, that’s, that’s great. So then I guess from there, you know, as a brand, you have to ask yourself, are we using messaging today as a means to engage our customers and our our, those efforts in a part of a broader strategy to also support them and also engage them throughout and retain them throughout any sort of customer journey that you want to create?


Nate:
Yeah, and I, you know, I don’t want to sound too biased, but like, honestly, if you’re not investing, you know, all of your, as much of your marketing technology is spent into mobile and into mobile messaging, you’re totally like way behind. And I, you know, it’s you may not, it is a brand new, may not in particular be seeing the results that you would expect to see. It doesn’t mean that your customers aren’t already there and, or are thinking about moving there. And so like I get sort of flabbergasted, exhausted sometimes when I hear, you know, really smart marketers and innovators, you know, pounding that flip on a table saying that, you know, email is still number one. It’s like, yeah, that might be number one for you today, but what are you doing to move to where, you know, not to sound cliche, but it’s like, you know, the old Wayne Gretzky analogy of, don’t skate to where the puck is Skate to where the puck is going to be.

Drew:
Huh.


Nate:
But you’re like behind if you’re not in forward investing in your mobile messaging strategy and because guess what, like if, if you’re selling to any quote unquote rising generation, you know, millennials, gen X, whoever and got a mobile phone and they have messaging enabled text messaging enabled natively. So like that should be the first place that you should start thinking about. But you know, what’s exciting about it is that’s where we are today. The rise of RCS is going to make that whole whole world a lot better. In terms of personalization and really like creating a sort of virtual world, if you will, that is analogous to, you know, going through your local grocery store and having that, that one to one interaction. A lot of consumers are turned off by email in particular or you know chatbots that are configured a certain way. And if you don’t, if you’re, if you’re communicating with the customer, with the chat bot and it goes off the rails where the chat bot can handle it, that’s a terrible experience. So I think these new innovations with RCS are going to move us closer and closer to a world where your interactions with a brand are going to be very personal and they’re going to be very human. And I think that’s the really exciting sense.


Drew:
Yeah. So with that, you know, as an end consumer, what could I expect from an RCS message, from a brand, what will it look like compared to what I might be receiving today?


Nate:
Yeah, good question. You know, it, it in some cases it’ll be, it’ll be familiar, but one thing that is an immediate bonus is your, you know, today, like you get a text message from, you know, pick any brand and it comes across on your phone as either a short code or a long code. So at the top of your phone, you know, there’s a, there’s an appendage, a number or there is a five or six digit number. Sometimes it can be hard to remember who those numbers are and I’ve seen you save them to like your contacts database going forward and to immediate benefit with, with RCS every message you get will be branded. So like, if I get a message from, you know, try to do as an example, you’ll see the Chatitive logo. You’ll know it’s Chatitive talking to you. If you see a message from, you know, pick your favorite shoe brand or clothing brand or subscription business the same would be true. It’s a branded text message, which is in it, in it as itself is tremendously valuable just for credibility.


Drew:
Yeah, no, that’s awesome. And, and so then deeper from that, that entry point what will the content look like? What will be different? I’ve seen some things where there’s instead of maybe separate text messages for each option, right? Say you’re a food delivery business instead, it will act as an interactive carousel. Almost like a virtual shelf on your application.


Nate:
Yeah, yeah, no, that’s a great example. There’s using the food delivery example, you can imagine you’d get a couple of text messages from, you know we from food delivery, there’s this ex they then say, you know, here’s your lunch offers for the day. And you can imagine, you know, swiping or side scrolling in a carousel, using your words through the different options. Let’s say option a is, you know, a ham sandwich. Option B is turkey sandwich up option, you know, B is there C is a vegetarian sandwich and then all the pricing details in the option to say, you know, buy or, you know, I want more options. That’s another great example, right? Like you can imagine instead of, instead of pictures, there’ll be videos. And then all of that becomes way more compelling when those offers are very specific to you. Right? So Drew, let’s say you, I think I’ve used this analogy several times before in previous podcasts, but like if food delivery service act is sending you, you know options and two of the three options in your carousel are meat options and you’re a vegetarian from, that’s a crappy experience. So like, so it’s the compounding effect of a new interface, richer experience, but also enabling and pulling in, you know, technology like the fundamentals of what chatting or additive does really great. They’re inserting personalization into that so that every message that goes out is, is really, really personalized and specific. [inaudible] Your buying behaviors.


Drew:
I could see how this would be huge for eCommerce businesses, especially ones that might not rely on applications or ones that historically I’ve only driven their revenue through desktop mobile browsers or or you know, Instagram like social paid social media advertisements. You know, this seems like it almost blends all three of those. You could interactively shop inside of your native texting application. You know, your classic example, you get offered women’s clothing or women’s jewelry and you say, I want men’s watches instead. So instead you’ll get a text back that would have their bestselling watches and a carousel that would be highly interactive and enabled for you to, you know, purchase there on the spot.


Nate:
Yeah. You got it. That’s that’s, that’s the future of what’s coming. And like I said, I’ve seen it. It’s, it’s really quite remarkable and I can’t wait for it to be, you know, more available in this country and, and beyond later this year.


Drew:
Yeah, it’s going to be really exciting.


Drew:
This week’s episode of Left on Read was about Rich Communication Services or RCS coming to carriers in the United States. By the end of this year, next week, we will be discussing a nifty tool that we’ve had in development here at Chatitive that pits our ROI against that of your more legacy email marketing campaigns, blasts, automations, and all that fun stuff. We’re really excited to share with y’all. And I believe that by this time that the episode that this episode drops, you can find that resource on our website, or you could just visit textingroi.com. Thanks.

Conversational Messaging Evangelist at Chatitive