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SMS text messaging is already heavily in use by marketing departments everywhere to communicate with customers on a basic level. Messages can contain service updates, delivery notifications, and other announcements between a client and a business.

But what more could you do if you had an upgraded version of SMS texting? Enter rich messaging, a novel way to spice up text communication with your audience.

What is it?

While SMS text messaging was a staple of the early 2000s, the technology is starting to show its age, as it lacks all the features, bells, and whistles that we expect to see today. Rich messaging is actually fairly popular with individuals for personal use as well, but its use cases go beyond just sending funny GIFs to your family members.

Known formally as rich communication services (RCS), rich messaging is an evolution of SMS text messaging that, unlike its predecessor, supports sending and receiving multimedia content from pictures and videos to audio recordings, files, and even phone contacts.

When used properly as part of a mobile marketing initiative, RCS can be an invaluable business tool for building superior customer experiences and boosting client engagement. It empowers your advertising campaigns to capture new leads by working with them through this easy-to-use and convenient real-time communication channel.

RCS has a number of advantages over traditional text messaging beyond the introduction of multimedia support.

  • Messages can be up to 10mb each and exceed 8,000 characters in length.
  • Special features like group messaging and integrated video calls are now possible.
  • The service is cross-platform and works on a variety of device types.
  • Information can be gathered from conversations to use for analytics.

Are these advantages backed up by the numbers? They are according to Google’s report on RCS for business use. About 3/4ths of consumers are more likely to engage with a brand if RCS communication is available, and people are a whopping 35 times more likely to read an RCS message than an email.

A brief history of SMS and rich messaging

An early form of traditional SMS text messaging began under the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, better known as ETSI. It wasn’t until 1982 when the modern interpretation of SMS was proposed by the Global System for Mobile Communications, while the first commercial deployment of the technology began a decade later.

Text messaging has since then become immensely popular for both personal and business use alike, but it arguably hasn’t seen any new innovations since the 90s.

Rich messaging services have recently been pushed as a full replacement for SMS. And while RCS had a slow start at the beginning, we’re starting to see mass adoption by consumers and businesses thanks to its new features and capabilities.

Today, Google has recently integrated many rich messaging services into Android. And worldwide telecom companies have joined in on the RCS model, including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Docomo, and other providers.

New features are being added to this day, including data security precautions like encryption. But at the same time, RCS still requires a discrete phone number to function and thus works mainly through smartphones.

Why RCS matters

You don’t have to be a market research expert to know that people are spending more time on their mobile phones than ever before, whether they’re talking with friends on social media or interacting with businesses over text.

And forward-thinking companies know the value of an omni channel approach to client communication. It’s part of any modern customer service strategy and practically requires the adoption of SMS, instant messaging, and rich messaging to drive up the customer experience.

Rich messaging specifically combines the multimedia support of app-based instant messengers like WhatsApp with the ubiquity and accessibility of SMS.

How RCS improves the customer experience

You’ve probably noticed that the customer experience is a recurring theme of this discussion. Rich messaging, when applied to business use, is mostly geared towards providing a more engaging and convenient way for customers to get in contact with businesses. How exactly does RCS improve the customer experience?

  • More engaging conversations: RCS can be used within a call center to make conversations with clients more meaningful and reduce frustration by allowing for richer methods of communication. When you have access to images, videos, and other multimedia files, it’s much easier to talk, build an understanding, and resolve issues.
  • Better customer service: The stronger your customer service, the more loyal your customer base will be. Rich messaging makes talking with your agents as convenient as possible, as customers can just message you instantly with their needs and even consult with self-service options through RCS.
  • Pushing for conversions: The capabilities of rich messaging mean that customers can get everything they want done in one place. At any point in the purchasing cycle, agents can answer questions, provide information, and conduct the transaction all within the conversation.
  • Informing customers: RCS offers up an excellent avenue to send out messages to keep your clients informed and engaged with your brand. Delivery updates, product catalogs, sale events, and loyalty programs are all enhanced when announced alongside interesting pictures and videos.
  • Performing data analytics: Rich messaging not only improves the conversation today but can also improve contacts made tomorrow. By gathering real-time insights into how the conversation is flowing, you can find out what your representatives are doing right, how customers are reacting to your service, and what feedback you can provide to your agents to help them improve.

The positive impact rich messaging services have on the customer experience is of great importance to today’s marketing teams, especially as customer service continues to be a distinguishing factor for competing businesses in the future.

Real-world applications of rich messaging

We’re already seeing rich messaging services show up in high-profile applications. Apple Business Chat already helps its customers choose from the company’s diverse lineup of electronics like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and accessories. Presenting product choices directly within the chat is the key to unlocking more sales, and Apple even offers secure financial transactions through an integration between RCS and Apple Pay.

Google likewise has built RCS directly into the Android mobile operating system. The Android Messages app has become the primary texting platform on many devices, and it boasts rich messaging compatibility.

As a more general example, online chat boxes you’ve probably seen on websites have become a popular implementation of RCS. They are a way to start up a conversation with a customer and answer any lingering questions one might have regarding a potential purchase. Online chats have inherent support for files, videos, and other small tools that can have a big impact on whether or not a casual site visitor becomes a paying customer.

Most companies obtain rich messaging features through communication platforms like Acrobits Cloud Softphone. These platforms make sense because they combine all your collaboration tools into one centralized platform. No matter what channel your customers choose to meet you on, you can be sure that you are able to respond promptly.