A businessman using a messaging device to collaborate with office workers
PHOTO: Bruce Mars/Unsplash

More than three in four mobile devices are running Android, yet the operating system doesn't have a default SMS alternative like iMessage. With Google taking over the rollout of RCS for Android users, the future of this SMS replacement looks promising.

Companies that currently use SMS for marketing and internal collaboration are asking how the rollout of RSC Chat will alter their strategies, those in the know share their thoughts.

What Is RCS Messaging?

"RCS was for years the attempt of the international telecommunications industry to have an answer to the rise of WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and other over-the-top messaging channels," explained Tobias Goebel, VP of product marketing at Sparkcentral. Mobile carriers, however, have been slow to adopt the new messaging service.

RCS didn't get a lot of attention until "Google decided to embrace the standard and offer it as a default rich messaging app on Android smartphones," said Goebel. Google now plans to make RCS chat services available to all android users.

Matt Ramerman, president of Sinch Engage described RCS as the "next-generation data carrier messaging." It transforms SMS, the most popular communication channel, with more enriching conversations. The RCS protocol includes group chats, videos, images, read receipts and other features that improve communication. Most interesting for businesses, however, are the customized branding options and the ability to provide clear CTAs through suggested replies or actions.

Related Article: The 6 Golden Rules of Direct Message Marketing

How Will RCS Change SMS Marketing?

"RCS will be transformative for businesses," said Ramerman, "redefining how marketers engage with their transcribers and enabling deeper interactions with customers." The greatest challenge for marketers is engaging with customers, RCS will facilitate the connection with audiences on Android devices. Ramerman believes engagement will be effortless with "two-way communication and delivery of rich and interactive messaging."

Goebel agreed, "Given the reach through the Android platform, chances are [RCS] could turn into another important messaging channel with a global user base besides WhatsApp, FB Messenger or WeChat." This is especially true with the overall trend of messaging-style communication, and the prediction that more customers will reach out to brands using messengers than social media in 2019.

Using RCS for Marketing

"The key lies in not 'burning' the channel as another outlet to send promotional content or spam," said Goebel. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have strict guidelines that prevent spamming, but RCS is still new. If businesses use RCS for advertising too much during the early stages, it could affect user adoption of the messaging service.

The advantage of RCS for marketers is that it gives them more room for creativity because it doesn't have the limitations of SMS. With SMS, businesses appear as a phone number, but RCS lets marketers create a more personal experience with logos, color schemes and more. 

Another crucial aspect of RCS is suggested replies and actions. Marketers can use this feature to guide users through the buying experience with clear next steps. Actions could be anything from requesting a sales demo to speaking directly with a sales representative. RCS lets companies engage with potential customers on Android devices in ways they never could with SMS.

Related Article: What Marketers Need to Know About Twitch Marketing

RCS for Employee Collaboration

According to Buffer's State of Remote Work in 2019, 99% of respondents would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. That's why companies should be excited about the benefits RCS will bring to businesses for remote collaboration. "RCS will take what enterprises are already enjoying with SMS and expand upon those features without the need for an external texting platform," said Ramerman.

One of the more intriguing areas for companies is the use of RCS to provide personalized and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven content to remote workers. "Due to its advancements in delivering rich media and dynamic content, RCS can help support employee training and collaboration," Ramerman said. Beyond that, by using chatbots, "remote workers would be able to not only receive — but respond to — videos and other materials." For many businesses, RCS chat could transform the way they communicate with not only customers, but their own employees.