Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The tapping point for rich communication services (RCS)

By Steve Godman, Business Development Director, IMI Mobile

With the digital advertising industry worth around $400B and mobile representing nearly 70% of that number, it would be safe to say there is enough data being generated to allow brands to make informed decisions about what does and doesn’t work when it comes to deciding where and when to place their mobile ads.

Mobile advertising isn’t going away any time soon and in its many formats, provides brands with a plethora of choice to present themselves to consumers.

This is all very positive but what happens next? What happens when that hard-earned prospect takes that huge leap of faith and plunges in to discover what you have to offer?

Post-click mobile customer experience is, by and large, underwhelming. Often, the customer, new to your brand or familiar, is pushed into a convoluted maze of forms, disclaimers, declarations that they are not a robot and finally, after tapping away at their screen for several minutes find themselves rewarded with a cursory thank you and a “we’ll be in touch”.

Surely as an industry, we can do better. Yes. Yes, we can.

Customer experience trumps everything in terms of brand recall, trust and affinity. However, it appears that that what happens after that all-important click is rarely really thought through.

How about this? How about giving your customer the ability to talk to your brand with a few swift taps of the screen and give them an experience, designed for the device they are interacting with you on, that guides them towards the outcome your campaign was originally designed to achieve.

Google and Apple have launched business messaging services that have been designed from the ground up to provide two-way conversational experiences on mobile. Mobile operators around the world are rapidly rolling out rich communication services (RCS). These channels allow brands to deliver exceptional customer experiences that remove almost all the friction by providing rich media, app-like features that consumers are behaviourally very familiar with. No dawdling to download another app they don’t really want.

Messaging is the place we spend much of our time when picking up our smartphones. There is a seemingly endless choice of apps to manage your day-to-day interactions. We tend to use different messaging services for different things; where a letter may have been sent with a scratch-off code for your new PIN, we have SMS. It’s estimated One-time PIN (OTP) numbers account for over 50% of the world’s SMS traffic; want to book a weekend away or a surprise birthday party? WhatsApp reigns supreme. Connect with a friend we only fraternise with on Facebook? Messenger solves that.

Rich business messaging (RBM) brings the behavioural familiarity of social messaging, where our thumbs do the talking, to the world of commerce. Mobile marketing is complex. Different devices need to have different experiences built. Apps are wonderful things, but do you want to download another one to perform a mundane task like booking a meter reading?

Producing feature-rich mobile web pages is expensive and time consuming. You need a large team and plenty of time. RBM brings that experience into your messaging inbox. Car manufacturers in India are already delivering to their customers their entire customer service experience, from booking a test drive to selecting a convenient time to booking an oil service, all inside a WhatsApp conversational experience.

What does all this mean to advertisers? Facebook and Google are now offering to link your ad to a conversational experience. Brands can now engage directly with their customers the instant they click on an ad. And what’s more, the brand can deliver an ecommerce experience in the conversation.

People have short attention spans. How many times have you clicked on an ad and have lost interest as it directs you to a landing page that takes slightly too long to load or flips you into the app store. RBM short-cuts that. Like the look of that deal on those Nikes? Do you have a size 9? You do. Do you have them in blue? You do. Great, let’s do it.

It’s all about delivering the best possible experience which ultimately will result in more customers, happier customers and more sales. And this isn’t just the preserve of the walled gardens of Facebook and Google. For brands investing in premium inventory, RCS ticks that box.

The most feature-rich experience in the messaging landscape can be used not just to drive engagement but also for a CRM programme, replacing email as the response rates are so much higher. In a recent experiment, a high street pharmaceutical brand switched to rich messaging from SMS and found that simply by asking the customer to “tap” yes than type” Y -E -S” improved their repeat prescriptions by 100%.

Are we ready for a new wave of mobile customer experience? The Tapping Point perhaps?