By Judd Wheeler
In December 2017, the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of text messaging (SMS). It wasn’t a big celebration. There were no parades, no cakes, no parties (although there should have been). The day passed by like any other day. The day, if you want to mark it down on your calendar, was Dec. 3, 2017.
Think about this: Ninety-eight percent of all text messages sent are opened. We don’t answer 98 percent of phone calls. We don’t open 98 percent of emails (actually, the number is around 55 percent). We don’t open 98 percent of snail mail (although this “archaic,” black and white text message is still opened more than these other methods).
Consider this as well: Despite the many stories written about the demise of SMS, Juniper Research predicts there will be a 20 percent rise in automated SMS by 2020 to more than 2.7 trillion messages (compared to 2.1 trillion in 2017).
However, there is a new kid in town by the name of social media messaging or OTT (over-the-top) messaging. OTT messaging has caught on like wildfire for person-to-person (P2P) conversations. WhatsApp generates three times more daily traffic than SMS. Others include Facebook Messenger, WeChat, LINE, Viber, and Snapchat.
That diffusion is part of the problem. Businesses don’t want to manage the complexity of being on all of those systems. They need a ubiquitous messaging platform. Companies have tried their marketing hands at OTT messaging, some with great success. This led to a boom in chatbots in 2017. Expanding feature sets and versatility combined with communication for entertainment purposes created impressive OTT growth.
Facebook claims there are now 100,000 developers creating 100,000 chatbots, up from just 30,000 in April 2016. However, many of these are low-quality experiences that aren’t delivering value for the brands. This is reflected in the stats: Only 4 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 companies had chatbots, and 13 percent had a presence on Facebook Messenger. Businesses have kept their distance.
The good news is that SMS is getting an upgrade. This upgrade is called Rich Communication Services (RCS). The feature set of RCS is very similar to OTT messaging. You can send text, images and videos, rich cards, and carousels, and prompt users for guided input via buttons called chips.
Many of our smartphones already support RCS, and we don’t even realize it. More than 50 carriers, such as AT&T, have already launched RCS, and, by the end of 2018, there are expected to be 350 million active users of RCS services. Businesses should get excited over the fact that this messaging will be ubiquitous across all smartphones and run in the messages app without requiring an additional download. They won’t have to keep up with six to 10 different messaging apps and all their different formats and requirements; there will only be one!
Prepare yourself for the new standard of messaging, RCS, coming soon.
Author and international speaker Judd Wheeler works for 3Cinteractive, which focuses on enabling mobile consumer engagement to extend connections between consumers and brands, thereby increasing loyalty, brand awareness and results. To learn more, visit www.3C.com.