By Scott Threlfall, Head of Messaging & Nigel Broomhall, Product Manager, GCI.
In the final part of our three-part series on mobile messaging, we look at the future for this channel.
In part two of this series (“SMS today and the phenomenal rise of A2P marketing”) we discussed the advanced ways in which businesses were beginning to use the mobile channel – and SMS in particular – for unobtrusive communications. In part three, we are going to look at what the future has in store and how the mobile channel will become “SMARTER” than ever before.
The Now: Mobile Messaging
In today’s omni-channel, ever-present and always-on digital world, we must be careful when predicting the future of a channel or product. With technological advances moving at lightning speed, what works today may be usurped by a sleeker, faster, more customer-friendly service tomorrow. However, it’s precisely this factor that gives Mobile Messaging a head start in longevity and protects it from being replaced by other technologies… for the time being at least.
Let’s look at the facts. Our mobile phones have become ubiquitous; it’s the second thing we pick up in a morning and we spend on average 5 hours every day sending and receiving messages, communicating through apps like Twitter or Facebook and playing games. The very nature of the mobile device allows it to be constantly by our sides, and it’s no surprise that most people check their handset around 8 times an hour during a normal day; it’s become almost a reflex action. This is because of the way we have bonded with our mobile phones and, because of their ubiquity, we must use them to communicate with our peers. However, people have become savvier; they know that they should only be getting messages from businesses that they have asked to receive communications via mobile from. It’s become a standard rule for marketers to seek permission from their customer database to contact them via mobile, and means that “spray and pray” style targeting – i.e., hoping that if they sent enough messages or offers that they would make a sale – has changed drastically. What’s interesting is that – despite a number of Over The Top (OTT), application providers offering cheap or FREE text alternatives like WhatsApp, Skype, iMessage etc – there hasn’t been the paradigm shift in text messaging usage that you would expect in any other digital technology sector. In fact, OTT apps have become more of an added-value service you can install on your phone and talk to your group or friends depending on your age, technology usage and knowledge. This could be in part due to the fact that Mobile Networks have worked on infrastructure to allow cheaper text messaging bundles and most networks give users many free texts each month as part of their contract, meaning that SMS messaging continues to lead the way in personal interaction – if done correctly!
The Future: Rich Communication
Mobile Marketing will inevitably increase and, as our usage of the device and channel increases, large businesses and international companies will prioritise more and more of their marketing spend to the mobile channel, especially in the B2C world. Mobile Applications have plateaued due to misconceptions about why you should have one for your business or service, what it should say and do for your business, customer experience issues and data and connectivity problems both with devices and with apps in general. As we go into the next decade, marketers, manufacturers and developers alike will focus on the Rich Media customer journey via mobile, which will allow Rich Media Messaging campaigns to flourish.
Over the next five years we can expect to see the growth of Rich Communication Services (RCS), which gives you more options to interact with customers using mobile messaging. Its array of rich and interactive features will put pressure on messaging apps as it has the immediacy and the penetration of traditional SMS, but with far richer empathetic interactions with customers. RCS creates the feeling of a mobile app inside your message inbox, giving you high-resolution images, photos and video sharing and interactive buttons. It also uses the smartphone’s ability to provide “read receipts” to enhance the customer journey during a campaign. Amongst other things, you can easily deliver:
- Calendars with bookable slots for appointments
- Maps for appointments
- Tickets, vouchers and boarding passes
- Data and graphs to employees off-site
- Buttons that mean customers can tap rather than text a reply
- Easy image, GIF, PDF and video sharing
The RCS standard also supports Skype-like internet video calls and audio messages, and implements client-to-server encryption using a data connection so that messages can be sent and received over Wi-Fi instead of the carrier’s cell systems. It’s designed to work on any operating system and when it’s universally adopted, users will be able to enjoy all the features that WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger et al offer, all without having to sign up for or sign into anything.
RCS will re-invent the mobile channel and provide a whole new user experience for how we interact with our customers via their mobile devices. Want to know more about these game-changing developments and how your business can take full advantage? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no-obligation chat to discuss how we can help you.
Scott Threlfall is Head of Messaging at GCI
A passionate “technology for marketing” innovator with over 20 years’ global experience in consumer driven marketing, Scott is responsible for delivering the messaging product set and driving revenue and mobile innovation across the GCI portfolio by engaging, training and developing our people and clients whilst constantly improving our core mobile products and propositions across the group. A keen learner, Scott is also studying for a Degree in Spanish Language and Literature with The Open University.
Nigel Broomhall is Product Manager for SMS & GSM at GCI
Nigel has a background in voice engineering, and transitioned to developing SMS Solutions in 2012. He has developed SMS Solutions for a wide range of sectors including legal, financial, debt management, transportation and the health sectors and has witnessed the business benefits first hand. Nigel is working with other specialists at GCI to explore the potential for SMS in the Contact Centre and AI environments.