August 10th 2020

Business messaging has never been in a better position. In fact, we’d go as far to say that the pandemic should be viewed as the defining moment that transformed business messaging from a functional channel into the mainstream alongside TV, the internet, and social media.

The upshot of the COVID-19 research is that business messaging is on the cusp of big growth as virtually every business looks to survive in the “new normal”. The impact of limited face-to-face contact, working from home, the digital transformation of businesses, have become key components in the emergence of business messaging as the ideal channel to communicate with consumers.

To explain how business messaging channel demand changed during the pandemic and how it is likely to impact demand after lockdown, Mobilesquared have developed the Net Demand Score (NDS) – see below.

The data reveals that SMS was the go-to channel for businesses during lockdown with an NDS of 28. Playing a supplementary role to SMS, were WhatsApp Business (NDS score 12) and ABC (4). Companies turned to WhatsApp Business and ABC to address their customer care (inbound) communications using messaging. RCS was the only channel to score negative demand (-8) indicating that companies expressed little or no interest in using the channel during lockdown.

Coming out of lockdown, demand for each channel is expected to change, although it is worth noting that no time scale has been applied to the data. The data highlights that respondents expect a complete reversal in demand, with RCS recovering from its negative NDS during lockdown to a post-lockdown score of 27 — the highest score across all channels. ABC had the second highest NDS with 25, followed by WhatsApp Business on 21. SMS scored the lowest NDS with 6.

Looking at the above graph would suggest SMS is going to face a period of decline, but that is not the case, even with an NDS of 6 that still represents growth.

If we display the same data differently, by adding the NDS scores (lockdown + post-lockdown), it provides a truer visual portrayal of what the research revealed, and also what Mobilesquared forecasts state.

Post-lockdown SMS demand continues to grow albeit at a slower rate (NDS score of +6 taking total NDS to 34), but WhatsApp is closing the gap considerably (+21 / total NDS 33), while growth for ABC remains strong (+25 / 29). The same can be said for RCS, however, it has significant ground to make up from its position of negativity during lockdown (-8 / 27).

Using Mobilesquared data we have extended the post-lockdown period to include mid-term and long- term expectations, to chart anticipated demand for each channel. In the mid-term all four channels are clustered together, which is indicative of brands pursuing an omnichannel messaging strategy. But in the long term, each messaging channel will become more defined in terms of the types of messages each brand will use that channel for. SMS will start to decline as demand grows for richer forms of messaging, with the scale of RCS ultimately making it the biggest channel.

Click here to find out more about the impact of COVID-19 on business messaging.

Here’s how we created the Net Demand Score. To track the appeal of each channel during lockdown and beyond, we have created the Net Demand Score (NDS), whereby we have subtracted the number of responses selecting “less demand” from those selecting “more demand” and divided by the total number of responses for that question. We have applied the NDS to both lockdown and expectations for post- lockdown. We have assumed that at the start of lockdown everything was equal (or 0).

Author Jo Hall

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