In conversation with Doug Makishima from Summit Tech and Tony Chapman from Chatter that Matters at MEF Connects’ Rich Communications online event, we explored a number of avenues (high streets perhaps more salient) in terms of how retail and ecommerce can utilise messaging. One of the key points to come out of the discussion was that RCS will be about quality of content published by brands, and retailers in particular, and not the number of RCS users. This was a point stressed by Nick Martin from Direqt earlier in the day. His belief is that brands must create engaging content on the platform to attract consumers. Messages (and chats) between consumer and brand will not flow unless there is something appealing to discuss. Something that has been pretty-much overlooked with regard to RCS to date.
Presently, the RCS ecosystem is trying to sell RCS based on the number of users, but that has become something of a vicious circle.
So two things need to happen. Firstly, brands need to start using RCS, and secondly, they need to start focusing on what content they will feed into their RCS channel. As opposed to the existing process of how many people are on RCS.
As mentioned in our previous blog, brands are making their “shall I or shan’t I use RCS” decision based on the number of RCS-enabled devices they can reach, based on the data supplied to them by the RCS partner aggregator whom would have run a sense-check on their database to identify the RCS people. Typically, this figure is coming back between 2-10% of the database, prompting brands to question why they would only want to address 10% of their base with any communication. It’s a fair point.
The opt-in database model is classic mobile messaging marketing 101 and been the norm for over a decade… for SMS. RCS is not SMS, and the focus now is on building out rich messaging campaigns for a digital platform.
The number of users should never be considered too small. Several years ago we asked our brand-based LinkedIn followers how many users would a channel need for them to consider it as part of their omnichannel strategy. One US-based brand LinkedIner said 100 million.
If we look at Twitter, it shows that you don’t need a massive audience to use the channel. Globally, Twitter has around 330 million users.
According to Socialbakers.com, the average number of followers for the top 10 UK profiles is 1.25 million. In the US, that figure is 9.1 million. And if we break out the average US followers by sector it reveals that the top 10 retailers have an average following of 1.6 million, the top 10 airlines have 1 million, clothing firms have 0.55 million.
Given the number of RCS users in the US, for example, if brands were to start developing a Twitter-based approach, they could easily match those follower numbers.
The simple message from the RCS industry to the brands now has to be that if RCS is there, and available to you, use it.