James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions

I’m a long-time fan of mobile messaging because of its targetability and engagement. Which means I’m perpetually baffled that more companies aren’t using it.

One recent study found fewer than 40 percent of companies use Short Message Service (SMS) marketing as part of their overall media mix – a far cry from the percentage using e-mail marketing or social media – even though SMS marketing can deliver ROI rates as high as $8 per message.

And when it comes to Rich Communication Services (RCS), the percentage of participating companies is even lower, downright anemic. This should present real opportunities for ag companies.

Bottom line: If you’re not engaged in SMS marketing, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. No other media commands the instant engagement or response that SMS delivers. Here’s a great way to get started. And if you’re already using SMS, it may be time to take it to the next level with RCS.

What is RCS and how is it different from SMS? There are several technical differences between the two – for instance, SMS uses your mobile carrier’s network, while RCS sends messages over mobile data or Wi-Fi – but the best way to differentiate the two are by what they offer. SMS is primarily text-only, with bubbles. RCS offers many of the same features as popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or WeChat. You can send files up to 105 MB in size – compared to a limit of less than 5 MB for SMS – which blows the doors wide open on opportunities to deliver video content to your recipients. Hence the word “Rich” in its name.

RCS protocols also communicate directly with other apps on your recipients’ phones, such as weather, maps, or videos, which lets you send high-quality content that’s displayed directly in their messaging windows, without switching apps. Customers can book or reschedule appointments, complete transactions, or see real-time delivery updates. And the photos, GIFs, and videos make the messages more appealing, and harder to ignore.

So why aren’t companies jumping on the RCS bandwagon? There are several obstacles, some more weighty than others. The primary excuse that marketers use is that Apple doesn’t support RCS on iOS. What’s more, the Cupertino behemoth doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to start, and some insiders believe that change will only come through legislation. And this may yet occur. The Digital Markets Act approved by the European Union parliament this past year requires that companies “open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms.” One way Apple could comply is by adopting RCS. If this happens, companies with RCS experience will have a built-in head start.

But in my experience, the main reason companies aren’t using RCS – or even SMS – is because they’re afraid of getting it wrong. Consumers are cautioning against the use of messaging due to its high annoyance potential, and that’s real. But this should guide our use of mobile messaging, not scare us away completely. Send valuable messaging. Consider the recipient and the opportunity but absolutely use this tactic for deals, customer service, news and information distribution, and feedback opportunities. With mobile messaging, fortune favors the brave.

If you’re interested in adding mobile messaging to your communications arsenal – or if you’re ready to look at RCS possibilities – I’d love to have a conversation.