I recently virtually attended the 3-day event at MEF Connect Rich Communications. The event was designed to bring together enterprises, brands, and agencies from around the world to connect with MNO’s and messaging providers to showcase the business messaging channels that are transforming customer engagement.
The agenda covered many customer engagement strategies from Rich Communications, WhatsApp for Business, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, SMS and more. But there was a heavier focus on RCS and its status.
First off, I must congratulate MEF for organizing such a well-run and structured event. With so many people working remotely MEF managed to bring them together seamlessly for round table and panel discussions. This was a truly global event.
I was sitting in my home office in Cork, Ireland and it was great to recognize so many industry colleagues from around the world including New Zealand, USA, Germany, and Spain. For me there were several key takeaways from the event.
Firstly, enterprises, brands and agencies have a lengthy list of communication channels to choose from. From listening to the case studies, it was repeated multiple times that enterprises listen to the voice of the customer and they put the customer first.
Keeping this in mind, and with customers’ varying preferences as to how they want to be contacted, it is a mine field for enterprises to navigate and get it right all the time. On top of this, you have many use cases to fulfil. What is clear is enterprises and agencies produce a wealth of rich content and they want to share this via even median possible.
Secondly, in an already fragmented market you have new communication channels like RCS (although some may argue RCS has been around for years), WhatsApp for Business, and bots to name a few and all are trying to go after a piece of the pie. Although when you dig into it, they are all going after different segments of the pie.
WhatsApp for business is ‘more suitable’ for customer care, but it can be very restrictive, to the point where it’s not permitted to send marketing messages and you need to get templates pre-approved. Same principle applies to other rich communication channels.
It was suggested by analysts at Mobilesquared, that RCS was going after ‘Digital Ad Spend’. This ties into what Peter Mossman from ITV Win said with regards to what they are doing with RCS. He pointed out that SMS marketing works very well for them, but this did not stop them from dipping their toe into the RCS world and running campaigns in parallel. So much so that Peter said for every SMS marketing campaign they now do, they are also looking to do an RCS campaign alongside it. This proves to me that there is a place in the market for RCS and the rich content you can share over RCS. The results and level of engagement of the SMS and RCS campaign are largely comparable albeit the sample size for RCS is considerably lower.
Thirdly, as this event was focusing heavily on RCS and it’s a hot topic for us at VoiceSage, I am going to share my findings on all things RCS. Where do I start? You have Google, you have MNO’s and you have Apple.
Apple have yet to come to the table and have their own solution in Apple Business Chat. Depending on the market this could restrict RCS reach by 50%. From an enterprise and brands point of view that a large percentage. John Shirley from Google spoke at the event and it’s clear that RCS is an important focus for them. There was a good spread from the MNO’s including but not limited to Vodafone, Telefonica, BT, and Orange.
Germany is one country that stuck out to me as it is regarded as Gold when it comes to RCS. All 3 telephone companies have signed up and rolled out RCS in Germany. #goforgold was mentioned on numerous occasions over the few days. For brands wishing to use RCS in Germany this significantly increases the reach to share and promote their rich content. However, the downside is you need to get pre-approval with each telco individually. To combat this and to ensure RCS is done right from the get-go, players in the RCS ecosystem have got together and developed a joint declaration of open interconnection and common development of the RCS Communication platform. MEF is the secretariat for this initiative. As of the time of the event there were 16 signatories to this joint declaration.
In summary, MEF Connect Rich Communications was a success and I am going to steal this from what Scarlett Woodford from Juniper Research said, ‘Rich media will play a role going forward and RCS continues to gain traction, albeit at a slower rate than previously anticipated’. And my favourite line and what was music to my ears from Scarlett was ‘I foresee brands using SMS messages with rich content links before a full jump into RCS’.
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