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SMS vs RCS – which is right for your use case?

Johannesburg, 02 May 2024
Five ways retailers can use RCS.
Five ways retailers can use RCS.

The advent of RCS (rich communication services) messaging brings an exciting and cost-effective new way for brands to engage with their markets.

Described as the evolution of SMS and MMS, RCS offers an app-like and more engaging experience for mobile users.

Ryan Miller, Sales Lead – Africa at Sinch, a global communications platform as a service (CPaaS) leader, says RCS isn’t just more engaging for message recipients, it also offers brands several benefits. These include secure and encrypted communications, lower pricing, enhanced reporting and metrics and more credibility, since all senders are verified and messages are branded.

“RCS gives brands the opportunity to send high-quality, multimedia content to guide users through their conversations. These feature-rich messages are received either via WiFi or an operator's cellular data connection (4G or 5G), unlike SMS, which is carried by signalling. RCS business messages function to boost customer engagement, with features such as rich cards, quick-reply buttons, suggested replies and suggested actions. It also supports JPG, PNG, video and audio in messages, with the ability to share files of up to 10MB,” he says.

RCS can send up to 250 000 characters in a message, compared with 160 characters in an SMS. Neither RCS nor SMS require an app to be downloaded like popular chat platforms do. While SMS is mature technology first launched in 1992 and now in use by around 7.3 billion people, RCS is relatively new, in use by one billion Android users. However, this number is expected to grow as Apple moves to support the messaging standard.

Sinch notes that people are 35 times more likely to read an RCS message than e-mail, and RCS marketing campaigns achieve three to seven times higher click-through rates than rich SMS. Business campaigns using RCS messaging have shown an 80% conversion rate.

“RCS offers a rich, personalised experience that improves customer engagement,” he says.


However, while RCS presents a wealth of new opportunities, there remains a solid business case for SMS too, says Miller.

“SMS marketing campaigns continue to achieve impressive results, boasting open rates of over 80% – significantly higher than e-mail open rates – and opt-out rates of less than 3%,” he says. “SMS excels in delivering simple, concise messages instantly. They are a familiar format and the entire message can be read in seconds. This makes them useful for simple promotional messages, time sensitive communications and transactional messages such as appointment reminders, order confirmations and shipping updates.

“RCS and SMS, e-mail and other engagement channels all have unique strengths when it comes to reaching and engaging with your market,” says Miller. “These, and other channels, all have a place within a comprehensive omnichannel marketing strategy.”

If you want to know more about how RCS can help businesses elevate customer communications into rich, conversational experiences, then download the free RCS guide that Sinch has prepared for you and reach out to or (+27) 82 335 0725.