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The Difference Between SMS and RCS Messaging

Not everyone in the world has a smartphone, driven by the internet. But even the disadvantaged have mobile phones that utilise SMS messaging. 

While open rates for marketing emails, for example, are fairly low, SMS boasts an open rate of 98%, and messages are read almost instantly after delivery.

And SMS is just about to get fancy…

SMS messaging

SMS stands for Short Message Service and was invented in the ’80s. It’s the golden oldie of text messages, but it’s also the most used.

The first SMS text message was sent 27 years ago. The modest message of fewer than 26 characters, changed the path of technology and even the way people interacted with each other.

Although it took a while to get going, from the year 2006, the number of people sending and receiving them grew rapidly, until sending a quick SMS became the norm instead of a phone call, completely flipping social norms on its head.

Features and benefits of SMS messaging

Real-time marketing channel – once delivered, it can be opened almost immediately – in fact, according to Mailup, they receive open rates above 98%, and 90% of that 98% are opened within three minutes of delivery.

SMS is omnipresent – because it does not rely on the data and can be used on any device, it can be sent and received anywhere in the world, at any time.

Can be used across all customer touchpoints – it can be used in all customer touchpoints as a means of communication. The SMS market is versatile, and text messages are sent to support purchases, build loyalty, and increase customer engagement.

Integrates with other channels – it can integrate with all CRMs, e-commerce, ERPs, or content management systems to set up a digital ecosystem.

Use as part of a marketing workflow – marketing automation allows for SMS and email plus other channels to be part of an automated workflow.

SMS detail is trackable – just as with email, SMS details and links are trackable, so you can see open and click-through rates, and learn how often the recipient performed an action.

Can be used as a full-on marketing strategy – it can be used with landing pages to create a complete marketing strategy. Create the landing page, shorten the link, include it in the SMS, and you have a way of using it to send traffic to targeted pages that provide more information, get the recipient to perform an action, or simply communicate an idea.

RCS messaging 

Rich Communications Services (RCS), supported by GMSA, brings richness to SMS text, which is the foundation of RCS messages. RCS provides richness to a plain text message by facilitating the addition of rich features such as photo and video sharing, group chats, and so on, much like WhatsApp.

Features and benefits of RCS messaging

Enhanced messaging – when a business sends a text, RCS enhances the humble SMS with rich capabilities. It’s like using WhatsApp to message your customers, so messages become more engaging and interactive. Instead of just a simple text message, RCS is replacing SMS by offering video, location sharing, high-resolution photos, maps, and even call to action.

Tied to a mobile number, not an appRCS is tied to a mobile number instead of an app, so there are no downloads or updates needed. It’s a great way for operators to get back to the messaging market and be able to once again compete with the likes of Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

Huge marketing benefits. RCS provides multiple marketing benefits:

  • Reach people who are most likely to take the action you want them to take.
  • Improve the customer experience with real-time order confirmations, product announcements, and information.
  • Keep customers engaged with interactive messaging.
  • Use RCS within a complete marketing strategy.

Difference between SMS and RCS messaging

SMS is a text message and the foundation of an RCS message. RCS adds a layer of richness to SMS, so instead of sending a plain text message, you are now able to send a message that includes anything you would be able to send over WhatsApp – videos, photos, and call to action.

SMS messaging will evolve to RCS chat. Google announced its expansion of its RCS and has taken over the rollout of RCS. Eventually, Google will provide RCS chat to any Android phone; the Android messages app will replace the current native messaging app for Android phones.

telco impact

How SMS and RCS are helping Telcos

It’s a no-brainer that both Google and the telecommunications industry would like to reclaim the messaging market from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. 

The potential benefits of both messaging systems for telecoms are huge: for functional workflow channels like reminders, receipts for online shopping and customer, as well as for use in marketing strategies.

how telcos can benefit from SMS:

  • Simple text messaging
  • Include links to send recipients to a landing page
  • Include preview images of a linked page

how telcos can benefit from RCS:

  • Delivery and read receipts 
  • Verified sender
  • Increased recipient engagement due to videos, photos, dynamic images for personalisation and so on
  • Convenience for recipients who can see your location on a map
  • Make payments with a click
  • Appointment reminders through SMS, but RCS allows activity around that appointment, like allowing the person to change appointments, add the appointment into their calendar with a click, etc.


SMS has been around for many years, but not all organisations have capitalised on the opportunities that it brings.

RCS is still to come, and it would be wise for telcos to begin planning for it with SMS messaging in order to make the most of the opportunity when it hits.

Adapt IT  has a long history of Telco solutions and has expanded into the Mobile Financial Services space. The below solution is supporting the following traffic throughput:

  • 200 Million SMS deliveries/day which includes Please Call Me and Mobile Advertising

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