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What can 2020 data tell us about the future for business messaging?

Mobile Squared data from late 2020 highlights the growing popularity of business messaging. Harriet Lynas, Sales Specialist at O2, looks at what is behind the numbers and how business messaging is expected to change as we move through 2021.

Last year showed us the critical importance of digital experiences. These experiences give brands new ways to differentiate at a time when many markets were becoming commoditised. But to generate positive digital interactions, your business will still need to compete for time and attention. This is where new forms of business messaging are making a difference.

A change in tone

A lot changed in customer brand comms in 2020. Business messaging had been around for a while but was often fairly functional. You know the sort: Hi Harriet. Provider X here. Just to let you know our service will be down between 8-10pm tonight. Thanks.”

In 2020, these impersonal messages started to give way to something else. People still needed the reassurance of factual information. For example, that their mortgage payment holiday application had been accepted. But more and more brand comms began to feature more and more personalisation.

Recognising the importance of digital experiences, brands used personalised business messaging to build and strengthen relationships with customers. The language became more supportive and messages were designed to offer choices. Customers weren’t just presented with what was going to happen, they were invited to make informed decisions about what could happen and all without too much effort on their part.

Improving experiences

There was another significant change in business messaging in 2020. Customers were able to engage directly with brands, instead of having to call a contact centre or visit a store.

Call centre queues can be length, are often unnecessary for simple queries and can lead to customer frustration if those queries are not dealt with quickly. Meanwhile, trips to retail outlets were at an all-time low. This increased pressure to maintain customer engagement that is critical to maintaining brand loyalty.

Cue brands turning to business messaging.

Crunching the numbers

According to Mobile Squared data (September 2020), total business messaging traffic is expected to grow by 84% between 2018 and 2024.

Much of that remains SMS. Is it any wonder when Gartner reports that SMS has an open rate as high as 98%?

The latest numbers from Mobile Squared show that business use of SMS rose significantly since Spring 2020. SMS is still critical to a customer communication strategy. However, we’ve seen how some customers can find broadcast, text-only SMS to be a bit too cold. And the data shows that richer, more personalised channels are gaining traction too.

Rich communication services (RCS) and chatbots are a far cry from text-only SMS. They can host 1-2-1 digital conversations, and more and more brands are convinced that this is the most effective way to engage customers. Whether that’s to acquire new customers, build stronger relationships or remind people that there are outstanding actions on their account.

With an increasing focus on digital experiences, conversational marketing is going to be key in 2021. Channels such as RCS allow you to introduce personas into your messaging. These channels can help you analyse customer behaviour and then create hyper-personalised messaging to differentiate you from your competitors.

Over the coming years we’re expecting to see a shift in the proportion of business messaging to RCS, WhatsApp and Apple Business Chat. According to the Mobile Squared data, WhatsApp will have reached a 2.32% market share and RCS will have rapidly grown to 10.52% of the market by 2024. The opportunity for hyper-personalised business messaging to improve digital experiences is driving these trends. As more and more businesses start to take advantage, now is the time to explore the value to your own business.


Are you reviewing your customer comms strategy for 2021? If you would like advice on how to integrate newer messaging channels to improve your digital customer experience, please get in touch.

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