How RCS is Revolutionizing SMS for Businesses

Our friends at SnapTravel talk about RCS’s impact on Conversational Marketing.

This piece was originally posted here.

As we’ve mentioned, messaging is the future of communications between businesses and consumers. This is particularly true of rich interactive messaging. Facebook is the leader in this category with Facebook Messenger, but Apple and Google are following close behind. Apple is about to launch its business chat, and Google has recently launched its Rich Communication Services, or RCS. These platforms provide consumers with multiple Chat Marketing channels, like Chatkit, through which to connect with businesses and brands.

Our friends at SnapTravel are among the first to roll out RCS experiences with Google’s Early Access Program. Android Messages users on Sprint in the US will now have the opportunity to interact with SnapTravel via a rich-messaging experience. This experience has proven to enhance the customers’ experience and increase sales conversations compared to regular SMS.

Here is SnapTravel’s take on RCS:

What is RCS?

RCS (Rich Communications Services) is an initiative to enhance and upgrade regular SMS. While modern messaging apps provide read receipts, high-res photos, group chat, and other interactive elements, SMS has been long stuck in the dark ages with dull and static text messages. RCS brings rich-messaging features to default-messaging apps like Android Messages. With RCS, businesses like SnapTravel can provide customers with branded, interactive mobile experiences.

Who is SnapTravel?

SnapTravel is the leader in conversational commerce for travel. By creating a delightful conversational experience, we drive millions of dollars in hotel bookings every month for hundreds of thousands of customers around the world. Advanced NLP allows customers to interact with an intelligent bot the same way they would chat with a friend, enabling them to find and book the perfect hotel for their stay. The service is also backed by human agents who are available 24/7 over messaging.

SnapTravel on SMS vs RCS

RCS provides several advantages over the SMS experience, including verified brand identity, rich imagery, an interactive carousel of hotel deals, and quick-actions buttons that enable the user to navigate seamlessly through the experience.

Using SnapTravel — SMS vs RCS on Android Messages

These screenshots were taken from the exact same app (Android Messages). One is interacting with the pure SMS version of SnapTravel, while the second one is interacting with the RCS version of SnapTravel.

Supported users in the US on Sprint will now be able to interact with the SnapTravel RCS experience by default, no buttons or upgrades, when using an up-to-date version of Android Messages. Try it out here.

The impact on commerce

In order to assess the impact RCS will have on commerce, we took a deep dive into the data and looked at over half a million SnapTravel conversations, comparing plain-text SMS interactions with rich-messaging-app interactions.

There were many interesting data points that stood out. For example, customers using a rich-messaging experience to interact with SnapTravel were 21% more likely to make a repeat booking (11.7% vs 14.2%).

We dug deeper and tried to find data points that could be directly isolated and attributed to offering a richer messaging experience. One of the most common SnapTravel interactions is for us to send a customer a single hotel deal. This could be initiated by a landing page, the intelligent bot, or a human agent. Here is what a single hotel deal looks like on SMS vs. a rich-messaging experience:

Single Hotel Deal Search on SnapTravel — SMS vs Rich Messaging

The most important step after we send a single hotel deal is to have the user click on that deal to see more details. Of course, the end goal is to have the user complete a booking, which means that not clicking on the deal stops the booking funnel in its tracks.

When sending a SnapTravel single hotel deal, there is a 14.8% increase in open rates from rich messaging vs. plain-text SMS. This increase has significant implications for the conversion funnel. The graph to your left is just one example that illustrates the effects of a rich-messaging experience. Across the entire funnel, SnapTravel sees improvements from RCS that directly impacts their hotel booking revenue, and hence their bottom line.

SnapTravel’s future with RCS

Delivering a delightful conversational experience is one of our core principles at SnapTravel. The rollout of RCS experiences enables us to deliver rich and meaningful interactions over native Android Messages without requiring the customer to install a third-party app. This gives us the opportunity to provide a superior experience to all of their SMS users on Android, which will greatly improve the customer journey and directly impact revenue.

As more carriers join the party and enable RCS, and more businesses build on this platform, the true winner will be the end consumer, who will have more avenues to connect with the brands and businesses that matter to them.

Learn more about SnapTravel here.

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