Case Study: Airbnb’s Growth Strategy Using Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is a way of promoting and selling products and services by leveraging online marketing strategies such as search marketing, social media marketing or even email marketing. Digital Marketing is known as one of the best ways to help businesses to send their message in front of their best prospects and customers. The idea is to send the right and best offer at the right place and time. Today, customers are found online, on social media, staying updated on news sites or blogs, searching online if there is a need.

Airbnb's Growth Strategy Using Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is no different than traditional marketing, both seek to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with leads, customers and prospects. But, digital marketing had to change tactics because it’s designed to reach today’s consumers. For example, think about the last purchase you made, regardless of what it was, you probably began by searching the internet to learn more about the product or service, and what’s your best option, which means your decision was based on the reviews you read, family or friends that you consulted, including the features and pricing that you found. Today, most of your purchasing decisions begin online, and that’s why it’s so important to understand the concepts and advantages of digital marketing in today’s businesses.

Airbnb, for example, is a marketplace where people share private spaces all over the world that can be rented for usually a short-term period. The places can be houses, apartments, villas or even castles for a unique experience. The company was founded in 2008, and today the company has now over 550,000 listings in 33,00 cities and 192 countries. However, that was down routes to Airbnb, in 2009 Airbnb almost went bust until they actually began to improve the quality of their listings. Airbnb’s business objective is to focus on fewer but larger projects, Airbnb now wants to expand beyond room and home rentals to offer, but also offer a full service including local recommendations. The idea is to create a complete travel planning guides for travelers, which will help to promote tourism to destinations, and will especially benefit the less developed countries where you can find a lot of beauty and usually is not promote. Airbnb wants to continue growing its international presence by making each city more accessible so that way more people can afford to visit, and also create thousands of jobs for like photographers, tour guides, chefs, and etc.

Airbnb depends on two factors, hosts and travelers. The aim of the marketing strategy adopted is to try to reach and encourage more people as possible around the world to actually become hosts and travelers, and by considering this Airbnb started implemented a clever customers acquisition strategy such as Craigslist integration which was being used by people to offer and look for short term housing. However, Airbnb decided to change a little bit, so Airbnb decided to attract more qualified leads and reverse engineered Craigslist form to make the two platforms more compatible. So the idea was to get an option to automatically create a posting on Craigslist, which could help create additional inbound links for users, and that way more traffic to Airbnb.

Airbnb also decided to make a partnership with Google to make the offers more visually appealing to attract more customers around the world. They invested in Google search ads to help Airbnb increase their listings from less than 10,000 to 80,000. The idea was to execute a banner ad campaign, which would help with images of real apartments and rooms, and also to gain more international audiences. Airbnb’s idea is to continue to use digital marketing tools because it helps to expand the customer base.

Airbnb is also connected to all major social media channels. On Facebook, the marketing team is regularly posting photos and videos of their listings, attracting travelers to visit different places. They try to post as much as possible, and actually relevant content like on World Earth day. Most all their posts are considering quite engaging and attractive. On Instagram, guests are able to share their experiences with #airbnb and even book a rental place directly with the feed. With Youtube, customers can be able to find videos that can show parts of the cities that are not usually shown by tourists. Airbnb also uses Twitter to promote its blog posts and different listings. Airbnb has more than 485,900 followers, and they keep their feed updated by posting timely content. Airbnb has a blog, which is an informative way for travelers. They offer posts on travel photographers about cities, experiences, and unique cultures.

The content management works with Airbnb Neighborhoods, which is the local city guides published by Airbnb that have to break down the popular cities by neighborhoods and be able to provide more detailed information to travelers. This has helped increase the engagement of users. The guide provides information like places to eat, parties, local shops, and major attractions. Pineapple is another way that Airbnb found to attract customers. Pineapple is a print magazine by Airbnb designed for coffee tables in homes. The magazine has the purpose to share with the community stories and inspirations, to understand the connections that the community makes where they travel. There is also Stories, which is a microsite with videos of hosts and travelers, telling their stories as to why they rent their place, and what is the motivation of travelers to leave their homes.

Airbnb is careful about the quality of content that is posted. Anyone can be able to list their space, so Airbnb provides a free photographer to come in and take pictures of the house. For this same purpose, Airbnb has over 3000 freelance photographers in six continents. Airbnb believes that a high quality of photos can increase the attractiveness of the space and the chances of it being rented can be higher as well. Airbnb also created a video contest which host has to create a 15-second video about their favorite local places and post it on Instagram. The idea was to encourage the hosts, so that way they could feel part of the community, which also would help increase visibility and awareness.

There is also Influencers, Airbnb uses Instagram heavily as part of their awareness generation strategy. Their main idea, in the beginning, was to get travel influencers involved in their business, but nowadays, travel influencers want to take perfect photos of the beach, mountains, etc. So Airbnb decided to work with influencers with lots of followers and good engagement rates. Seamless user experience can be the best part of Airbnb’s social media marketing. By using Pixlee’s shoppable Instagram tool, travelers can be able to tap on the link Airbnb’s Instagram and be directed to a landing page with all the latest Instagram photos. But now, there is also a third party option for making your business Instagram shoppable, and the platform itself even rolled out the option to business on a specific eCommerce platform, which is not unique to Airbnb. Airbnb shoppable Instagram is notable because there us hand selected, high quality and seamless execution.

Airbnb uses important and different strategies to reach and satisfy customers as we were seeing early. However, there are 4 main strategies that help Airbnb the most. First, digital marketing via google ratings. Ratings are an important part of online vacation rentals business plans, and Airbnb uses the rating system for their rental listings, but also to make sure that the ratings shown on websites like on their Adwords listings. Second, content strategy, one of the most appealing spaces on the Airbnb website are ranked in the website’s search results, while listing something with lower quality content or ratings can be hard to find, and this because a good algorithm and employees who feature the best. Customers want to see and to have the best content possible, and that’s why Airbnb provides professional photos of the space, this way the visuals provide better content, so it becomes more attractive to users that want to rent out a place. Airbnb digital marketing strategy wants to optimize their own search engine listings allowing grow, which also keep the content interesting for Google’s search engine. Another good point that can affect the SEO of a website is the size of the website. Airbnb has around 3 million pages indexed in Google, the content is most likely create by users, which presents a tradeoff because the company doesn’t spend money or time creating content, but also don’t have control over the content listings.

Third, Google display advertising for expansion, Airbnb chose to invest in Google display advertising with banner ad campaigns, which also includes images from the houses with the purpose to attract international traffic an increase their listing as well. This tactic does not affect search visibility, because it is not Adwords, but does affect the brand recognition. This tactic actually reaches the target market while it tries to transform visibility into sales. The last but not least, Google and craigslist for digital marketing, Airbnb noticed that they needed to integrate with two digital marketing giants to be able to get enough customers. So Google was their first and irreplaceable choose because Google is the place to any eCommerce website, but Craig’s list could be more useful for vacation rentals, especially looking to a peer to peer business. This idea allowed Airbnb to be able to get more clients and hosts. Craig’s list used to post short term housing, so Airbnb let people also share their Airbnb posts on Craig’s list, so that could help with the traffic to both user’s listing and the Airbnb website.

The digital marketing strategies chose by Airbnb seems to be working quite well, considering their competition in an online search. Airbnb has found ways to attract their customers and to create content, which digital marketing was responsible to help. Airbnb chose to be part of all digital platforms to make easy to attract or to get more attention from new and old customers. Airbnb found ways with digital marketing to make reservations and experiences in different countries or even in the same country, much more fun and easy. With digital marketing, Airbnb was able to offer customers a service where people would be able to know better about places, foods, culture, and etc., even before getting there. Airbnb offers customers the experience of understanding a little bit better about the place that you wish to go before even getting there, How special is that? However, for a lot of people can be really scary sometimes traveling to places that you don’t even know anything, but Airbnb created a way to make it easier for people to feel more comfortable to travel. Airbnb, in my point of view, did and still doing a great job, they used different approaches to achieve their goals, by creating amazing contents in different platform, offering both hosts and renters different and better possibilities, making customers feel comfortable and save to be part of Airbnb community. Airbnb had a great idea of working together with Google Ratings, display advertising, and more, but the content strategy planned by Airbnb was that impact Airbnb the most. Airbnb carefully chooses what is quality content, or what can or can not go in their website, posts, social media and etc. The idea of keeping high ratings and quality content is what is keeping Airbnb on the top, all high-quality content together with a good digital marketing and even traditional marketing involved has the opportunity to make the company grow and stronger.

To conclude, Airbnb is a big company that provides us an opportunity to understand, that out there in the real world, it’s possible to find different possibilities. Airbnb showed us that it’s important to have different strategies for different promotions, advertising, digital marketing or even traditional marketing, and that content is one of the most important matters to them. Google digital marketing, Google SEO, Google Ratings, Craigslist and etc., were also an important support to Airbnb growth and still are. Airbnb invested in great resources to help them get where they dream to be, in digital marketing all new and different ideas are always welcome, and all help and support too, even if it means making new investments. Digital marketing today’s day is the reason that a lot of good content and promotions are out there on the internet, to offers more quality content, more flexibility, more freedom, more space, and more comfortable. Airbnb was a great example and made me realize that digital marketing today moves more than we can even imagine.

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