Airbnb, the popular hotel alternative, has grown to become a global company with millions of monthly active users and a valuation of nearly $30 billion.
What is the strategy behind this viral brand? How did Airbnb manage to grow so quickly and establish itself as a digital marketing standout? We took a deep dive into Airbnb’s digital marketing strategy and the role of various platforms, like social media and SEO, in its success.
The Growth Of Airbnb
Airbnb first launched in 2008 and quickly grew to become one of the largest hotel alternatives in the world. According to the company, it has facilitated more than a billion hotel nights since its inception.
Airbnb’s rapid growth is probably due, in part, to its unique marketing strategy and approach to customer acquisition (more on that below). The company has also effectively used various digital marketing platforms, like SEO and Facebook, to gain traction and establish itself as a brand to watch out for. In fact, this year Airbnb is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and some of its key marketing efforts and developments from the past decade are outlined below.
Web Design And User Experience
Airbnb began as a simple website focused mainly on facilitating hotel bookings. However, over the years, the company has evolved to become a fully functioning web and mobile application. This level of integration allows users to access their account information from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.
The design and user experience of the app is also quite unique. Airbnb calls it “signature design,” and it aims to bring the feeling of a real-life boutique hotel experience into your fingertips.
The company has also worked hard to ensure that every aspect of its web and app design is functional and easy to use. For example, the site is structured using uncluttered tabs and large buttons. These features might not be unique or earth-shattering, but they definitely contribute to a positive user experience.
Attracting and Capturing Attention
Since Airbnb’s inception, the company has used several marketing tools to attract and engage potential customers. These tools range from SEO and content marketing to influencer marketing and sponsored events. However, it is important to note that since the beginning, SEO and content marketing have always been a key strategy for capturing the attention and growth of Airbnb.
The company’s content typically focuses on providing unbiased, accurate information as well as creating an environment that is conducive to honest and open debate. Additionally, Airbnb has used various tactics, like SEO, to gain online traction and appear at the top of search engine results for relevant search terms.
However, as the company has evolved, it has become much more technologically advanced and sophisticated with its marketing efforts. Today, SEO and content marketing aren’t the only platforms used by Airbnb to gain online presence and attract potential customers. The company also employs various digital marketing tools, like Facebook’s Custom Audiences, to engage with and persuade prospective customers to make a booking with the platform.
Since its inception, Airbnb has always focused on attracting and engaging with potential customers through social media. The company has used various platforms, like Facebook, to grow its user base and establish itself as a viable alternative to traditional hoteliers.
Airbnb first gained popularity on Facebook, where it has almost 300 million monthly active users as of June 2020. The company tends to focus on creating content that is relevant and valuable to its audience. This content ranges from advertisements for hotels and travel destinations to funny memes and inspirational quotes. Essentially, Airbnb’s Facebook strategy is all about providing valuable and relevant content to its audience to grow and maintain its user base.
As a social media user, you may have also noticed that when you log in to Facebook or Instagram, you are presented with several boxes, one of which is labeled “Products.”
If you select “Products,” you will be presented with a range of ads, some of which are for hotel bookings, some of which are for travel services, and some of which are for various brands and products. This is called “customized advertising,” and it allows advertisers to target audiences based on previous product interests.
Digital Marketing Channels
Airbnb isn’t just limited to SEO and social media to gain online traction and establish itself as a brand to watch out for. The company also uses other platforms, like Google Adwords, to gain more visibility and attract potential customers to its website.
On its Google Adwords Dashboard, Airbnb is classified as a “Hotel” and is then subdivided into individual hotel rooms, depending on how many people are visiting the property at that moment. Hotel guests appear to be the target audience for the company’s Google Ads.
Since its inception, Airbnb’s Google Ads strategy has primarily focused on increasing hotel room bookings and driving traffic to its website. The company’s ads are typically displayed at the top of search engine results for relevant terms, like “luxury hotels in [place],” and they appear to be highly targeted to English-speaking audiences.
Another channel that the company uses to attract audiences is podcasts. As its name might suggest, a podcast is a type of digital media that is hosted on the internet and usually focussed on a single topic. However, podcasts are much more than just digital audio files; they also frequently include supplemental material, like transcripts, images, and videos. This might explain why podcasts have risen in popularity amongst digital audiences.
Since its inception, Airbnb has produced several podcasts, like the popular “The Ritz-Carlton Awesomeness” and “The Ultimate Luxury Travel Pod,” to provide users with valuable information about hotels and destinations, as well as to entertain and inform listeners.
Brand Awareness And Recruitment
The rise of influencer marketing in the digital age has made it possible for brands to gain brand awareness and attract customers without necessarily having to spend a fortune on advertising. Influencers are typically famous people who have a large following on social media. Their followers trust and respect their opinions, so if a brand or product is represented by an influencer, the chances of the audience becoming brand advocates are high.
Since its inception, Airbnb has used influencers to gain brand awareness and attract users to its website. However, the company has increasingly focused on using influencers to recruit new members to its community. Essentially, if an influencer has enough followers, they can create a unique “trophy” listing that is only visible to their followers. Users on this page will see a rotating set of photos, videos, and articles that are all related to the hotel or travel destination the influencer is representing.
This kind of content is popular amongst millennials, who are more likely to use social media than any other demographic. It’s also quite effective at attracting members to an influencers’ personal Facebook pages, where they can find out more about the brand or product they are promoting.
Overall Approach To Marketing
Since its inception, Airbnb has always used various platforms and methods to attract travellers to its website and establish itself as a brand to be reckoned with in the industry. SEO and social media were always at the heart of the company’s strategy, but it has also evolved to become a data-driven brand, using various tools, like Facebook’s Marketing Solutions, to gain a better understanding of its target audience.
In 2021, Airbnb launched “House Code,” an AI-driven tool that helps design and plan out the perfect vacation with friends and family. House Code also provides insights into the kinds of content that get the most engagement and which social media platforms should be used for which purposes. For example, if you want to attract male audiences to your Instagram account, you should post content related to food and drink.
This year, Airbnb is also celebrating its 10th anniversary, and the company’s key marketing efforts and developments from the past decade are outlined below.
Content Marketing And SEO
As we’ve established, since its inception, SEO and content marketing have always been a key strategy for capturing the attention of potential customers. In 2021, Airbnb increased its content marketing budget by 20% to $25 million and doubled the amount of original content produced annually. Additionally, since the beginning SEO has always been used to drive traffic to the site and increase bookings.
In 2020 alone, Airbnb’s SEO efforts yielded $20 million in revenue, which is almost 10x the company’s entire video ad budget.