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How Airbnb turned into a $2.5 billion enterprise through digital marketing

18/03/2014

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Airbnb.com is one of the most successful peer-to-peer digital communities acting as an intermediary between people who want to rent out their space and travelers looking for short-term accommodation. Founded in 2008, headquartered in San Francisco, the company has over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.

The company managed to monetize a simple idea and turned it into a $2.5 billion enterprise by effectively applying digital marketing techniques. Their main objective was to connect hosts to the travelers and travelers to the hosts by bringing them on a common platform.

Let’s have a look to how Airbnb used digital marketing techniques to achieve their objectives and how it worked for them.

Craigslist Integration

After conducting a market research, Airbnb found that people were already using Craigslist as a platform to offer and look for short-term housing and that this could be an opportunity to attract qualified leads to Airbnb.com. So, they went ahead and reverse engineered Craigslist form to make the two platforms compatible. This made all those, who listed accommodations Airbnb, to automatically create a posting on Craigslist as an additional way to promote the listing. This eventually helped Airbnb with additional inbound links for the user, driving more traffic to the Airbnb website.


Google Display Network Partnership

After the Airbnb marketing team recognized that in order to attract customers their offer had to be visually appealing, they went ahead and collaborated with Google investing in Google Search Ads. This made the company’s number of listings to increase from less than 10,000 to 80,000. Not just that, they also gained a new international audience of people that wouldn’t have found out about the network if they had not employed this banner ad campaign featuring images of real apartments and rooms.

Social Media Engagement

In summer 2013, by creating a 4.5-minute movie using only short video clips from Vine and a mobile video app, Airbnb became the first company to write, produce, and direct crowdsourced content from 42 Twitter followers who were given specific directions and a timeframe to submit their work. Although, it might seem like making too much effort for an outcome with unpredictable viral effects, however, it worked for Airbnb augmenting their social media coverage to a great extent, increasing their following, and helping them to clearly communicate their brand message to their target audiences.

 

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Content Management

In order to increase user engagement Airbnb constantly published dedicated city guides called Airbnb Neighborhoods that break down the most visited cities by neighborhoods and provide travelers with relevant and timely information about them as people continuously return for information. It also made it easier for travelers to book accommodation by displaying available housing options in each neighborhood.


Power of Images

Airbnb realized that the manifestation does matters and so they paid extra attention to the quality of content that is posted on their site. This made them to have a network of over 3000 freelance photographers in six continents. Those who are listing their space can request a free photographer to come in and take pictures of the housing. This service not only added to the attractiveness of the space but also increased the chances of them getting rented out. Besides, pictures taken by photographers have a “Verified Photo” icon that ensures that travelers are paying exactly what they agreed to.

Video Contest

Airbnb paired with the lead programmer for the Sundance Shorts program and launched a contest in which current accommodation hosts had to create a 15-second video about their favorite local spots and post it on Instagram. This made the hosts to engage more as it gave them a feeling of being valuable members of Airbnb community compelling them to participate in community events. As a result, Airbnb gets lots of original user-generated content to review. Besides, they can easily promote it via various social media channels using hashtags. This is how the visibility for the brand gets increased increasing its awareness among their target audiences. Moreover the brand gets to communicate with contestants and followers directly, spreading out the company’s overall philosophy.

Besides!

When the ice storm hit Toronto in December 2013 making many people to stay without power, Airbnb launched a disaster response tool allowing current hosts and local residents with extra space to host those in need. The most remarkable point is that all bookings in affected areas during the time of the storm were free. This again illustrates that how Airbnb helps local communities using digital tools.

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