Airbnb is bigger than the world’s top five hotel brands combined. It took less than 10 years for the short-term accommodation company to reach this milestone. So, what’s behind the rapid growth? An innovative business model helped, but marketing has also played a vital role. In this article, we’ll closely examine Airbnb’s digital marketing strategy and reveal five lessons you can apply to your marketing campaigns. Let’s dive in.
1. Audience Segmentation
Airbnb has two types of customers: hosts looking to rent their accommodation and guests looking for places to stay. This means Airbnb needs a two-pronged marketing strategy. For hosts, Airbnb focuses on community building and content marketing. The Airbnb blog contains valuable articles to help hosts improve their rental space and enhance their guests’ experiences. There are also plenty of host stories that reveal how people have succeeded with the platform to encourage others to join and list their space. Airbnb uses SEO, paid search, and social media marketing to promote listings and attract new guest customers to the online marketplace. But the use of these channels has changed in recent years…
2. Importance of Investing in Brand Campaigns
Before the global pandemic brought the travel industry grinding to a halt in early 2020, Airbnb significantly changed its marketing strategy. Performance and search engine marketing would take a step back, with brand campaigns and PR becoming the primary focus. Airbnb created its first major brand campaign in several years. The ‘Made Possible by Hosts’ campaign was launched on digital channels and on TV in the company’s five biggest markets.
The marketing campaign targeted both audience segments by revealing the human experiences and goals that guests and hosts have achieved with Airbnb. The UK-based brand tracker BrandIndex showed an increase in ad awareness for Airbnb, rising from 2.8 to 14.1 over six months after the campaign’s launch. Airbnb chief financial officer Dave Stephenson said, “we’re really pleased with our approach to the marketing strategy that we’ve had. Our brand marketing results are delivering excellent results overall with a strong rate of return.”
In 2022, the company launched brand campaigns to promote the launch of its new “OMG” category of properties. The category features one-of-a-kind listings like a giant guitar home and a UFO-style ship accommodation. Brand marketing has played a vital role in the company’s marketing strategy. With huge name recognition, Airbnb doesn’t need to rely on performance marketing alone to generate traffic. The brand campaigns remind people of the experiences that Airbnb offers and keeps the online platform top of their mind.
3. Influencer Marketing for Brand Awareness
Influencer marketing has been an important promotional tactic for Airbnb in recent years. The company has worked with several high-profile celebrities to increase brand awareness and reach new customers. In 2016, Airbnb partnered with Mariah Carey.
The singer posted pictures of her luxury Airbnb stay on Instagram. The post generated over 40,000 likes and millions of impressions. Influencer marketing has helped Airbnb to differentiate itself from competitors. The use of unique, luxury stays in Malibu, Lake Como, and other locations highlights the Airbnb experience that people cannot get if they stay in a hotel.
4. Harness User-Generated Content (UGC)
Airbnb utilizes UGC as part of its marketing mix. For guests, posting vacation pictures on social media is part of the holiday experience. Many guests tag Airbnb in their images, but there is also exposure and word of mouth even if the brand isn’t tagged. For hosts, social media is a channel to promote their accommodation. For example, on Instagram, the #airbnbhost hashtag features over 1 million posts.
While UGC plays an integral role in Airbnb’s marketing strategy, there have been times when the company has taken a more hands-on approach. In 2009, Airbnb was in the early growth stages and expanding into multiple cities. But the company needed help to gain a foothold in New York City. This was primarily due to the low-quality images of properties that hosts were uploading to the Airbnb website. The response from Airbnb was to offer hosts a free professional photography service to improve the quality of listings. The impact was immediate, with a 100% increase in monthly revenue.
5. Smart Localization
Airbnb serves millions of customers from all over the globe. With a diverse customer base, Airbnb implements a smart localization strategy to keep content relevant, and in a language, customers can understand. One of the more surprising takeaways from Airbnb’s localization is that automatically translating web pages isn’t always the best option. When travelers are looking for places to stay, they generally prefer to stay with a host that can speak their native language. If Airbnb automatically translated all listings, users might assume the host can speak the same language as them.
Instead of automatic translation, Airbnb displays profiles and listings in the host’s native language. Users can press a small translate button to translate the text into their language. The result is that users can quickly see if the host speaks the same language as them without having to click through to the host’s profile. Along with translation, offering different sign-up options is another key part of Airbnb’s localization strategy. For example, when the company expanded into the Chinese market, it allowed users to use Weibo or WeChat to sign up and log in.
The Big Takeaway
There’s one big takeaway from this post and how Airbnb has succeeded with over a decade of growth. Adaptability.
When confronted with changing circumstances, Airbnb has found a way to adapt its marketing strategies to the needs and preferences of its customers. You can capitalize on opportunities and react quickly to overcome challenges by being agile and willing to adapt. If you’re looking for a marketing agency that takes your business to the next level, then you’re in the right place. Let’s talk!