Wednesday, March 26, 2014

4 Digital Marketing Strategies: An Airbnb Case Study

 If you are searching for a place to stay in Google, you will likely come across Airbnb. This is the story of a fresh, new peer-to-peer vacation rental website that spread their marketplace service throughout the world via creativity. They had a digital marketing strategy to match their mission leading to international waters and, with a little struggle, came out on top. 

Visibility Drivers of Vacation Rentals in Germany:’s visibility when it comes to generic keywords in Germany is the result of AdWords. They show the most paid visibility in the German Vacation Rentals category, but very little organic visibility at the moment. If you take a look at the graphs below, you can see what drives the visibility of the domains in Germany and what content type provides the most visibility in the category.

               InsideIndustry DE Vacation Rentals Visibility Drivers 4 Digital Marketing Strategies: An Airbnb Case Study

Creative Digital Marketing Strategies

1.     Digital Marketing via Google Ratings

I did a little digging and found that this “Other” visibility for Vacation Rentals in Germany is mostly due to ratings, which makes sense, since ratings are a big part of the online vacation rentals business plan, especially in a peer-to-peer marketplace. Of course Airbnb uses the ratings system for their rental listings just like the others, but they also make sure that the ratings from show up in their AdWords listings. When I looked at the other top 5 domains in the category, this did not seem to be a part of their digital marketing strategy.

                    Trustpilot Airbnb Review 4 Digital Marketing Strategies: An Airbnb Case Study

2.     Content Strategy Matters :

In an article published by TechCrunch, Anand Iyer talks about Airbnb’s management of listings as a form of carefully curated content. The most appealing spaces on Airbnb’s website are ranked higher in the website’s search results, while listings with lower ratings or  lower quality content, in general, are harder to find due to a good algorithm and employees who curate and feature the best content.
In addition, returning to the idea of visual stimulation, Iyer mentions how Airbnb offered the mutually beneficial service of professional photos of the spaces listed on the site and guidelines for user-generated images. This way, the visuals provide better content and the spaces become more attractive to users searching for a place to stay.

3. Google Display Advertising for Expansion :

Sometimes we forget that aside from high positioning in Google SERPs, people also need to be visually stimulated for a good click-through rate. Airbnb chose to invest in Google display advertising with banner ad campaigns including images from actual housing being offered on their site. This allowed Airbnb to attract international traffic and increase their listings dramatically.

                         Airbnb Google Display Ad by PoweredBySearch 4 Digital Marketing Strategies: An Airbnb Case Study

4.     Google and CraigsList for Digital Marketing :

I left my favorite digital marketing strategy that Airbnb used for last. When they started out, Airbnb was quite resourceful. In the beginning, Airbnb realized they needed to integrate with two digital marketing giants to get enough customers. Obviously Google is the place to be for any e-commerce website, but Craig’s List can be useful for vacation rentals, especially for a peer-to-peer business. This noteworthy move allowed Airbnb to get the hosts and clients necessary to give them a good head start in their market. How did they integrated with these giants?
Since people were already using Craig’s List to post ads for short-term housing, Airbnb decided to let people have the opportunity to share their Airbnb posts on Craig’s List as well, driving more traffic to both the user’s listing and the Airbnb website. Clever!

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