Airbnb: It’s Good to Be a Revolution

Airbnb is having a moment. Not only has it put together impressive marketing campaigns with the likes of Audi and Sweden, the leader of the sharing economy revolution is beating the giant travel sites online.

Airbnb is having a moment. Not only has it put together impressive marketing campaigns with the likes of Audi and Sweden (yes, the country), the leader of the travel sharing economy is beating the giant travel sites online.

They say it’s good to be king, but it may be better to be a revolution.

As reported by eMarketer, SimilarWeb’s “US Travel Trends and Insights 2017” report found that Airbnb has passed,, Marriott International and more in Q1 Web traffic.

Airbnb beats the top hotel sites in online traffic, Q1 2017.

Now, SimilarWeb attributes this success (in a separate case study) to Airbnb using its platform. eMarketer suggests that it’s due to the rising spending power of Millennials (who they say are more comfortable “rolling the dice” on the kind of experience it offers).

I think those are both factors, but they miss the big picture: Airbnb isn’t another hotel website or travel aggregator. It’s a revolution, which lets it change the paradigm and break out compared to the other sites.

That’s a real competitive advantage, and it’s the heart of all Airbnb’s marketing and brand.

eMarketer comes close to identifying that when they finger Millennials, but it’s not that millennials are comfortable with a more crapshoot experience. In fact, much like Uber, Aribnb has built its brand by steadily using reviews to eliminate the crapshoot from its experience.

But Airbnb still does offer a revolutionary, kinda scary, experience. And all revolutions are built on young people converting to those new ways, becoming believers, and then evangelists who are willing to fight for the new way.

And if you think that sounds a bit like the customer journey, you’re right! And that’s really why Airbnb is starting to clobber the competition online. By being a revolution, a movement, it’s become the most exciting travel option, the coolest travel option, and the travel option with the most loyalty behind it.

And nowhere is that better demonstrated than in the Audi and Sweden ads i mentioned at the beginning. Airbnb has other brands paying to be associated with it. has Captain Obvious.

Even Captain Obvious can see Airbnb’s revolution is a massive marketing win.

The Digital and Content Team: Is Splintering a Verb?

In this post we explore the organization of a digital and content team, which we will call “the digital team,” and may include the designers and producers of the website and other digital properties. How you do organize around content and the website at your firm? Is your website appropriately categorized as content and managed out of this group?

target_marketing_blog_part5_1In last month’s blog post, I discussed the ideal demand generation group structure and exactly which functions are best centralized within. In this post we will explore the organization of a digital and content team, while touching upon Web designers, producers and other digital properties.

How you do organize your firm’s content and website? Is your website appropriately categorized as content and managed out of this group?

The Digital and Content Group

The charter of a digital and content group might look something like this:

Create compelling content to drive higher customer and prospect engagement, resulting in more qualified leads for sales. In addition, we will create a fluid customer experience, whether it is through inbound or outbound communications, to create one company feel.

Notice the word “engagement” in there? Companies are spending up to 30 percent of their marketing budgets on content and many have no clue if said content is actually engaging their prospects and customers. Are you measuring the level of engagement with each piece of content you produce today?

The digital and content group is the source of fuel for the demand generation engine. The group builds a roadmap based on input from the subject-matter experts (SMEs), product marketing, sales, requirements gathered from the demand generation team, field marketing and other marketing teams.

If you agree with my premise that the website is content, and as such belongs in the group where content for other media is created, then we arrive at an organizational crossroads. Do the search-, display- and paid-traffic gurus (or agencies) who are traditionally tightly linked to the website designers and producers also belong in this group? Or, since their function is really demand generation, do they splinter from their website production comrades and move into the demand generation group? I won’t rehash what I said in the last post on this, but suffice it to say most organizations have kept them in the same group — at least for now. So the organization chart probably looks like this:

target_marketing_blog_part5_2As marketing organizations shift toward building omnichannel campaigns in order to give prospects and customers a consistent multichannel experience, the inbound team is forced ever-closer to the marketing automation team in the demand generation group. If you leave your inbound and social team in the digital and content group, ensure they develop a very tight relationship with the demand generation team, as they will be working together more and more.

The Traffic Manager

I’m going to digress for a minute here, but I assure you this will have implications for the organization of the content group. Let’s talk about the life of an asset — a piece of content. You find an SME in the firm to write up a nice whitepaper (WP) and you put it on the website and you’re done, right? Not so fast …

target_marketing_blog_part5_3Developing the core content, the basis for the subsequent assets, is probably a third of the battle. These days, extracting the value from the core content probably looks more like this:

  1. Develop the core content and produce the first asset (a WP, for example).
  2. Write a blog post to promote the WP.
  3. Write email copy to promote WP with outbound email channel.
  4. Write landing page (LP) copy.
  5. Write ad copy if you are going to do some display ads or paid search to promote WP.
  6. Get a creative designer involved to add the graphics and images for all of the above …