Mobile success with Airbnb
Airbnb, the community marketplace providing access to millions of unique accommodations and experiences in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries, knew that getting mobile right was critical to their strategy. That’s why in early 2016, Airbnb saw an opportunity to ensure marketing links worked across every single digital entity — particularly the mobile app, where users have been proven to convert up to 6x more often than the mobile web.
It also knew the importance of the app to its business, and that using links to drive users to in-app content instead of to mobile web content would increase revenue by providing the best user experience on mobile.
However, building, maintaining, and optimizing a linking infrastructure that worked across every device and platform was not only a daunting business problem — it was a challenging technical endeavor. It would require substantial upfront investment, ongoing maintenance, and dedicated engineering resources.
When the team at Airbnb was introduced to Branch, they found the ideal mobile linking solution: links that work across 6,000 edge cases. With Branch deep links integrated into their mobile growth stack, Airbnb realized they could reliably drive users directly to specific in-app content, retaining user context even through the mobile app install process.
A linking infrastructure for every device and platform
When Airbnb approached Branch in early 2016, it knew that its 1% conversion rate on mobile web needed to be improved and that driving engagement to the mobile app would directly impact its conversions. After implementing Branch links across all marketing channels, Airbnb saw its app install rate increase by 19%.
In fact, Branch links can be found across Airbnb’s mobile website, in-app sharing, email, paid acquisition, social, and desktop Text-Me-The-App marketing channels, and drove 3.5 million app downloads in the first six months. In fact, 47 Airbnb employees, 10% of the San Francisco office at the time of writing, use the Branch Dashboard to utilize reliable deferred deep links cross-departmentally.
Users can SMS themselves Branch deferred deep links from a desktop browser to download the Airbnb mobile app and continue their browsing in-app. This opens up a direct channel for users on desktop to find and install the app on mobile.
Airbnb features an option powered by Branch links to “Download the App” on the mobile website’s navigation bar. Branch links also power Airbnb’s banners and interstitials, so the team can drive users directly from the mobile website to specific content in the mobile app. Because Branch’s banners are easily customizable, Airbnb was able to run hundreds of growth tests over a three-month period to determine the optimal banner and targeting strategy for driving app installs from the mobile web.
Social networks are one of the largest drivers of engagement for Airbnb, and they use Branch links to increase in-app engagement and conversions from social media platforms. With Branch, Airbnb is able to use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to easily and seamlessly promote the mobile app.
All of Airbnb’s digital ads feature Branch links that directly link to content inside the mobile app if the user has previously downloaded the app. If the individual is not an existing app user, the link redirects to the mobile web, where they will see a web banner encouraging them to download the app. In this scenario, the user’s pre-install context would be preserved through the app install process. This offers Airbnb users a seamless transition into the mobile app, while increasing the likelihood of in-app conversions considerably.
Anytime an Airbnb user shares a certain listing, guidebook, city host, or experience, they are sharing it through a Branch link. This link, generated by the Branch app SDK, allows Airbnb app users to be taken directly to that piece of content inside the mobile app, instead of to that content in the mobile web.
Airbnb uses Branch deep links in marketing emails to direct users straight to a certain listing inside of the app, where the user is already logged in and more likely to complete a booking.
Branch plays a crucial role in powering Airbnb’s growth engine. It has even included Branch links in its latest features: guidebooks, places, city hosts, and experiences. By having Branch links everywhere, Airbnb ensures that users are presented with optimal experiences every single time they engage with Airbnb. As one of the most innovative companies in the world, Airbnb understands all of the mobile channels they can optimize by driving new and returning users to the app.