Referrals at Airbnb: Notes and Takeaways on Customer Acquisition and Referral Marketing

I [Visakan Veerasamy for Referral Candy] found a 50-minute video from Airbnb’s growth team, talking about how they built and designed Referrals at Airbnb to scale their customer acquisition efforts. I was surprised that there wasn’t a transcript anywhere, so I decided to take notes.

Referrals are more effective than you might realize.

Before working on Referrals 2.0, the general consensus was that Referrals didn’t really matter and didn’t have much utility. But when they looked at the data, they realized that it accounted for millions of dollars of sales.

Growth = Awareness + Conversions.

Growth for a team like Airbnb is about accelerating awareness and improving conversions. Most people in the world haven’t heard about your product, and most of the people who’ve heard about it aren’t using it.

Measure success by using a framework that models your customer’s journey.

For Airbnb, this is Potential, Acquire, Onboard, Book, Return & Share. (Metrics in the video.) This is roughly akin to Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics. It will likely be different for your business.

Referred users perform better than regularly-acquired users. 

This compounds- the friends they refer are likelier to stick to the product, too.

Building a referral system is very hard work. 

It took a 5 person team (with lots of borrowed help!) 3 full months and 30,000 lines of code to do Airbnb’s Referrals 2.0 system.

Via Referral Candy