How Travel Site Hipmunk Uses Lean Content To Drive Revenue

Hipmunk tags CC natbat

There’s an adage in business, “Half my marketing budget is wasted. I just don’t know which half.” Today the old saw attributed to John Wanamaker is a rarity.

Marketing dollars and public relations campaigns can now be tracked with scientific precision that would make NASA blush. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

A few days ago a fantastic example of revenue-driving lean content arrived in my inbox. Travel site Hipmunk created a nifty infographic with the irresistible tagline, “How to Save $300 on Your Next Vacation.”

Hidden travel costs!?! Oh, noz!!!! I better see what I’m missing.

The infographic itself wasn’t anything earth-shattering. (It’s embedded below) Don’t park your car with the hotel valet, was one piece of advice. Another tip was the not to tip the maid who cleans your room.  You could save $20.

Hipmunk Flight Search Button

But for all it’s frugality, the graphic was actually a well-executed Trojan Horse. The point was to grab your attention long enough so that you would scroll to the bottom of the email where a revenue generating search button was placed. If you search for and book a flight after reading the infographic you just made Hipmunk some money. So is this sneaky, or the new normal?

“Our thinking as marketers needs to shift from “Mad Men” to “math men,” says Mitch Joel of Twist Image in a recent Harvard Business Review post. ”This doesn’t mean that creativity, insight, and storytelling die. It does mean that we can use technology to make us better at how that our human-crafted messages convert to sales,” Joel says.

The infographic is part of a much longer conversation between me and Hipmunk. I’ve used their travel search to book flights in the past, and

We live in a quantified world. Whether I buy a flight through Hipmunk today, or in six months, their team knows I read their emails and a little nudge can get me to visit their site.

Hipmunk Referral Link

When The link I clicked in the email took me to a custom landing page for newsletter readers. You can see evidence of this from the tracking code in the URL. More sophisticated tracking code could have taken me to a custom offer valid only for people who read the newsletter with the infographic. If I had come to the site from Twitter, or another social platform tools like Optimizely would allow Hipmunk to show me entirely different versions of their site. Such is the power of lean content in action.

How much does all this cost? Not much. To create two versions of an infographic could range from $500-700 for an external designer. Much less if the creative was produced in-house.

We’re entering into an era where it’s easier than ever to track the ROI for content production and public relations down to the cent. With greater cost accountability for content and marketing, startups and small businesses will be able to take more calculated risks, conduct experiments and do more cool stuff.  I’m all for lean content marketing, where ROI can be proven, revenue can instantly be generated and greater customer insight gained.


What examples of revenue-driving marketing content have you found lately? Sound off in the comments section below.

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