The Long Tail

February 25, 2009
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I attended a workshop at a tradeshow earlier this year… unfortunately, the session itself was less than memorable, but there was a point referenced that made me start thinking about segmentation strategy.

The term was The Long Tail, I read a great deal about it in 2004 when Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine) coined the term. It’s essentially related to retail, think of how a line graph trails off the chart, the portion of where your quantities are small but added together make up a significant portion of your population/ inventory. The Long Tail centers on an era without the constraints of physical shelf space. Consider the chart and traditional retail economics, in this example you’ll only stock the most popular products in your store (the red portion/ head of the graph.) But the volume/ interest associated with The Long Tail is collectively equal in volume and represents lost sales in the traditional model. Now consider a virtual store, all items can be stocked allowing you to serve the niche market often neglected.

Apply this thinking to your email list – are you using a traditional retail strategy for the bulk of your campaigns? Regularly engaging the smaller niche characteristics


I attended a workshop at a tradeshow earlier this year… unfortunately, the session itself was less than memorable, but there was a point referenced that made me start thinking about segmentation strategy.

The term was The Long Tail, I read a great deal about it in 2004 when Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine) coined the term. It’s essentially related to retail, think of how a line graph trails off the chart, the portion of where your quantities are small but added together make up a significant portion of your population/ inventory. The Long Tail centers on an era without the constraints of physical shelf space. Consider the chart and traditional retail economics, in this example you’ll only stock the most popular products in your store (the red portion/ head of the graph.) But the volume/ interest associated with The Long Tail is collectively equal in volume and represents lost sales in the traditional model. Now consider a virtual store, all items can be stocked allowing you to serve the niche market often neglected.

Apply this thinking to your email list – are you using a traditional retail strategy for the bulk of your campaigns? Regularly engaging the smaller niche characteristics will help you reach beyond general awareness and marketing. These niches represent the recipient’s demographics, their purchase history, browsing and interactions with you. Your email program is a virtual store; you can easily serve the niche markets to offer a more personalized experience for your recipients… shoot for one campaign this quarter to help move you toward more Engagement in 2009.
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