long_tail_marketing_definitionOver the last few years there has been a lot of talk about how online businesses provide access to ‘the long tail’ for consumers, made popular by Chris Andersen’s book: The Long Tail, Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.

In this post, I’ll talk about a common long tail marketing definition, and help outline how the ‘long-tail’ structure of the internet can help you as an internet marketer.

Long Tail Background

I’d like to start by clarifying the terms used in this post. Widely used, the ‘long tail’ refers to a business or marketer’s ability to provide for consumer needs regardless of how specific those needs are, and thereby out-compete any brick&mortar business, which couldn’t possibly account for the same number of variations in consumer interest.

For example, imagine you, as a consumer, are searching for a product very few people are interested in. Maybe you live in Los Angeles but are secretly a Yankees fan, and have been searching for a Yankee 1999 World Series jersey. It’s unreasonable to expect a small sports store in LA to have a shirt in your size. From the business’ perspective, there are few people looking for that shirt, and the cost of holding it in stock is not worth the possibility of selling it.

An online retailer, however, would be more likely to stock the shirt. In addition to your interest in LA, there are likely a few individuals in Chicago or Dallas interested in the shirt, not to mention the far more likely New York audience, so the ratio of the overhead cost to the likelihood of a sale changes drastically.

Thus, the long-tail makes it easier for online businesses to provide services the consumer values.

Long Tail Marketing Definition

So what does this mean as an internet marketer?

Simply put: it affects how you cater your blog posts to various reader groups.

Think about the investment it takes to create a targeted blog post for a niche. Usually, this investment is less than an hour’s time. That means that even if a keyword (a ‘long tail’) only gets 100-200 searches a month, it can very much be worth your time to target that keyword, since 100 searches a month could result in 20 monthly hits to your site.

By itself, this one keyword does not seem that interesting, but when you factor in the thousands of long-tail keywords related to your niche, the number of potential monthly visits quickly adds up.

Furthermore, the market dynamics at play mean that it is highly unlikely that all of the keywords in a given niche are already well-covered. This means that there’s almost always an opportunity to break into a niche, no matter how competitive that niche seems.

I cover How to Find Keywords in a separate post, but I hope this helps provide an overview as to why affiliates can be so successful within any niche.