A look at curves: #1 Long Tail

Most people have had the experience of going to the internet to search for something we doubt will come up with any search results. But somehow, through some form of magic, the hits pile in. You can’t help but wonder why anyone is searching for such a rare item. Who needs this? What is the market for this?

The answer is simple: You, and you as part of a niche market on the long tail curve.

You obviously need it or you wouldn’t have searched for it. You are the market. And there are likely others with the same needs as you. As web marketing evolves, the many niches tend to stretch out, leading to an influx of niches and niches within nitches each with smaller and smaller market share.

Why you need to understand the Long Tail

Nearly every market has seen a Long Tail conversion in some form. When an innovative new product comes out and gains immediate popularity, holding onto that popularity is a capitalist’s nightmare. Not only will others try to replicate that product, but they will also try to improve it to reach additional consumers.

Thanks to the constant advances in eCommerce and digital capabilities, customers can now easily seek out niche products that previously would not have been as readily available. As the market saturates and the cost of selling is reduced, sellers can now connect to those niche buyers and expand their focus to fit buyer needs more precisely.

Marketing to a niche base has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you can market far more directly than you could to a generic customer base. Advertising on Google or Facebook can be pointed directly to your audience without wasting time and money reaching out to people too far outside the niche market. However, this also means your advertising will constantly fluctuate to fit the ever-changing needs of an out-of-the-box audience.

What does this mean

Quite simply, you have to be ready to move, find and to fill your own niche. Massive, generic advertising campaigns may still work for larger, more established companies, but the growing niche markets have little use for them. For example, advertising for a taxi cab company should be fairly simple and very well defined. They will pick you up at point A and drop you off at point B. The entire experience is meant to be forgettable.

But then rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft saturated the market with drivers that could reach just about anywhere, could be summoned by hitting a few buttons on your phone, and payment can be made electronically without even having to communicate with the driver. Plus, drivers are held accountable to users by a rating system that is constantly building trust between drivers and passengers. Over time, rideshare companies have developed better ways to service their customers, which led to the creation of more rideshare companies looking to fill certain niches within the rideshare market. All of this means that you are squeezed out of your traditional market and are left to find your own part in the long tail. Which is why you need to understand and recognise the longtail curve so that you can move to a place where your customers have a need.

Takeaway

Digital advances have us moving in different directions at furious rates, but the key to capitalising on those advances is to recognise them as innovative opportunities. Amazon started by selling books. They now operate B2B, B2C, affiliate programmes, and dropship programmes that put them near the top of nearly any product category. With every innovation, they grabbed a bit more of the long end of the tail until they covered nearly all of it. Having done that, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is now investing heavily in drone delivery programmes, blockchain technology, and quantum computing. The long end of the tail will continue to grow, and the best innovators are already studying how to approach and exploit the ever stretching market.

Image credit: Hay Kranen / PD via Wikipedia

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