Have you heard about the long tail by Chris Anderson? Briefly his book is the ‘discovery’ that there is more ‘action’ in the rest of a market (in terms of total dollars or total number sold or total people involved or…) then the ‘top 10′ best sellers. He spends a lot of time doing lots of analysis that proves that there is more ‘area’ under the curve in the long tail or the ‘rest of the market’ or the top 1,000,000 less the top 10, then there is in the top 10 of most categories. Of course, top 40 radio stations do not want you to know this. Nor do Budweiser, Miller, Coke and Pepsi – they only feel the top 5 is all that counts.
What does this have to do with your website? Mostly that you do not have to be ‘the top 10′ of a ‘short tail term’ to be someone. You can be very successful by focusing on your niche. The key for success is to define multiple niches and excel at a niche rather then trying to be everything to everyone. You still have to rank high for your term, but it does not have to be a short tail term, it can be a long tail term (shoes vs. New Balance 531 AA Blue shoes).
This is born out by reviewing how searches are done on the Internet. The trend continues to be more and longer keyword phrases month after month as people continue to not find what they are looking for on short tail searches. Every go into a car dealer with the answer of ‘A Car’ to the ‘how can I help you?’. You frustrate most salespeople, they don’t want short tail answers, they want long tail answers – ‘I want a blue 2009 H2 with all the accessories’. Search engines are not (usually) smarter then even a car salesperson. They want you to identify what your interests are, what your desires are and how you will use the car – your
Look at your psychographic in smaller chunks of the long tail and put the ‘chunks’ together. Look at the casual buyer, the passionate collector, the person who only uses it once, the family that only buys from a recommendation.
The point is concentrate on behavioral targeting. Of course, this can get creepy if you go too far, but being perceptive is a benefit. So understanding that collectors what good shipping and wrappers is good. Knowing your customer’s bra size (especially if they have never ordered from you) is usually creepy. The key is to look at it through the eyes of your potential customer.
Just like you should not prejudge all blue people as cold and distant, you should not prejudge all your visitors as meeting just one standard way of behaving.
- Define different groups of visitors
- look at how they would prefer to interact with your business
- what should you do to most accommodate their preferences
- how will they be looking to find you
- what terms do each group use (surfboard vs. board vs. ) – need 4 examples of different terms that could be culturally or generationally different …Rad idea dude! Cool man! (when did cool get to mean hot?)
- create extra pages that are focused on each psychograpic to cater to the needs of each group
- look at what the overlaps are of the different groups this is what you should consider emphasizing in your main pages.
- look at and map (MS VISIO is good for this or mind map software) your potential target group. Look at where they overlap and where they don’t.
When you start designing your marketing campaigns, it is important to look at the long tail of your market. What do the different niches want? What are the solutions they are looking for? The different answers to these questions will help you identify the correct strategies for marketing effectively to the long tail. That will allow you to create effective keyword lists that are far easier to rank well in then the ‘short tail’ terms that ‘everyone else’ is battling for.
Rather then fighting for top 10 place for the term ‘Beer’ on Google, go after ‘Western Wisconsin’s best wheat ale’, your audience will be more dedicated, less price sensitive and easier to reach. In other words more profitable.
Here are some thoughts from Kevin Lee’s Poll on Linkedin,
Do you think your PPC (Pay Per Click) search spending will grow this year compared to last?
I believe SEM (search engine marketing) will increase, but the real question is will more dollars go to SEO (search engine optimization) or to SEM?
SEM will increase, because it is measurable and you can plan on it a lot more the SEO. More importantly, the results are often quicker with SEM than SEO. These days management wants quick results – harvest the sales this month, not planting for when we might be in business next quarter. SEM has fewer variables as far as knowing at least how many ‘clicks’ you are going to get. Certainly you still have a lot of back end ratios that can be ‘tweaked’ to get your true CPA (Cost Per Action) including copy, call to action and creativity. But at least you can report a ‘we had a million people come to the site’ that matches up well with the retail side of ‘Orbit’ people counters or what ever the ‘bricks’ side is using to count bodies. ‘Orbit’ people counters are devices that counts number of people entering a store each hour-most stores are counting how many are entering the store, as well as how many are buying and average spent per visit.
I think the answer is - it will be a draw – more dollars will go into SEO as SEM gets saturated. But SEM will get the easy money as response from traditional marketing continues to drop in response to TiVo, DVR, Hulu, YouTube, programming fragmentation (what time was that show on? – now its what day, time and station is that show on?), programming standardization (how many ‘dancing shows’ are there?) and simplification (reality TV), diluting brand equity and a host of other core mistakes on the traditional marketing side as it tries to adapt to the changing world of ‘500 channels of TV and nothing’s on’.
It will be interesting to see if the additional money in SEM produces good results or will too many hacks waste too much money and destroy the reputation of the industry for years to come, pushing marketing dollars back into traditional marketing as soon as the economy recovers, and traditional marketing can get their own act together for measurable results (especially with live viewings vs. 24 hour viewings vs. 7 day viewings).
So what do you think? Are you investing more in PPC in 2009 than in 2008?