Direct mail: Targeting the “long tail”

Earlier this week we wrote about Web 2.0 and promised to follow up with posts about some of the specific implications it has for direct mail. The first of these follow-ups deals with a growing audience of consumers Wired magazine has dubbed “the Long Tail.”

The idea of the “Long Tail” challenges the traditional view that the consumer audience for a particular product or service is a bell-shaped curve. In this traditional scenario, marketing efforts target the consumers in the large middle of the curve. Consumers out at the tail ends of the curve are considered to be niche markets, and not worth the cost to reach.

However, as online commerce evolves, the tail ends of the curve are seen in a new light. The cost of marketing to consumers at the tail ends has dropped (thanks to email) and the cost of serving them has dropped even more dramatically as searchable online catalogs replace valuable “shelf space” in stores. “The Long Tail dictates that products low in demand, when aggregated, make up a market share that exceeds the relatively small number of current best sellers,” this article on the Long Tail in Direct magazine observes.

Easy access to the Long Tail, created by Web 2.0, is a business opportunity for those who move quickly. Fortunately, the same changing Web environment that’s creating the Long Tail is also producing tools for marketing to it, including blogs, surveys, downloads, and consumer data, including rich opt-in data.

Niche businesses are springing up online specifically to target the Long Tail, and local businesses have begun using national direct mail campaigns to drive Long Tail traffic to e-commerce sites. Large businesses with robust online catalogs are turning their sights to niche consumers.

It’s not too early for direct mail marketers of all sizes to decide if they want to go after a piece of the Long Tail market. Those who are interested should start exploring new lists, taking advantage of selects to target these small but desirable audiences.

Marigold’s reputation is built on knowing about the latest and most valuable sources of consumer data. We help our customers tailor this data to create lists that reach the audiences they’re targeting. We’re gearing up to meet the challenges of Web 2.0, and want to hear from you about your needs and questions. Let’s talk.

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