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A Short Tail About The Long Tail

Written by Simon Tolson on

‘The Long Tail’ is a phrase coined by American journalist Chris Anderson in an article later expanded into an influential business book.  Anyone involved in Selling or marketing will have come across the 80/20 rule or Pareto principle which says that 80% of your sales will come from the top 20% of your customers or items that you sell and if you plot this on a graph you end up with a curve falling rapidly and disappearing into the far right- the long tail.

In the past this was used as evidence that you should concentrate all your effort on the top 20% and pretty much forget the rest.  The internet has turned this notion upside down and for everything from books to holidays it’s possible to connect demand and supply for obscure or specific things- so called niche marketing.

For those of us in the self catering holiday market this has had a revolutionary effect, mostly for the better.  In the last year visits to our site were up by about 20% but visits to the home page were down by a similar amount.  This is due to people searching for an ever greater variety of things and so landing on a specific page rather than navigating from the front of the site.  Planning a family get together with sun bathing for the mums & kids and the men love table football?  Search for cottage in Cornwall by a beach with table football and Google will do a pretty good job of serving you a list of exactly that with the links going right to the relevant property, not to the front page of the agent.

The next thing to realise is that although by definition there are very few of each long tail search term, they are far more valuable on an individual basis than a common more general search term- someone searching for ‘cottage in Cornwall’ is nowhere near making a decision, the party that want the table football have decided what they want and are very close to getting out the credit card.

In the last 12 months we have had visits to the site from more than 17,000 search phrases and two thirds of those were used only once.  We can’t possibly create content specifically for most of these but they give us a great insight into what our customers really want and throw up the occasional surprise that would never have ocurred to us.

For owners the great news is that you can consider marketing individual things about your cottage or adding something attractive and unusual.  If you have no parking or sea view, don’t accept dogs and you can’t walk to the beach then you are always going to have fewer bookings but maybe you have something that will appeal to a small niche or you can add something unusual.

Cottage with drum kit anyone?  Accommodation near puffin colony?

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Making great holidays happen in Cornwall