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What is the long tail and how can you make it work for you?

From bloggers to content sites, the long-tail is often considered the Holy Grail for fashion advertisers in performance marketing. Rosie Halewood explains how to get them working for you.

When we talk about the long tail we are usually talking about bloggers and content sites. Unlike the shopping directories and voucher sites which are the powerhouses of the affiliate channel, the long tail has much lower traffic volumes and it’s important to bear in mind that realistically, the majority won’t drive a huge number of sales. What they do offer however, is branding. Packed with original content from reviews to opinion, many of these sites have their own small but dedicated following. From a brand’s point of view, they represent exactly the sort of audience you want, and working on the CPA payment model presents a low risk means of engaging with them.

Gaining traction with fashion bloggers can be difficult. The key is to think of these sites as brands in themselves. Their main consideration is not the CPA on offer or even how well your site converts; it is how your brand, your product range and if the look of your site fit with their own image. If at first you fail to gain traction, one option is to use the bigger publishers to build up your brand so that you can then invest in your site design. We often see brands that enjoy far more success with the long tail after they have taken these steps.

Once you’ve got these bloggers on board, the next step is to consider how you can capitalise on that relationship. While most bloggers are unlikely to consider themselves businesses (they write because they and their readers are interested in fashion), that doesn’t mean that commission increases aren’t of value. You may find it of benefit to offer your fashion bloggers a higher commission as default as well as bonuses for hitting targets. When setting targets however, you should take into account the sites’ traffic volumes and ensure you adjust targets accordingly.

Another way of optimising your relationship with long tail bloggers is through gifting; if your margins allow, send over gifts for them to review. You can also engage them by sharing look-books and press releases or anything else which shows off your range and helps them get an idea of what your brand is really about. These blogs’ readers are highly engaged and it’s important to bloggers therefore that the brands and products they feature are relevant to their audience. If you can manage this, you can find these sites are invaluable in contributing to both your brand awareness and its image.

Rosie Halewood | Webgains

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