A 90/10 Rule for Web Marketing?

We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule, applied to myriad business outlooks. Interesting thing is, I continually encounter even more extreme percentage break-downs in studies and articles on Web marketing. Specifically for now I reference two research briefs presented on www.MediaPost.com: “Twittering to Keep Current,” and “8% of Internet Users Account for 85% of all Clicks” (both by Jack Loechner). For this last brief, the title says it all. Meanwhile the former reveals that “the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets.” Its a continual reminder that in the land of the internet, innovators and statistical outliers rule. The few, highly opinionated are amplified with unprescedented volume and reach.

A great case for this was the original Apple/AT&T iPhone launch. The amount of individual passion and consumer noise pervaded across the blogosphere for this product release was absolutely unpresedented – and it was the few, the loud, who ruled. Only 2% of customers actually had activation problems. This was certainly an expected ratio for any mobile service provider, yet it generated an immense amount of negative publicity for the iPhone. For example, one of the early days of product release showed a blog site’s online poll results, where 38.4% of iPhone customers claimed they were “still inactivated and very upset” (http://beta.zooomr.com/photos/thomashawk/2606447/). 

But there might be a twisted logic to this accelerated negativity and response. We could apply early stages of Gartner’s Hype Cycle (a more volitile version of the marketing, product innovation adoption curve) to rationalize and project extremist, early-adopter consumer behavior for innovator products. These more extreme bell curves may anticipate the surprising response. And as long as the Web keeps morphing, growing and gaining new faces – who knows – we might just make a 95/5 rule for Web marketing. Do I hear shades of Wired’s Chris Anderson’s Long Tail Theory? – jake aull