Issue #68

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This is issue no. 68 of 180. Last letter saw a 42.47% open rate with 6.99% going to this essay: Build an Army, Not an Audience.

Today's Top Intelligence (12 Reads)

Last Word: Not all eCommerce launches are equal


There was a great link from yesterday that inadvertently explained why some eCommerce operations perform poorly. It was the most clicked of the 12 featured links and it was written by Gina Bianchini. The difference between an army and an audience is a careful distinction that many may not understand. Even some eCommerce companies (where this matters most) fail to discern the difference. And when it comes to building community, it's the one distinction that matters.

I once read that TheWireCutter.com generated over $150M in eCommerce in 2015 with no investors. Given that this was affiliate revenue, they likely saw a net of $11-20M. They accomplished this on what seems to be very little purchased traffic (social accounts for <2.5% of their traffic and it's most Reddit). Frankly, their readership is an army.  It's a readership that is built on quality and consistency and usefulness - the three basic tenets of net promoter behavior.

This is the type of audience that you build an eCommerce operation atop of, if you're a media company. If you're an eCommerce brand, this is what you want to build to sustain you and your sales through the many shifts in ad tech and consumer cycles. Take for example: Chubbies and Mizzen+Main, neither of whom rely upon sales gimmicks. Both brands launch products and when they do, those products sell out. What you want to avoid is building eCommerce on top of an audience. Audiences are fickle and they're often purchased. An army chooses to stick with you through it all. 

Listen to Recode's interview with Wirecutter's CEO - Brian Lam