Monthly Archives: November 2015

Does VMware’s Quest for the Cloud Jeopardize the EMC, Dell Deal?

Does VMware's Quest for the Cloud Jeopardize the EMC, Dell Deal?

Michael Dell and Joe Tucci were probably expecting to have celebratory Thanksgiving dinners. Having orchestrated what some are calling the largest (and probably most complicated) tech deal in history, a gratitude-filled, bountiful feast would seem in order.

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Want Profits? Start with Purpose

If someone asked you to define the purpose of your company — other than to make money — would you be able to give an answer? Without a clear sense of purpose, not only do you risk losing out on growth, wallet share and profits, but you could also miss

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Brace Yourself: Generation Customer is Already Here

Brace Yourself: Generation Customer is Already Here

Humans have an innate need to classify things — including ourselves. We’ve devised shorthand phrases for grouping people chronologically stretching back nearly a century: the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, the Millennials. The thinking goes that each generation has its own set of behaviors.

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3 Customer Metrics That Will Improve Your Email Marketing

As an online retailer you may know a customer’s name and address, but what do you really know about them? According to an Oracle poll from earlier this year, 86% of respondents currently have access to foundational data, or basic information with simple segmentation and personalization.

This is a good starting point, but there are many other types of data that will give you a greater insight into your customers, which will help you market to them more efficiently and effectively. This post will take a look at the top three characteristics that will give you a well-rounded view of who your customers really are, and offer some tips for how to use this data in your email marketing.

1. Customer Lifetime Value

One of the biggest predictors of retail success is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which is defined as the total dollars flowing from a customer over their entire relationship with a business. Many retailers know their average CLV, but to truly create personalized marketing campaigns, you need to know much more than this.

For example, you can determine CLV for various segments and personas based on purchase history, which will provide you with a wealth of information for creating targeted email messages. There will likely be an overlap between your customers with a high CLV and your best customers who are the small group that are most valuable to you over time based on frequent purchases with a high order values. Since these are your most loyal customers, you should not treat them the same as your one-time buyers or churning customers.

To calculate CLV, multiply the number of purchases a customer has made per year by their Average Order Value, and then add together that number for each year that they have been a customer. For instance, if a customer makes two purchases a year averaging $50 each for a period of three years, then their CLV would be $300.

Email Tip: You can set up email campaigns with exclusive rewards just for customers with a high CLV. There are many ways to reward these customers, such as special discounts, VIP experiences, and exclusive events. You should also be strategic in offering discounts to save higher markdowns and related promotions for only your high value customers, which can yield great results.

2. Average Order Value

Average Order Value (AOV) describes the typical dollar amounts spent per order by each customer. For many retailers, AOV goes up on each customer’s subsequent purchase. This may be because repeat customers trust your brand more, spend more as they get comfortable with you, and discover more of your inventory that they are interested in. To calculate AOV, divide the total amount the customer has spent by the number of orders they’ve made.

Through this metric you can segment customers by high, medium, and low spenders, and then create optimized email marketing campaigns that deliver different content and promotions to each group.

Email Tip: If you see a specific day or time when AOV is significantly higher, you should act on it immediately. If it is a specific segment of your customers spending more during this period, you can craft targeted, exclusive messaging to this group. If it's something else, like a type of product that sells better at that time, you can segment everyone who has bought the product in the past, and test an email to them with cross/upsell messaging. Hopefully, you can replicate the trend.

3. Customer Latency

Latency is the average number of days between each purchase a customer makes. Once you figure out the phases of a customer's lifecycle, then you can determine what types of messaging to offer at various points in their relationship with your brand, in order to reach customers when they are most likely to buy again.

For example, if you have a post-purchase email series, you can match the cadence to different points in the customer’s lifecycle, with corresponding messaging that will appeal to customers at 30, 60, 90, or 120 days post purchase.

Email Tip: If the average customer takes 120 days to make a second purchase, then hitting them with sales messaging immediately after their purchase probably doesn't make sense. What makes more sense is to use the "honeymoon" period immediately following the purchase to reinforce your brand, and then as customers enter a point where statistically they are more likely to make a purchase, start stepping up direct offers.

These are just a few of the data points you can use to gain insights about your customers. By knowing what, when, why and how often they’re buying, you not only get to know who your customers are, but can also predict their future purchase behavior. This information allows you create personalized, data-driven email campaigns that will be able to drive customer engagement, revenue and retention.

As you get to know your customers, you can create consistent experiences both online and off-line by downloading the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross Channel Marketing.

Author's Bio: Andrew Pearson is Vice-President of Marketing at Windsor Circle, a predictive lifecycle and retention marketing platform that helps retailers grow customer lifetime value and increase customer retention. Andrew is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years experience in technology start-ups, management and digital and email marketing.  

How to Build a Lucrative Business with Premium WordPress Themes

How to Build a Lucrative Business with Premium WordPress Themes

Sometimes content marketers forget that content isn’t only a game for wordsmiths.

In fact, there’s a thriving community of visual content creators who have built robust businesses around what they do. And one of the most scaleable ways to do that is to craft high-quality premium WordPress themes.

But there’s a lot more to it than “build something beautiful and the customers will show up.”

In this post, I want to talk about what it takes to succeed as a WordPress theme designer in today’s environment.

Once upon a time, all WordPress themes were free. The robust open-source CMS (content management system) attracted enthusiasts of all kinds, who made themes that looked good and suited different tastes.

Today, WordPress has grown to power a quarter of the world’s websites — and premium (paid) themes are the norm for professionals, businesses, serious bloggers, and even passionate hobbyists.

That wealth of premium themes poses a new challenge for designers: the sheer number of great-looking themes out there. There’s more competition than ever, and a lot of them are gorgeous

But : there’s still room for someone with solid design skills to make a name (and a great business) as a theme designer. And it starts by thinking as a business owner first.

Here are five points of focus on your path to building your premium theme empire …

#1: Business know-how

No matter what kind of digital business you might want to build — and WordPress themes fall squarely into this category — you can’t ignore the business part.

You may think of yourself as a design professional who “isn’t into the whole business thing.” But business is just a set of skills that can be learned — and upgrading those skills can open the door to making a great living doing what you love.

Sites like Digital Commerce Institute and podcasts like Unemployable and Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer can help you pick up the core business skills you need — without compromising your integrity or making you feel like a creep.

In my experience, 90% of business ability is mindset. Once you get your head in the right space, you’ll be able to readily pick up the skills you need to make your business a success. You might also choose to partner with smart people who will complement your strengths.

#2: A targeted audience

Because it’s beautiful is no longer enough to find an audience for your WordPress theme.

Themes today need to solve specific problems for well-defined groups of people.

In other words, it’s not only about design — it’s about design thinking.

Virtually any type of business you can think of needs beautiful, thoughtfully designed themes.


  • Real estate professionals
  • Law offices
  • Restaurants
  • Medical offices
  • Schools
  • Artisans and “small batch” producers
  • Coffee shops
  • Online publishers
  • Coaches
  • … you name it!

Successful theme designers today know precisely who will be using their themes. And they use smart design thinking to solve real-world problems with those themes.

If you build themes for a particular group, decide how you’ll uncover that group’s needs and desires. If you’re not a member of that community yourself, work closely with the types of folks who will be using your theme, so you can come up with innovative and elegant solutions to their needs.

“Niching” down your offer this way might seem like it would narrow your audience of buyers — but in fact, it opens all kinds of doors to reach the right buyers.

#3: A way to reach that audience

It’s not enough to build a gorgeous solution to the needs of a well-defined audience — you have to be able to get the word out!

The web today provides incredibly focused tools for targeted advertising to precisely the kinds of buyers you’re looking for.

You can also partner with well-known experts in that space. For example, you might work with a popular blogger who has the audience you’re trying to reach.

And if you build your frame within an established “ecosystem” (like Genesis, which we’ll talk a bit more about in the next point), you get the benefit of a community looking for the solutions you have to offer.

#4: A commitment to security and clean code

WordPress sites are astonishingly common. MarketingLand reports that WordPress powers about 25% of all of the sites published on the web around the globe.

In fact, its next two closest competitors (Drupal and Joomla) power fewer than 5% of the planet’s websites — combined.

WordPress is robust, it’s amazingly flexible, and it’s everywhere.

And because it’s so popular, a WordPress theme that ignores security best practices can find itself vulnerable to hackers. Which is no fun at all for your buyers, or your reputation.

Fortunately, there are excellent tools available to manage security and protect the themes you create.

If you don’t want to become a full-time security expert, one simple way to address the problem is to design themes on a framework that’s doing the performance and security heavy lifting for you.

Our company builds one of the best-regarded frameworks in the WordPress community (if we do say so ourselves …), Genesis.

The “back end” (that means all of those behind-the-scenes technical elements) of the Genesis framework is reviewed thoroughly and frequently by security and performance experts. We make sure that all of the code is keeping up with best practices … and with updates in WordPress itself.

Security is just one benefit of building your theme on a reliable framework — but that’s a topic for another article.

#5: An eye for trends and beautiful design

You might have thought this one would come first! And of course, no one wants a premium theme that doesn’t look great and feel fresh and current.

Great designers know that beauty matters — but it’s only one element of great design.

In addition to your great eye for gorgeous site design, make sure you’re incorporating:

  • A solid business mindset
  • Theme design that solves meaningful problems for a well-defined market
  • Effective communication with the audience you’re serving
  • Serious security to keep your customers’ sites safe from the bad guys

Pull these elements together, and you might find that designing WordPress themes becomes the foundation of an amazing business.

Want to know more about the life of a premium theme designer?

The founder of StudioPress and creator of Genesis, Brian Gardner, will be the subject of a webinar inside of Digital Commerce Academy on December 2 where he will share his insights on how he built his WordPress-based business.

Brian wasn’t a technical guy — he has no formal education in programming or computers. In fact, when he started playing with WordPress themes, he was a project manager for an architectural firm.

He calls himself an “accidental entrepreneur,” following his interests where they led. And where they led was a genuinely disruptive innovation — the creation of the premium WordPress theme market. That’s because Brian was the first person to actually offer a WordPress theme and take money for it.

Join us for this live conversation with Brian (he will take questions at the end). We’ll be talking about:

  • How the premium WordPress theme market has changed over the last half decade
  • Expert tips for anyone who wants to create a theme
  • How to know what will sell (without guessing)
  • The biggest mistakes Brian made, and how he overcame them
  • The invaluable lesson about relationship building that Brian learned by working at a convenience store

Plus, much more.

To attend this webinar live (or to view the replay), all you have to do is activate your membership to Digital Commerce Academy.

Join Digital Commerce Academy Today
And attend Wednesday’s case study webinar with Brian Gardner

We offer a 30-day money-back guarantee with all Digital Commerce Academy memberships, so we invite you to check out this event and peruse the other content inside before you make any long-term commitments.

We’ll see you there!

About the author

Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Rainmaker Digital. Get lots more from Sonia on her podcast, Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, or come hang out with her on Twitter.

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