You may not remember your first pair, but we’re guessing you remember your favorites. Right about when the snow begins to melt and those winter jackets become redundant, out come the sunglasses. As much about blocking rays as they are about making a statement or going incognito when it comes to picking out our shades, it’s personal. We put a popular direct-to-consumer brand and an eyewear giant to the test to see if their retention efforts were a marketing vision – or an eyesore.
But first, here’s a quick reminder of what Brand Prix is all about: Check our previous articles in the series.
In this series, PostFunnel will follow two competing brands to assess their customer marketing performance. For each case study, we’ll enact a customer journey with the respective brands, document every customer interaction sent to our testers, and share inputs and insights from our experience with the companies.
If you’ve visited a mall anytime during the 90s-now, chances are you stumbled upon a Sunglass Hut. The world’s largest eyewear company was founded in 1971 and now operates 2,000 stores in 20 countries. It’s owned by Italian eye company Luxottica.
Warby Parker is an online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses. Founded in 2010, the company mainly sells their eyewear online, though they do have stores scattered throughout the US. Unlike its competitors, Warby Parker designs their products in-house and orders their own materials, effectively cutting out those middlemen.
For this round, we gave our tester $300 to shop with each brand. She engaged with both brands for roughly six weeks on a few different platforms. The PF editorial team and marketing experts then graded the performance based on personalization, promotions and offers, user experience, and overall engagement during all life cycle stages. We based our analysis on metrics that speak to the data-driven marketer, moving beyond traditional tactics and instead, approached the shopping experience from the marketer’s POV.
We had high expectations for both brands; both are popular, well-established sunglasses retailers. The reality, however, was far from what we envisioned. Let’s start!
Warby Parker mainly focused on retargeting through LinkedIn and Facebook. At first, the ads showed sunglasses we’d searched for or added to our cart (among other items), but after we purchased the glasses, the items changed.
Although they were consistent with social media retargeting during the first month, this was only via LinkedIn (not FB), which we’ll admit is a strategically odd decision. When selling sunglasses, LinkedIn isn’t traditionally the best platform to focus on. Have you ever bought sunglasses on LinkedIn?!
After we abandoned cart, Warby Parker sent us a useful reminder email with a gentle nudge, highlighting their free shipping and returns policy.
We noticed onsite targeting while browsing an article on a news website. The banner included glasses left in cart. Well played, Parker.
Unfortunately, the transactional emails were not personalized at all. What happened to the effort they put in with the banners?
Sunglass Hut showed no personalization efforts whatsoever. Not in their social, retargeting, or emails. Nothing. We waited and waited, but were ultimately left disappointed.
Warby Parker – Limited personalization, including retargeting on social media, but nothing on the emails front. 5/10. Sunglass Hut – In what has to be a first, there’s nothing to add here. 0/10
Promotions and Offers
Throughout our journey with Warby Parker we weren’t offered any promotions or discounts. We’ve seen many companies embrace this marketing tactic before—discounts and promotions don’t tend to attract the most loyal customers. It’d be interesting to explore whether Warby Parker offers these kinds of perks to their veteran customers.
Our communication with the brand was based mostly on transactional emails: a nicely designed welcome email and two mailers the week after account creation. At no point did this direct-to-consumer brand attempt to upsell or cross-sell after we purchased, which seemed like an oversight.
From our POV, Sunglass Hut demonstrated one of the major faux pas left over from the early-mid 00s—spray and pray. There was zero personalization anywhere, nor were we offered any promotions or discounts. Communication was based mostly on transactional emails, and even the welcome email was too simplistic and bland for our liking. It seemed odd that a major sunglasses retailer with stores all over the world would still neglect to properly pursue its customers.
Sunglass Hut did promote new releases in the sign-up confirmation email they sent us. But as with Warby Parker, they made no attempt to upsell or cross-sell after we’d purchased from them. We received two promotional emails during the testing period, but alas, one of the links inside the email was broken. Overall, a very confusing experience.
Both companies failed miserably here, with very little communication between visits, no special promos or offers, and transactional emails far too simple and impersonal. Joint Score – 2/10
Our relationship with Warby Parker began with a fairly uninspiring account creation experience, with no onsite or promotional encouragement. And this is one of the brands known for disrupting the eCommerce industry?
There were more blunders along the way. After abandoning the cart, for instance, we noticed it was empty when we returned to the site; this could have been an easy win. When we sent back a pair of sunglasses we’d purchased, there was no recognition of the return. They also missed the chance to engage a second purchase, a pivotal opportunity and basic marketing move.
On the bright side, their tone was lovely and welcoming, and they did send an e-card confirmation immediately after we bought a gift card. The on-site creatives were interesting, colorful, and appealing. This is all subjective of course, but such is life.
Sunglass Hut delivered the same tepid onboarding experience. After creating our account, we received no onsite or promotional encouragement.
Here, our items were saved in the cart when we came back to the site after leaving. Nice, but it hardly made up for the various other slipups. When purchasing, for instance, our personal info wasn’t acknowledged and we had to provide our details all over again. The irritation experienced as a result will surely be universally acknowledged. Additionally, after purchasing a pair of sunglasses, we received a promotional email recommending we buy the very pair we just purchased! Not a good moment for SH. As in Warby Parker’s case, we received no recognition after we sent back one of our purchases.
As we consistently used gift cards, it’s also worth mentioning that Sunglass Hut only offers physical cards. This is 2019—how incredibly old fashioned! Another miss for the brand.
When compared to Warby Parker’s customer engagement, Sunglass Hut’s lack of forethought and tone in their UX was clear. Everything from design to language was basic, quite traditional, and overall – pretty boring.
Nothing to take proud of, as both companies so it seems, did the bare minimum here as well. One point extra for Warby Parker for the appearance of effort: Warby Parker – 4/10, Sunglass Hut – 3/10.
This is a section we don’t usually test, as it comprises a broad scope, but it was easy to see the difference between the two companies via their approach to content marketing. Warby Parker put some thought into their storytelling: they feature a blog and offer a nice quiz about sunglass wearing habits on their site, although contrary to our expectations, nothing “happened” after we completed it. Sunglass Hut’s site focused more on sales, with no blog, newsletter, or interesting story to share.
The Final Verdict:
Overall, the CRM efforts of both companies were quite rudimentary, but we still observed a difference between Warby Parker’s efforts to the almost non-existent retention plan Sunglass Hut demonstrated, making it our official winner. Both companies have lots of room to improve when it comes to CRM strategy. Personalization, social media, technology… take your pick. The retention efforts can only go up from here.
Think we got it right? Or should we have picked another winner? Leave your comments below and tell us what you think, or join the discussion on Twitter and Facebook by using the #BrandPrix hashtag.
Contributor: Liz Barenholtz