As a marketer, I’m always fascinated with the conversion marketing funnels of other companies. Where do users get stuck in the process? How do companies try to get them over the hump? What tools do they employ to make the process pleasant, friction-free, brand-positive and most importantly, how do they close the deal?
I wondered this for quite some time about Warby Parker when they first launched. You get the frames at home, try them on, decide what you want, mail them back, wait for your glasses to arrive. It felt like a lot of steps. A lot of steps both online and off. A true challenge for any company. But I didn’t need new glasses.
Until I did.
While many things stood out to me about the absolutely kick-ass purchase process that Warby Parker has finely honed, what impressed me most were how they tackled the parts of the conversion process that would likely provide the most friction or where a customer would be most in danger of falling off the radar.
It started out simply – go online, take the quiz, pick some recommended frames (maybe pick some others that weren’t recommended for your face shape) and get 5 of them sent to your house. Easy. Anyone can order free things to be sent. First step, accomplished.
This is where my marketer mind was waiting for it to get interesting. I had all the usual questions (would my frames arrive on time? would I like them?) but my main focus was on how Warby Parker would try to guide me through the process. I wanted to experience their conversion marketing approach to see how it felt being “in the funnel.”
The package arrived on time. I was texted and emailed about it. The box arrived while I was out of town so I didn’t get to them for a few days (and you are technically supposed to only keep them for 5 days before mailing back.) I was not yet back in Los Angeles, when I received one of the most effective emails I’ve ever received from a company:
Funny. A little irreverent. Totally on brand. Reinforces for me why I chose Warby Parker in the first place, because they totally get me. And I recognize the nudge. As in: “Hey, it’s been awhile and you’ve not ordered yet. Just checking in – you’re gonna look great!”
Not only does the email remind me of what I ordered, it makes it ever so easy to simply just say “YES! I’ll take it!” right from the email. So many conversion marketing approaches get it wrong in this exact regard – they make it tough to go back and figure out what you ordered and they are pushy when they do it. A hundred other companies would have sent a slightly nagging email that reminded me I only had a few days to order. I love that Warby Parker stayed away from that completely. This email is the perfect combination of brand voice and storytelling (reminding me of the value at only $95 with prescription, reflecting back to me the unspoken “cool” that reinforces for me why I chose the brand in the first place) but also purely transactional excellence. BUY THE GLASSES, LADY. But in the most chill, beach vibes kind of way.
I get my glasses, I try them on, I know what I’m going to order. Now to actually do it. This was also part of the funnel that I wondered about. Would this be easy to do? How simple is it to give them my prescription, order my glasses, etc. A lifelong marketer is ever-curious about these things.
The Potential Funnel Friction
Everything about ordering the glasses was simple and mostly friction-free. Mostly. I took a photo of my prescription and uploaded it, I used that magical email to order my frames and I was almost in business. The one thing that remained was taking a “PD” test. They needed me to take an online Pupillary Distance test so they could place my prescription correctly within each lens based on how far apart my pupils are from one another and the specific frames I chose. This is where I thought the wheels might come off. But Warby Parker had a finely-tuned way of handling even this.
Using your computer’s web cam, you can follow their simple online instructions to take a photo and upload it to your account. Easy peasy, right? Except mine didn’t work. It could not access my web cam. Over and over, I tried. I had visions of so many Warby Parker customer stuck in this particular part of the sales funnel. I did everything and now I have to do this funky test and it’s not working? Boo! But before I lost my cool, I noticed they had online customer chat. An absolute must to bridge the gap between online/offline experience and any ordering process that might have a few snags.
I started a chat session with “Caitlyn” and within moments, my issue was resolved, my PD test was complete and my order was placed! What could have been a deal-breaker was resolved within a few quick minutes. I did a silent high-five to the Warby Parker team for having tools available at every stage of the funnel. They also texted me during this time (though I didn’t see the texts until later) that they needed me to complete the PD test.
Immediately following my chat with Caitlyn, I got an email asking me to rate my experience:
And of course, they sent me an email confirming they had everything they needed:
Well done, Warby Parker. Well done.
Conversion Marketing Done Right
I’ve spent my career thinking about these exact moments of customer experience – from the Lexus Your Customer As Your Guest program all those years ago to managing online purchasing of ASICS to converting someone from a free trial of YogaGlo. I’m always trying to engineer conversion marketing approaches that take into account all the places it might go awry. It makes me so happy when I’m on the receiving end of truly excellent marketing.
I also love that they mixed it up — some emails throughout this process were fully designed out, some were text-based and simple like the one above. I recommend both. Not every email needs to be a gorgeous work of art. Especially if you are testing out different messaging or are taking too long to design out your communication plan for closing the deal. Sometimes a simple message is better than one that never gets sent because your entire marketing team is debating email design.
I’d love to know what they A/B tested, which messaging they tried that didn’t perform was well as what they sent me, what tests they are running now even as I type this.
It’s been over a week since I got the try-on frames and they finally sent that “Hey, please send your at-home try-on frames back!” email. But it was nudge-y in a lovely way and revisits the key brand elements while also being transactional (please send back our frames!): getting me excited for my recent purchase (they are on the way!), reminding me of the value I get when I choose Warby Parker (100% UV protection, anti-reflective, etc) AND stoking my inner do-gooder vibe by reminding me that for every pair sold another pair goes to someone in need. This email accomplishes a ton with such brevity.
My experience might be typical or atypical. I’d guess most people come away pretty impressed with the whole shebang. I’m sure the Warby Parker team has had to troubleshoot all sorts of funnel scenarios: what if the customer doesn’t like any of the 5 try-ons and wants to try again and again and again? what if the customer never sends the frames back (I’d LOVE to see that email communication path, what if i put glasses in my shopping cart over and over and never make a purchase (would LOVE to see that communication path – email + retargeting + you name it, too!), what if, what if, what if. This is the stuff of great product marketing. Thinking about all the ways your process can close the deal in a way that makes your customer want to write a post about how truly kick-ass the whole process was.
They also make the entire process personal – human beings are featured in their emails trying on the glasses, I chatted with Caitlyn, I got a text from Sam. This is such an important piece of the messaging puzzle when trying to bridge the online/offline purchase loop. Real people (or AI bots?), helping me with my order feels good.
I await the arrival of my new glasses, warm from the glow of a great customer experience. This is what we all strive for in the work we do. Now get out there and close the deal by making your customers feel excellent!