Positively Good Marketing is Campaign Monitor’s series at the intersection of marketing and social responsibility. Showcasing socially conscious companies whose missions center around bettering the world, PGM specifically studies how these companies’ digital marketing strategies—from email newsletters to Instagram posts—reflect and further their core values and initiatives.
Introducing Warby Parker
Warby Parker sells prescription eyeglasses with what they refer to as a “rebellious spirit and a lofty objective.” The company was founded after one of the founders lost his glasses whilst backpacking and then ended up going without for an entire semester of grad school because replacing them was so expensive. The company sells affordable prescription glasses and sunglasses, offering at home try-on for up to five pairs of glasses for free.
Who they are
When a poor grad student didn’t have enough money to pay for new glasses, the founders realized they couldn’t find good-looking frames for an affordable price. They did some digging and realized the “eyewear industry is dominated by a single company that has been able to keep prices artificially high while reaping huge profits from consumers who have no other options.”
Thus began Warby Parker, a company dedicated to keeping their costs low so their customers don’t have to squint their way through grad school.
What they do
But they don’t just provide good-looking, affordable prescription glasses—including a monocle—and sunglasses. They even do more than just offer affordable in-store exams where available.
By far Warby Parker’s greatest impact is through their buy a pair, give a pair model that addresses impaired vision around the world. Partnering with groups worldwide, Warby Parker distributes a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair they sell. So far, they’ve given away over 4 million pairs of glasses to people and communities in need.
Their giving has two main components: They directly give vision care and glasses to school-age children in their classrooms, and they train adult men and women to administer basic eye exams and sell glasses at affordable rates which counts for the majority of their distribution.
Through these efforts, Warby Parker aims to help the 624 million people worldwide who can’t effectively learn or work due to the severity of their visual impairment.
Positively good marketing:
Keep reading to see how Warby Parker uses their marketing to be a leader not just in providing affordable vision care, but also to other socially conscious companies:
1. Positively good branding
Warby Parker knows that keeping their mission front and center is a great way to keep their target demographic engaged and dedicated to the company. And dedicated fans mean more recurring customers and more impact for their charity partnerships.
Throughout their digital marketing strategy, Warby Parker stays focused on setting themselves apart from other, less-human companies. They create a community that attracts fans, converts them into customers, and keeps them engaged even when their followers aren’t in the market for new specs.
One of the ways that Warby Parker uses their marketing to fulfill their mission of providing affordable eye care is through their focus on education. In fact, they have an entire chunk of their website dedicated solely to educating their customers and keeping them in the loop.
This section includes a glossary of terms related to eye care or the construction of glasses, a section explaining how their glasses are made, even how to get a prescription and information on insurance and how to use FSA (Flexible Spending Account) dollars for a new pair.
By providing information that can be intimidating and confusing even for the most experienced glasses wearer—especially the part about insurance and FSA purchases—Warby Parker anticipates their customers’ frustration and lends a helping hand long before their customers begin to feel disheartened.
Source: Warby Parker
Providing this information positions the company as a leader and reiterates the fact that the company cares for their customers not just as potential dollars but as humans.
Another way that Warby Parker keeps their mission and their brand identity front and center is by featuring prominent people who love their glasses. Instead of focusing on celebrities or people with name recognition who wear their glasses, Warby Parker chooses to highlight customers who have accomplished some pretty interesting things or who have unique and unusual careers.
For instance, their Wearing Warby page features Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, one of Warby Parker’s partners.
Source: Warby Parker
There’s nothing new or necessarily noteworthy about featuring customers wearing your products, but the people Warby Parker chooses to feature—activists, bakers, dancers, photographers, to name a few—confirm the company’s branding as a unique and socially conscious group, further differentiating the company from its competitors.
Featuring celebrities wouldn’t have the same appeal as the lesser-known movers and shakers, and wouldn’t establish the brand as being on the cutting edge of style and humanitarian efforts, both important aspects of their branding and identity.
2. Positively good content
Companies with strong branding like Warby Parker understand their brand is more than just their products; it’s also the kind of content you produce and reproduce for your customers’ benefit. Providing curated content allows Warby Parker to be more than just a store people go to when they need new glasses. Instead, Warby Parker’s fans connect emotionally with the company and become avid followers, checking back often to see the newest editions of both sunglasses and glasses.
If you check out Warby Parker’s Instagram page, you’ll see they spend a lot of time keeping their followers informed about what goes on in the office and what the company is up to.
Whether they’re announcing the big news of another store opening—by reposting a tweet from a fan—sharing a collage of four Warby Parker employees in their frames, or showing off a new mural and the local artist who created it, Warby Parker is constantly keeping their fans up to date and in the know, creating a community for their fans and customers.
Source: Warby Parker’s Instagram
These days, consumers are seeking greater authenticity from the brands they follow and they want to connect emotionally. By allowing their customers into the brand’s day to day, Warby Parker makes it fun for people to be a part of their community. It’s this sense of community that makes Warby Parker successful as a leader in their field, in their charitable efforts, and it’s what keeps customers keep coming back for more, even after they already own a pair of Warby Parker glasses.
Updates on their giving
Warby Parker’s humanitarian efforts are an integral part of the company and who they are. Thus it’s no surprise that the company keeps their giving and charitable work above the fold.
The Warby Parker blog, their email marketing, and their social profiles all prominently feature their giving and their most recent accomplishments. For instance, on their blog, you can get the latest on the impact of their venture Pupils Project.
Source: Warby Parker’s Blog
By sharing that their charity has teamed up with the City of New York and Baltimore to ensure all students have the tools they need to learn, Warby Parker keeps their socially conscious mission—and their commitment to actually backing up their promises with actions—central to their marketing efforts.
This post, shared on Warby Parker’s Instagram, is visually stunning as well as a compelling reminder of what their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair (BAPGAP) efforts have accomplished.
Source: Warby Parker’s Instagram Story
Likewise, Warby Parker’s series of welcome emails introduces their newest subscribers to what makes the company unique. In their initial welcome email, they share their origin story and their process.
In the next email in the series, they link to the pages on their website that give a more in-depth look at the company’s ethos. For instance, they share how they make their glasses (and can thus afford to sell them at lower rates without sacrificing quality) as well as their buy a pair, give a pair model for making a difference.
The second email even includes a link to a Spotify playlist created by Warby Parker, further reiterating that the company isn’t a regular company: It’s a quirky and cool company. Providing curated content like a playlist makes their company feel personable, friendly, and approachable.
Through their welcome emails, Warby Parker comes across like a friend sharing music as opposed to a company trying to sell something.
3. Positively good philanthropy
Warby Parker began when the founders noticed how unattainable glasses could be because of their high price tag and how that adversely affected their ability to learn. Today, Warby Parker wants to combat how a lack of vision care—due to its price as well as its availability—can prohibit people and therefore their communities from reaching their full potential, in the US and around the world.
In fact, the World Health Organization claims that just one pair of glasses in the developing world can increase productivity by 35% and increase monthly income by 20%. Through their buy a pair, give a pair program since opening, they’ve distributed glasses in more than 50 countries, including the US.
Partnering with cities and schools
In addition to partnering with existing charities and non-profits in developing countries, Warby Parker began their own venture, the Pupils Project. For this endeavor, 10 famous creatives from New York City designed their own pair of glasses to be sold at Warby Parker.
Source: Warby Parker
And 100% of the proceeds from sales will go toward the company’s partnerships with schools in New York City and Baltimore, providing vision screenings in classrooms where teachers are often the first to notice vision impairments: of the 1.1 million students enrolled in New York City schools, approximately more than 200,000 of them lack the glasses they need to learn.
So far, Warby Parker has provided more than 54,000 pairs of glasses to help students learn and achieve their very best.
Not only does their work with Pupils Project further their socially conscious mission to bring affordable vision care to everyone, everywhere, it also shows their customers—and likewise other socially conscious companies—that a company can be successful and continue to expand the scope of their outreach.
Finding new ways to give and improve vision care, Warby Parker positions itself as a leader in their field and as a socially conscious company.
4. Positively good revenue
But of course, a business has to be sustainable and make money, even the socially conscious ones. Marketing has to drive in revenue or the company falls apart and all those good intentions fall by the wayside.
Remind customers about important dates
Warby Parker uses important dates in their marketing efforts, like many brands. But while many companies and stores send birthday or anniversary messages, Warby Parker uses their email marketing to send reminders around industry-specific dates.
For instance, they remind their subscribers when it’s that time of year again: insurance benefits and FSA funds are about to expire. If subscribers don’t use the money, they lose it, so sending a reminder can drive in end of year revenue when otherwise customers might have forgotten.
Instead of settling for the typical date-specific automated email marketing campaigns, Warby Parker found a way to anticipate their customers’ needs—using up their benefits and FSA dollars—specific to their industry and products. Additionally, Warby Parker offers a little something special during the holiday season—a mini pack of holiday party supplies—to further encourage their prospects to make an end of year purchase.
Introduce new products
Many people don’t regularly buy new glasses the way they might buy new shoes or new sweaters. But by introducing new seasonal products, Warby Parker tempts their subscribers to check out the newest collection of frames when their customers might not have done so otherwise.
Meeting their customers where they already are allows Warby Parker to increase their customers’ curiosity about their products and bring in more traffic to their website and ultimately more conversions as well.
By studying what this socially conscious company gets right, Campaign Monitor wants to empower you with tools you can use to take control and improve your marketing game and make your goals a reality. After all, when socially responsible companies succeed, so do the rest of us.
You don’t have to sacrifice creativity or authentic connection to make your calling a reality, just look at Warby Parker. Incorporate these practices into your marketing and you’ll see some big results to grow your impact.
- Educate your audience about your company as well as about your industry, especially regarding the areas that people find frustrating and confusing. Your customers will thank you and trust your brand more for your efforts.
- Keep your fans in the loop with your humanitarian efforts by updating them regularly and across multiple channels. Getting your followers excited about what you’re accomplishing will inspire them to buy more and contribute to the mission.
- Offer a look inside the company by posting and sharing stories to introduce your employees, new locations, etc.
- Go beyond the expected birthday message and remind your customers and subscribers about important dates that will impact their wallets.
These days, no company can be successful without digital marketing. The great news is, people are more inspired than ever to get involved with companies and brands that share their values and beliefs, so focus your marketing on your mission to see improved engagement and even more passion from your customers and prospects.
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