When Warby Parker first announced it was going direct-to-consumer (D2C), the eyewear startup was laughed at by some in the industry.
But the company had a plan, and it executed flawlessly.
Five years later, Warby Parker is one of the most successful D2C brands in the world.
Here are three things any brand, whether they sell online or not, can learn from Warby Parker's success.
1. Create your own lane.
One of the main reasons that Warby Parker is so successful is because they solved an issue that no one else had solved before. Instead of becoming yet another brand of eyeglasses sold at an in-person retailer, they put themselves in their consumers' shoes to come up with an innovative solution.
By understanding their customer's pains and solving them in a new way, they essentially created a market just for themselves.
They knew that eyeglasses were notoriously overpriced and that consumers were typically shopping alone for them because they had just finished with an eye appointment. This meant that consumers didn't really have a way of getting a second opinion of how the glasses looked on them from a reliable source.
So Warby Parker found a way to draw in their audience: sell reasonably-priced eyewear online and offer virtual try-ons with feedback from a personal stylist.
Now consumers would have an affordable way to purchase their eyeglasses while getting affirmation from a second party about how they look. No one else had done this before so they truly carved out their own lane.
The takeaway: To increase your success and longevity in the your industry, narrow down your audience and put yourself in their shoes.
Then ask yourself. What problems are they having? How can you serve those problems in a new, fresh way?
2. Eliminate skepticism.
While buying eyeglasses online sounds great, there was one major roadblock: How would consumers feel comfortable making a purchase if they didn't how the glasses fit their face?
Warby Parker does a great job of eliminating any skepticism about shopping online by using exceptional virtual try-on technology that shows the consumer how the glasses would look on their face in person.
And if that's not enough to convince them to purchase, they also offer to send up to 5 frames to try on in person for free.
They took on any potential reasons their audience would hesitate to purchase and countered them with solutions. This way their consumers would have a harder time not converting.
The takeaway: Counter your consumer's potential resistance from taking the action that you want them to take with a offer they can't turn down.
Want help strategizing how you can apply these concepts to your services?
While the concept of Warby Parker was brilliant, they still had to find a way to get the word out about it to really make a name for themselves.
Online advertising, email marketing, and other classic forms of marketing are great methods for increasing brand awareness, but nothing truly beats social proof. That's what makes Warby Parker's social media campaign so genius.
Since they send up to 5 frames to their consumer's doorstep, they simply encouraged them to document their try-on experience and share it on their social media with a branded hashtag to get feedback from a personal stylist. It also allowed them to get opinions from their own followers, too.
This simple request really took off. People shared their try-on photos on all of the big platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
These photos killed two birds with one stone: the original poster got feedback to complete their purchase with Warby Parker and they also influenced their followers to use Warby Parker the next time they need eyeglasses.
The takeaway: Find a creative way to share social proof about using your services. Nothing beats the authenticity of user-generated content. You can up participation by offering a small gift card incentive to get your users to post about your product and services.
The Keys to Success
To have significant success in any industry, you have to learn about your buyers and solve their problems in new ways. Then once you gain their business you've got to build brand loyalty, ultimately increasing your customer lifetime value.
The lessons we uncovered today are good foundations to make that happen:
Create your own lane
Eliminate any skepticism
Launch a creative campaign to increase your brand awareness.