Warby Parker: Customer Journey Breakdown and Marketing Review


Today, we’re going to examine and study a pivotal piece of Warby Parker’s marketing: How they communicate and build relationships with customers visiting their website.

I’ll take you step-by-step through a timeline of my own customer journey with Warby Parker, and include photos and comments throughout. But first, some background information…

Warby Parker, the disruptive sunglasses brand that has taken the industry by storm, came into the arena in 2010. As a result of their meteoric rise from their direct to consumer model, charitable footprint, and strong customer experience, Warby Parker is now valued at over a billion dollars. Due to their success they’ve left the industry scrambling, but have opened the door for many lookalikes. Inc. estimates their sales to be around $250 million for 2017.

Now let’s dive into my Warby Parker customer journey!


June 12th
3:58pm: Abandoned Cart (Anonymously)


Warby Parker 1


During this visit (and skipping any email sign-up) I went to the home page, selected “Men’s”, then added the “Downing” style to my cart. I then went to my cart, scrolled to the bottom of the page, waited a moment, and then exited the tab.

Remember: I haven’t opted-in to receive any emails. I want to see if Warby is placing a cookie on my browser and will use this data later…. Alternatively, I want to see if they use that cookie in any other way without me having to sign up. I waited a week or two, and then continued on to the next step.


June 28th
10:53am: Signed Up For Newsletter


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I went to the bottom of Warby Parker’s home page where they have an opt-in form for email. I submitted my email and got a thank you message with a ton of personality which sat really well with me. It matched their voice and made the brand feel human.



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10:53am: Received A Welcome Email



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Not long after I received a Welcome email with the subject line saying “Welcome, welcome, welcome”.


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Upon opening, I encountered your standard “Welcome” email. This email focused on introducing me to who Warby Parker is. Best practice would be to add a “top sellers” section or to focus on the categories of the business, perhaps segmented by geography. This dynamic content gives customers a reason to jump back over to your store and begin shopping again. Overall though, this is still a solid email with (again) lots of personality.

From here on out, I’m expecting some signs of personalization in the next email. I’m wondering if Warby will leverage any browsing activity that happened prior to my joining their email list.
It didn’t take long for me to get my answer…


June 29th

10:04am: Cart Abandon Email (Tied To My June 12th Cart Abandon!)


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And there it is! Just like that, we have our first sign of Warby Parker’s personalization!

A few weeks ago, Warby Parker placed a cookie on my browser, prior to me joining their email list. Once I joined their newsletter, they assigned that cookie (with data about my abandon cart action) to my email address. Now I’m looking at an email with an item I care about. This is the first step to personalization. Their copy also tries to casually remove the risk of purchase by reminding you of their free shipping and return policy.

One opportunity for improvement? Adding a row of algorithmically determined similar items that will help increase the probability of  a conversion. With ReSci’s Cortex platform, you can create this template with AI powered similar items in minutes.

But the best part of this email? Notice the upside down triangle, leading your eye to the “have a look” button. Well done, Warby!

I didn’t click through for the sake of this experiment. Let’s see what they send next…

July 1st
8:16am: Second Welcome Email


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This email perplexes me. This second welcome email feels redundant and forced. Instead of using their next email to tell me more about the pair of sunglasses I looked at earlier, or recommending any glasses at all, they sent me another welcome email.

Every email sent to a customer has an opportunity cost, and I think this touch could have been better used. Tell me about new arrivals, or best sellers or something based on my browse activity.

July 5th
11:00am:Second Abandon Cart Email


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Five days later I received a second abandon cart email. It was nearly identical in design to the first. Again, great job here. Warby Parker mixes up things with a different headline which is nice while remaining congruent with previous messaging.

However, at this point I’ve shown that I haven’t clicked through from the prior cart abandon email. As mentioned before, instead of just a single product here, now is a good time to show other recommendations and expose the customer to different choices to see if they will click through on those instead. I didn’t click through again for the sake of the experiment.


July 6th
5:23pm: Retargeting Ad On TechCrunch


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While browsing on TechCrunch, I saw a retargeting ad with my original product as one of the images, with 3 additional pairs of glasses to choose from. This is relevant and personalized. Well done!


July 7th
10:00am: Browse Abandoned Stanton Sunglasses

Now we’re going to mix things up and give Warby some new information. Let’s see how they adapt…


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Arriving on their website, I browse a new pair of Stanton sunglasses, lingering on that product page for a bit before scrolling to the bottom and exiting. Since I didn’t respond or click anything in the welcome series, I didn’t click through the cart abandon emails, and I didn’t click the ad, I would expect my interest in this new product to really shift Warby’s messaging given the new information they have about me.


12:04pm: Newsletter GIF Showing Instagram Influencers Wearing Warby Parker Sunglasses


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I didn’t get an email after my browse abandon action, so it looks like Warby isn’t considering this data. I would have hoped to see them send me an email with updated recommendations based on my most recent activity and on-site behavior.  A Browse Abandon email allows you to reach users with a touch that shows them items they have browsed, along with similar items to the one featured.

These trigger emails can convert many times better than a generic batch-and-blast email. This email also gives an opportunity to feature some algorithmically determined similar items.  On average, browse abandon emails can be responsible for around 15% of email revenue for marketers that leverage them.

I’ve got to hand it to them, however- great newsletter and strong editorial content. Their social presence is broad and well executed and they definitely get points for leveraging influencer marketing.


July 13th
12:17pm: Newsletter


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This is the second newsletter I’ve gotten without any emails based on my activity.

Not noted in the photos above, I also search abandoned the second pair of sunglasses on Warby’s website after I didn’t get an email from my browse abandon. Still no personalized email, on either my search activity or my browse activity. A search tends to be one of the strongest signals for purchase intent across all site activity.


July 28th

10AM: No Personalization for 23 Days

Finally, I wait a few weeks without opening or taking any action. I wanted to see messaging that would take into account my lack of activity. Would Warby Parker reach out and proactively keep me from “churning?”

Unfortunately, no- I didn’t receive any emails of the sort. I think this is another great opportunity for Warby here to gain some incremental lift in their email revenue. With ReSci’s Cortex platform, At Risk and Churn emails are algorithmically triggered and completely automated to the right users at the right time. While these emails have open rates at around 20%, and account for 5% of total email revenue, the cost of retaining a customer is on average 6x cheaper than trying to acquire a new one.



So What Grade Would We Give Warby Parker?



Great Job:

  • Great design chops in their emails, great copywriting
  • Relevant use of newsletter with events and social
  • First Steps To Personalization with Cart Abandon trigger
  • Leveraging retargeting ads personalized to website activity

Opportunity for Improvement:

  • Lack of predictive product recommendations/similar items
  • No predictive trigger emails based on browsing and search behavior
  • Lack of automated Win-back emails
  • (Apparent) lack of item triggers based on advanced recommendation technology
  • Redundant and static Welcome Email series

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