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How Warby Parker is getting mobile email right

Warby Parker sees mobile email as an engagement tool, which through the brand's witty comments and silly video links helps drive opens, click-throughs and social sharing.

The vision wear online and bricks-and-mortar retailer intuitively understands that busy consumers want to be assisted and entertained simultaneously and quickly. So Warby Parker devised an email response that takes capitalizes on how mobile users are increasingly consuming video from their devices and sharing funny content with friends.

?If somebody comes to them with a customer service problem, whether over the phone or a message or an email or a call in their off hours, Warby Parker has a team - they didn?t say how big it is, it could be one person - who will build video content to resolve that [problem] and email it to the person,? said Steve Rowen, Boston-based managing partner at RSR Research. ?What they found is that email is going so viral that on average, if you have a problem with your glasses or prescription or you didn?t like them and you have to return them, and they send you back this sort of social media video that [the video] is going to be circulated an average of 80 times.

?How clever is that? You?re taking what was a problem, you made the customer [pleased] and they?ve gone out and on average shared it with 80 people," he said. ?So now the word spreads very quickly that you?re really good with customer service.?

Mr. Rowen is not affiliated with Warby Parker. He commented based on his expertise.

Warby Parker did not respond before press deadline.

Warby Parker is an online retailer that sells eyeglasses, most which retail for $95. The company is known for its quirky advertisements and unusual antics, such as publishing its 2013 annual report in the form of a 365-day calendar that includes thoughts of the day, images, doodles and historical facts.

The eye glasses retailer also is becoming known for its emails.

For example, Warby Parker responded to a recent customer request with an email that said, ?Hey Kari, What do you call a fish without an eye? A FSHhh! Get it? : )?

The message went on the say that the consumer?s name had  been added to Warby Parker?s email list and she would be receiving regular updates.

When the consumer wrote back and requested to receive a video, Warby Parker responded within 17 minutes and wrote: ?Hey Kari, Do you know what a pirate?s favorite restaurant is??

The email included a link to a Warby Parker video on YouTube, called ?Where Pirates Eat,? which featured the retailer's eye glasses.

The Warby Parker staffer signed the email: ?Ahoy, Kimberly.?

That is an interesting way of dealing with a problem, according to Mr. Rowen.

Eyeing consumer behavior
?The only way you?re going to come to a conclusion whether something like that could be right for your brand is if you have somebody to talk to, if you have a chief customer experience officer that knows what it?s like to engage with you that knows the brand, what are the pros, what are the cons, what are the pitfalls?? Mr. Rowen said.

Warby Parker has a mobile Web site and has its sales staff use tablets in stores to record consumers? glasses orders.

The eye wear retailer has three stores in New York, one in Boston and another in Los Angeles. It also has showrooms in six cities in the United States.

Warby Parker mainly interacts with consumers online because it has so few stores. One of the ways it does so is via email.

Effective mobile emails are short, information heavy up front, require consumers to take very few actions, yet at the same time connect consumers to a marketer and give them a reason to share the marketer's content with others.

That works because busy consumers will not take the time to page through long emails. They want to tap on a link and be immediately redirected to a content page.

In these scenarios, it is very important that the Web site is optimized for mobile, according to Mr. Rowen.

"The one thing that we found is consumers will say, 'You can email me. You can text message me. You can call me. You can do all these things, as long as you're providing something that's valuable. It better be a coupon. It better be a discount. You can even use my past purchase behavior,'" Mr. Rowen said.

Final Take
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York