The Vision Council’s VisionWatch market research reported that the total vision care industry generated $40.36 billion in revenue over the last year (2017). The amount included 22 million pairs of frames sold during the first quarter of 2017. The same report found that the independent side of the optical industry is the largest component of the U.S. vision care industry, with $18.43 billion in revenue during the same period. Of the glasses sold in 2017, eight million were online. Here is a clear vision for online marketing.
Purchasing glasses online is a significant shift in how consumers are looking at buying glasses and contact lenses. The trend is driven by emerging companies who understand how to use online marketing to change consumer shopping habits.
Creating an Online Model for Eyeglasses
GlassesUSA.com is of these leading online eyeglass marketers who offer a model for online marketing, lead generation, and branding leadership. Arie Tom, Senior VP Marketing at GlassesUSA.com, has gained extensive experience in online marketing over the course of the last eleven years that he is now applying to help the eyeglass retailer grow its online model.
Arie Tom explains, “My experience with online marketing began while I was working at McCann, which was, at the time, a traditional advertising firm. That’s when I first started to notice the shift of customers and budgets towards new emerging online channels, and my interest also shifted in that direction.”
It’s hard to even imagine what it was like back then in terms of technology. It was 2008 and the iPhone was only one year old, and Facebook was just three years old. Tom adds, “I watched the marketing landscape evolved, seeing the new and exciting opportunities.”
Soon after his experiences at McCann, Tom joined Google and managed large-scale advertisers in the eComm, health and gaming industries. “My years at Google really boosted my expertise in the online industry. It taught me how to leverage analytical, data-driven insights with creatives to scale up sales and lead gen campaigns.”
It’s those experiences that prepared him to lead the marketing team at GlassesUSA.com, considered to be the largest online eyewear department store in the United States. The company offers a variety of eyewear options for every style and price – from $19 for a complete pair of glasses to top brands that include Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Gucci.
Online Lead Gen Advice
It’s Tom’s own experience in growing the online eyeglass industry that provides the basis for his best tip for online lead generation in 2019. “Expand beyond just email lead capture. Users have shifted in the way they consume media. Their preferred channels to communicate with brands have changed as well. This creates an opportunity to grow user registration rates by offering additional, and more personalized, ways to connect.”
He recommended focusing on channels like Web push notifications, FB messenger bots, and SMS to leverage the best opportunities for more lead generation results this year.
Becoming a Stand-Alone Brand
Tom sees the potential for more businesses to establish themselves as stand-alone brands over the next five years by focusing on the online environment. His firm belief in leveraging the user experience, not just from the design POV, but also as a general business value, is how he sees companies achieving this goal.
He notes, “Companies need to ‘delight’ customers with a great product, service, and relevant information. Be unique and authentic in how you serve your customers. Only businesses that offer a unique experience to their customers will survive the competition against Amazon and other more direct competitors.”
He cites tactics like creating a personalized experience or product as well as building a community or establishing a business as an expert in a particular field. While he acknowledges these types of tactics take time to build and create, he has experienced how they will guarantee businesses more stability in the ever-changing ecosystem.
A Unique Prescription for Eyeglass Industry Lead Gen
Despite sharing some online marketing tactics and approaches with other types of retail businesses, Tom believes that the eyeglass industry differs in some respects when it comes to lead generation. “I would say that the eyewear industry, with an emphasis on prescription eyewear, is different from other industries in lead generation.
The Lead Gen difference comes from the fact that buying prescription eyewear online requires higher engagement from the customer. They must choose the right size, fit, color, and shape while also filling a personal eye prescription.”
Since purchasing eyeglasses is not a spontaneous purchase, Tom adds that the key to success is to keep in close contact with prospects and nurture them until they are ready to complete a purchase.
However, there have also been significant developments in lead generation over the past five years that have impacted their online marketing approach. “The biggest advances in lead generation relate to personalization and automation.
While email open rates are dropping steadily, it is now more important than ever to segment customers and delivers a more personalized, relevant experience. Personalization starts from the first stages of the lead capture — to the last of email workflows. It’s also important to secure a healthy account and reputation.”
Then, automation is the second most significant development. Tom notes, “Automation enables businesses to make the most of their customer databases. They can effectively manage lists that have millions of subscribers with real-time responses and consistent workflows.” For GlassesUSA.com, automation made email marketing ten times more effective and scalable to manage.
Advice to Follow
Although some of Tom’s insights relate specifically to the emerging online growth area of eyeglasses and eyewear, many of the online marketing, lead gen, and branding tactics can serve as best practices for all types of online businesses intent on bringing their products and services to a new audience.
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.