How Goodr Sunglasses is Using Data to Adapt to the New Normal

A Q & A with Dan Weinsoft of Goodr Sunglasses. Learn how Dan and his team at Goodr are continuing to drive sales growth, even during times of economic uncertainty.

In the third installment of our “Ask-Me-Anything” webinars, we’re joined by Dan Weinsoft – Head of Digital at Goodr Sunglasses – to discuss the impact that COVID-19 has had on his ecommerce brand.

In the webinar, Jon MacDonald (Founder of The Good) and Dan Weinsoft field ecommerce-related questions and challenges that have arisen as a result of the pandemic, and Dan details his companies strategy for getting through the next several months of economic uncertainty.

In this webinar we explore:

  • Goodr’s business leading up to this year.
  • The lessons Dan has learned navigating COVID-19.
  • How Goodr’s marketing plans have shifted over the last several weeks.
  • Dan’s advice for ecommerce brands right now.

Transcript:

  • Jon: Well, Dan, thanks so much for joining us today. For those who don’t know Dan, he might be a familiar face to several of the attendees today, actually, but Dan went from leading our strategists at The Good for a handful of years, to leading digital and e-commerce at goodr. And so we’ll talk a little bit about what that is here in a second. I think a lot of folks attending will know that brand. So Dan’s also an Ironman finisher and avid cyclist, and when he’s not a constant source of puns, which is a pride of his, I believe, Dan is a professor of marketing, and also an e-commerce, I would say master. So today we’re gonna walk through goodr’s handling of all of the changing climate that’s happening right now, and Dan’s advice for online brands. So welcome, Dan.
  • Dan: Yeah, thank you, thanks for the introduction. I think that’s all pretty true still, still rocking the puns.
  • Jon: Awesome. Well I’m sure that has bled well into goodr’s brand, that’s a pretty fun brand. Why don’t you tell people really quickly what goodr is? For those who may not know.
  • Dan: Yeah, so we are a sunglasses company, and we were founded by runners. We make specifically running sunglasses, and we kinda branched out from there, so we’re in the golf vertical, we’re in obstacle course racing, we’ve got our hands in the bike industry, but we make sunglasses that have a rubberized texture so they stay on your face better, and everything’s polarized, and everything’s super-fun.
  • Jon: Well, that’s awesome. Yeah, the brand, as I mentioned, is super-fun. You guys have definitely put an emphasis on that, even as I give you a little bit of a heads-up on some of the questions that I wanted to answer today, the responses that you gave to those were quite enjoyable. So, why don’t we kick off just talking a little bit about the background of goodr leading up to this year, I know you guys have had a very, it’s been a successful brand, it started from nothing into really growing pretty quickly over a handful of years. And obviously, I’ve known Stephen as well, before I think I even knew you, and you were involved in The Good, and so Stephen is one of the founders, and so it’s been fun to kinda watch that journey, and it’s really just taken off since you’ve gotten involved as well. So can you tell us a little bit about the history, a little bit?
  • Dan: Yeah, absolutely. Because we’re a sunglasses brand, we’re largely very connected to the running community. A lot of our brand is seasonal based on summertime, obviously, people buying more sunglasses when it’s sunny out, but also very much aligned to running events. We have a series of marathon sunglasses tied to all the major marathons, so we’ve been foundationally very much involved in the running community, and we try to do things in the spring and fall that are a little more, we try to pump some energy into the brand by doing some new releases, some fun colorways, some things that are tied more into sport. So, going into this year, most of our campaigns and products are planned out at least a year in advance, and some of them on a shorter timeline, but a lot of them take a lot of planning going into it, and so we kinda went into 2020 expecting that, you know, the Boston Marathon would go on in April as scheduled, there would be basketball, there would be golf, everything just kinda got shut down in a matter of about two weeks. So it was a quick change. Usually we stack our spring and fall with a lot of new product releases, and then we let the summertime breathe with lots of promotions and fun activities to get people buying the sunglasses that we’ve already released. So things kinda changed pretty quickly. Do you want me to kinda dive into what happened?
  • Jon: Yeah, so let’s talk about that roller coaster a little bit. I mean, I know a lot of e-commerce brands that are listening to this have gone through similar roller coasters, and hearing you say just now that spring is really when you do a lot of those releases, I’m interested to hear how that might have been impacted and what the plans might be around that.
  • Dan: Yeah, so we made a couple changes. That first week, when things really got out of hand with events getting canceled, races getting canceled, and a lot of travel getting shut down, sporting events, like everything kinda happened all at once, we had had some plans to, it was humorous at first, because everybody across e-commerce, and every brand was sending out an e-mail that said, “Here’s how our company is adapting to coronavirus,” and we were gonna make…
  • Jon: We’re all working from home.
  • Dan: Yeah, everybody’s working from home, yep. You see the same e-mail over and over again. Okay, I don’t need the local Applebee’s to tell me how they’re handling it, that’s okay, I don’t need an e-mail about that. So we were gonna make kind of a joke about it, but things got real serious, real fast, and we said, “Okay, it’s probably best, “let’s hold off here, things are too serious. “We’re gonna do nothing for now.” So we just kinda let things simmer down just a little bit, and then we wanted to, because our brand is fun and spontaneous, and it brings a lot of joy to people, and it’s a low price point, $25 or $35 sunglass, so it’s an easy way to kinda send some happiness, and kinda connect with people, as, either a friend of yours across the country, or like a family member that you can’t see right now, we encouraged people to do something that was a little more fun-oriented, rather than just going straight for, you know, new product, new product, we went for just a fun thing. We tried a free shipping promotion, which turned out to be great, and it was just an easy way, because normally our free shipping minimum is $50, we reduced it to zero dollars, and said, “Yep, ship them to anyone you want. “Send them to a colleague, “send them to a healthcare worker, whoever you want.” And the response was really, really positive. So we adapted pretty quickly to say, like, “We’re gonna be a fun brand here. “We’re gonna bring people joy, “we’re not gonna talk about “all the scary things in the world, “but we’re gonna try and just instill a little bit of fun, “because we’re selling a $25 box of fun.” That’s our goal.
  • Jon: And you guys have sold in retail quite a bit, and I know that’s been a huge expansion for the brand. Obviously that’s been impacted to some degree? Has that changed your plans? You’ve obviously focused on free shipping, but really trying to draw those retail folks into e-comm as well?
  • Dan: Yeah, yeah, and really, retail really took a sharp dive, because, we do a lot of specialty run stores, we do some big box stores, but all stores have pretty much stopped. They’re not really selling direct-to-consumer. But what we’re starting to see is kind of a, at least for that first week or two, orders kind of, for them, really slowed down, so they’re trying to do some new things, and a lot of them are launching e-commerce experiences for their first time ever. So we’re trying to do our best we can to help support them in any means necessary, so we have kind of the separate campaigns on the back end for retail, that are like, “What can we do to help you out during this time?” Trying to lend some expertise in e-commerce to help them out. I know even my local running store in Bend, they’ve been around for 27 years, I think? And they just launched e-commerce for the first time two weeks ago. This brand new world for a lot of them.
  • Jon: Welcome to our world, right?
  • Dan: Yeah, right? Coming into our world now.
  • Jon: Yeah. I’m interested to hear about some of the high points that you’ve mentioned, like doing a positive message around the free shipping, and kind of maintaining that with the brand. And you guys have this like, immensely positive brand, right? It’s all about having fun in such a time where it’s really difficult to, as you said, you had to cancel a fun e-mail, because it just maybe would be taken the wrong way. What have you been able to do to kinda keep things flowing on that front?
  • Dan: We’ve really kinda put our resources into, kinda half of it’s around customer engagement. So, I think lot of you out there who are watching this are probably thinking we’re gonna come back as a brand from this, but I wanna be able to connect with my customers, so we put a lot of energy just to make sure, the brands that are making the best connections with their consumers during this time are gonna come out of it stronger. Because you have a lot of consumers that are really just connecting with you as a brand at this time. You give them some fun activities, some ways to challenge them, just some ways to make them laugh, even, that’s gonna go a long way in a time when it’s otherwise kinda scary and sad, so we came up with a lot of activities, we created a whole section of our website dedicated to distraction attractions, we made Zoom backgrounds, which I probably should have put up on mine now that I’m saying this. We’ve been doing some custom word searches, and posting them on Instagram. We launched a campaign called Sweat goodr, where we’re getting people to work out in exchange for some sort of discount, so like they run for 16 miles, they send us a screenshot of their watch, and we’ll give them 16% off. Just fun ways to connect, and just really trying to embrace this time, and being that fun beacon of joy.
  • Jon: That’s great. Those are all wonderful ideas. And have you done, I thought I saw a few new product launch e-mails too. So have you been keeping that up as well? I mean, obviously, you mentioned it, it kinda disrupted some of the plans, but this is your season to be launching products, so have you just continued to plow through that a little bit?
  • Dan: Yeah, some of them, for sure. We did a few that were a little more segmented, like we had a line that was inspired by a golf tournament that typically happens in Georgia around this time of year, names shall not be named, but that was gonna be kind of a bigger launch, instead we went with more of a segmented approach, where we just talked to our segment in the database, our e-mail database, that is interested in our golf products, we sent them more of a golf-specific e-mail about this launch, and so, it was not tone deaf to the rest of the audience. We adapted some of the copy on it to say, like, “You’re probably missing golf right now, “so are we.” But it was just, again, like not even really intending to sell a ton of product, but more like, let’s kind of engage our golf audience, and make sure that they’re knowing us as a brand, and understanding the feelings here, of just like, “I miss being able to turn on the T.V. “and watch some golf, or like, “get to to the links right now.” So, we found a few new ways to adapt, and then we went ahead with a new style, we came out with a circular lens style, and that’s really been helping just keep the energy up, and we’ve got a lot of content around it. So we’ve also created a lot of quick campaigns around it. These launches take generally about a year to do, but we’ve reduced that year timeframe to about five days on a lot of these things, and just coming up with stuff on the fly, like, “That would be fun, let’s do that.”
  • Jon: So we’re getting a couple of questions in the Q and A, and forgot to mention, but those who are watching live, feel free to add questions to the Q and A, and then I can make sure that we answer them. But one question that just came through was, “What aspects of your business “do you think will return to normal “after this season, “and what do you think will be more permanent “due to the current situation of the pandemic?”
  • Dan: I know the retailers are gonna come back, that’s not a question. People are gonna be hungry to run, people are gonna be hungry to do lots of activities. What we’re seeing is, and especially travel, so I think everything’s gonna come back really, really strong from this. We’re already seeing some trends overseas of more aggressive online shopping in China, not from our brand, but just in general. So, there’s more like a, “I’ve been cooped up too long, “I need to get out there and do all these things.” So we’re seeing that as a trend, especially with summertime coming up, we’re gonna see lots of engagement sales, retailer’s coming back, and then it’s gonna be wild, especially with our business, because so much of it’s connected to the running industry, all the running races have really pushed out to the fall, so there’s just gonna be a convergence of races, and people trying to train really hard during the summertime. So, it’s gonna be kind of a wild time across the sunglass and athletic industries during the next six months plus, probably.
  • Jon: Yeah, I was gonna ask you as well, from my home office, I can see a street down kinda below a little bit, and there’s been a ton of people running. I can’t imagine you’ve seen a huge drop-off in runners, obviously the big events, right? But it seems to me like that’s the one solo activity that gets you outdoors right now, which is everybody’s dream, right? It’s like, “Let’s go out, let’s do something outdoors.” And it gets you physically active. So I was wondering, like, have you seen a drop-off in just physical activity like that? Or has it been just a drop-off in people who maybe are just sheltering down completely? I kinda was just wondering what you’ve seen around that, because by just looking at the street, it looks like people are running even more now than they ever have.
  • Dan: Same thing, anecdotally, we’re hearing a lot more people running, because that’s the only activity that they can do right now. Or just running for the first time, kinda learning how to run, so we’re getting, and this is just purely anecdotal, I don’t have any data, but, we’re hearing a lot of people saying, “Just getting into running,” or, “I’m glad you’re around “because all I can do right now is run.”
  • Jon: So, what kind of lessons have you taken away from all of this?
  • Dan: I think this is the time to really be creative and fun with marketing, and your conversion. We’re trying lots of different things, we’re testing out tons of different promotions and activities. So you should be experimenting a lot. This is the time. Usually we do that summertime, and I think I see at least another person in the sunglass industry here, who I’m sure are gonna test the same thing. Summertime is nuts for sunglasses, so all the big stuff that we wanted to do in summer, we’re kind of bringing up a little bit now, and starting to push them out, and get people engaged, and then we’ll just change things up in the summertime and do something different. But yeah, start to study your audience too, is the other thing, we learned pretty quickly that shopping behaviors have changed too, so the time of day, in particular, has really shifted. I think it’s mostly because people are working from home and trying to manage a family, and with active kids, and trying to keep them entertained, and trying to keep them on some sort of set schedule, they’re finding that the hours where they can actually shop and have fun are more later part of the day, or super-early in the mornings, or on the weekends. So, assumptions that you may have about your audience before have almost certainly changed over the last couple weeks, so start to adapt those things. And you’re really gonna find better results if you can adapt your promotions to match the time of day that they’re shopping.
  • Jon: Yeah, that’s great. What’s an example of one of those promotions?
  • Dan: We did about a week ago, we did a happy hour, because we’re a fun brand, we wanted to make it better than a regular happy hour, so we made it six hours, the way that it should be. And it was free shipping again, but our audience really responded, because they had kind of a narrow window, but it was designed more between 4:00 to 10:00 in their time zone. So they responded really well to that, because they had the opportunity, means, and the motivation to actually make a conversion.
  • Jon: That definitely makes sense, it’s a lot of fun. We have another question here, from Rudy this time, “How have your business goals and objectives “been impacted by the pandemic? “Are you having to put some of those goals on hold “until things return to normal?
  • Dan: Yeah, a little bit. I think we’ll see a little bit of it. Things have changed a lot, and our CEO is kinda working actively to make sure we’re adjusting goals, and staying on track. We’re studying all the data, we’ve got a team of people just making sure that they’re keeping tabs on the industry, they’re keeping tabs on sales, consumer market, and adjusting the, we’ve got a pretty solid indicator that in a few months, we’re gonna be back on track with just the overall trend that’s gonna hit during the summer, so we feel pretty confident around that. Some of the business goals have changed, but right now it’s all about, let’s focus on the consumer, let’s make a great experience, let’s have fun with it, and the sales will come then.
  • Jon: Great, I think that we’re seeing a lot of brands who, I keep saying that stopping right now is reaction, it’s not a plan.
  • Dan: Yeah. Right? And so brands who are just stopping what they’re doing are really gonna suffer, because a lot of their competition has a wide-open highway to just sprint down right now. Cost-per-click would go way down, you can own branded terms for next-to-nothing, all these brands have just retrenched, and it could leave so much opportunity out there. Which, if you’ve been a well-run brand who has a decent margin on your products, has a little bit of cash built up, now is the time to really invest back into it. So I’m glad to hear that goodr’s handling it in the same way of not really adjusting the outcomes so much, maybe some of the goals, but rightfully so, you don’t wanna pin people into things that aren’t possible right now, but definitely wanna continue to have that plan.
  • Jon: I have several questions for you, but a few keep coming in, so I’m gonna ask these questions so the people who are live get the benefit here. “Goodr seems like a pretty risky brand in general,” maybe because you have more fun, right?
  • Dan: Yeah.
  • Jon: “Do you ever use testing to know “how far to push the envelope “in terms of branding and messaging?” There’s a second part to this, “But do you have any stories “about how your team decides where to land “between what might be funny and what might be offensive?” That’s a great question.
  • Dan: Yeah, a really good one. Yeah, we’ve done a few tests. We try to do our experimentation in a few different places, to get some indications. We test a lot inside of e-mail, and we do a lot of on-site testing as well, just to measure a little bit of impact.
  • Jon: You do on-site testing, no surprise.
  • Dan: Shocking right? Yeah, we’re trying some different things too. We test imagery a lot. We have images that go from kind of high on the absurdity scale to high on sort of a product placement scale, so like product on faces that have kind of a serious look, and they’re kinda pointing up, and having some reflection in the lenses, just to highlight the products, versus like taking some risks and coming up with some names that would probably get flagged by Facebook very quickly. So, we walk a fine line, but yeah, there’s a lot of testing involved, and there’s a lot of research in the background that helps determine what will be successful and what won’t.
  • Jon: I’ve always appreciated that about the brand, though, it does seem like you’re willing to try to tiptoe up to the line, and have fun with it. Which, I’m a big believer that if you’re not upsetting some people, then you’re not gonna have fans on the other side. And the hard-core fans come from the other side. If you’re just playing that mushy middle, then nobody’s gonna be happy, right? You’re not really making fans who are upsetting people, and you need to really ride that line, so that’s always something I’ve admired about the brand. Wendy asks, “Are you taking this time to do projects “you don’t normally have time to do, “and if so, are those bubbling to the top of your list? “Or what are some of those “bubbling to the top of your list?”
  • Dan: That’s a good question. We’re trying a couple new ones. There was one that I had wanted to do for a long time, it’s actually a chat bot with a drift, you remember them. Some people on the team have a little bit of bandwidth, and have a great niche and a big need for it, so we kinda escalated the timeline to really get that moving. That should be coming pretty soon, that’s a fun one.
  • Jon: I can’t wait to see what the branding you guys do in the middle of that. That’s a great opportunity to have some fun, right?
  • Dan: Oh my gosh, right? I’ve always wanted that, I’ve always wanted a sunglass face fitter, and we decided we could make that happen inside of a chat bot that’s just like, give me some ridiculous ideas, and pushing you to try different things, so yeah, I mean, that one’s been big. I think there’s a few other, I just can’t remember off the top of my head. But yeah, I’d say that’s true for us, we’re trying a few different things.
  • Jon: That’s great. There’s more questions coming in, but I have a couple I wanna ask, I know we have a limited time, we have to wrap up in about 10 minutes or so. So, what do you plan on doing moving forward? This is one of the funny answers that you originally gave me when I asked you about it a little bit earlier. But you had some good stuff, you’re saying your basically not focused on conversion as much right now, you’re just trying to keep the entertained, and active, and staying in front of people, is that accurate?
  • Dan: I think we’re trying a mix of 50% engagement and fun, so anything that’s in the realm of doing a word search, or doing a workout, or what are the other things? Oh, man, we created this page that’s just, it’s an endless scroll of these buttons, that in each one, it says, “Click here to win a free pair,” and all but one of them actually will give you a free pair, so, just anything that’s just totally goofy and wild, anything goes right now. So you know, 50% of our effort’s there. 50% is on doing some sort of promotion or activity to keep the sales coming in, but keeping our customers happy and engaged with it. So it’s a little bit of Thunderdome, no rules, kinda, here’s where we’re going with this, all sorts of experimentation across the board. So half that, half that, another 80% is just focused on how do we build up the brand, how do we keep things moving there, and then 10% is like, pure math classes, because, clearly not good at that.
  • Jon: Exactly, yeah. I thought that was funny. It’s like, you know, like you’re focusing on converting some people, because you obviously, still, you’re an e-commerce business, you need to convert, but you also wanna do some things to just have fun and take people’s mind off of things right now, and I think the brand is well-positioned for that, so that’s great. What advice would you give to other e-comm brands right now?
  • Dan: Have to be looking at your data, all the time. Like, we are constantly reviewing things, because it is a shifting dynamic every day. Time of day is a big one, time of week is another big one, what channels are working and which are not. We’re seeing huge growth in channels that aren’t. Look at your paid campaigns, because they are gonna perform completely differently, and try all sorts of different things. So if you’re not studying your data, and looking at the different segments you have set up, and starting to do more experimentation, you’re just gonna be completely lost during this time, and then moving forward, because we’re gonna come out of this in a whole different world. Once people start coming back and being able to communicate socially, and physical interaction, it’s gonna be a different game altogether. It’s not gonna be the same way it was. You’ve gotta be looking at this stuff, and if you’re not, then you’re gonna be completely in trouble.
  • Jon: That’s great. I’m really interested to see how, knowing your background and everything you were doing with our team at The Good, and all the data science and everything, what types of data are you paying attention to the most right now? You mentioned a couple of analytic-type data, but are there different resources or tools you’d recommend right now, in terms of what data people should be using to adapt to this new normal?
  • Dan: Absolutely. Definitely your standard ones, you gotta have Google Analytics and Hotjar, constantly looking at your site and seeing what’s going on. Another big one we found is Glew, it’s a really powerful tool to kinda aggregate all your different channels, and it’s a great one to look at time of day, and time of week. So, Glew is a super-great resource for that. We look at product trends within Glew as well. Another big one is Nosto. Nosto is really cool to build out segments, and get a good understanding of your on-site analytics based on segments. It’s pretty cool because you can set up, if you have a vertical around, like we do around bike, I can set up a segment in Nosto to track anyone who’s interested in cycling-related content, that’s come to our site, cycling-related products, and then just puts it together and says, “Okay, they’ve been bouncing at an increased level, “but they’ve been buying more, “what does that mean?” I’d say those tool sets, if you have the ability to get like a Nosto or a Monetate, or a Dynamic Yield, like something in the segmentation and data personalization, those are great tools to look at.
  • Jon: That’s great. Well, I know that we need to sign off here in about two minutes or so. Any final thoughts that you might have at this point?
  • Dan: Whoa, man. I don’t know, it’s a wild time. If you’re comfortable trying different things, and lots of new fun strategies, it’s a really fun time to be a marketer. It’s probably a little bit scary if you’re a business owner, but thankfully I’m not, so it’s a fun time just to try different things, and really just build up some engagement. If you have the brand and the ability to do so, it’s wild, and I love looking at the data right now, it’s fascinating to see what’s going on with it from a pure scientific standpoint.
  • Jon: That’s great.
  • Dan: Keep having fun.
  • Jon: Well thank you so much, Dan, I really do appreciate your time today. This has been great, and it’s always great to reconnect with you.

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