POP QUIZ: What do you do if you know you have a super fantastic online product/service, but people are reluctant to try it out? Answer: Give away tons for free!

Maybe this seems strange, but bear with me here. Do you wear glasses? Have you ever thought about buying them online? Chances are it seems like a good idea in theory, but what about trying them on? What about the expert opinion of the optical store sales person? What about fitting and prescriptions and measurements? That’s exactly how I felt too. Until I received a wonderful email from the PR rep at ClearlyContacts.ca offering me a free pair of glasses.

From the email, I learned that ClearlyContacts.ca was targeting bloggers who appeared on a list of influential bloggers in social media. I don’t know who else or how many others were targeted or even how he knew I wore/needed glasses (until this blog post you’d never find a photo of me with them!). As it turns out, eye care is not covered under my benefits and I desperately needed new glasses. Fate!

Now before you get in a huff about whether my blogging habits merit free glasses, or that I’m simply writing about them because I got free glasses, let me point out a few interesting tidbits about this campaign:

  • Yes, I got a free pair of glasses.. but if you search ClearlyContacts.ca you’ll see they’ve been handing out free glasses like crazy! In fact, two Fridays ago the ClearlyContacts team gave out 3,000 pairs to Montreal residents, a week before I had seen friends from Ottawa posting they had received free glasses. They’re not just for bloggers, but while they’re giving them away left, right and centre, it’s not a bad strategy to seek out potentially influential people.
  • I was never asked to write about my experience, the pitch was more targeted as a reward for my hard work as a blogger. Obviously, they wanted me to write about them, but it was never requested, pushed or really implied even. I also would not write a positive review if my experience wasn’t positive. However, my suspicion is they know they have a good thing going and they’re trying to get the word out. Success!

It’s definitely too soon to tell if the ROI on giving out thousands of pairs of free glasses will pay off. However from my experience I can tell you that already I’ve told at least a dozen people about the site who are now enthusiastic about buying a pair (because they are *SO* much cheaper than any alternative anyway), and I’m definitely a customer for life. I plan on purchasing my contact lenses through the site, and will most definitely purchase my next pair of glasses. Fortunately with the very reasonable prices, I will hopefully not wait another six years for new glasses!

Why it works

If you’re not a glasses-wearer, let me enlighten you for a minute. Glasses are EXPENSIVE. You buy frames which typically can range from $50-$500. Next you need to purchase lenses, lenses can typically run from free (included with the frames) to maybe $200. Optical stores also upsell you on all sorts of extra coatings and features (UV coating, scratch resistant, non-glare coating)… Now if you’re especially blind like me and have radically different prescriptions in each eye, you also need something called high-index lenses so you don’t look like a weirdo (may sound vain, but trust me on this one. Not too mention off-balance glasses). Bottom line: in my experience I’m usually dropping at least $500-800 on a pair of glasses. Even if your benefits cover eye care, it’s usually only about $200 every two years. The rest comes out of pocket.

IMG_0996Now the pair I got (a lovely pair by Valentino) are actually on the more expensive scale on the site ($198) but super reasonable as far as frames go. Lenses are included in the price along with all those fancy up-sell features optical stores will nail you on (all of them! Free!) Even the high index upgrade was only $99. Had I paid the full price, even with taxes they would have come to $327–less than half what I paid for my last pair.

ClearlyContacts.ca has a great product at an amazing price. However, it also has a significant barrier-people want to try on glasses before they buy. Because of this I hadn’t considered buying glasses online, however it turns out it is actually really easy and they have a very generous satisfaction guarantee. In this case, blogger (or influencer) outreach is a great strategy to boost awareness. And like I said, I’m a customer for life now.

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