The Entertainer Triples Email Revenue Through Real-Time Personalization

Email is still a critical component for marketing organizations, even though most consumers’ inboxes are filled to overflowing. UK-based toy retailer The Entertainer has been able to stand out with real-time personalization, allowing the company to send smarter emails and communicate with customers in a timely and relevant manner.

The Entertainer partnered with marketing platform provider SmartFocus to help understand customer data from all online channels, know who its customer base is, how they shop, what products they like and their lifetime value. The retailer gained a single customer view to power personalized emails in real time — whether delivered via traditional email, mobile, web or social channels.

By leveraging SmartFocus’ Message Cloud, The Entertainer was able to segment and personalize 90% of its marketing emails within 18 months. The retailer was also able to:


  • Triple email revenue, with a 97% rise in YOY sales to date;
  • Boost new sales 36%;
  • Increase click-through rate (CTR) 80% from behavioral segments used in email personalization;
  • Increase sales from web site product recommendations 29%;
  • Achieve a 60% increase in returning shoppers; and
  • Lift conversions from abandoned cart emails 25%.

“Replicating our in-store experience when each and every one of our customers visits our web site or receives one of our marketing messages is critical to us,” said Rob Wood, Head of Online at The Entertainer in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The work we have done has undoubtedly helped retain customers, but SmartFocus has helped us engage new customers and send them contextually relevant and unique engagements across all our digital channels and web site.”

The Entertainer is the UK’s largest High Street toy retailer, with 138 stores and e-Commerce site. The business has been operating for more than 35 years; the e-Commerce site debuted in 1999.

Building Up Database Of High-Value Customers

The retailer’s first campaign using the SmartFocus Message Cloud revolved around its Birthday Club, which Wood said, “allows grown-ups to tell us the birthdays of the children they’re buying for.” The Entertainer asks customers to reveal the child’s gender and age. “With that information, we can target their parents four weeks before the birthday and send them a list of personalized recommendations,” he added.

These recommendations earn The Entertainer credibility and customer trust — sufficient to gather approximately 80,000 children’s birthdays in its current database. The retailer sought to expand its birthday list even further. “We find that people who are in this database spend twice as much every year as someone who’s not in it,” said Wood.

With help from SmartFocus, The Entertainer was able to migrate all of its transactional and marketing campaign programs to the Message Cloud. This enabled the retailer to send 100% personalized and fully responsive messages to customers, with content driven by their behavior rather than The Entertainer’s best guess.

Once a single-customer-view database was built, The Entertainer integrated a new email service solution to enhance the segmentation of email addresses using attributes from the database. “The recommendations engine now gathers data while the customer browses, interacts and orders from the web site,” said Wood.

The Entertainer’s work with SmartFocus has given the retailer the ability to drill down to individual purchase patterns with more relevance. Wood said the retailer is also looking to organically increase the basket value and frequency of visits — in stores and online — while also increasing the lifetime value of each customer through engagement.

“We tripled our email revenue last year compared to the year before, which is a brilliant result for us and something we are happy with,” said Wood. “We’ve used the same database — it’s not like we have massively grown the database. All we have done is send better messages to the same people and gotten a better result from that.”

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