How One Retailer Has Tripled Email Revenue Through Targeted Segments And eReceipts

An email list with 800,000 names is a nice thing to have, but rather like a medieval battle axe, it's pretty unwieldy for anything other than an occasional bash at trying to drum up sales. I've been speaking to a brand that was in exactly that position a year ago and realised it had to change. Now, a year on, open rates have doubled, click-through rates are up more than 40%, email revenue has tripled and mobile sales have more than doubled. The secret? Segmentation that not only comes from online sales but is now starting to be informed by eReceipts. 

The brand in question is The Entertainer, which runs 130 toy stores in Britain as well as its Web site. Its Head of Online, Rob Wood, points out that its greatest success is coming from working with tech vendor, SmartFocus, to segment people in to fans of particular lines of toys, as well as gathering birthday information.

"For a lot of retailers the fact that a new Star Wars figure out might not matter but for the collectors we have in our Star Wars collectables segment, it's huge news," he says. "We're building segments around many different types of toys, we've also got lists for Frozen and, more recently, Paw Patrol, for example. it means we can let people know when new merchandise is out. We're also using lists for follow up purchase suggestions, such as an email seeing if you want knee pads to go with the skateboard you bought last week."

Another big success is coming from knowing children's birthdays and ages so the 80,000 parents who have currently signed up can be sent relevant suggestions. For Wood it moves the store a little closer to evening out demand throughout the year beyond Christmas. He is the first to concede that the early results were always going to be impressive because when you take a huge list with just a little structure and hone it down in to targeted user groups, the results are always going to be great. To ensure that the figures go on improving, the store has recently rolled out a trial of eReceipts to a dozen of its 130 stores.

"They're looking like a really great way of combining in-store and online data so we can improve our knowledge of customers," he says. "The main thing we're working on is the sign-up process and particularly the wording our staff use to ask if someone wants to sign up. It's not like Apple for us. People haven't spent hundreds of pounds, and so they're not looking for a receipt to be stored for them to use later if there's an issue. For us, it's more a case of them joining our club to get the best offers and news of launches before anyone else."

The Entertainer isn't entering the world of one-on-one marketing here, although it gets close with birthday messages. A typical segment will be well in excess of a thousand customers, but still, the better-targeted messaging is paying off. Although the huge leaps of the first year are unlikely to be seen again in the second, the success of better-targeted messaging means that while search remains the brand's premiere channel, email is currently catching up fast with affiliates, the brand's second-biggest digital route to market. 

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