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Making marketing relevant and personal

Watch Howard Scott talk about how the National Trust take a ‘mobile first’ approach & focus on producing relevant & personal stories for their users.
LISA HARRIS: Hi. I’m here with Howard Scott, who’s the head of digital for the National Trust. And Howard’s going to be telling us about some of the exciting digital marketing developments that the Trust are involved in. So, Howard, perhaps you could start off by telling us what the National Trust is and what some of these projects are all about.
HOWARD SCOTT: Yeah, sure. So, the National Trust is an organisation that was set up over 125 years ago. It’s an Act of Parliament. So its responsibility is to look after special places forever, for everyone. They could be large buildings– and we own a lot of large buildings. They could be the coast. They could be pieces of land itself or whatever. We are the largest landowner in the United Kingdom. We have over 650,000 acres. We own one in every eight miles of UK coastline. And I’d say we own properties from extremely large mansion houses all the way down to smaller properties, like Winchester City Mill or little one-room places.
We have over 4 and a half million members and, obviously, a lot more supporters who are the people who enjoy our properties and our days out and that kind of thing. So it’s a very large task. We have 72,000 employees and volunteers across the UK, as well.
LISA HARRIS: OK. So can you just have a little bit about the project you’re involved in at the moment.
HOWARD SCOTT: We’re undergoing a very large digital marketing programme at the moment, which covers a lot of different areas. And the reason for that is to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach, in a kind of old-fashioned mass communication way, to as much personalised communication as we can. And it’s much more about conversations and dialogue than it was before. So we’re looking at building our new website from a responsive design point of view, which means a website that adapts its shape, depending on the device that you view it on. And we’re doing that from a mobile-first approach up to desktop computers. We have, at the moment, on average, around 45% of our traffic coming from mobile devices.
And we expect that to go up and up in the future. And roughly, that’s split two-thirds tablet and one-third mobile. We’re completely rebuilding our mobile app from the ground up. And we’ll be building the website and the mobile app from a common content repository. That means, very much, we can get that content to a person in the way that they prefer. And we’re not dictating which channel they need to come to us through, in order to receive that content.
We’re looking at moving away from a campaign mentality towards an approach of almost triggered and very personal relationship with regards to our direct communications, be that across email or print or whatever it might be because, whilst this is a digital marketing programme, it also covers some offline channels, as well. We’re also creating a single supporter view, which is an extremely large database– big data, if you like. And what that will allow us to do is to understand our supporters and what they want to hear from us in a much clearer and concise way.
LISA HARRIS: So how can very small, ordinary businesses make use of this approach?
HOWARD SCOTT: So the principles are the same for good digital marketing, regardless of the size of the organisation. The way you execute them may well be different. And the tools that you use to do so may well be different, as well. But the principles remain intact. And that comes down to basic marketing rigour. As long as you understand, first of all, the objectives that you’re trying to meet, the people that you’re trying to influence, then the strategy, and then the channels that you’re going to execute through, you’ll be OK. All too often, people go straight to the technology and the execution before understanding what they’re trying to do. And that’s the real trap to fall into.
And that’s what we need to avoid. It’s not about us assuming what they want to hear from us. It’s about ensuring that they get the right thing. So we’re looking at the relevance, again, of that communication. And that relevance will be based, not only around the time of day or who they are, but also around things like the location where they are. So we’ll be changing the way we speak to people, based on whether they’re on their way to one of our properties, whether they’re at a property, or whether they’ve left that property. And the value we’re adding is enhancing that experience with the Trust at those different times in their lifetime with us.
LISA HARRIS: OK. Thank you very much.
In the video Howard Scott, formally Head of Digital for the National Trust, introduces the organisation and the new digital marketing programmes that are being developed.
Howard talks about how the National Trust are taking a ‘mobile first’ approach and focusing on producing relevant and personal stories for whatever channel the customer prefers to use, when they want to use it.
In the article in the next Step, Howard talks about the three key factors that were central in the development of the National Trust’s digital strategy.
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Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights

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