Client English Heritage | Partner Adroit | Industry Charity | Key objective Optimise engagement with members early in their relationship

English Heritage, originally a government body achieved its current status as an independent charity in 2015.  Acting as the custodian for significant historic buildings, monuments and sites of national interest, English Heritage now cares for over 400 sites ranging from world-famous prehistoric locations to grand medieval castles.  Many of the key sites, such as Stonehenge have achieved international recognition and help bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year. 

Two of the key priorities for English Heritage going forward are creating inspiring experiences for site visitors, and ensuring that the charity is on course to reach financially independence by 2022/2023.  The English Heritage membership program represents a key component of achieving financial independence, and there is a strong focus on membership communications and informative support through the charity’s website. 

With over one million members, English Heritage’s Welcome Programme emails are a key part of their Member Lifecycle strategy and are multiple inter-linked, multi-channel campaigns. Welcome is a critical point in the lifecycle: it is the first chance to talk directly to new members and to initiate two-way communication to collect valuable customer insights. 

Optimise engagement

Typically those who have minimal engagement with English Heritage and purchase their memberships via a partner are 40%-50% less likely to renew their membership at the end of the first year than those who join online. This, along with other analysis and customer research has shown how engagement with the programme is indispensable to driving long-term membership and generating vital income for the charity. As such it was imperative that English Heritage optimise the engagement with members at this early stage in their relationship.

English Heritage's multi-wave journey includes 4 weekly stages:

  1. Confirmation of sign-up and membership card logistics  - key message is push to new members survey, where data is collected to help English Heritage understand member motivations and requirements (used in nearly all future campaigns to determine content & creative preferences)
  2. Targeted video segment informed by Welcome 1 Members survey, using nearest site suggestions
  3. Promoting sign-up to online Members Area and benefits of Members Rewards
  4. Further personalised video delivery – pushing further free-to-visit sites and associated attractions benefits

4 stage multi-wave journey

The Apteco solution

The Membership Lifecycle is supported by a range of highly personalised campaigns at each stage, all delivered through FastStats and PeopleStage. Virtual variables are used extensively to specify site text and image details, define address details and to look at segmentation.

English Heritage makes use of virtual variables in FastStats to specify site text and image details so they can be amended quickly and easily. Utilising content free-text fields in PeopleStage also means that English Heritage could hard code parts of the data that are consistent for all members, such as the start of the image links, making the expressions easier to read and therefore manage. Virtual variables from an expression are used to define overseas addresses to ensure text is appropriate to location and virtual variables also look at segmentation, refined by member responses to surveys or lookalike responses if they have not completed a survey.

Since the enhancements to the Welcome programme, we have seen significantly improved performance metrics, not only from an email engagement perspective but we also see excellent behavioural results from the members receiving the welcome communications.

Grace Gilbank, Marketing data analyst at English Heritage

Grace Gilbank, Marketing data analyst at English Heritage

The impact on the business

Since the recent improvements have been made email engagement metrics have increased significantly with click rates rising year on year. The additional personalisation across the programme has fundamentally changed the pattern of engagement with the communications: CTR remains high across the sends rather than immediately declining as previously, generating significantly more clicks over the cycle. Additionally, email engagers are driven to interact with the organisation across multiple touchpoints at a higher rate. One of the many benefits seen from this campaign is the application of customer attitudinal segmentation, used for most subsequent marketing activity. Results from this programme have been pivotal in cementing appetite within the organisation to roll out personalisation initiatives across their communications plan. They have further demonstrated that the organisation’s willingness to rely on data to drive business decisions is well-founded, as English Heritage have been able to continually prove that data, analytics and well-executed deployment of customer contacts has real benefit.

While open rates have remained largely static, click-through rates have risen greatly. CTR is a direct result of the relevance of content contained within an email, which not only reflects targeting but also the levels of personalisation allowed in our campaign design, made possible through the technology provided by FastStats modules. We believe this improvement is also a result of the data cleansing that has been implemented through FastStats.

Grace Gilbank, English Heritage, Marketing data analyst

Grace Gilbank, English Heritage, Marketing data analyst