The National Trust is undergoing a three-year system simplification, including a brand new data warehouse, to integrate its IT estate and learn more about its customers.

Using a combination of visualisation tool Tableau and blending tool Alteryx, the organisation - which boasts a property portfolio including The Beatles' childhood homes - has already began to personalise how it communicates with its millions of members, donors, property visitors and in-store and online customers.

Sheffield Park is one of the National Trust's properties Credit: Flickr/JR P
Sheffield Park is one of the National Trust's properties Credit: Flickr/JR P

The firm will deploy Amazon’s Redshift data warehouse and is installing new tills in property gift shops that integrate with its transactional CRM. Using Alteryx to clean and integrate the various sources of data - which come from donation lists, membership subscriptions as well as in its online store, it will use Tableau to give its marketing team a more granular view of customers.

The trust chose Redshift because a managed service would ease the burden on the IT system, which although is “reasonably sized”, is "not a software house”, head of data science at the National Trust Dean Jones told Techworld.

Traditionally, managers of properties were unsure whether footfall was generated by tourism or local residents. For example, one stately home used Tableau to find that more local residents walked through its doors, so it personalised its promotions and newsletters to this audience. As a result, it saw footfall increase three-fold following a targeted marketing campaign, Jones said.

He added: “With four to five hundred properties we are a very decentralised organisation but there are lots of people around the country who want access to data to make decisions. We also want to boost engagement with supporters so they feel fully onboard with core values of the National Trust so they are more inclined to visit, buy or make donations.”

Personalising members and visitors’ interactions with the charity is key to attracting repeat visits, but also a new type of customer.

It uses Drive Time data, which is available through GOV.UK, which indicates which properties are within close proximity to their homes.

Jones said: “We are aware that society is changing and approaching people will be different in the future. One of our key strategic goals is to increase diversity of people who are joining the trust and visiting our properties.

“Our family audience has completely different interests and expectations of the trust than an older couple. We want to communicate with them and tell them about things they are interested in  - not bombard them with communications, which perhaps we have been slightly guilty of in the past.”

In the future, the trust hopes to blend weather data in with its visitor data so it can work out why people are visiting some properties more than others at different times of the year, Jones said.