Our overarching objective was to continue growing the National Trust’s membership base by recruiting valuable long-term members to support our work protecting special places for everyone, forever. Membership is the Trust’s largest income stream, so it is vital that membership recruitment is optimised and any new testing is de-risked as much as possible. We had ambitious membership targets to achieve, with significant YOY growth – no mean feat, given that we had already delivered a record-breaking year for the Trust in the previous year, which had won us a DMA Best Customer Acquisition Gold Award.


Medialab set about transforming the National Trust’s media strategy, whilst managing any risk. In order to truly understand the drivers and barriers to continued growth within the ‘recruit to retain’ strategy we needed the ability to join up all the business units, customer data and activities in order to create a single, integrated view of The National Trust’s business. The solution to this was in our proprietary performance platform Apollo; Apollo organises and interrogates marketing campaign data, predicts outcomes and provides actionable insights to marketing teams.


Apollo enabled us to act faster by providing actionable insights to drive a more effective acquisition strategy. We were able to test different incentives and optimise this throughout the campaign period. 

Apollo also allowed us to develop a better understanding of the impact National Trust brand activity was having on DR activity and optimise accordingly when we saw an impact. We built on these learnings encouraging our primary audience to feel that NT provides life enhancing benefits to them and others by emotionally connecting them to stories of real people whose lives are enhanced by the places NT looks after. 

Creativity & innovation 

Creative and media planning worked in conjunction to build a journey that allowed engagement with the National Trust brand, whilst showcasing a consistent message throughout and celebrating places that make a nation. We phased the campaign using brand and direct recruitment elements at different times so we could effectively measure performance and we found that brand campaigns helped to drive the direct membership recruitment elements.

By using real peoples’ stories, we built an emotional connection with the audience and reinforced the positive impact that a place can have on someone. Using a selection of stories allowed us to identify and then distribute those that would be most effective based on context by channel.  

Data mining and analysis also allowed us to identify the right moments to effectively promote our brand message as well as run our memberships activity. Showcasing strong affinities by days of week, and more relaxed moments on Thursday to Sunday proved the optimal times where ad awareness and ultimately membership recruitment peaked.

By engaging with the audience, we invited people to join in and participate by using the hashtag #PlacesMatter, encouraging them to visit and join.


The ongoing use of insight has allowed us to optimise both acquisition and brand campaigns resulting in consecutive record-breaking years in terms of membership income and recruits.

National Trust put people at the heart of everything they did by focusing on value over pricing for the acquisition strategy. We were able to effectively use analysis to identify core audience segments and ensure that we reached the people who believed in the National Trust’s cause.

Whilst the brand campaign is a longer-term strategy, we’ve already seen brand metrics growing; the adoption of campaign phasing and positives around brand sentiment for the National Trust has resulted in more conversions.


Exceeding a record-breaking year for customer acquisition and retention for the National Trust membership base, Medialab’s proprietary technology, Apollo, enabled National Trust to have an integrated and single view of marketing performance. This allowed us to test and learn fast, recruiting more valuable members with minimal risk.