Getting the National Trust fit for the future

Published : Sun 1st Nov Author : Tom Barker, Head of Digital

Head of Digital Tom Barker came to the National Trust with an impressive background, working for large digital agencies and on global accounts for some of the world’s best known brands. Here he talks to us about the Trust’s exciting cultural and digital step changes, including the recent upgrades to the mobile app and creating a fully responsive website.

I oversee all national level web, mobile, social and digital media activity here at the National Trust, leading four teams on across Project Management, Digital Marketing, Web Content and Social Media.

What makes working at the Trust so unique is that we are built on the financial donations of our supporters and the time donated by our volunteers. In fact, we have more volunteers than both our full time staff and four million members! But despite this, we still need to make sure we’re constantly able to attract and retain new supporters by delivering fresh, relevant content to our audiences.

Digital campaigning is a huge part of ensuring we’re fit for the future, and a crucial project we’re currently working on is the launch of a fully responsive website. The National Trust website is by far our biggest and most popular digital destination, and with over 2 million unique monthly users and growing, we need to create a fully responsive website which will increase engagement levels and encourage people to continue browsing.  

One project I’m incredibly proud of is our new mobile app, launched in June ‘15 as part of our ongoing member retention strategy. Available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, the app’s key feature is geofencing, which welcomes users and prompts them to switch to ‘visit’ mode, ensuring they’re able to make the most of their day. We’ve already close to one and a half million downloads and will keep improve its features to build on this success.

Having spent much of my career in agencies with quite challenging cultures, I’ve noticed the Trust has a real and empathy towards employees. The culture is completely different here, there’s a really constructive and collaborative atmosphere and it’s definitely a shared success model where people congratulate you for doing well.

In terms of people’s perceptions of the Trust, it’s definitely not as dusty and dated as some might imagine. There’s a real dynamism and verve to the organisation, and it’s about so much more than just country houses - if you look at the design of our HQ in Heelis, it’s about as far removed from a stately home as you could possibly imagine!