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Continuous brand engagement drives 40% increase in visitors for Hever Castle

Objectives

  • Drive annual membership retention
  • Increase ticket sales for events

Brand

Dating back to the 13th century, Hever Castle was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and Mother of Elizabeth I. The splendid rooms contain fine furniture, tapestries, antiques, an important collection of Tudor paintings and two prayer books inscribed and signed by Anne Boleyn herself.

Velo is a London-based digital content and communications agency. Founded in 2010, whether it be content or communications, it is always produced in-house in their SE1 studio. Their clients range from large professional services companies through to the brightest in the performing arts and include Cisco, Babcock, JLL, London Symphony Orchestra, RADA and Universal Music.

hever castle

Velo logo

The Challenge

The main challenge faced by Hever Castle was communicating with their audiences in a cost-effective and regular way. One of the largest segments is represented by regular and local visitors, so the aim was to turn them into annual members. An increase in memberships is a key objective for Hever Castle as they provide regular, reliable revenue which contributes to the running costs of the Estate and the ongoing conservation of this Grade I Listed site. Part of the revenue is also used to aid planning and producing more events which, in turn, can attract more members. Hever Castle and Velo worked on constructing a renewed value proposition, member benefits and regular communications around events.

The Solution

Email plays a crucial role in supporting renewals as it’s a cost-effective and timely way to communicate with all members on a regular basis, so Hever Castle staff needed to capture as many email addresses as they could. Email data capture is now always considered in the Castle’s activities both off- and online.

To encourage an increase in day visitors from this growing database, Velo created highly informative newsletters with information about upcoming events. Optimizing the email templates for mobile and newer email clients was a priority, so every recipient can see the Castle in its full glory.

Alongside this, bringing through event branding into email newsletters has strengthened brand recognition as part of a multi-channel approach.

A key component of this engaging email program was creating an automated renewal campaign. To populate the list, a feed of contacts is imported from Hever Castle’s booking system into Adestra’s MessageFocus. The campaign is built using dynamic content to show the dates and costs of a renewal, while the sophisticated data integration set up by Velo takes into account family memberships with multiple members, as well as gift memberships.

The Result

By putting in place an email strategy that focuses on providing a personalized experience to each customer – from data capture, to nurturing and renewal – Hever Castle and Velo have had a tremendous impact on business results. Hever Castle has experienced a year-on-year increase in footfall of 7%, welcoming 319,308 visitors – the highest numbers in over 20 years!

By constructing a great value proposition and member benefits, the organization has registered a record number of annual memberships and attendance to recent events has grown by up to 40%. The continuous and regular member engagement using email has led to an increase in annual pass purchases by 12% and a further increase in their use by 13%.

12% increase in annual passes

40% increase in event footfall

“The changes that we made with Velo to our eCRM programme in 2016 resulted in email web traffic growth of 986% against the previous period which equated to nearly 20k more sessions. With continual development to drive brand engagement we have ambitious plans for growth.”  – Sarah Cole, Marketing & Communications Manager, Hever Castle

Email examples

Members-only campaign

Hever Castle members email

Renewal campaign

Hever Castle renewal email

“Hever Castle is a beautiful attraction that makes a real impression when you visit.  By extension, the email must be engaging too, and to do this, we’ve needed to combine data, creativity and automation.  It’s working well too, delivering really strong results.” – Paul Crabtree, MD, Velo

What are they planning next?

Going forward, Hever Castle and Velo are planning to build more segmented and data-insight led communications, as well as more automated email programs to increase visitor engagement and footfall further. Alongside this, email will be used to gather more insight from visitors to plan and execute events and improve the visitor experience with a real investment into managing email preferences and consent in the run up to GDPR.