Acquia Lift: Define, Test & Iterate
by Frederik Demets
Acquia Lift is a great tool built by an amazing team. It has been well received and brings some powerful features to Drupal. One of those unique features is that its completely integrated with Drupal which opens the door for editors to use it in the same workflow they are used to. This added power creates a new unique challenge: to target, test and personalize a web experience for each visitor.
It’s not magic
At the end of the day Acquia Lift is still a tool, it doesn’t magically increase the conversions on your website by adding tests and variations to all content. The tests on your websites need to be driven from a marketing or business angle. There needs to be a clear plan on what to test and what to personalize.
Having no clear idea of what users do on the website, or what you want them to do, might lead to the wrong conclusions and ultimately decreasing conversions.
Scenarios not personas
The traditional way of getting into your users’ heads is defining personas, fictitious people that will be visiting your site. Basically predicting how the users will interact with the site. However, if there is one thing you cannot predict, it’s human behaviour. There are just too many data points making it extremely complex. Even if we lower the number of data points it’s still almost impossible to predict which kind of messaging will have the most impact.
Because every user is a multidimensional riddle that’s hard to solve we should define possible scenarios instead of set personas. eg. A user could behave differently in the morning than in the evening. And that’s only adding one extra parameter to the equation. Imagine how differently one would act depending on the weather.
So we can look at scenarios as multidimensional personas. The next level of complexity. We cannot grasp all the possibilities in our mind anymore, we need help. We need raw computing power to find a common denominator in all these possible flows and actions. That’s basically what Lift can do for you, you set the ground rules and Lift unravels the mystery.
Get the evidence
Don’t try to figure out your users to every detail. Set some ground rules from a sound marketing plan and start testing these hypotheses. Only by testing we can be sure that we have the desired results.
For example, we could define a young adult as being one of our key target groups on the site. This will drive the main messaging on the website, but it will be next to impossible to predict how that user would interact with the site under different circumstances. The young adult will do different things on the website on his mobile phone than on its desktop or tablet, or in certain circumstances it could depend on the weather. We could indeed try to predict what he/she will be doing. But this will still be a guess. Let’s just test it and base our next steps on evidence instead of hunches.
Make testing easy - iterate quickly
Because there are so many unknowns, it should be as easy as possible to test different things quickly without complex configuration. After deciding on the next test, the marketing team should be able to implement the test in a truly agile fashion. Acquia Lift allows you to do that.
Once a test proves successful, we can tweak it or fine-tune it. Use the result to build other tests. If a test doesn’t provide any significant result we should quickly iterate it or drop it all together moving on to the next optimization.
Personalize functionality, not only content
The combination of Lift and Drupal creates very powerful possibilities to go beyond content personalization. Because it works on Drupal block level, full layout blocks can swapped out providing different functionality to different people right from the Drupal administration UI.
It’s not always about raw conversion
Customer retention is also conversion. Imagine you can personalize the website and predict what the user wants to do. Giving easier access to information or features is also success, but it is harder to measure.
Of course you need to apply some common sense to personalizing functionalities on the website. Don’t overdo it. Having a consistent UX is equally important. The trick will be to keep a balance between both.
It’s awesome to be in Digital Marketing today! Having access to so many cool tools. You now have the power to actually test hypotheses easily and build a truly evidence based marketing driven website. The key is to chose a tools that is easy to use and let’s you discover new things quickly and easily. This is where Acquia Lift shines because it’s right there, right in your CMS where you do your content management.
But! Tools, that’s all they are. Like a hammer, you still need to pick it up and hit the nail yourself. So, common sense and a sound marketing plan are equally important as the right tool. The one cannot go without the other!