Better Together: How Acquia and Drupal Take Personalization to the Next Level

Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. Macaroni and cheese. Classic combinations, all. For personalized digital experiences, think Drupal and Acquia Lift.

Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. Macaroni and cheese. Sorry to get your hopes up, as this isn’t a food blog, but there are certain things that just work better together than they do alone. I’m adding one more to the list: Drupal and Acquia Lift. And while it doesn’t have the same ring to it by the end of this blog hopefully you’ll understand why I added this to the list of iconic combinations above.

With so many personalization and optimization technologies out there, it’s becoming incredibly challenging to understand how they work, what they actually do, and perhaps most importantly, how they are differentiated from one another. But we’ve got the inside scoop on when it comes to Drupal and personalization. Combining Acquia Lift with Drupal brings personalized digital experiences to life.

Now let’s prove it. There are a host of reasons Lift and Drupal are the tag-team champions of personalization, but I want to focus on the two biggest for the purpose of this post: data and content.

Data collection

Good data -- understanding who your visitors are beyond just clicks -- is absolutely essential to personalization. And while things like geolocation, device type, and even pages visited are important, Lift uniquely works with Drupal to collect data that is even richer. The premise is fairly straightforward, when you create a piece of content in Drupal, its given a certain tag, or taxonomy. Lift can automatically recognize and collect those tags and can identify when an individual user interacts with a piece of content (not just a page) to build a richer user profile based on content preferences, a step deeper than traditional browser based data (which Lift also collects).

Let’s try an example on for size. I run a food and restaurant blog, and I’ve just launched a series of blog posts on the must-try dishes in each region of the country. Each of these blog posts has a different set of tags or keywords associated with it -- like sandwich, pasta, ice cream, as well as regional specific tags like New England and Pacific Northwest. So when a visitor goes to the site and reads a few of these posts, the visitor profile in Lift will automatically aggregate what posts were viewed and evaluate the most commonly occuring keyword or keywords. You can then identify trends not only by geolocation or device type, but actually by detailed content preference (like sandwiches or ice cream). Once these segments are identified, you can deliver a compelling, personalized experience for your users or group of users, so the person who looked at the “10 Best Sandwiches in New England” will see a “Top 5 Lobster Rolls in Boston” post either as a personalized CTA while reading or see in a personalized slot on the homepage next time they visit the site.

Acquia Lift personalization
Here's screenshot of how we use Acquia Lift to personalize the homepage of in Drupal 8.

Content Creation

While data is critical to doing personalization properly, you need content to do personalization at all. The beauty of personalizing in Drupal is that the system you use to build content is the same one that you use to deliver personalized experiences. So as soon as you create content in Drupal, it’s available to build personalizations in Lift -- you won’t find another tool, anywhere, that integrates more quickly with a Drupal website.

Create Once, Display Any Way

Drupal’s is often lauded for its extensibility, and it’s “view modes” functionality is yet another reason why. Here’s the deal -- once a piece of content is created in Drupal, it’s automatically available in several different view modes, whether it’s a hero banner, full page display, teaser with a thumbnail, or content block. Using your CMS to create your personalized content means you only have to create a piece of content once and then all of it’s different variants can be immediately used for personalization. This makes personalizing content more flexible and less resource intensive that other tools out there. With other tools, first you’ll need to enter it in the personalization engine, and then recreate again -- likely multiple times -- depending on the different ways you want that content to be rendered across pages. Additionally, there’s no way to template this in other products, so you’d have to recreate not only the content, but also the HTML structure for how it’s doing to display on the page, for every single piece.

One-Step Content Recommendations

Content recommendations are a great way to ensure your segmented users, (who you’ve built rich user profiles based on characteristics AND content preferences for, by the way) are getting the content that’s relevant to their interests or potentially, just your best performing content. We already know that Lift can collect richer data on your users, by evaluating and storing their content preferences into their user profile. But there are other values to content tagging as well.

When you use your CMS to create content, you also create and tag it with certain terms. Drupal takes these same terms for data collection and also users them to create groups of different content that can be leveraged for content recommendations. So if we are referencing the example above, you could set up content recommendations to share all articles about their top content preference (in this case -- sandwiches), without having to do any re-orchestrating or tagging of past content, its already there and organized for you thanks to Drupal.

The value in using your CMS to create and build personalizations is clear above. When you are already creating your content in Drupal, Lift leverages the minimal work done at the content creation stage to collect better data, render content more effectively, and deliver the right content to the right user. Putting it bluntly, there isn’t a personalization tool that is going to integrate more quickly, or more effectively with your Drupal site.

Now, is anyone else feeling hungry? Learn more about Acquia Lift by checking out our datasheet here.

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