Four Kitchens

Personalization with Acquia Lift

4 Min. ReadDevelopment

Image courtesy of Acquia

Crafting a user experience that feels customized — but not forced or invasive — is key to successfully creating targeted website content. If you work with Drupal, Acquia Lift is one obvious solution to this challenge. Few other complete solutions for personalizing the user experience integrate with Drupal so well. 

Personalize Drupal content

Acquia Lift is a personalization tool that can help serve up custom content by tracking a variety of user activities on your site:

  • Pages visited
  • Content types or taxonomies viewed
  • Data that relates to location and browser information 

Lift works with Drupal versions 7 and 8, so the tool is available for use by many active sites on the Acquia platform. As an Acquia tool, Lift also integrates with the rest of the Acquia Cloud hosting platform. 

The tool uses criteria that you enter into its Profile Manager to place website visitors into segments. You then use Profile Manager to set up campaigns that target, track, and provide personalized experiences to specific segments. Segment criteria can be as simple as device type or as complex as specific combinations of interactions with the website. This level of granular control improves the quality of your content customization — and in turn, your engagement metrics.

After setting up campaigns and segments, you can select site sections and content to personalize. For example, you might replace a generic hero banner image with a location-specific graphic or swap out promotional content to reflect a visitor’s account status. When used correctly, this type of personalization can elevate the user experience and improve conversion rates. And because Lift integrates with Drupal so closely as a module, the tool has direct access to site content. This approach helps to ensure that the content visitors see doesn’t feel jarring or out of place. 

Focus on personalization, not code

From a technical perspective, installing and using Acquia Lift is not too difficult. Acquia provides a contributed module and library that work well with Drupal. In my opinion, the documentation could be improved, but it provides enough information for most developers to install Lift without trouble. The personalization and swapping of content all happen client-side (outside of Drupal), so after Lift is installed there isn’t much to configure within Drupal. Some handling with CSS is necessary to reduce visual indications of changing content, but the process is included in the documentation and the Acquia team is willing to assist if necessary.

Aside from these specifics, the magic that happens with personalization and setup occurs within the Acquia Lift interfaces. So after Lift is set up, you don’t need a high level of technical expertise for its regular use. The analytics, user data, segments, campaigns, and targeting all occur in the user-friendly Profile Manager. 

Before you decide

Lift does have a few limitations that you need to be aware of. The most significant: Dynamic or “live” content can be tricky to replace or personalize.  Because Lift bases replacements on static versions of content (i.e., rendered HTML), Lift might not replicate or replace carousels, slideshows, and other views with custom displays. Content that relies on data that might change or on JavaScript for rendering might need to be recreated in a different way to generate the same effect. 

Second, differences in documentation between the two available versions of Lift (versions 3 and 4) can cause a bit of confusion during setup confirmation. For example, Version 4 is an integrated tool inside Profile Manager, whereas version 3 works as a sort of pop-up that occurs within Drupal.

Also note that despite the ease of installation and deep documentation, the Acquia team will probably need to be involved to finish the installation. The team is fairly responsive, but this necessity could cause a slowdown in implementation, so you need to be aware of it if you’re deploying Lift close to launch. The extra assistance is even more likely to be necessary when using version 4 because of its more limited documentation and active development. We hope to see improvements in this area in the near future as development on version 4 continues.

Lastly, setting up test campaigns after you’ve installed and configured Lift can be difficult if you only have a few content items and some Lorem Ipsum. This service needs real content and real slots into which to swap that content to be tested properly. You won’t have a problem when implementing Lift into an existing site, but if you plan to use the tool on a new site, be aware that you’ll need to delay implementation until just before or after launch.

A complete personalization experience

All-in-all, few options out there work directly with a Drupal site and provide such a complete experience for personalization. Targeted and personalized content doesn’t need to be difficult to set up or irritating for the user. Tools like Acquia Lift can help make websites feel just a bit more personal. Check out Lift’s informational pages for more details.