Content-Driven Personalization with Drupal

I recently stumbled upon a nearly four-year-old HubSpot blog post about “22 Data-Backed Reasons to Personalize Your Marketing.” The statistics were fascinating, particularly given the age of the post. For example, among best-in-class B2B content marketers in 2013, 71% were customizing their content to the decision-maker’s profile. In 2017, I have to imagine that number is comfortably above the 90th percentile.

Now more than ever, marketers across industries recognize the value of content personalization. For many, though, whether it is due to technical deficiencies or a shortage of content resources, the dream of content personalization is just that: a dream.

Drupal can quickly make those dreams a reality.

With Drupal, you can deliver relevant content customized to your visitors so you can prove your value, convey your message and keep them on your site. The longer you’re able to keep users on your site, the likelier they are to engage in whatever way you need.

Before digging in to what Drupal can do for you, let’s talk about why you should be thinking about content personalization. A recent survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers by OneSpot and Marketing Insider Group found that 88% of consumers say that personally relevant content improves how they feel about a brand. On the other hand, nearly half of consumers surveyed said they would not spend time on branded content if it were not relevant to their interests.

At Duo, we think of content personalization as leveraging data users to give them more relevant information and a better user experience. For example, we worked with a Fortune 15 company to improve its career page to make the listed content more relevant to users. Now the site automatically detects the user’s location and provides a list of job opportunities in and around that area. The user can easily change the location and search for opportunities in other geographic areas, but this simple personalization not only helps users save time, but it shows the company goes out of its way to help.

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The more you’re able to learn about a user, the more you’re able to customize and create relevant content.

Imagine you oversee the website for a leading business school that attracts prospective students from across the globe. Think of all you could do with personalized content. If someone is interested in attending your school, they likely have already told you where they are from, what major or program they are interested in and what they want to do after school. Instead of showing them one or two generic alumni testimonials, you could share the story of an alumnus who came from the same location, or is doing the same thing professionally the prospective student wants to do. By sharing that story, the prospective student does not have to wonder whether someone with their background can follow that intended career path; they’ll be able to read about someone who already did.

The beauty of Drupal is its ability to integrate with other digital tools and help facilitate the personalization process. At Duo, we often integrate our clients’ sites with HubSpot or Marketo, allowing them to better contextualize users and what they are interested in. These outside tools help our clients understand what content will be most relevant and desired.

One unique tool available to Drupal users is Acquia Lift, a powerful service that brings content and customer data together from multiple sources — such as a CMS, CRM or commerce program — to “deliver data-driven, personalized experiences across any channel or device.” Lift has a lot of powerful functions, but most importantly, it enables businesses to create a consistent personalized experience across digital platforms.

One highlight of Acquia Lift that is valuable for any organization personalizing content is the ability to do A/B testing. A/B testing allows you to measure which personalized experiences are working, as well as those that may not be creating enough value.

While converting leads is important for many of our clients, personalized content does not need to only be externally facing; there are a number of internal uses as well. If your organization uses an intranet, for example, you could filter news, announcements and even the staff directory based on employees’ department or interests.

I’ve always heard two major reservations about personalizing the customer experience: one is technical and one is logistical.

The technical concern is that when there is a lot of unique content, there are more items that may not be cached; with less caching page load times are slower, creating a poorer user experience. Drupal 8 helps eliminate that concern.

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Drupal core now features the BigPipe module, which helps your site have a much better front-end and perceived performance. The module is able to break up the page into different parts and render them as they become available. Cached content is sent first, while dynamic or uncacheable parts of the page are sent later. So, for example, say you have a welcome page for a site with a customized “Hello” message and personalized photo for a user. BigPipe is able to tokenize the image and then stream the replacement once its ready.

The second concern many businesses face revolves around content. A lot of organizations have difficult times with creating content to begin with, and there is a lot of effort required to then create even more content that will then only be applicable to particular audiences.

Take the alumni profile example from up above. Instead of one or two generic profiles that would be shared to all prospective students, you could create upwards of five, 10 or maybe even 20 profiles, depending on how granular you get with your personalization.

The challenges can be difficult, but for many organizations, the payoff is certainly worth it. A 2016 Accenture report found that 65% of customers were more likely to shop at a store or online business that sent relevant and personalized promotions.

How do you use personalized content to improve your organization? Let us know, and if you have any questions about how we can help you use Drupal to improve your personalization process, we’d love to hear from you.

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