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Redefining Commerce, March 2015: Born Shoes

5 March 2015 - 10:48pm

This blog series - Redefining Commerce - highlights retail brands that are elevating traditional online commerce experiences, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an online retailer, and delivering unparalleled consumer experiences.

Shopping is a very visual activity -- online or off, being able to see and feel materials, textures, colors, and patterns is vitally important when deciding whether or not to make a purchase. While online shopping is easy and convenient, it lacks the tactile experience a shopper gets when they visit a brick and mortar store. For this reason, online retailers have a challenge in front of them: to create an experience that delights and converts without the customer ever physically interacting with a product. Few retailers have really mastered this, but Born Shoes is one of the select few that have.

The Born Shoes website is truly a work of art. Their stunning visuals and beautiful brand story are captivating for shoppers, delivering an experience that evokes feelings in a way that many traditional commerce sites cannot. At every touch point across the site, you’re immersed in their brand story -- a beautiful union of written content, product, and graphics. They use clever language, video, and stylized photography to weave their story throughout each and every page, while delivering precisely the information that a shopper might want, and nothing more.

Craftsmanship is a cornerstone of their brand, and is a clear focus across the site. Their “hand-sewn” story is an online interpretation of their high-quality, hand made construction, which is clear if you have a chance to actually wear a pair of their shoes. It’s another point at which they have expertly reinvented their in-store experience online.


They use beautiful photography and clever copy to tell the story of their “artisan crafted footwear,” and tout their products as an “artful interpretation of nature expressed in beautiful organic designs.” The above images outline the user flow from homepage to product page, which is visually cohesive, relevant, and informative. Individual product pages not only include all the desired product information, but their craftsmanship story is included there as well, to reinforce their commitment to quality.

They also have an impressive integration of user generated content, as seen above in their product page Instagram feature. Shoppers can join the Born Community to share photographs and favorite Born looks with other Born Shoes enthusiasts. Encouraging users to interact on their own volition - with the brand and with each other - is the best way to develop lasting customer connections and deep brand loyalty. This social integration is completely seamless, and creates an easy path between their website and social channels, while remaining well-branded and well incorporated, so the user content looks right at home.


It’s clear after spending some time on the Born site that the brand knows itself inside and out, and they know their customers too. They speak to a certain shopper with a defined voice and personality that is interesting and compelling, and really resonates. The Born website does an incredible job of creating a true user-centric experience that engages and excites, and effortlessly merges written and visual content with commerce for an integrated user experience that will keep shoppers coming back.

What’s Working:

  • Brand Imagery That Tells a Story. Born’s entire web presence is built around their visual brand representation. They have a story that they want to tell, and they do it through using truly beautiful imagery that incites emotion and effortlessly incorporates product.
  • Integrated User Content. Users experience is front and center across the site, but incorporating user generated content on individual product pages goes a step above to really unite the customer experience with the brand experience, and also gives the brand stronger validation.
  • Hand-Sewn Craftsmanship Story. The craftsmanship story is robust and meaningful, and helps to unify the in-store vs. online experience for Born products. Integrating this information across the site and product pages really drives the point home that quality is a major brand pillar, and something they rest their hats on.
  • Mobile-Style Navigation. The Born homepage pays homage to a more mobile-friendly format, with a collapsible menu in the upper right corner that is discrete but easily accessible, allowing for their beautiful imagery to really be front and center.
Tags:  content and commerce commerce online commerce
Categories: Drupal News

Where do Media Companies Fit in the World of Mobile Apps?

5 March 2015 - 3:22am

In the last post of our media and entertainment blog series, I highlighted the fact that now almost one-third of U.S. mobile web traffic is driven by the Facebook mobile application. What that means for content publishers is that they have to focus on tailoring their content for distribution and consumption on the Facebook platform.

The prominence of the Facebook mobile application begs the question: Can media brands do well with their own applications and drive the audience to these branded experiences?

Media Brands Must Have Distribution Options
The Atlantic’s Alexis C. Madrigal highlighted the dependence some media brands have on Facebook by using a farm analogy:

“Digital media companies have grown reliant on Facebook’s powerful distribution capabilities. They are piglets at the sow, squealing amongst their siblings for sustenance, by which I mean readers. Think about how this weakens the basic idea of a publication. ”

Bleacher Report’s Chief Content Officer Rory Brown tells Digiday in a recent interview that the sports site is looking beyond optimizing content for Facebook because the social media platform could change its algorithms which would impact its ability to reach audiences. Brown to Digiday: “You want to establish as many traffic channels as possible. If Facebook or Twitter made some kind of algorithm change, it would affect us too, but not as much as some of the others.”

Bleacher Report seems to be getting it right: 40 percent of its traffic comes directly to the site while it’s also the eighth most shared publisher on Facebook, according to the latest Newswhip/Spike data for January 2015. That means Bleacher Report will be able to get to the one-third of the audience who use Facebook as its gate to the mobile web, while also having a direct-to-consumer relationship via its site. Contrast that with Buzzfeed, who just announced that only 5 percent of 950 million monthly video views happen on its own site.

Mobile Apps versus Responsive Design for Mobile
Beyond delivering content via the Facebook mobile app, what kind of mobile experience do you deliver to keep people engaged with your media brand’s content on their device? A responsive mobile optimized site or a mobile app?

Most media companies today offer both experiences for consumers. A responsive site means the media company can deliver an experience that is not dependent on any particular mobile operating system or web browser. The digital experience should display and work in a beautiful and consistent manner across devices.

It may cost more to develop and deliver an app that works on various mobile operating systems, yet applications allow a push environment for media companies to broadcast to audiences. An application will inform an audience with a constant stream of new articles, videos, podcasts, or slideshows. In addition, app notifications will remind audiences of social engagement around content - e.g. new likes, shares, and comments - which encourages fans to join in on the conversation in the brand’s app.

The NextWeb took a nice in-depth look at why each channel - responsive web and native app - are both important.

Monetizing Media Apps - Tens of Billions of Dollars
There are several ways media company apps can be monetized. They can be subsidized with in-app advertising revenues, or money can be earned by charging consumers for the initial download. Some apps have a recurring subscription cost. Regardless of the path to make money, there’s a lot of it being made. Research by Asymco shows that just the iTunes Store alone brought in $10 billion in revenues for app developers in 2014. That’s more than the US box office take for the year.


Asymco Chart Showing App Sales on iTunes overtaking the U.S. Box Office Revenues

An app allows a media brand to create more interactive calls to actions (examples: voting, sharing, rating) that creates a deeper set of user behavior data. Such user data can be leveraged to personalize a media experience. NBCUniversal just rolled out an app that packages 40 years worth of Saturday Night Live content. By learning what skits you like to watch, your favorite comedians, characters, and seasons of SNL, the app will then personalize your experience by choosing specific videos from the some 5,000 plus pieces of content. Advertisements in the new SNL app will also be tailored to an individual's viewing experience creating more high value advertising opportunities for NBC. Even though the app is free, it’s a revenue generator.

Media Companies Missing from Top App Charts
In 2015, major media brands are missing from the top downloaded or accessed apps. Again, a majority of the media content is accessed via the Facebook app. No traditional media company ranks in this list of top mobile apps, created by Comscore from mid 2014. The Weather Channel (disclosure, an Acquia customer) is a media company ranking at #15.


Still this Comscore data does not paint a complete picture of how media companies are performing in the marketplace for mobile apps.

Media Companies Must Gamify Their Brands
App Annie has the most detailed app analytics data and it’s worth visiting their charts on a regular basis to look for break out hits and how media companies are faring with mobile.

Taking a look at the stats around February 20th 2015, App Annie shows Warner Bros has the #3 downloaded app: a trivia game called “Heads Up”. The app is featured on Ellen DeGeneres’ Ellen TV show which is also produced by Warner Bros.

The Warner Bros produced game launched in 2013 and is obviously doing well almost two years on after launch, in part because you can keep buying new trivia categories to keep your game playing activity fresh. It’s also really intriguing to see a TV personality who is owning a top downloaded and top selling app and that the app itself is owned by their employer, the TV studio.

But looking at the overall App Annie stats, Warner Bros appears to be the only traditional media company with a top 10 app on the iTunes or Google Play store charts. Beyond Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, game developers like King Digital with it’s line up of Candy Crush games, or Mojang with it’s Minesweeper game, are the winners on the charts.


App Annie Store Stats Top iOS apps for February 20th. Note only one traditional media company, Warner Bros, has a top selling app.


App Annie Store Stats Top Google Android apps for February 20th. Note only one traditional media company, Warner Bros, has a top selling app.

Microsoft saw Mojang’s success with the Minecraft game and wound up buying the company for $2.5 billion in September 2014. Big Fish Games which also appears on the App Annie Store Stats February 20th top apps chart for its mock gambling apps like Big Fish Casino, was bought by Churchill Downs last year for $885 million. The company is an owner of famous horse racing tracks like the famous Kentucky property Churchill Downs and also owns casinos and other gaming properties. Obviously, the company saw how gaming is dominating the world of mobile apps. I expect to see traditional media companies to buy some of these mobile game developers to enter this lucrative app market, which again just for Apple iOS apps sales alone was $10B in 2014. For example, just recently major TV and film studio Lionsgate invested in game maker Telltale Games, rumored to be a $40 million stake. Telltale also licenses TV show content to create games, for instance titles based on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” or HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. Tech news site TheVerge hints that Lionsgate will move beyond simply leveraging Telltale to make games based on their own content and push the game maker to develop TV series titles that are game like. Celebrities do just as well as media brands with mobile games: Glu Mobile, a game developer made $74 million from the Kim Kardashian : Hollywood mobile app in 2014 and now plans to license Katy Perry’s likeness for a mobile game this year.

Traditional media brands can license their content titles to game developers or develop in house; the latter approach may be harder to scale. The App Annie 2014 Retrospective reports that mobile game apps related to movie titles did well in 2014, and in “some cases extended the life cycle of the intellectual property (IP), fostering brand loyalty and keeping users engaged between movies.”

For instance, ​a game related to the animated movie Despicable Me​ ​ranked among the top 10 games by worldwide December downloads 18 months after the app’s initial release. Note that France’s giant developer Gameloft built the Despicable Me game by licensing the film content from Universal Pictures. ​”Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff” appealed to show enthusiasts, but also attracted new audiences and was a top performer. Again the model here was that Fox partnered with San Francisco game developer TinyCo to create the popular game. App Annie believes the 2014 success of games based on media brands, “sets the stage in 2015 for more traditional media brands acquiring and monetizing mobile users through existing game structures refreshed with their well-known IPs.” (App Annie Index: 2014 Retrospective — Top App Trends of 2014)

Moving Media Apps Beyond Gaming
According to Comscore’s US Mobile App Report 2014, mobile app usage accounts for the majority of digital media time spent, at about 52 percent. Mobile apps drive the vast majority of media consumption on mobile devices - about 7 out of every 8 minutes Also of note is a majority of mobile app engagement comes from only a few select categories. So beyond gaming, media companies can also enter the app market by offering social networking (messaging) and radio / music apps, as these along with games, contribute nearly half the total time spend on mobile apps.

Media companies do not necessarily have to buy their way into the app market or license their content to app developers, they can build successful digital brands on their own. A good example is global media giant Bonnier who launched a line of “digital toys” called Toca Boca to find success in the mobile app market. In 2014, Bonnier reported 70 million downloads of Toca Boca apps just a few years after launch of the division.

The App Annie 2014 Retrospective notes that Disney The New York Times, and IAC Corp did very well in both app downloads and also revenues. Note these App Annie charts exclude game apps or game publishers. The full report can be accessed here.


App Annie 2014 Retrospective: Top non-game apps, and top publishers by app revenues.

Beyond gaming, social networking and chat apps, and music it’s important to look at how media brands are performing with their news apps. Turner Broadcasting’s CNN holds the spot for the top free news app on iOS, but is in the 4th spot on the Google Play store, while Yahoo News tops the Google chart but is absent from the top 10 on iOS. So it’s clear media companies have made particular investments in designing and marketing their apps to specific mobile operating systems and app marketplaces.

Buzzfeed and Fox are the two news apps that do very well on both major mobile platforms in terms of downloads, but compete against several new media start ups and news aggregators like Daily, Flipboard, and a few readers that pull content from the social news platform Reddit.

NBC and BBC are not top 10 performers on the iTunes store, but are on Google Play.

Interesting to also note in the news category that military news focused apps and police scanner apps are popular.

Finally, the top earning news apps in terms of revenues are from well known media brands charging you a premium to have mobile subscription access including Time Inc, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, New York Times, and The Economist. In the case of The Economist, the company recently developed a morning news briefing called “Espresso,” which now is the #8 top earning app on the Google Play in the news category. This is a separate experience from the main Economist app, and it’s designed for the busy executive who needs a single place to get briefed on the day’s news.


App Annie Store Stats Top News Apps for iOS - February 20th


App Annie Store Stats Top News Apps for Google Play / Android - February 20th

The Media Briefing also took a look at UK app store results to see how the UK media brands are faring in the market, and it’s worth a read. Their main take away - The Guardian app is the fourth-most successful non-game app in terms of revenues the UK but mainly due to the success of in app purchases for The Guardian’s crossword puzzles. The Media Briefing found this ironic as News UK and Telegraph Media Group have a much greater commitment to paid content but generate little revenue from their news apps.

Tags:  media and entertainment mobile mobile apps
Categories: Drupal News

Speak Your Mind on the State of Open Source

4 March 2015 - 7:03am

Anecdotes and hard evidence about open source software driving innovation and economic growth abound; capturing data and trends about the growth of open source is vital. The annual Future of Open Source Survey (FoSS) --open through March 6-- captures the voices of the global open source community. So, we encourage you to take the survey; your contribution will add to what I think is one of the best sources of data on what’s happening with open source (and you’ll get access to the findings).

This is the ninth annual FoSS survey, led by Black Duck Software and North Bridge Venture Partners, with support from dozens of open source leaders including Acquia.

It’s fair to say it’s a far different world today compared to nearly a decade ago, when the first FoSS survey occurred. Open source software has risen up the foundations of the enterprise technology stack (think the Linux operating system) to leading-edge business applications driving digital customer experience (hello, Drupal.) Even companies that have built global empires around proprietary software are taking a more open stance on open source (see Microsoft open sourcing parts of .NET).

Today, you don’t have to look far to find vocal open source proponents pointing at real results. One of the clearest voices I’ve heard is that of Gail Roper (@gailmroper), CIO for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Raleigh is often referred to as the first “open source city” -- and it’s easy to see why.

Raleigh (pop. 431,000; 1.2 million metro region) has gone all-in with the Open Raleigh Initiative. The city adopts, where feasible, open source software, as it aims to deliver better, more efficient government services. But that’s just part of it. They’re investing in open source code, open access to government data, and open connectivity to create more transparent government and better serve and enable businesses and constituents.

When Roper speaks, she hurdles past the technology to get to the point: Raleigh is betting on open source tools, technology and mindset to drive 21st century economic development, entrepreneurship and education.

Go back a few years and choosing open source was often a response to limited funding for technology projects. In Raleigh, “open source” quickly gained momentum as “a catalyst to (enable the City) to interface with the public, citizens, and to use data and information (in) problem solving solutions,” she said at last October’s All Things Open conference, which was held in Raleigh.

This idea of open source powering growth and opportunity is happening across vertical markets in all sorts of organizations. In Acquia’s world, that means helping organizations succeed with Drupal to create and power digital experiences and customer engagement. Drupal -- among the largest open source software projects in the world -- is a technical foundation (for web content management, commerce and community), in service of business transformation and results.

The future of open source is ever evolving - by which I mean its use and adoption is constantly growing, and new value is constantly being extracted from open source solutions. The FoSS survey is THE annual report on the state of open source. If you haven’t taken time to participate yet (no matter your role), it’s important that you take a few minutes and take the survey today.

This year’s survey closes Friday, March 6. Results will be announced on Thursday, April 16, during a live webcast.

Tags:  Open Source OSS Drupal Acquia Survey Raleigh digital government
Categories: Drupal News

Want a Great Personalized Experience? Create a Unified Customer Profile

4 March 2015 - 12:52am

Consumers expect a personalized experience, but providing that is easier said than done. You’re collecting information from both your known and anonymous users, but what do you do with that information once you have it? Have you overlooked some information that you’ve already collected that would improve the customer experience? How do you manage all of this across all of your touchpoints?

The answer? Build a unified customer profile -- a data-level hub that pulls the most useful customer information into one place, connecting all relevant systems and providing the best possible basis for a personalized experience.

Getting Started

The majority of the visitors to your website are anonymous. How do you personalize a digital experience for people who haven’t identified themselves? The answer is by setting up a profile for each visitor, even the anonymous ones. Anonymous visitors can still provide you with valuable information that you can use to build their profile. This includes: which site referred them, what device they are using, their geographic location, etc. You can also start to see their content preferences, what keywords they click on and how long they spend on your site. Anonymous visitors also deserve and expect a customized experience, regardless of what information they choose to -- or choose not to -- provide you with.

As soon as someone visits your website, it’s an opportunity to improve their experience, but it’s a fast moving one. You only have seconds to grab their attention, to make them feel welcomed. If you establish a profile upon an anonymous user’s first visit, then once they identify themselves -- by signing up for an email, purchasing a product, or registering on the site -- you already have a base profile to work with. By adding the e-mail address you just captured to their anonymous profile, they become a known user and you will gain a clearer view of who they are and what they are interested in.

Growing Profiles Over Time

These profiles are progressive, meaning they do not contain all of a customer’s information upon creation but rather, continue to build over time. More data is captured with each subsequent visit to your site. What pages do they view? What actions are they taking? Then, as soon as they respond to a call-to-action (CTA) or “raise their hand” by using a social sign-on or entering a contest, ideally their anonymous profile would then be linked with their known profile, consolidating all their information. This gives you a comprehensive and continuously evolving view of who your customer is, what they like, and what they do on your site.

While aggregating customer information into a unified profile creates a better, more personalized experience for the customer, it also is benefits your marketing organization. A unified customer profile enables the information to be shared across your internal marketing channels, across teams and across marketing tools. With all of a customer’s data -- from CRM, email, your online store, etc. -- in one place, anyone within your organization has a much more detailed view of the customer and can use that information to draw new insights. This breaks down silos, improves reporting and generates better insights to be used in other marketing initiatives.

Multi-channel vs. Omni-channel

Customers interact with brands at many different touchpoints. It’s not unusual for a customer to visit both an online store and a physical retail location, to follow their favorite brands on social media or to sign up for emails and newsletters. Interacting with your customers across various platforms is the basis of multi-channel marketing.

As a digital marketer, not only do you want to interact with your audience at any and all places that they are engaging with your business, but you want their experience across all these devices and platforms to be seamless. This connected experience, which puts the customer at the center of all interactions, is called omni-channel marketing.

By cultivating an omni-channel approach, you not only collect more data to enhance your unified customer profiles but you're building a better experience and therefore improving customer loyalty. You are showing your customer that you know what they like, you remember their preferences, and that providing attention to their needs extends across your entire business. That’s the recipe for customer success.

Tags:  personalization unified customer profile omnichannel multichannel database
Categories: Drupal News

“It’s Just Shopping”

4 March 2015 - 12:38am

“It’s just shopping,” said Jason Feldman, President, DTC of Hanes Brands during his Keynote speech at eTail West in Palm Springs last week. He was referring to the omni-/multi-/cross-channel browsing/buying behaviors exhibited by their customers. He went on to explain that his customers are simply finding the fastest/easiest way to get smart about a purchase decision and then complete the transaction.

As retailers, it’s our job to do just that -- give our customers multiple routes to inform and facilitate purchasing, so they can choose whichever route is fastest/easiest for them, wherever they may be and whatever their needs are. That statement is a bit of a no-duh, but the execution is hard. This means creating experiences that are not only user-friendly, but work on a plethora of devices. This means ensuring data is the same regardless of channel, and being accurately passed back-and-forth. This means that the experiences online should compliment the experience in-store, and vice-versa. This also means going above and beyond to give the consumer the right information at the right time and in the right context.

To some, this simply means providing a cohesive, valuable experience online and off. Omni-channel, if you will. But retailers in attendance at eTail came looking for more.

Make Magical Moments
Elissa Margolis, SVP & GM of the Disney Store, spoke in the following session, the Keynote Panel entitled “Staying Competitive In A Rapidly Evolving Retail World As A Multi-Channel Organization.” During this panel, the topic quickly turned to Amazon. “There’s nothing Magical about an Amazon experience,” she said. It won’t be a shock to anyone to hear that Disney puts the user experience front and center.

Margolis wasn’t the only one strategizing on how to compete with Amazon via the user experience. In the next session Dave Weissman, President of Target’s Dermstore, spoke about creating a point of differentiation as the only way to compete with Amazon. “There’s no more first mover advantage,” he said. You have to “own your own sliver” and weave your value prop throughout the user experience, both online and off.

Personalization is a Brand Initiative, not a Digital one
Personalization was a huge topic of conversation at eTail, and a thread woven throughout most sessions. There were sessions on personalization for those just getting into the game, best practices for optimizing, and great case studies of brands going all-in.

bebe literally bet the future of the company on personalization, and appears to be winning. Erik Lautier,
EVP & Chief Digital Officer of bebe, used the highly-personal in-store approach to set the model for the future of bebe with the hopes of turning around the company, which hadn’t seen a profitable quarter in over 2 years.

Being new to the personalization space, Lautier knew his team at bebe needed to learn to crawl before they ran, so they started with simple A/B homepage testing. They tested homepage videos, the free shipping threshold, and messaging. After learning to crawl, they progressed to walking and pulled in geolocation to test estimated delivery dates and in-language welcome banners.

There wasn’t a soul in the room who didn’t believe in personalization. However, believing there would be results and seeing them are two completely different things, and the whole room silenced as Lautier went through his:

  • 22% increase in Revenue per Visitor (RPV) by increasing the Free Shipping threshold to $100
  • 2.3% increase in RPV by adding a geo-specific estimated delivery date to the product page
  • 2.4% increase in conversion rate by adding a geo-specific welcome banner in-language to the homepage
  • 1.3% increase in conversion rate by adding a geo-specific store locator
  • All-in, the tweaks and changes equaled an 18% increase in conversions year over year on desktop, and a whopping 93% increase in mobile. bebe was finally profitable again.

And they’re not done. Now they’re starting to add in more granularity, and are starting to speak to their customers in the appropriate context. For example, they’re promoting best sellers to new customers and new arrivals to repeat visitors, and showing sweaters for visitors from New England and short skirts to visitors from Southern California.

Technology as an Enabler
When Jamil Ghani, VP of Enterprise Strategy at Target, got up to give his keynote about ‘Defining the New Retail Experience’ on day 2, he spoke about using technology as a differentiator and an enabler. To really put the customer first, Target needed to address the new customer needs, and shift their view away from store-first to mobile-first. Their new approach is to consider mobile as the front door to Target, and the first touch to the consumer.

They rebuilt their digital experience from the ground up to support this new approach and new shopping journey, which begins on mobile. They found that $0.36 of every dollar spent in store was influenced online. Guests who use the Target mobile app go in store a whopping 4 times more often than those who don’t. With their new technology ecosystem firmly in place, Target is fulfilling on the consumers desires to “just shop.”

Tags:  etail west commerce online commerce conference
Categories: Drupal News

A New Way to Plan Your Journey to Drupal 8

3 March 2015 - 12:07am

Each day I hear something new about Drupal 8 -- the changes and great things it will bring. All of this got us thinking inside of Acquia’s Learning Services Team about what this means to education. With this amazing tool coming to the market, is the way we have traditionally taught Drupal really the right strategy for the future? Working with thousand of individuals with a different array backgrounds and skills, we realized that our focus needed to expand beyond simply teaching to the structure of Drupal. Instead, we now have to consider the needs and motivations of the individual learner, including the non-technical and business users.

Different Impact for Different People

Having the luxury of working with a vast number of clients across industries and experience levels, it became clear that the teams who build and maintain a complex site are difficult to slot into simple categories. Let's consider the highest level grouping: classifying someone as a Technical or Non-Technical user. Often this line of division is blurred and the individual's role will move back and forth between those classifications depending on a project's lifecycle stage and digital maturity. So, in making sense of these complexities, we've developed a training structure that takes a project's lifecycle and digital maturity into account.

Global Categories of Technical and Business Users


Technical users encompass a vast breadth of Drupalists who think about the technology and the hands on “How do I get this done?” When learning about Drupal 8, their motivations range from “How do I upgrade my current site?” to “How can I leverage the new capabilities with Drupal 8?”

Business users drive requirements for site and define its the business goals. When thinking about Drupal 8, they are tasked with considering: ”Can it help me achieve my goals?” and “How hard will it be to deliver the needed functionality to reach my goals.

Levels of Learning and Life Cycle Stages

It would be great if everything was that simple, but we are talking about people -- and people are complex. If you peel back a layer, it becomes apparent that there are different skill levels in each of these categories that impact the way people are seeking and absorbing education about Drupal 8. It was a relief that see that we are not the only ones who noticed these multiple personas; the Drupal Association has recently come out with its definition of Drupal User Personas.



Learning Personas, and technical or non-technical categories do not give us enough guardrails to define the content that will provide immediate value to our clients. So building from our experience we have created
learning journeys driven by the lifecycle of their site or the client's stage of Digital Maturity. A great deal of work from many of the smartest people I know went into this model to make it as simple as possible, so that we can provide practical results to our clients. This model helps us deliver Drupal 8 education that is designed to provide what each member of your team needs.

Real education for real people that works in the real world

Let us think about a real world example that we all face: multiple third-party integrations. Drupal 8 has been built to make third-party tool integrations easier and more productive. While it is easier it still requires knowledge and work. Different learning personas need different skills to gain all the advantages of integrations with Drupal 8. Our learning approach will be designed to drive the right knowledge, at the right level, to the right people to make the data flow.

Did you notice the real work revolution in 2014? Mobile search and content consumption blew the desktop out of the neighborhood. That means the audience you are trying to reach is consuming on mobile so your site’s content to should respond to their desires. The great news is that Drupal 8 builds on a foundation of mobile and responsive design. Does your team know really understand responsive design? How many new skills or knowledge do they need? Providing education in service of the person not the platform helps overcome this challenge.

To help you start this journey and make it successful, please join us for the webinar "Start Here: How to Prepare for Your Drupal 8 Journey" on Thursday, March 19 at 1PM Eastern Standard Time. Together we will explore the new features and functions of Drupal 8 and how they will impact each of these learning personas.

Tags:  training Drupal 8 learning path Drupal personas
Categories: Drupal News

A New Way to Plan Your Journey to Drupal 8

3 March 2015 - 12:07am

Each day I hear something new about Drupal 8 -- the changes and great things it will bring. All of this got us thinking inside of Acquia’s Learning Services Team about what this means to education. With this amazing tool coming to the market, is the way we have traditionally taught Drupal really the right strategy for the future? Working with thousand of individuals with a different array backgrounds and skills, we realized that our focus needed to expand beyond simply teaching to the structure of Drupal. Instead, we now have to consider the needs and motivations of the individual learner, including the non-technical and business users.

Different Impact for Different People

Having the luxury of working with a vast number of clients across industries and experience levels, it became clear that the teams who build and maintain a complex site are difficult to slot into simple categories. Let's consider the highest level grouping: classifying someone as a Technical or Non-Technical user. Often this line of division is blurred and the individual's role will move back and forth between those classifications depending on a project's lifecycle stage and digital maturity. So, in making sense of these complexities, we've developed a training structure that takes a project's lifecycle and digital maturity into account.

Global Categories of Technical and Business Users


Technical users encompass a vast breadth of Drupalists who think about the technology and the hands on “How do I get this done?” When learning about Drupal 8, their motivations range from “How do I upgrade my current site?” to “How can I leverage the new capabilities with Drupal 8?”

Business users drive requirements for site and define its the business goals. When thinking about Drupal 8, they are tasked with considering: ”Can it help me achieve my goals?” and “How hard will it be to deliver the needed functionality to reach my goals.

Levels of Learning and Life Cycle Stages

It would be great if everything was that simple, but we are talking about people -- and people are complex. If you peel back a layer, it becomes apparent that there are different skill levels in each of these categories that impact the way people are seeking and absorbing education about Drupal 8. It was a relief that see that we are not the only ones who noticed these multiple personas; the Drupal Association has recently come out with its definition of Drupal User Personas.



Learning Personas, and technical or non-technical categories do not give us enough guardrails to define the content that will provide immediate value to our clients. So building from our experience we have created
learning journeys driven by the lifecycle of their site or the client's stage of Digital Maturity. A great deal of work from many of the smartest people I know went into this model to make it as simple as possible, so that we can provide practical results to our clients. This model helps us deliver Drupal 8 education that is designed to provide what each member of your team needs.

Real education for real people that works in the real world

Let us think about a real world example that we all face: multiple third-party integrations. Drupal 8 has been built to make third-party tool integrations easier and more productive. While it is easier it still requires knowledge and work. Different learning personas need different skills to gain all the advantages of integrations with Drupal 8. Our learning approach will be designed to drive the right knowledge, at the right level, to the right people to make the data flow.

Did you notice the real work revolution in 2014? Mobile search and content consumption blew the desktop out of the neighborhood. That means the audience you are trying to reach is consuming on mobile so your site’s content to should respond to their desires. The great news is that Drupal 8 builds on a foundation of mobile and responsive design. Does your team know really understand responsive design? How many new skills or knowledge do they need? Providing education in service of the person not the platform helps overcome this challenge.

To help you start this journey and make it successful, please join us for the webinar "Start Here: How to Prepare for Your Drupal 8 Journey" on Thursday, March 19 at 1PM Eastern Standard Time. Together we will explore the new features and functions of Drupal 8 and how they will impact each of these learning personas.

Tags:  training Drupal 8 learning path Drupal personas
Categories: Drupal News

Drupal 8 + Twig: More Secure, More Power

28 February 2015 - 12:54am

With PHPTemplate engine, Drupal took aim at following MVC best practices: Let’s separate the logic from the presentation layer. In line with the adoption of Symfony 2, Drupal 8 will replace PHPTemplate with Twig and take this philosophy one step further.

Why Twig? It’s more secure.

In Drupal 7, user-submitted text needed to be sanitized with check_plain() in order to prevent the most common web vulnerability, Cross Site Scripting (XSS). If a themer forgot to sanitize their output there would be a security hole. Autoescaping was recently accepted into Drupal 8, which removed this concern all together. PHP functions will also be stripped from templates and this goes in line with separation of concerns. Instead, you’ll have concise, clean markup such as:

Old:

  <?php print render($content); ?>

New:

  {{ content }}

With the new syntax, you get clean templates, clear separation of logic and presentation, and more security. A number of other benefits to using Twig are highlighted in OSTraining’s blog, including one specific benefit I want to point out, which is the idea behind inheritance.

Inheritance

“The most powerful part of Twig is template inheritance” – Sensiolabs

Drupal 8 + Twig integration eliminates the need for copying and pasting base or parent theme template files into your custom templates. Similarly to how Sass and Less simplifies your CSS workflow with the @extend directive, Twig will drastically cut down the amount of template files and code you need to organize your theme.

  {% extends "themes/sub_bartik/templates/node.html.twig" %}

This is similar to PHP’s “include function” that allows you to create dynamic, hookable templates. However, there’s a huge leap forward in templating that I’m about to show you: Twig blocks (not to be confused with Drupal blocks).

From Steve Persch’s Bartik’s theme inplementation to display a node in Drupal 8:

Parent file:

  {# This empty block allows child templates to insert markup into this place
       in the header without re-writing the entire template. #}
  {% block header_fields %} {% endblock %}

New file:

  {# Override the header_fields block to put field_image there because
      this site needs it there. #}
  {% block header_fields %}
    {{ content.field_image }}
  {% endblock %}

It will be very interesting to see what kind of conventions will emerge from the use of Twig blocks. Much like the adoption of Sass, Twig will prove to be both a win and a challenge for development teams to adopt and scale their workflows.

Alex Vallejo is a junior web applications engineer at Genuine who works with Drupal for clients in the B2B industry. Vallejo’s career began as a financial analyst and in 2011 began working with WordPress and PHP, then moving to Drupal in 2013.

Tags:  drupal 8 developer twig
Categories: Drupal News

Drupal 8 + Twig: More Secure, More Power

28 February 2015 - 12:54am

With PHPTemplate engine, Drupal took aim at following MVC best practices: Let’s separate the logic from the presentation layer. In line with the adoption of Symfony 2, Drupal 8 will replace PHPTemplate with Twig and take this philosophy one step further.

Why Twig? It’s more secure.

In Drupal 7, user-submitted text needed to be sanitized with check_plain() in order to prevent the most common web vulnerability, Cross Site Scripting (XSS). If a themer forgot to sanitize their output there would be a security hole. Autoescaping was recently accepted into Drupal 8, which removed this concern all together. PHP functions will also be stripped from templates and this goes in line with separation of concerns. Instead, you’ll have concise, clean markup such as:
Old:

       <?php print render($content); ?>
      
New:
         {{ content }}
With the new syntax, you get clean templates, clear separation of logic and presentation, and more security. A number of other benefits to using Twig are highlighted in OSTraining’s blog, including one specific benefit I want to point out, which is the idea behind inheritance.
Inheritance

“The most powerful part of Twig is template inheritance” – Sensiolabs
Drupal 8 + Twig integration eliminates the need for copying and pasting base or parent theme template files into your custom templates. Similarly to how Sass and Less simplifies your CSS workflow with the @extend directive, Twig will drastically cut down the amount of template files and code you need to organize your theme.

     {% extends
     "themes/sub_bartik/templates/node.html.twig" %}
This is similar to PHP’s “include function” that allows you to create dynamic, hookable templates. However, there’s a huge leap forward in templating that I’m about to show you: Twig blocks (not to be confused with Drupal blocks).
From Steve Persch’s Bartik’s theme inplementation to display a node in Drupal 8:
Parent file:
{# This empty block allows child templates
                   to insert markup into this
                            place in the header without re-writing the entire
                   template. #}
                  {% block header_fields %} {% endblock %}
New file:
{# Override the header_fields block to put field_image there because
this site needs it there. #}
         {% block header_fields %}
              {{ content.field_image }}
         {% endblock %}
It will be very interesting to see what kind of conventions will emerge from the use of Twig blocks. Much like the adoption of Sass, Twig will prove to be both a win and a challenge for development teams to adopt and scale their workflows.

Alex Vallejo is a junior web applications engineer at Genuine who works with Drupal for clients in the B2B industry. Vallejo’s career began as a financial analyst and in 2011 began working with WordPress and PHP, then moving to Drupal in 2013.

Tags:  drupal 8 developer twig
Categories: Drupal News

Personalization - before you begin

27 February 2015 - 9:06pm

Most websites can benefit from personalization in one way or another. But there are some things you should consider before you jump in and rethink the way users interact with your website.
Personalization can be a very powerful tool to drive the bottom line of your digital business. This can mean different things to different websites. An ad driven revenue model will benefit from more pageviews per session, a lead generation site will benefit from faster and more conversions and so on. Depending on the model you’ll need a different strategy to hit your goals. Let’s find out how we can discover what you need for your site(s).

What is personalization?

This article goes a little deeper into personalization and contextualization. Basically it’s about using the right data points at the right time in the right place. Personalization is all about creating an engaging experience where visitors feel unique. It’s supporting the visitor in his user journey towards conversion. Don’t make this too invasive as people will be scared away if you push them too much. They still need to feel they are in control of their own destiny.

Personalization is a journey, not a goal in itself. It will demand more from your digital marketing team. It's not “set it and forget it”, you will need to create a culture to drive you ongoing digital engagement, learn from it and constantly evolve.

What isn’t?

Personalization is not about remarketing. It’s about the engaging experience you create on your own digital properties. You own the conversion responsibility. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon remarketing, they can work side by side. Knowing a person came back to the site referred by a remarketing banner can be valuable information to personalize and guide them to a conversion.
Personalization is not the answer to all of your conversion problems. You still need to have a solid strategy for your website. More about that later.
Last but not least, it is not a replacement for your entire marketing team! They will still have to drive the strategy based on sound marketing knowledge.

Common pitfalls

There are some common pitfalls to personalization you should be aware of.

  • Be conscious about not creating a filter bubble. You might end up narrowing the site too much and alienate people. There is still joy in discovering the website by yourself.
  • Personalization is about metrics. The same way you measure success, you should measure how personalization impacts your goal. If it doesn’t help, ditch it and try something new.
  • If you don’t have content to personalize, there is no point in doing it. You might want to use the budget to work on your content, it will have a bigger impact.
  • On the other hand, don’t focus on content alone. Personalization can also be about experience.
  • It should be non-invasive, visitors should not feel like a cash cow on the website.
  • Marketing should drive strategy and product selection, not you IT department.
  • Don’t overdo it! Less is more.
  • Don’t lose user context between different systems. If users have to move off the website, make sure you keep their context so you can leverage there too. Or you can start thinking about a unified platform.
  • Not all of your sites needs personalization.
  • Use a system where you own the data.
Riddle me this

Before you get all excited and jump in head first, let’s answer these 4 questions first. It will make you think about how personalization can help you.

Why?

Why do we need to personalize? Is there a business KPI mandating this? This will help to get buy-in when you have to get the budget. Don’t personalize for the sake of personalizing or just because everyone is doing it. There should be a clear business goal behind it, this will ultimately drive your strategy.
For example one of the goals could be to increase lead capturing on the website. There are different roads that lead to success. If you don’t have an easy to use website, start solving that. If no one finds your website, start with that. If people come to your site on the mobile device and it’s not responsive yet...well you get my point. Personalization will only help if your website has a solid base to start from.

Who?

This is basically a traditional marketing question. Who is your target audience? Chances are you used personas to create the information architecture of your current website. Personalization will allow you to dynamically discover the persona of the visitor based on their behavior.
If you don’t have those, you can look into the target audience you defined in your traditional marketing strategy. The only question there to ask is if they are still relevant in a digital world.
Other ways of coming up with audience segments is ‘good ole’ marketing research’.
Of course the digital world will give us a lot of options and tools to segment and personalize on different user contexts where traditional marketers can only dream of. We can now have realtime info about their location, device, weather, browsing behavior, … Be sure to think outside of the box when defining segments and personalization rules.

What?

Let’s now think about what you would like to personalize. One basic question to ask is: “will personalization help this page?” Will it help our KPI we defined as measurement for success.
What could drive the bottom line? How can we create a more engaging brand experience online?
What data do we need to be able to personalize? What data do we need to track during the user journey to be able to give the visitor the most engaging experience?
Do we actually need to personalize or can a better UX yield the same results? Can content marketing help?

How?

This should be the last question you ask. Define your goals first, then find the right technology that will enable you to achieve yours. Don’t choose a technology that will limit you in your personalization and contextualization options. Your personalization strategy should not be driven by technology! Of course technology will help you by giving you more tools and data to create an engaging experience, but don’t put yourself into a corner. Make sure the technology is flexible and extensible to fit your needs. Every website will need to capture different data points for every visitor. Future-proof it.

Crawl-walk-run

As with everything, start slow and take it step by step, learn along the way. Keep innovating and testing new ways to engage with your customers. They demand it.
One last thing: make sure it's easy to use. Well integrated with your CMS so non-technical marketers can, and will use it. The easier it is, the more they will experiment and the more you will learn about your visitors.

Good luck!

Tags:  personalization
Categories: Drupal News

Personalization - before you begin

27 February 2015 - 9:06pm

Most websites can benefit from personalization in one way or another. But there are some things you should consider before you jump in and rethink the way users interact with your website.
Personalization can be a very powerful tool to drive the bottom line of your digital business. This can mean different things to different websites. An ad driven revenue model will benefit from more pageviews per session, a lead generation site will benefit from faster and more conversions and so on. Depending on the model you’ll need a different strategy to hit your goals. Let’s find out how we can discover what you need for your site(s).

What is personalization?

This article goes a little deeper into personalization and contextualization. Basically it’s about using the right data points at the right time in the right place. Personalization is all about creating an engaging experience where visitors feel unique. It’s supporting the visitor in his user journey towards conversion. Don’t make this too invasive as people will be scared away if you push them too much. They still need to feel they are in control of their own destiny.

Personalization is a journey, not a goal in itself. It will demand more from your digital marketing team. It's not “set it and forget it”, you will need to create a culture to drive you ongoing digital engagement, learn from it and constantly evolve.

What isn’t?

Personalization is not about remarketing. It’s about the engaging experience you create on your own digital properties. You own the conversion responsibility. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon remarketing, they can work side by side. Knowing a person came back to the site referred by a remarketing banner can be valuable information to personalize and guide them to a conversion.
Personalization is not the answer to all of your conversion problems. You still need to have a solid strategy for your website. More about that later.
Last but not least, it is not a replacement for your entire marketing team! They will still have to drive the strategy based on sound marketing knowledge.

Common pitfalls

There are some common pitfalls to personalization you should be aware of.

  • Be conscious about not creating a filter bubble. You might end up narrowing the site too much and alienate people. There is still joy in discovering the website by yourself.
  • Personalization is about metrics. The same way you measure success, you should measure how personalization impacts your goal. If it doesn’t help, ditch it and try something new.
  • If you don’t have content to personalize, there is no point in doing it. You might want to use the budget to work on your content, it will have a bigger impact.
  • On the other hand, don’t focus on content alone. Personalization can also be about experience.
  • It should be non-invasive, visitors should not feel like a cash cow on the website.
  • Marketing should drive strategy and product selection, not you IT department.
  • Don’t overdo it! Less is more.
  • Don’t lose user context between different systems. If users have to move off the website, make sure you keep their context so you can leverage there too. Or you can start thinking about a unified platform.
  • Not all of your sites needs personalization.
  • Use a system where you own the data.
Riddle me this

Before you get all excited and jump in head first, let’s answer these 4 questions first. It will make you think about how personalization can help you.

Why?

Why do we need to personalize? Is there a business KPI mandating this? This will help to get buy-in when you have to get the budget. Don’t personalize for the sake of personalizing or just because everyone is doing it. There should be a clear business goal behind it, this will ultimately drive your strategy.
For example one of the goals could be to increase lead capturing on the website. There are different roads that lead to success. If you don’t have an easy to use website, start solving that. If no one finds your website, start with that. If people come to your site on the mobile device and it’s not responsive yet...well you get my point. Personalization will only help if your website has a solid base to start from.

Who?

This is basically a traditional marketing question. Who is your target audience? Chances are you used personas to create the information architecture of your current website. Personalization will allow you to dynamically discover the persona of the visitor based on their behavior.
If you don’t have those, you can look into the target audience you defined in your traditional marketing strategy. The only question there to ask is if they are still relevant in a digital world.
Other ways of coming up with audience segments is ‘good ole’ marketing research’.
Of course the digital world will give us a lot of options and tools to segment and personalize on different user contexts where traditional marketers can only dream of. We can now have realtime info about their location, device, weather, browsing behavior, … Be sure to think outside of the box when defining segments and personalization rules.

What?

Let’s now think about what you would like to personalize. One basic question to ask is: “will personalization help this page?” Will it help our KPI we defined as measurement for success.
What could drive the bottom line? How can we create a more engaging brand experience online?
What data do we need to be able to personalize? What data do we need to track during the user journey to be able to give the visitor the most engaging experience?
Do we actually need to personalize or can a better UX yield the same results? Can content marketing help?

How?

This should be the last question you ask. Define your goals first, then find the right technology that will enable you to achieve yours. Don’t choose a technology that will limit you in your personalization and contextualization options. Your personalization strategy should not be driven by technology! Of course technology will help you by giving you more tools and data to create an engaging experience, but don’t put yourself into a corner. Make sure the technology is flexible and extensible to fit your needs. Every website will need to capture different data points for every visitor. Future-proof it.

Crawl-walk-run

As with everything, start slow and take it step by step, learn along the way. Keep innovating and testing new ways to engage with your customers. They demand it.
One last thing: make sure it's easy to use. Well integrated with your CMS so non-technical marketers can, and will use it. The easier it is, the more they will experiment and the more you will learn about your visitors.

Good luck!

Tags:  personalization
Categories: Drupal News

Platform Trumps Product Approach as WCM Ascends in Digital Role

27 February 2015 - 1:49am

Web content management (WCM) has been an important player on the digital technology roster for years, an enabling technology to drive websites and online content. WCM now plays a more powerful role than ever in a digital stack, thanks to the new reality that multichannel digital experiences and overall digital business execution is a C-level mandate.

Buyers entering the WCM market for the first time in a few years – since the LAST time they re-platformed their website – are discovering this new reality.

Here’s the reality in 2015: WCM is the key, central technology on which you build, create, manage, and continually improve an array of rich, digital experiences for your customers across all channels and touch points. It sounds big, broad, and difficult, and it can be, for valid reasons. Forrester Research recently called WCM the “backbone of digital experiences” -- a crystal-clear validation of WCM’s crucial front-line supportive (not ‘supporting’) role in a digital-first organization.

Shifting to being a front-line enabler of rich digital experiences has been no so small feat for WCM vendors, who’ve pretty much all shifted from providing tools to “create, edit, and publish content” to offering a complex tech backbone for multi-channel, personalized content, commerce, and social experiences, digital marketing, and the digitization of business processes.
The challenge for many buyers is to identify and select a new WCM in a crowded market. If you’re leading a digital transformation initiative or simply re-platforming your old CMS, you have to pick a path. The question to consider: Does your organization want and need WCM software product or a platform?

There is a difference here, and it’s not just semantics.

Consider this context. Digital transformation projects aren’t side projects. They’re central to enterprise growth, competition, customer experience, and engagement. WCM plays a primary role in deciding whether your business wins or loses at digital. Financial services? Healthcare? CPG? Even NGO/nonprofits and universities are “competing” using digital channels -- for resources, for donors, for members, for students. Digital experiences, not just digital presence, separate winners from losers.

It’s not only budgets and projects that are on the line. Careers are on the line and competitive survival is at stake. With that context, enter the product vs. platform choice.

WCM product, a.k.a. an all-in-one solution for digital experience delivery
The WCM market has been one of the most vibrant tech sectors over the past five years. We’ve seen the rise of software product vendors like Adobe and Oracle, among others, who’ve bought and built their way to offering large, complex portfolios of WCM and related tools for digital sites and experiences. Their way is one way to approach the issue. Our view, based on research and talking with customers and digital leaders, is that product-centric thinking leads buyers toward an all-in mindset that revolves around a vendor. Product vendors sell a great vision of all-in-one solutions. They want you to go all-in. A product-minded buyer may like what they see -- and if it’s time to replace your outdated WCM with a new WCM, a vendor with lots of related software, intended to function together, can certainly be appealing.

The reality is often different. For instance:

  • The cost and complexity of a portfolio vendor’s marketing suite or cloud bundle is often higher than expected. It may be costs, with an “s”. Buyers who take this approach tell us they often find they’re buying a collection of products and capabilities under different sales reps, different pricing models (some on-premise software, some SaaS, some services, etc.).
  • Integrations across a portfolio of products from one vendor are often incomplete. You might get a lot of capabilities from one vendor, but it will most times require significant integration to make it all work the way you want it to work, to achieve common interfaces, common data layer, etc. Buyers often tell us of the surprisingly high “integration tax” - the cost to shift to a product vendor’s suite of “integrated” software.
  • Inflexibility or challenges if you want to bring other best of breed marketing technology to the table. “Suite” products don’t completely exclude using other products, but their suite approach leans heavily toward unifying on their product suite for as much capability as they can provide: WCM and more, such as online testing, analytics, and marketing automation.

If you lean this way, the decision has implications for long-term cost, sustainability, flexibility for future initiatives, and vendor lock-in. We’ve been speaking to several large enterprises describing what I’d call “buyers’ regret” after investing in Adobe and Sitecore products, getting to the end of their first major digital project, and second-guessing their decision -- they have more sites to re-platform at a cost and timeline they can’t afford.

Research, and our interaction with clients and prospects, shows that vendors’ promises of vast, vibrant “suites” and “marketing clouds” are at odds with the way organizations are acquiring technology. Additionally, a recent Forrester Research report on digital experience platforms advised buyers to examine closely all-in-one vendor offerings, recommending they “be wary of buying into vendors' promises of an end-to-end solution and instead give preference to vendors that invite customers' legacy tool vendors to the party and offer them a pathway to integration.” (Source: Forrester Research, “Market Overview: Digital Customer Delivery Platforms,” December 9, 2014.)

WCM platform, a.k.a. a flexible foundation for a best-of-breed digital tech ecosystem
On the flip side, a WCM platform approach modeled like the Acquia Platform, takes a different approach. It offers a different value proposition. A platform approach prioritizes a foundation of WCM to deliver substantial capabilities for core web content management and digital experience. But it offers this twist. A platform like Acquia Platform (architected as a scalable, cloud-first platform from the start) looks around and says: what do you already use for marketing technology? What do you want to use from your existing set of tools and tech? What do you want to connect to your foundation, your platform? What does your ecosystem look like?

Integration is a hallmark of this approach. A platform centric offering like Acquia’s is open and inviting, so you can bring other tools and technology to the table. It eases the way to an integrated ecosystem for digital experience technology that values best-of-breed tech already embedded in your organization and processes (and your investment); it wants to capitalize on the value (people, process, technology) you’ve already invested in, and build on that value by connecting those systems to Acquia’s WCM foundation. The value add is also in the open-source basis of Acquia Platform: built on Drupal, the Drupal ecosystem includes thousands of pre-built modules that let you add features, capabilities and integrations with external systems as you want, when you want. And, Drupal offers access to a massive pool of skilled devs, admins, users, and agencies/integrators, globally.

The values of flexibility and ecosystem openness, anti-vendor lock in, and extensibility to meet current and future requirements all stack up to provide a distinctive and different option to the suite and “marketing cloud” vendors.

Photo Credit.

Tags:  wcm acquia platform platform product drupal
Categories: Drupal News

Platform Trumps Product Approach as WCM Ascends in Digital Role

27 February 2015 - 1:49am

Web content management (WCM) has been an important player on the digital technology roster for years, an enabling technology to drive websites and online content. WCM now plays a more powerful role than ever in a digital stack, thanks to the new reality that multichannel digital experiences and overall digital business execution is a C-level mandate.

Buyers entering the WCM market for the first time in a few years – since the LAST time they re-platformed their website – are discovering this new reality.

Here’s the reality in 2015: WCM is the key, central technology on which you build, create, manage, and continually improve an array of rich, digital experiences for your customers across all channels and touch points. It sounds big, broad, and difficult, and it can be, for valid reasons. Forrester Research recently called WCM the “backbone of digital experiences” -- a crystal-clear validation of WCM’s crucial front-line supportive (not ‘supporting’) role in a digital-first organization.

Shifting to being a front-line enabler of rich digital experiences has been no so small feat for WCM vendors, who’ve pretty much all shifted from providing tools to “create, edit, and publish content” to offering a complex tech backbone for multi-channel, personalized content, commerce, and social experiences, digital marketing, and the digitization of business processes.
The challenge for many buyers is to identify and select a new WCM in a crowded market. If you’re leading a digital transformation initiative or simply re-platforming your old CMS, you have to pick a path. The question to consider: Does your organization want and need WCM software product or a platform?

There is a difference here, and it’s not just semantics.

Consider this context. Digital transformation projects aren’t side projects. They’re central to enterprise growth, competition, customer experience, and engagement. WCM plays a primary role in deciding whether your business wins or loses at digital. Financial services? Healthcare? CPG? Even NGO/nonprofits and universities are “competing” using digital channels -- for resources, for donors, for members, for students. Digital experiences, not just digital presence, separate winners from losers.

It’s not only budgets and projects that are on the line. Careers are on the line and competitive survival is at stake. With that context, enter the product vs. platform choice.

WCM product, a.k.a. an all-in-one solution for digital experience delivery
The WCM market has been one of the most vibrant tech sectors over the past five years. We’ve seen the rise of software product vendors like Adobe and Oracle, among others, who’ve bought and built their way to offering large, complex portfolios of WCM and related tools for digital sites and experiences. Their way is one way to approach the issue. Our view, based on research and talking with customers and digital leaders, is that product-centric thinking leads buyers toward an all-in mindset that revolves around a vendor. Product vendors sell a great vision of all-in-one solutions. They want you to go all-in. A product-minded buyer may like what they see -- and if it’s time to replace your outdated WCM with a new WCM, a vendor with lots of related software, intended to function together, can certainly be appealing.

The reality is often different. For instance:

  • The cost and complexity of a portfolio vendor’s marketing suite or cloud bundle is often higher than expected. It may be costs, with an “s”. Buyers who take this approach tell us they often find they’re buying a collection of products and capabilities under different sales reps, different pricing models (some on-premise software, some SaaS, some services, etc.).
  • Integrations across a portfolio of products from one vendor are often incomplete. You might get a lot of capabilities from one vendor, but it will most times require significant integration to make it all work the way you want it to work, to achieve common interfaces, common data layer, etc. Buyers often tell us of the surprisingly high “integration tax” - the cost to shift to a product vendor’s suite of “integrated” software.
  • Inflexibility or challenges if you want to bring other best of breed marketing technology to the table. “Suite” products don’t completely exclude using other products, but their suite approach leans heavily toward unifying on their product suite for as much capability as they can provide: WCM and more, such as online testing, analytics, and marketing automation.

If you lean this way, the decision has implications for long-term cost, sustainability, flexibility for future initiatives, and vendor lock-in. We’ve been speaking to several large enterprises describing what I’d call “buyers’ regret” after investing in Adobe and Sitecore products, getting to the end of their first major digital project, and second-guessing their decision -- they have more sites to re-platform at a cost and timeline they can’t afford.

Research, and our interaction with clients and prospects, shows that vendors’ promises of vast, vibrant “suites” and “marketing clouds” are at odds with the way organizations are acquiring technology. Additionally, a recent Forrester Research report on digital experience platforms advised buyers to examine closely all-in-one vendor offerings, recommending they “be wary of buying into vendors' promises of an end-to-end solution and instead give preference to vendors that invite customers' legacy tool vendors to the party and offer them a pathway to integration.” (Source: Forrester Research, “Market Overview: Digital Customer Delivery Platforms,” December 9, 2014.)

WCM platform, a.k.a. a flexible foundation for a best-of-breed digital tech ecosystem
On the flip side, a WCM platform approach modeled like the Acquia Platform, takes a different approach. It offers a different value proposition. A platform approach prioritizes a foundation of WCM to deliver substantial capabilities for core web content management and digital experience. But it offers this twist. A platform like Acquia Platform (architected as a scalable, cloud-first platform from the start) looks around and says: what do you already use for marketing technology? What do you want to use from your existing set of tools and tech? What do you want to connect to your foundation, your platform? What does your ecosystem look like?

Integration is a hallmark of this approach. A platform centric offering like Acquia’s is open and inviting, so you can bring other tools and technology to the table. It eases the way to an integrated ecosystem for digital experience technology that values best-of-breed tech already embedded in your organization and processes (and your investment); it wants to capitalize on the value (people, process, technology) you’ve already invested in, and build on that value by connecting those systems to Acquia’s WCM foundation. The value add is also in the open-source basis of Acquia Platform: built on Drupal, the Drupal ecosystem includes thousands of pre-built modules that let you add features, capabilities and integrations with external systems as you want, when you want. And, Drupal offers access to a massive pool of skilled devs, admins, users, and agencies/integrators, globally.

The values of flexibility and ecosystem openness, anti-vendor lock in, and extensibility to meet current and future requirements all stack up to provide a distinctive and different option to the suite and “marketing cloud” vendors.

Photo Credit.

Tags:  wcm acquia platform platform product drupal
Categories: Drupal News

Context Takes Personalization Into the Future

26 February 2015 - 6:17am

One of digital marketing’s buzz-iest buzzwords is personalization. Marketers are talking about it. Businesses are implementing it. You know you need it. But what is it, exactly?

Personalization helps customers feel like they’re directly connected to your brand, instead of just being part of the masses. Who doesn’t want to feel like the brands we love care about what matters to us? And for brands, that focus on getting as close to 1:1 marketing as possible leads to increases in loyalty and conversion.

Since the beginning of the Internet, people have sought use the web to form personal connections. While that might sound like the introduction to an eHarmony commercial, it extends beyond just connections with other individuals. We are now following and interacting with our favorite brands; we have a direct line to them. The same way we expect a person we’ve had a conversation with to remember our name and a couple key points from our discussion, we expect brands to know who we are and what we’ve “talked” about with them. That is the core of personalization.

So What is Personalization, Exactly?

The simplest, most textbook definition of personalization is the practice of customizing a digital experience to a user’s specific needs and interests, using data collected from the user. Personalization, ideally, is an automated process that combines data collection, real-time segmentation and complex algorithms to provide users with an experience that truly resonates with them. An experience can be personalized through any of the following methods: remembering customer site preferences, tailoring recommendations and offers to their purchase history, automatically recognizing what country they are in, etc.

The first step to a personalized experience is knowing who your customers are. What's their geographic location, what site referred them to yours, what device are they using to view your site? Once you’ve collected information on both known and anonymous users and segmented them by trends, you can begin to personalize for each customer segment. As you’re serving up a customized digital experience, you’re also testing different aspects -- from headlines to button placement -- to continually improve your customer’s experience and increase conversion.

The State of Personalization Today

According to a 2014 report compiled by MyBuys Inc., personalization is one of the top three priorities for retailers along with mobile and marketing. Email has been the most successful out of current personalization efforts for 80 percent of retailers participating in the report. In addition, 23 percent of retailers saw a greater than 11 percent cumulative lift when using personalization.

Personalization is not just limited to commerce, it’s also incredibly important for content too. Users are constantly bombarded with content every time they sign on. Couple that with decreased attention spans, and if you’re not showing a customer content relevant to their interests, you risk losing them entirely.

While personalization is a very customer-centric practice, it also has significant business benefits. One of the most important is helping to steer your customer along the path you want them to take on your website. You need to think beyond the initial visit and think about what you want them to see and do with each return visit. Then, look at what paths your customer has taken on their own and make sure all content that you’re driving them to is relevant based on both paths.

Contextualization is a Game Changer for Personalization

Picture this: You’re a Netflix user and you just watched The Sixth Sense. When you log back on, all your recommendations are comprised only of other M. Night Shyamalan films. This sounds like the stuff of nightmares right? If contextualization is working alongside automated personalization, this thankfully shouldn’t happen.

Contextualization is a key component to personalization. It takes into account not just what you read, saw or did on site, but where, when and why. A single action or a single purchase won’t dictate how a site is personalized to a user. For example, purchase history is often factored into personalization efforts. When it comes to purchase history, seasonality needs to be considered, as many people are buying gifts for friends and family during the holidays and they might not be interested in those products themselves.

This can also lead to a better, more personalized experience. Maybe a customer has planned a camping trip and has been stocking up on gear. While it shows an interest in camping, that doesn’t mean that they only want to see camping equipment every time they visit your site, as their preferred outdoor retailer. However, looking at the list of gear, you notice that most of it is designed for colder temperatures. This is a perfect opportunity to serve up content related to camping in extreme conditions, adding value for the customer and showing that you are paying attention.

By focusing not just on personalization but on contextualization as well, you can find the right balance of how much information to provide based on what pages the customer has visited, what they’ve searched for, how they came to your site, and if they’re viewing your content on the web or via a mobile device.

According to Teradata's 2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey, 90% of marketing and communications executives said that they are focused on obtaining customer data at an individual rather than a segment level. With continued personalization improvements combined with contextualization, brands will get closer and closer to the coveted 1:1 customer interaction as possible.

Tags:  personalization website personalization contextualization
Categories: Drupal News

Context Takes Personalization Into the Future

26 February 2015 - 6:17am

One of digital marketing’s buzz-iest buzzwords is personalization. Marketers are talking about it. Businesses are implementing it. You know you need it. But what is it, exactly?

Personalization helps customers feel like they’re directly connected to your brand, instead of just being part of the masses. Who doesn’t want to feel like the brands we love care about what matters to us? And for brands, that focus on getting as close to 1:1 marketing as possible leads to increases in loyalty and conversion.

Since the beginning of the Internet, people have sought use the web to form personal connections. While that might sound like the introduction to an eHarmony commercial, it extends beyond just connections with other individuals. We are now following and interacting with our favorite brands; we have a direct line to them. The same way we expect a person we’ve had a conversation with to remember our name and a couple key points from our discussion, we expect brands to know who we are and what we’ve “talked” about with them. That is the core of personalization.

So What is Personalization, Exactly?

The simplest, most textbook definition of personalization is the practice of customizing a digital experience to a user’s specific needs and interests, using data collected from the user. Personalization, ideally, is an automated process that combines data collection, real-time segmentation and complex algorithms to provide users with an experience that truly resonates with them. An experience can be personalized through any of the following methods: remembering customer site preferences, tailoring recommendations and offers to their purchase history, automatically recognizing what country they are in, etc.

The first step to a personalized experience is knowing who your customers are. What's their geographic location, what site referred them to yours, what device are they using to view your site? Once you’ve collected information on both known and anonymous users and segmented them by trends, you can begin to personalize for each customer segment. As you’re serving up a customized digital experience, you’re also testing different aspects -- from headlines to button placement -- to continually improve your customer’s experience and increase conversion.

The State of Personalization Today

According to a 2014 report compiled by MyBuys Inc., personalization is one of the top three priorities for retailers along with mobile and marketing. Email has been the most successful out of current personalization efforts for 80 percent of retailers participating in the report. In addition, 23 percent of retailers saw a greater than 11 percent cumulative lift when using personalization.

Personalization is not just limited to commerce, it’s also incredibly important for content too. Users are constantly bombarded with content every time they sign on. Couple that with decreased attention spans, and if you’re not showing a customer content relevant to their interests, you risk losing them entirely.

While personalization is a very customer-centric practice, it also has significant business benefits. One of the most important is helping to steer your customer along the path you want them to take on your website. You need to think beyond the initial visit and think about what you want them to see and do with each return visit. Then, look at what paths your customer has taken on their own and make sure all content that you’re driving them to is relevant based on both paths.

Contextualization is a Game Changer for Personalization

Picture this: You’re a Netflix user and you just watched The Sixth Sense. When you log back on, all your recommendations are comprised only of other M. Night Shyamalan films. This sounds like the stuff of nightmares right? If contextualization is working alongside automated personalization, this thankfully shouldn’t happen.

Contextualization is a key component to personalization. It takes into account not just what you read, saw or did on site, but where, when and why. A single action or a single purchase won’t dictate how a site is personalized to a user. For example, purchase history is often factored into personalization efforts. When it comes to purchase history, seasonality needs to be considered, as many people are buying gifts for friends and family during the holidays and they might not be interested in those products themselves.

This can also lead to a better, more personalized experience. Maybe a customer has planned a camping trip and has been stocking up on gear. While it shows an interest in camping, that doesn’t mean that they only want to see camping equipment every time they visit your site, as their preferred outdoor retailer. However, looking at the list of gear, you notice that most of it is designed for colder temperatures. This is a perfect opportunity to serve up content related to camping in extreme conditions, adding value for the customer and showing that you are paying attention.

By focusing not just on personalization but on contextualization as well, you can find the right balance of how much information to provide based on what pages the customer has visited, what they’ve searched for, how they came to your site, and if they’re viewing your content on the web or via a mobile device.

According to Teradata's 2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey, 90% of marketing and communications executives said that they are focused on obtaining customer data at an individual rather than a segment level. With continued personalization improvements combined with contextualization, brands will get closer and closer to the coveted 1:1 customer interaction as possible.

Tags:  personalization website personalization contextualization
Categories: Drupal News

Digital Leaders Discuss the Future of Media

25 February 2015 - 12:44am

Here in New York City, I’m fortunate to have direct access to leaders who are developing the future of media and entertainment. Some of these executives work at our Acquia customers here in the city; NBCUniversal and Warner Music come to mind. Others are old friends who I’ve met along the way in my career in media at companies like Dow Jones and CBS Interactive.

This year we have started to gather these talents at a monthly meet-up in New York City, so that we can all learn from each other and discuss the latest digital media trends. Last month when we met up at The Ace Hotel, sidebar conversations broke out including one between our customers, Hot 97 Radio and Warner Music, regarding the best digital marketing methods to promote music events. Meanwhile, the director of monetization at Gawker and a consultant to the shopping portal Spring, were off discussing CRM best practices. We’ll be convening again on March 11th at the Ace Hotel. If you work in the media industry and with digital media, please email us if you are interested in these gatherings.

We want to foster this media and technology community in other cities that are leaders in the media industry. Cities that come to mind as media leaders are Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Hamburg, Stockholm, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo. Do you think there are other centers of media? Tell us why in the comments section below.

Now to the EU: On Thursday March 5th 2015, Acquia will be getting some of the best minds in digital media in the UK together at London’s Hospital Club, which bills itself as a hub to create, connect, and collaborate. We certainly expect to do cover those 3 C’s at this event.

Matter, a UK based creative agency that helps firms in all industries innovate and create digital products, has a breadth of experience in working with media companies and publishers. Matter is hosting the event with us, and has brought the start up Immersiv.ly along to discuss how virtual reality (VR) will soon be coming to not just to entertainment brands like games, but also to news media brands. You can see how Immersiv.ly captured the news about the Hong Kong protests in VR manner via their demo site: http://hongkongunrest.com


Immersiv.ly’s virtual reality capture of the Hong Kong protests in 2014.

When I talk to media companies we normally discuss digital media platform priorities such as single sign on, social media curation, video player integrations, content personalization and analytics. So to hear that next on the list is virtual reality, well to me it seemed a bit far off on the product road maps of most media companies outside of the gaming world.

I had the chance to talk with Hugo Pickford Wardle (follow @hugopw), Chief Innovation Officer and founder of Matter, about where virtual reality and even artificial intelligence have a place in today and tomorrow’s newsrooms. We also discussed the digital media community in the UK and what it means that the Daily Mail just bought the US media startup Elite Daily. Hugo will be leading the programming of our event on March 5th.

Hugo Pickford Wardle, Chief Innovation Officer of Matter and Chuck Fishman, Director of Media Entertainment and Publishing, discuss the digital media industry in the UK

Also joining us at the event is Lee Wilkinson, Director of Product and Strategy at Hearst Magazines (follow @ProdDev_LeeW). Lee has quite an extensive background in developing media product and we look forward to hearing his perspective on what media publishers’ digital roadmaps look like in the years ahead. His CV includes time spent at News International where he developed award-winning web, tablet, and smartphone products including the Times and Sunday Times iPad editions, Times Mobile and The Times.co.uk. You can see some of the work Lee did for News International in conjunction with the Matter agency here.

Digital Media Product by News International, Lee Wilkinson and Matter.

Lee also spent time at the Financial Times developing FT.com subscription, FT Mobile, FT Search, and FT.com’s B2B products. What does it mean to develop “media product” that is future proof and engages news audiences and subscribers? We will discuss that at the March 5th event along with Immersiv.ly and Matter. If you are a media executive in London and would like to attend, there may be space available, please email us.

In the meantime, you should check out Lee Wilkinson’s presentation for the UK based Mind The Product where he discusses 15 years of experience in the media industry and how to bring a broad portfolio of disparate digital media products into alignment. Lee has 22 brands at Hearst UK that he has to manage, along with 88 digital products!

Lee Wilkinson - Managing a Product Portfolio from MindTheProduct on Vimeo.

Tags:  digital media media entertainment publishing hearst matter agency news international uk community content
Categories: Drupal News

Digital Leaders Discuss the Future of Media

25 February 2015 - 12:44am

Here in New York City, I’m fortunate to have direct access to leaders who are developing the future of media and entertainment. Some of these executives work at our Acquia customers here in the city; NBCUniversal and Warner Music come to mind. Others are old friends who I’ve met along the way in my career in media at companies like Dow Jones and CBS Interactive.

This year we have started to gather these talents at a monthly meet-up in New York City, so that we can all learn from each other and discuss the latest digital media trends. Last month when we met up at The Ace Hotel, sidebar conversations broke out including one between our customers, Hot 97 Radio and Warner Music, regarding the best digital marketing methods to promote music events. Meanwhile, the director of monetization at Gawker and a consultant to the shopping portal Spring, were off discussing CRM best practices. We’ll be convening again on March 11th at the Ace Hotel. If you work in the media industry and with digital media, please email us if you are interested in these gatherings.

We want to foster this media and technology community in other cities that are leaders in the media industry. Cities that come to mind as media leaders are Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Hamburg, Stockholm, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo. Do you think there are other centers of media? Tell us why in the comments section below.

Now to the EU: On Thursday March 5th 2015, Acquia will be getting some of the best minds in digital media in the UK together at London’s Hospital Club, which bills itself as a hub to create, connect, and collaborate. We certainly expect to do cover those 3 C’s at this event.

Matter, a UK based creative agency that helps firms in all industries innovate and create digital products, has a breadth of experience in working with media companies and publishers. Matter is hosting the event with us, and has brought the start up Immersiv.ly along to discuss how virtual reality (VR) will soon be coming to not just to entertainment brands like games, but also to news media brands. You can see how Immersiv.ly captured the news about the Hong Kong protests in VR manner via their demo site: http://hongkongunrest.com


Immersiv.ly’s virtual reality capture of the Hong Kong protests in 2014.

When I talk to media companies we normally discuss digital media platform priorities such as single sign on, social media curation, video player integrations, content personalization and analytics. So to hear that next on the list is virtual reality, well to me it seemed a bit far off on the product road maps of most media companies outside of the gaming world.

I had the chance to talk with Hugo Pickford Wardle (follow @hugopw), Chief Innovation Officer and founder of Matter, about where virtual reality and even artificial intelligence have a place in today and tomorrow’s newsrooms. We also discussed the digital media community in the UK and what it means that the Daily Mail just bought the US media startup Elite Daily. Hugo will be leading the programming of our event on March 5th.

Hugo Pickford Wardle, Chief Innovation Officer of Matter and Chuck Fishman, Director of Media Entertainment and Publishing, discuss the digital media industry in the UK

Also joining us at the event is Lee Wilkinson, Director of Product and Strategy at Hearst Magazines (follow @ProdDev_LeeW). Lee has quite an extensive background in developing media product and we look forward to hearing his perspective on what media publishers’ digital roadmaps look like in the years ahead. His CV includes time spent at News International where he developed award-winning web, tablet, and smartphone products including the Times and Sunday Times iPad editions, Times Mobile and The Times.co.uk. You can see some of the work Lee did for News International in conjunction with the Matter agency here.

Digital Media Product by News International, Lee Wilkinson and Matter.

Lee also spent time at the Financial Times developing FT.com subscription, FT Mobile, FT Search, and FT.com’s B2B products. What does it mean to develop “media product” that is future proof and engages news audiences and subscribers? We will discuss that at the March 5th event along with Immersiv.ly and Matter. If you are a media executive in London and would like to attend, there may be space available, please email us.

In the meantime, you should check out Lee Wilkinson’s presentation for the UK based Mind The Product where he discusses 15 years of experience in the media industry and how to bring a broad portfolio of disparate digital media products into alignment. Lee has 22 brands at Hearst UK that he has to manage, along with 88 digital products!

Lee Wilkinson - Managing a Product Portfolio from MindTheProduct on Vimeo.

Tags:  digital media media entertainment publishing hearst matter agency news international uk community content
Categories: Drupal News

Core Metrics for a Unified Content/Commerce Strategy

25 February 2015 - 12:28am

This is the eight and final post in an 8-part series called “Building a Content-First Organization." See posts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven.

A unified content and commerce operation doesn’t change your organization’s primary objective: increased sales. But retailers or branded manufacturers that are bringing digital commerce and marketing teams together will want to align and adjust other core metrics to ensure they’re getting a complete picture of how their digital investments are influencing customers in the purchase funnel.

At many commerce-driven organizations, digital marketing teams generally track metrics related to website traffic and other forms of engagement, while commerce teams separately track lower-funnel metrics such as demand and transactions. But digital marketing measurement is now evolving from traditional campaign metrics to a more sophisticated form of attribution modeling. Attribution is a better way to align marketing activities with business performance by providing a more accurate view of the elements that influence a sale. That view gives marketing and commerce teams a better understanding for where they should be placing their bets.

An integrated commerce and content management platform doesn’t solve the attribution problem, but it does give you the opportunity to create a unified view of your customer – the key to accurate attribution. Recent research from Forrester found that marketing and commerce teams that share a technology platform see improvements in a wide range of operational and customer experience metrics, including campaign costs, fulfillment costs per order, time to market and conversion rates.

Integrating content and commerce teams can have a positive impact on other core metrics as well, including:

  • Bounce rate: In its latest eCommerce Quarterly report, marketing tech firm Monetate suggests that for digital commerce companies, “bounce rate might be worth even more obsessive focus” than conversion rate. The reason: 30% of website visitors leave in the first minute. More targeted inbound marketing efforts and landing pages that grab the visitor quickly with compelling visuals or other content can lower your bounce rate, which means visitors are sticking around on your site longer – offering more conversion opportunities. (A bounce rate under 40% is generally considered excellent.)
  • Time on site: Compelling content gives visitors a reason to stay longer. The longer they stay, the more opportunities you have to serve up additional content that leads them down the purchase path. The key is a combination of brand and product content that both entertains and informs your audience, without any barriers to a transaction.
  • Increased cart size: Recommendations and related content can influence customers to consider products or services they weren’t specifically looking for when they came to the site. Showcasing several products in the context of a various lifestyles is a smart approach to brand storytelling that can drive key commerce metrics such as cart size, average order value and lifetime value.

Attribution modeling is far from perfect. But integrating content and commerce data can give you a better foundation for measuring the aggregate activities that have the most influence on your customers – and the biggest impact on sales.

See the series ebook: Why Retailers Need to Reorganize for Effective Content-driven Commerce

Tags:  content and commerce content commerce online commerce metrics
Categories: Drupal News

Core Metrics for a Unified Content/Commerce Strategy

25 February 2015 - 12:28am

This is the eight and final post in an 8-part series called “Building a Content-First Organization." See posts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven.

A unified content and commerce operation doesn’t change your organization’s primary objective: increased sales. But retailers or branded manufacturers that are bringing digital commerce and marketing teams together will want to align and adjust other core metrics to ensure they’re getting a complete picture of how their digital investments are influencing customers in the purchase funnel.

At many commerce-driven organizations, digital marketing teams generally track metrics related to website traffic and other forms of engagement, while commerce teams separately track lower-funnel metrics such as demand and transactions. But digital marketing measurement is now evolving from traditional campaign metrics to a more sophisticated form of attribution modeling. Attribution is a better way to align marketing activities with business performance by providing a more accurate view of the elements that influence a sale. That view gives marketing and commerce teams a better understanding for where they should be placing their bets.

An integrated commerce and content management platform doesn’t solve the attribution problem, but it does give you the opportunity to create a unified view of your customer – the key to accurate attribution. Recent research from Forrester found that marketing and commerce teams that share a technology platform see improvements in a wide range of operational and customer experience metrics, including campaign costs, fulfillment costs per order, time to market and conversion rates.

Integrating content and commerce teams can have a positive impact on other core metrics as well, including:

  • Bounce rate: In its latest eCommerce Quarterly report, marketing tech firm Monetate suggests that for digital commerce companies, “bounce rate might be worth even more obsessive focus” than conversion rate. The reason: 30% of website visitors leave in the first minute. More targeted inbound marketing efforts and landing pages that grab the visitor quickly with compelling visuals or other content can lower your bounce rate, which means visitors are sticking around on your site longer – offering more conversion opportunities. (A bounce rate under 40% is generally considered excellent.)
  • Time on site: Compelling content gives visitors a reason to stay longer. The longer they stay, the more opportunities you have to serve up additional content that leads them down the purchase path. The key is a combination of brand and product content that both entertains and informs your audience, without any barriers to a transaction.
  • Increased cart size: Recommendations and related content can influence customers to consider products or services they weren’t specifically looking for when they came to the site. Showcasing several products in the context of a various lifestyles is a smart approach to brand storytelling that can drive key commerce metrics such as cart size, average order value and lifetime value.

Attribution modeling is far from perfect. But integrating content and commerce data can give you a better foundation for measuring the aggregate activities that have the most influence on your customers – and the biggest impact on sales.

See the series ebook: Why Retailers Need to Reorganize for Effective Content-driven Commerce

Tags:  content and commerce content commerce online commerce metrics
Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Certification Program Ready to Turn 1!

24 February 2015 - 9:55pm

After many years of discussion and debate in the Drupal community, Acquia launched the Acquia Certification Program in March 2014. This past year, there were three exams published and offered on a global basis with participants from over 45 countries and several hundred earning credentials. The exams focus on real world experience and the overriding comments we've heard this past year are the exams are tough but fair. There is now a registry posting successful candidates as well.

Most credentials have been earned with the first exam, Acquia Certified Developer, a core exam which cuts across Web Development, Site Building, Front-end and Back-end topic areas. This exam demonstrates an ability to work across these key areas, which in turn helps make successful developers and great team members.

The two following exams, the Acquia Certified Developer - Back-end Specialist, and Front-end Specialist, demonstrate an even deeper grasp of a specialization. Professionals working with Drupal 7 have been testing out successfully as well.

While the current exams are Drupal 7 focused and will continue to be available, we will also have Drupal 8 exams in the coming year.

There is also a new Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder exam just made available.

Listen to Richard Jones, CTO at i_KOS, talk about his recent experience taking the exam while at DrupalCon Amsterdam, and what it means to him personally, as well as for his business.

Keys to Success: Building Scenario-based Exams

All the Acquia Certification exams are almost entirely scenario based. In this manner, you are testing skills and knowledge instead of just memorization. You are also testing for comprehension in a timely manner, and real world experience is validated through a well constructed and well written scenario-based exam pool.

The scenario for each question is challenging to write, and the test writers draw upon their experiences to do so. The information provided in each scenario is required to answer the related question properly.

To have an exam almost entirely scenario-based is a great accomplishment. We have had an outstanding group of subject-matter experts craft these exam questions based on job task analysis research and they follow sound psychometric best practices.

The latest effort for the Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder certification exam is no exception.

The Exam Writing Workshop

This month, the Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder exam was created and the Acquia Certified Developer exam was updated in one combined exam writing workshop. The exam writing workshop is a very intensive and focused effort. The latest effort had a great cross section of the company represented for the workshops, which I facilitated, with Jeff Beeman, Erik Webb, Alex Ward, Adam Malone, Kenny Carlile, and Jonathan Webb serving as Subject Matter Experts.


The exam writers, Subject Matter Experts, are put through a rigorous workshop to write items with supporting documentation. They must agree as a team that each item is relevant, technically accurate and readable.

Several rounds of tech reviews are conducted throughout the workshop and each item must be able to stand up to scrutiny. Test writers have reported that they even dream of test items at night during the course of an intense multi-day workshop, as total immersion to the process is needed to be successful. Team dinners usually end up turning into great debates on something from earlier in the day.

Happy testing!

About Peter

Peter Manijak @PeterManijak: Peter is an experienced Certification and Learning Professional, responsible for creating and managing successful global programs.

Tags:  certification acquia drupal planet cert developers drupal
Categories: Drupal News