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CFN and Acquia: Improving the Customer Experience in Financial Services

28 June 2016 - 6:04am

According to data from a recent PWC report, 83% of business leaders surveyed in a 2016 Global FinTech Survey believe they are at risk of losing business to stand-alone FinTech companies -- Wealthfront, Betterment, Robinhood, etc. -- and wealth management services are specifically seen to be one of the sectors most vulnerable to disruption.

Incumbents such as Commonwealth Financial Network (CFN) are making bold moves to demonstrate their value to existing and future clients. CFN is partnering with the CI&T digital technology agency and using Acquia Cloud Site Factory and Drupal to keep pace with the new waves of emerging digital opportunity.

As the largest privately held independent broker/dealer and registered investment advisor in the US, CFN supports more than 1,650 independent financial advisors nationwide. CFN’s goal is to provide over 750 mobile-friendly Drupal websites on the Acquia Platform which are the primary marketing and communication channel for their affiliated advisors. These sites are the gateway for resources, support and financial tools and therefore need to provide the most useable and efficient way possible for clients to consume this information.

With a 50% improvement in the time it takes to deploy a new advisor website and better search engine optimization, CFN maintains full visibility and governance over those hundreds of websites while still allowing the individual advisors to personalize the experience and content in a way that’s unique to their business and services. Maintaining consistency of the master brand and creating new sites quickly as a new financial advisor is onboarded are also paramount to CFN

From speed of deployment to keeping control of the brand while giving a high degree of flexibility to the advisors, perhaps the biggest advantage that CFN gains is agility. They’re able to quickly create new sites and use advanced automation to easily deploy and maintain them. They're also able to extend the codebase to meet their advanced requirements with the option to integrate with new technologies over time.

To learn more, I encourage you to check out the case study.

Categories: Drupal News

D8 Modules: Responsive and off-canvas menu, Display Suite, Media Entity

24 June 2016 - 3:11am

Drupal 8 continues to gain momentum; in fact, Drupal 8.1 is already available! More and more modules continue to be migrated over from Drupal 7 and we’ve been chronicling them — along with other Drupal 8 news — on the Acquia Developer Center blog. Let’s take a look at Responsive and off-canvas menu, Display Suite, and Media Entity.

Responsive and off-canvas menu

Maintainers: Tancredi D’Onofrio, aka tanc on Drupal.org, is Senior Developer and Technical Lead at the UK-based Agile Collective Ltd. co-operative company, which specializes in Drupal and open source solutions for clients in the public sector, charities, and social enterprises.

What Does Responsive and off-canvas menu Do?

On mobile devices, the module provides an off-canvas menu triggered by swipe gestures or a ‘burger’ icon; on desktop-width displays, it provides a horizontal menu with drop-downs. Tancredi explains how this enhances Drupal 8: “Out-of-the-box, D8 provides a method of rendering your chosen menu in a block. It’s up to you and your theme to make it function, respond and look how you want. This module also provides a block to render your menu in but only down to a specified breakpoint. Below that breakpoint, this module renders your menu as an off-canvas slide-out panel that is activated by a triggering ‘burger’ icon.”

Why Does It Matter?

This module gives site builders a fairly simple solution to the mobile menu problem while not dictating or limiting too much how you have to present your desktop-sized menu. Given that it is quick and easy to implement — and it looks pretty good — it should reduce the cost of producing a custom mobile menu. Simply install the module and configure its settings. The only caveat here, according to Tancredi, is that, “The module requires a small amount of CSS theming knowledge. In particular, the horizontal menu will need colors applied to it to fit the site theme."

One nice “bonus” feature is that on a site with multiple menus, the mobile menu can be comprised of multiple Drupal menus combined together. So if you have a ‘main menu’ and a ‘utility menu’ at desktop size, these two menus are then merged to be displayed in a single off-canvas mobile menu.

Check out the full Responsive and off-canvas menu profile in the Acquia Developer Center blog

Display Suite

Maintainers: Kristof De Jaeger and Bram Goffings (swentel and aspilicious on Drupal.org). Bram actually got his start in Drupal working as an intern under Kristof on Display Suite. Nowadays, Bram is the technical lead at Belgian agency Nascom and Kristof is a Drupal core developer and co-owner of a small digital agency in Belgium called eps & kaas.

What Does Display Suite Do?

Display Suite (“DS”) gives you the power to control how your site content is displayed using a drag and drop admin interface — without any of the coding or deep Drupal-technical knowledge of theme template files you’d need otherwise. With Display Suite, you don’t need to ask your developer colleague, Drupal service provider, or geek friend for help arranging your nodes, views, teaser lists, search results, comments, user data, etc. You can just get on with arranging how your content is displayed.

Kristof explains that "DS simply works out-of-the-box (as soon as you have entities on your site), “It allows you to swap out layouts for every entity and for every view mode available on your site using the Field UI.” Even better, “It also allows you to access and rearrange display fields in the Field UI that are otherwise (without Display Suite) unavailable to you.”

Why Does it Matter?

“One of the reasons I wrote Display Suite all those years ago was to give power to front-end people so they could easily configure entities and view modes. They can do all this without me or other developers having to create template files for them because they didn't know all the internals of render arrays, or nodes.” Here we get a clue about his deeper motivation, “So in some ways, it relieves the burden a bit for developers to focus on what they love more, and front-end developers don't have to bother developers.”

This happy arrangement has led to DS’s popularity: Drupal.org reports back almost 160,000 installations. And there are almost certainly more in the wild, given that not every site reports back its module usage.

Check out the full Display Suite profile on the Acquia Developer Center blog

Media Entity

Maintainer: Janez Urevc, aka slashrsm, who comes from the tiny and beautiful European country of Slovenia. He was one of the initial founders and leads of the Drupal 8 media initiative. At Zürich-based MD Systems — themselves heavy contributors to Drupal 8 — Janez is a senior engineer and team lead.

What Does Media Entity Do?

Media Entity — installed on roughly 1500 websites as of mid-2016 — is new to Drupal 8. It provides a storage component for media, “a very lean and lightweight entity,” according to Janez, which can reference any media resources. Media Entity creates a relationship between a Drupal installation and a given media resource, for example local files, YouTube videos, Tweets, Instagram photos, and so on.

Thanks to its pluggable architecture, it also handles business logic related to specific media resources. Janez explains, “We are currently able to automatically provide default thumbnails and deliver remote metadata about media resources, as well as easily mapping remote metadata to Drupal fields. We will be adding more logic like that in the future.”

As of the writing of this post, there are plugin modules supporting the following media types:

Why Does it Matter?

Media Entity gives developers a set of standard code-tools to deal with with media. By developing media-type plugins, they can interact with their media resources and provide additional business logic for them. By exclusively using standard Drupal tools and APIs (Fields, Entities, Views, etc.), you can make your media-related code play nice with others. It lets you integrate with and benefit from other Drupal 8 systems and modules.

This module helps site owners in at least two ways. Important information — metadata — about individual media items that used to be hard to obtain can now be easily made part of rich media libraries. It also allows them to use whatever standard tools they are already familiar with to manipulate their media, making integration with other systems and other parts of their websites much easier.

Check out the full Media Entity profile on the Acquia Developer Center blog

Is there a Drupal 8 module you’d like to see profiled? Let us know in the comments!
Categories: Drupal News

The long path to being understood

22 June 2016 - 1:29am

I sent an internal note to all of Acquia's 700+ employees today and decided to cross-post it to my blog because it contains a valuable lesson for any startup. One of my personal challenges — both as an Open Source evangelist/leader and entrepreneur — has been to learn to be comfortable with not being understood. Lots of people didn't believe in Open Source in Drupal's early days (and some still don't). Many people didn't believe Acquia could succeed (and some still don't). Something is radically different in software today, and the world is finally understanding and validating that some big shifts are happening. In many cases, an idea takes years to gain general acceptance. Such is the story of Drupal and Acquia. Along the way it can be difficult to deal with the naysayers and rejections. If you ever have an idea that is not understood, I want you to think of my story.

Team,

This week, Acquia got a nice mention on Techcrunch in an article written by Jake Flomenberg, a partner at Accel Partners. For those of you who don't know Accel Partners, they are one of the most prominent venture capital investors and were early investors in companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Slack, Etsy, Atlassian, Lynda.com, Kayak and more.

The article, called "The next wave in software is open adoption software", talks about how the enterprise IT stack is being redrawn atop powerful Open Source projects like MongoDB, Hadoop, Drupal and more. Included in the article is a graph that shows Acquia's place in the latest wave of change to transform the technology landscape, a place showing our opportunity is bigger than anything before as the software industry migrated from mainframes to client-server, then SaaS/PaaS and now - to what Flomenberg dubs, the age of Open Adoption Software.

It's a great article, but it isn't new to any of us per se – we have been promoting this vision since our start nine years ago and we have seen over and over again how Open Source is becoming the dominant model for how enterprises build and deliver IT. We have also shown that we are building a successful technology company using Open Source.

Why then do I feel compelled to share this article, you ask? The article marks a small but important milestone for Acquia.

We started Acquia to build a new kind of company with a new kind of business model, a new innovation model, all optimized for a new world. A world where businesses are moving most applications into the cloud, where a lot of software is becoming Open Source, where IT infrastructure is becoming a metered utility, and where data-driven services make or break business results.

We've been steadily executing on this vision; it is why we invest in Open Source (e.g. Drupal), cloud infrastructure (e.g. Acquia Cloud and Site Factory), and data-centric business tools (e.g. Acquia Lift).

In my 15+ years as an Open Source evangelist, I've argued with thousands of people who didn't believe in Open Source. In my 8+ years as an entrepreneur, I've talked to thousands of business people and dozens of investors who didn't understand or believe in Acquia's vision. Throughout the years, Tom and I have presented Acquia's vision to many investors – some have bought in and some, like Accel, have not (for various reasons). I see more and more major corporations and venture capital firms coming around to Open Source business models every day. This trend is promising for new Open Source companies; I'm proud that Acquia has been a part of clearing their path to being understood.

When former skeptics become believers, you know you are finally being understood. The Techcrunch article is a small but important milestone because it signifies that Acquia is finally starting to be understood more widely. As flattering as the Techcrunch article is, true validation doesn't come in the form of an article written by a prominent venture capitalist; it comes day-in and day-out by our continued focus and passion to grow Drupal and Acquia bit by bit, one successful customer at a time.

Building a new kind of company like we are doing with Acquia is the harder, less-traveled path, but we always believed it would be the best path for our customers, our communities, and ultimately, our world. Success starts with building a great team that not only understands what we do, but truly believes in what we do and remains undeterred in its execution. Together, we can build this new kind of company.

--
Dries Buytaert
Founder and Project Lead, Drupal
Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Acquia

Categories: Drupal News

Building a content maintenance strategy: Don’t be a Hoarder

21 June 2016 - 10:42pm

Having a content management system (CMS) in place for my website means that I don't have to worry about maintaining my content right?

Not exactly... and when you get down to it, content maintenance is something that you need to actively plan for.

The CMS that you have in place is just a tool that allows you to input, create, format, and collaborate on content, and then delivers that to your website’s visitors with varying degrees of targeting and personalization. If Content Management is about developing and delivering content, then Content Maintenance begs the question: who manages and maintains your content? How often do you refresh existing content? When do you know it is time to remove content from your website? When you do remove content, do you delete it or archive it?
These are all questions I’ve been asking myself lately.

More content is good. Right? Well, maybe… you want to make sure you’re writing and building content that adds value for your user and is accurate and helpful. I think we’ve all been there — spending a month working on a new landing page or a few months on a new website, launching it, and then sitting back and relaxing. But what will it look like in six months? Websites can quickly turn into the digital equivalent of an episode of Hoarders — and for some organizations, failure to weed their content libraries can cause reputational risk and confusion. An online news site will usually hold onto all of their articles and other media — newspapers find a lot of value offering access, sometimes paid, to their “morgues.”

For many organizations, the failure to clean their content house can cause huge problems. Discontinued products that appear to still be in stock, expired promotions and landing sites that are forgotten and left to rot, comment threads on community sites that are left unmoderated... failure to be mindful about content will leave a bad impression about your brand. Dumping scads of content into your site can confuse customers who may be new to your site and looking for some guidance as to what they should read “first” — this leads to the eternal “less-is-more” versus “more-is-more” debate.

I’m not here to tell you that I manage content on my websites well — I don’t! I’m here to tell you that I’m thinking about it these days, and you should too. This is the process I am going through right now:

  • Audit the content

    To begin the process and ensure you’re starting with a clean house, do a content audit to determine what you have on your website. Create a spreadsheet that maps all the types of content that you currently have. When was the last time a discrete piece of content was updated? Does it get any traffic? This will give you a quick list of assets to purge from your website. Tip: make sure to redirect those URLs to more relevant content, this is very important for search engines to drop old links and index new ones. If your CMS filters content by type (such as content type ie. blog, webinar, video), I recommend going through each item; if not, I recommend starting with your main navigation and then going through all pages linked off of it. Using a web analytics tool is also a helpful way to audit your content.
  • Think about a plan, and create a process

    The document that you created during your audit can be used to understand what you have in place, what assets are performing, and which are old and in need of updating or retirement. After collecting a comprehensive view of your library of assets you need to set a process to review which ones are valuable, which are candidates for updating, and which need to be retired. This will entail notifying content “owners” and communicating your needs for either approval to archive or a request for the content author/sponsor to deliver an update to the original asset.
  • Update Frequency

    Are there specific types of content that need to be updated more often that are time sensitive? Are there sections of content that are dated and therefore never need to be updated such as press releases? Part of this plan is creating a content edit/review calendar to communicate when content should next be reviewed, and by whom.


    On Acquia.com, we try to update our product pages quarterly — this is because product information is very important to our users and the success of our business, and product information is often evolving. However, our customer case studies don’t need to be updated on a regular basis because the stories contained in them never change. Instead, case studies are reviewed less frequently for relevance and impact. Different content classes will have different timeframes and actions.
  • Decide who will manage updates

    The answer to the question of “who?” depends greatly on how your organization is set up. Some organizations might have a dedicated team who manages all of their content including web, some will assign it out to sub groups within their department and manage it that way. There are many ways to do this, but making sure someone is responsible is key. You need to know that your content is being reviewed and maintained.
  • Communicate transparently

    Use the CMS to allow communication between your content creators, reviewers, and editors. If you determine that you want to revisit a page based on a certain frequency, create a date field to contain the next review date, and then use Views to bring up this month’s list of content reviews.


    Know that you need to retire a content item on a particular date? That’s just another date field, and another view. Finally, if you have the ability to use revisions for content nodes, use them and be descriptive when commenting on them, as they’ll help you keep track of changes that happen over time.

Why does this all matter?
Being mindful about your website’s content ensures your users will have a great experience and find the content they need to help make their decision or satisfy their needs— I have yet to meet a website visitor who likes to view stale or outdated content.

Keeping content updated will also make the search engines love your site, as search engines like Google can detect when content is refreshed and it helps add value to your relevance and page rank. Read my post on SEO optimization to learn more.

Frequently updating your website will ensure that your internal teams will keep using your website and sharing it with others — if anyone internally loses value and trust in your content, it will all be downhill from there and you’ll be dealing with the perpetual grumbling: “Our website sucks.”

The cleaner your content is, the easier it will be to maintain long term. Do yourself a favor and maintain it so you don’t have to spend months cleaning it up when the content board of health declares your site uninhabitable.

Categories: Drupal News

Developer Relations Part 2: Collaborating With Internal Technical Experts

17 June 2016 - 3:45am

As the counterpart to sales, marketing is fast-paced and cutthroat. It’s not enough to hit your numbers; marketers want to “crush” them. Marketers, by nature, are often aggressive, fond of hyperbole and hype, and can come off as overly-ambitious; all of which usually works when selling Ginsu Knives and Sham-Wows, but can backfire when it comes to “developer marketing.”

Developers — and that includes the ones inside a tech company who create the products and services you are tasked with promoting — have just as much disregard for the hype machine that is marketing as the big audience of external developers you’re trying to reach and influence. Your own experts are just as skeptical of clickbait headlines, listicle blog posts, deceptive subject lines in spam, ad-tech, tracking cookies, and “white papers” that have way too many adjectives and superlatives -- so rely on their reaction and opinions as a proxy for the developers you’re trying to reach.

Marketers are never going to think like developers and vice versa, but there are some steps a smart developer relations person can take to have better collaboration on content while respecting the valuable time and concerns of their most technical subject matter experts.

Be Humble

Even though you may be an expert digital marketer with years of experience in lead generation, managing successful campaigns, and creating engaging content, accept the truth that this is not your world. When it comes to topics, ask your own developers, builders, and engineers: “What is bugging you lately? What do you want to talk about?” It’s always easier for someone to contribute to something they actually care about.

Approach each piece from the standpoint of “I’m here to learn.” If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Repeat the answer back to make sure you’ve understood. Developers are some of the smartest people you’ll meet so take this opportunity to really learn something from them.

Value Their Time

As busy as you might be, developers are probably busier. Just look at the Drupal community and the contributors who are prepping for the next Drupal 8 release, migrating modules from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, fixing issues to move towards the next milestone, creating new modules, etc. Developers in the midst of a sprint have very little time for content creation.

Make it as easy as you can for them. Email them questions to fill out. Or if you decide to meet in person to work on a piece, record the meeting and have it transcribed. Create a draft from the Q&A or the transcription for them to edit; it’s much easier than confronting them with a blank page. Draft something for them to review -- don’t ask them to simply create. You want to make the process as collaborative as possible.

Build Trust

Building trust is arguably one of the hardest things to do in pretty much any aspect of life. But it’s super important to build trust from the start when working with developers. How? Don’t edit their work (with the exception of basic spelling and/or grammar) without informing them. Throw your best practices for SEO out the window. The last thing a developer wants to see is a published piece they have invested their time in which has been significantly changed by an eager search marketer determined to use the content to improve rankings on a search engine results page. Deliver drafts when you say you will and stick to deadlines and editorial processes.

Become an Evangelist

Giving the developer community props is always appreciated. Don’t just look for content that benefits your agenda, but rather content that showcases the work your company’s developers do, as well as the work being done with your technology by customers, partners, and even contributors working for competitors. Write bios for them that highlight their contributions. Share their content even if you didn’t work on it with them yourself. Celebrate their achievements by sharing them.

When Drupal 8 was released, we decided that in addition to the usual “Drupal 8 is here!” type of blog posts, we looked at who had the highest number of contribs to Drupal 8 and profiled them on the Acquia Developer Center. It wasn’t just to promote the release of D8 but to showcase the people who made D8 happen; the people who poured their time and energy into its release, even those who didn’t work for Acquia.

The Module of the Week program is another example. This was a way to not only showcase Acquia developers and engineers working on the Drupal 8 module migration, but other members of the Drupal community as well. Developers work hard and appreciate when that work is recognized.

In order to be successful at developer marketing, you pretty much need to go against what you’ve learned to be a successful marketer. Put your ego aside. A personal tip? Find common ground with your interests outside of work. That helps build the relationship, leading to better collaboration down the road. But above all, be open, curious, and patient. It will go a long way.

Any other tips? Leave them in the comments.

Categories: Drupal News

Ask an expert: Top SEO Questions Answered

15 June 2016 - 3:04am

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of any digital strategy, so I decided to ask an expert — Keith Vera from DeltaV Digital — some direct questions that may help you with your own SEO plans and strategy.

Kate: Hi Keith. Tell us who you are please.

Keith: I have been in the digital marketing space for over twelve years. I’m based in the Washington, DC area, and have spent most of those years working for, and with, smaller digital agencies. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work with some of the best digital talents and partners across the country, and have been able to work with some fascinating clients during that time. What I enjoy most of all about working in a small agency is the great relationships and connections I have made. When you work with the best people and clients who all share a true partner mindset, you are able to accomplish truly amazing things.

Kate: What company do you work for and what exactly do you do?

Keith: I am a cofounder and partner at DeltaV Digital, a full-service digital marketing agency focused on digital research, strategy, and execution. Day-to-day I help lead digital strategy teams that are orchestrating multi-channel integrated digital marketing programs, including SEO, SEM, social advertising, digital display, and website design and development. Some of our more intense and interesting projects involve enterprise website and content migrations to help insure SEO viability while mitigating brand loss across the major search engines.

Kate: What did you do prior to cofounding DeltaV Digital?

Keith: In 2006, I was the first member of another DC-based digital marketing startup, EyeTraffic Media. In 2011, EyeTraffic, was acquired by Penton Media, where I served as VP of Digital Marketing for the external agency arm of Penton Marketing Services.

Kate: Alright Keith let’s get into the direct questions and our topic at hand and start with the obvious. What is SEO?

Keith: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is an online marketing methodology to increasing your website rankings on search engine results pages (SERPS) across major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. SEO is an extremely important digital marketing channel, as clicks to your website properties from organic listings are “free,” and traffic from organic search clicks is generally highly-relevant to your product or service offerings. SEO is about catering to both your audience through things like website content quality, clarity, and organization, as well as the search engine algorithms and overall user experience through strong website architecture and performance.

Kate: Do the old school things such as meta keywords and meta descriptions still matter?

Keith: Absolutely. Although meta descriptions and keywords do not affect search engine rankings, they can be used by the engines as indicators to understand what a specific website page is about. Your page meta information is also where marketing overlaps with SEO efforts. Your page title and meta descriptions are what the engines use to create your organic listing and links displayed on SERPs. You should think of these areas as your marketing opportunity, where you can influence users to click on your organic listing instead of your competitors’ listing. A better written, and more relevant page title and meta description will help garner a better click-through-rate (CTR) which is yet another factor in engine ranking algorithms. Additionally, meta descriptions and keywords usually have an impact on internal search tools such as the Google Search Appliance or Elastic Search, so well-tagged pages could impact your internal search results and experience substantially.

Kate: Does black hat vs white hat SEO still exist, since Google’s latest changes?

Keith: Yes, there are certainly still black, white, and gray-hat types of SEO strategies to try and get strong rankings across Google and the other engines. Over the last couple of years, the engines have made substantial strides to clean-up SERPs from non-relevant results from their indexes, and overall they’ve done a great job. There have been some companies that have been hurt pretty substantially by these updates, but in most of those instances there were some of those “areas of gray” in their SEO execution (either known or unknown) that caused the penalization. People are always looking for new ways to manipulate search engines, and the engines continue to get smarter about understanding and mitigating these tactics. The best solution is start with SEO best practices and work to build on them across your content strategy, looking to provide true value to your audience and, of course, follow developer guidelines for your site.

Kate: What is more important, on-the-page tagging or back-end site building adjustments?

Keith: I would say that depends on the site and the content strategy. For large publications or content-heavy sites with new consistent and relevant content, the back-end architecture of the site is going to make far more of a difference to SEO rankings and success than looking at hyper-specific page tagging. With the proper site structure in place, the content by itself will likely deliver some good SEO success. With that said, page tagging is a part of site taxonomy, an important site architecture SEO component. Strong page tagging and addressing other on-page SEO elements will impact pages getting indexed and SERP rankings, help CTR on rankings you have already achieved, and your internal search functionality.

Kate: Is link building still important?

Keith: Link building is still important, but the type of links you should be looking to build and how those programs work has evolved substantially over time. The easiest thing to focus on when looking to generate inbound links is creating and promoting high-quality content. Visitors sharing your content with their digital ecosystem give strong ranking indicators to Google that your content is relevant and valuable to those audiences, and that is exactly what Google is striving to do, index and rank the most relevant, timely, and valuable content for its users.

Kate: When should a company hire an agency vs. doing SEO themselves?

Keith: This is a great question and one that a lot of companies struggle with. The first thing to think about is that while SEO is free traffic, it certainly isn’t free to execute on. Regardless of whether you have an in-house operation or an agency partner, great SEO requires marketing resources, content resources, and development resources among other things. Both ways require a commitment to the channel in ways that I think are not always considered or understood.

The value of having in-house SEO employees is that they are (hopefully) dedicated to SEO execution 100% of the time. If you are hiring for SEO you should look for someone with a strong background in web development and SEO, as well as marketing. Individuals with those diverse skillsets are difficult, but not impossible, to find. One of the main issues that I’ve seen with an in-house strategy is that typically there is only a single person charged with SEO execution, and they end up wearing many hats other than SEO, making it extremely difficult to find sustained success.

The benefit of hiring an agency is that you are able to get a team dedicated to your SEO success that should have all of the skills (development/marketing/SEO) necessary to put you on the path to success. Of course, these teams do have other clients, but I would argue that is actually a substantial benefit. Multiple clients are helping to subsidize the cost of having a team of experts and access to pricey enterprise-level SEO and development tools that companies with in-house SEO execution would otherwise have to buy themselves.

Kate: How do you measure SEO success?

Keith: We measure SEO success a number of ways, and to some degree SEO can be held accountable to the same standards as other digital marketing channels. The first, and probably most obvious, is indexing and ranking success for targeted website pages or the most important keywords. The number one goal of SEO is to get pages indexed and achieve rankings on search terms. A byproduct of those rankings is traffic and actual ROI that comes from users visiting your website through that channel (leads and sales) which we measure as well. We also measure success on a development level, looking at positive changes in things like web site errors, site speed, 400 errors, broken links, and redirect errors, all of which cause a poor user experience and will negatively impact your SEO

Kate: What blogs do you read on SEO?

Keith: Some of my favorite SEO resources are Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and Moz. Google also has a lot of great blogs and resources that anyone in the industry should be looking at. Finally, there are some other strong platform blogs out there like HubSpot, Kissmetrics, and SEMRush.

Kate: Anything you would like to share that I didn't ask?

Keith: I would just share a couple of the biggest trends that we are seeing and things to concentrate on for the future of SEO. The first is that Google’s latest algorithm changes place more of an importance on mobile-friendly websites and environments, and having (or not having) a mobile-friendly website will have an ever-greater impact on ranking performance. The second is the local side of SEO, which requires a different type of SEO strategy as local search results are relevant to a user’s location. With the increase in smartphone usage, there has been a substantial increase in searches that have local intent, and having a strong local presence can not only increase your visibility, but help insulate you from future algorithm changes that focus on strong local SEO.

Thanks to Keith for speaking with me and answering lots of great questions specific to SEO!I hope these questions are helpful to your digital strategy, I know they are helpful to mine. Please feel free to add any additional questions in the comments.

Categories: Drupal News

Microsoft buys LinkedIn: the value of data

14 June 2016 - 1:39pm

In my latest SXSW talk, I showed a graphic of each of the major technology giants to demonstrate how much of our user data each company owned.

I said they won't stop until they know everything about us. Microsoft just bought LinkedIn, so here is what happened:

By acquiring the world's largest professional social network, Microsoft gets immediate access to data from more than 433 million LinkedIn members. Microsoft fills out the "social graph" and "interests" circles. There is speculation over what Microsoft will do with LinkedIn over time, but here is what I think is most likely:

  • With LinkedIn, Microsoft could build out its Microsoft Dynamics CRM business to reinvent the sales and marketing process, helping the company compete more directly with SalesForce.
  • LinkedIn could allow Microsoft to implement a "Log in with LinkedIn" system similar to Facebook Connect. Microsoft could turn LinkedIn profiles into a cross-platform business identity to better compete with Google and Facebook.
  • LinkedIn could allow Microsoft to build out Cortana, a workplace-tailored digital assistant. One scenario Microsoft referenced was walking into a meeting and getting a snapshot of each attendee based on his or her LinkedIn profile. This capability will allow Microsoft to better compete against virtual assistants like Google Now, Apple Siri and Amazon Echo.
  • LinkedIn could be integrated in applications like Outlook, Skype, Office, and even Windows itself. Buying LinkedIn helps Microsoft limit how Facebook and Google are starting to get into business applications.

Data is eating the world

In the past I wrote that data, not software, is eating the world. The real value in technology comes less and less from software and more and more from data. As most businesses are moving applications into the cloud, a lot of software is becoming free, IT infrastructure is becoming a metered utility, and data is what is really makes or breaks business results. Here is one excerpt from my post: "As value shifts from software to the ability to leverage data, companies will have to rethink their businesses. In the next decade, data-driven, personalized experiences will continue to accelerate, and development efforts will shift towards using contextual data.". This statement is certainly true in Microsoft / LinkedIn's case.

Source: Microsoft.

If this deal shows us anything, it's about the value of user data. Microsoft paid more than $60 per registered LinkedIn user. The $26.2 billion price tag values LinkedIn at about 91 times earnings, and about 7 percent of Microsoft's market cap. This is a very bold acquisition. You could argue that this is too hefty a price tag for LinkedIn, but this deal is symbolic of Microsoft rethinking its business strategy to be more data and context-centric. Microsoft sees that the future for them is about data and I don't disagree with that. While I believe acquiring LinkedIn is a right strategic move for Microsoft, I'm torn over whether or not Microsoft overpaid for LinkedIn. Maybe we'll look back on this acquisition five years from now and find that it wasn't so crazy, after all.

Categories: Drupal News

Developer Relations Part 1: Writing for Developers

10 June 2016 - 3:11am

“Developers as a group have proven immune to the majority of traditional software-marketing approaches. Marketing to developers requires a very different approach, and in many cases marketing as it has traditionally been known is simply impossible.” - Stephen O’Grady, The New Kingmakers

As a content marketer, a key part of my job is understanding the various audiences that come to Acquia with different informational needs. The challenge is more than how to write for them, but understanding their interests. What tone do they prefer? Would they rather read a 500-word blog post or a 20-page technical whitepaper? One area I’ve seen fellow marketers struggle with (and one I’ve only just started to learn about since the beginning of the year) is writing for the developer audience. Over the next few weeks I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned first-hand as well as reading how it’s done by the experts.

The conflict begins with the concept of “developer marketing” versus “developer relations.” It’s a clash of cultures coming from two totally different schools of thought on what content should be.
In the eyes of a typical tech marketer, content exists to generate leads, attract traffic through search, build brand awareness, and ultimately help drive revenue. Yet those pipeline and lead-generating tactics used to meet those goals simply does not work on developers. They want facts and how to’s, not theory or hyperbole. They want to hear the perspective of their peers, not “thought leadership” about the “rise of innovation networks” or “Seven Tricks for Writing Emails That Will Get Opened.” They see through the hype, and they don’t take the bait. They don’t want to be spammed by emails and hate gated content, but like email newsletter digests with relevant developer news, and will sign up for a webinar that promises to teach them some new technical technique. If you want to create content that developers care about, you need to abandon your bag of marketing tricks entirely and think like a developer.

Go To The Source

The only way to write content for developers is to work with developers on that content. If you’re working on a piece about a Drupal module, reach out to the maintainer. Talk to the community of contributors, gain real insight from people who are using the module or have contributed to it.

This is how I got my start a few months ago. When Acquia announced its Drupal 8 Module Acceleration Program (MAP), I began contributing to the Drupal 8 Module of the Week blog series that was launched in conjunction on the Acquia Developer Center. Having only used Drupal in a content author capacity, the only way to tackle this project was to work directly with the maintainers. My fellow content team colleagues and I put together a list of interview questions and created a template that could be used over and over. To date, the Module of the Week series has been considered a success; not just because it provides information on modules that were migrated to Drupal 8 but because it also highlighted the work and success of the maintainers.

If you have multiple people creating developer-centric content, the key is consistency. Work with developers to create guidelines around tone that ensure you’re writing for them in the way they want. Ask them what topics they are interested and ask them what they’re sick of. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism and make sure to circle back with questions or changes. Finally, always fact check drafts with a developer, especially when “translating” a very technical concept for a less technical, non-developer audience.

Be a Human Being, Not a Hype Machine

Nearly every developer and engineer I spoke to while researching this series was sick of the “marketing hype machine.” They don’t want to read posts chock full of buzzwords and adjectives. They can’t stand hyperbole; for everyone’s sake, just skip phrases like "This is the best" or "This incredible blah…”. They don’t want to read, they want to try. Developers want to try things on their own first and when they have a question, they want an answer.

Be specific and informative and get to the point quickly. If you’re highlighting a product for example, explain what it does in specific terms, providing the technical details and specifications. Talk about its benefits — and weaknesses — in a frank way that lets developers know how it works and more importantly, how it will make their lives easier.

If you’re going to hype anything, promote the developer you’re working with on the content. Highlight their contributions and commits, acknowledge them and the work they’ve done.

How To vs. Theory

Developers want to know how to do things, not just read about things. Theory and “thought leadership” (or as I like to call it, an informed opinion piece) doesn’t resonate.

To remedy this at Acquia, we worked with our former head of engineering to create a style guide for the developer audience, or as he put it, how to “not set off a developer's BS detector.” This has been heavily vetted internally by our own engineering department and serves as our go-to whenever we’re approaching new developer content. It includes tone guidelines, key messages, links to best practices for documentation, and other companies who do it well. Here’s an excerpt:

Key Messages To Reinforce

  • More: How does this benefit developers? How does this make developers more powerful? How does this allow developers to get more done with less?
  • Fast: How does this get it done faster? How does this help to meet the needs of the business quicker?
  • Relevant: How is this a current / relevant skill that models trends in web development? Tell interesting stories to back this up.
  • Focus: How does this help developers think less about stuff that is noise and allow them to focus on building sites?
  • Relax, we got you covered: Acquia is doing hard work (ops, QA, building new tools, qualifying new stacks, etc) so you can just focus on what you need to do to build reliable and awesome sites.
  • Solid: This isn't a hack, this will scale, this is something they can count on.
  • Defensible: Here’s an opinionated position that can be proved to be better
  • Building on the shoulders of giants: Build on the open source ethos and how as a community we can accomplish anything
  • Plays nice with others: This thing fits into your workflow and here’s how.

But what do you do if you have to cater to both developer and marketing audiences? Content for one can easily alienate the other. This was a struggle we faced with the acquia.com blog. Our developer content was performing well but we were also trying to build a marketing audience. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, we decided to give developers their own space and the Acquia Developer Center born. All developer- focused blog content from acquia.com was moved there and this is where all new developer content is posted. Segmenting your audience between two websites is always a risk but in this case, it’s paid off; we’ve seen a 15% increase in unique visitors (acquia.com and dev.acquia.com combined) in it’s first year.

Write it Verbatim

If you’re not a highly technical person, if you’ve never written a line of code in your entire life, you can still write content for developers. The best way to do this is to use their words verbatim. Do a Q&A session and use that as your content. After completing a draft, share it with the person you worked with to ensure it’s accurate. This is super important.

Above all else, do not change their words to make it sound better or for optimization purposes. Trust me, just don’t.

Stay tuned for more including best practices for working with developers on content, how to build relationships in the developer community and more.

Anything I missed? Add it in the comments.

Categories: Drupal News

Migrating and Distributing Content with Acquia Content Hub

8 June 2016 - 11:11pm

Guest blogger Adam DeGiorgio is a Director at Salsa Digital, an Acquia agency partner. Adam was Salsa’s very first employee back in 2003 and has spent most of his tenure as Managing Director. Recently, he moved into a relationship management role to spend more time working with clients, his true passion. This is part two of the series.

Content management between multiple sites can be a challenge. When working with a large legal firm to deploy their “Graduate” family of sites after moving them from Sitecore to Drupal, we needed a tool to help facilitate content management between 50+ country and lateral sites that would be efficient for both administrators and non-technical users. Acquia Content Hub made that happen.

While designing the solution for our client in 2015, Acquia introduced Salsa to Content Hub and we decided to include it as part of the solution. We believe this was Australia's first implementation of Content Hub.

Implementing Content Hub

As early adopters of Content Hub we found a number of bumps in the implementation related to support for broader community modules. However, keeping an architecture that utilises Drupal’s core APIs kept those bumps to a minimum. With any new implementation late in the game, the main challenge was working out how to retrofit a new system into a site that wasn’t built with Content Hub in mind. Working with Acquia, and specifically our technical account manager Josh Waihi, enabled us to manage the architectural challenges that arose as we discovered the capabilities of Content Hub.

Initially, the individual countries were going to be configured in the backend, including their representation in the country selector in the front end of the site. Knowing that Content Hub was entity based allowed us to move this into a configurable entity, making it easier for content editors to have some control over how items in the country selector would appear in the UI, rather than it being defined in the code.

Overall we found that Content Hub was quite easy to work with. It’s based on the Drupal Entity API using UUID’s to maintain the link between content across the linked sites. Once that concept was clear it was fairly straightforward to structure the site to work with it.

Building a central authoring environment shifts traditional Drupal site projects from being just front-end focused to also looking at the UX for content editorial.

The structure of the legal firm’s sites ensured a straightforward process to replicate the site for new regions. The simple tag based filtering and synchronisation system within Content Hub made it very easy to link up the new sites. The backend configuration for attaching a new sub site requires just a simple form is completed to add in the API credentials.

Saving Time and Money

Using Drupal paired with Content Hub has transformed the way our client can go about spinning up new microsites, which in effect has created a massive edge by facilitating fast go to market for new campaigns. For example: before Drupal, a new basic five page microsite would cost many tens of thousands of dollars in licensing fees, plus another six figures for implementation and about three months to execute that one site. We’re about to set up over 40 new microsites which will cost less than these licensing fees alone, and be done in about 4 weeks, thanks to Drupal and Content Hub.

Content Hub was the right solution for this project. Given there was a need for numerous country sites with a lot of similar content, it made total sense to create a platform to easily share that content across those sites from one place, rather than duplicating the content multiple times. Without Content Hub, not only would this be more work initially, but an enormous strain on content maintenance resources and costs.

Categories: Drupal News

How to build a developer audience and why it matters

8 June 2016 - 12:12am

We ran into an interesting problem on the web team here at Acquia because we have two very distinct audiences that don’t overlap. This split audience of visitors to acquia.com caused us a bit of an identity crisis conflict for our main marketing website. If we tried to create content for one audience we started to dilute the other and visa versa. It was also hard for the users in either audience to easily find the content that mattered to them because their user paths and goals were very different. Our two audiences are (1) business users looking for a CMS platform and (2) web developers who know about Drupal and want to learn more about Acquia or find helpful tools. This conflict in audience motivation and needs hindered the the growth of either audience.

How do you solve the problem of divergent audiences?
Going against the old military warning not to divide one’s army, we decided to separate these two audiences into two separate websites. This would enable us to focus each site on the individual audience it was catering to, which in turn would help each audience to grow. You can only take this action if you have enough content and two sufficiently divergent audience types to support two websites, and we were fortunate that we did. [I wouldn’t recommend this option if you are lacking in content however. In that case, I would recommend re-architecting your website to allow for a better user flow for each or all of your audiences until you have enough content to separate them out onto completely different sites.]

Another reason we decided to split the two websites was because of the user goals and expectations. We wanted to build the trust of our developers because we weren’t doing that well on our corporate website, which was trying to serve a mixed audience on the same page and asking a visitor to declare if they belonged to one or the other group. Developers want free tools, free assets, and all the extra benefits specific to dev tools which we make sure is promoted prominently, front-and center on dev.acquia.com. Our business audience -- IT leaders and digital marketers -- wants to learn more about our products, read our assets and case studies, and look to contact us for more information. Developers rarely want to be contacted. We have content for both groups but it never flowed together properly on acquia.com.

“Developers are the most-important constituency in technology. They have the power to make or break businesses, whether by their preferences, their passions, or their own products…[they] have, out of necessity built up an immunity to traditional marketing tactics. Marketing materials should consist primarily of either code of documentation. They can’t really be marketed to at all.” The New Kingmakers

How do you know if your strategy is working?
When we made the decision to break out our developer audience and move it to a new web property, we made sure to create benchmarks and define success metrics before we kicked this off. Our main goal for the developer audience was to gain an increase in traffic since we are trying to build our influence with developers, and our other secondary goals were to increase free tool signups and downloads.

We launched the new developer site last July -- nearly 12 months ago. So the question is, now that we have a site built with the needs of those developers in mind, has the traffic and therefore audience grown?

In comparing our total previous traffic on a single site to our total traffic today with both sites combined, we have seen a 15% increase in unique visitors to date since breaking apart acquia.com and launching dev.acquia.com in the summer of 2015.

Whats next?
Now that we have our website up and running, the goal is to keep quality content flowing out and making sure it is getting distributed to the right places. We work closely with our in-house development team and our external partners to make sure we are able to hit our site goals. Newsletters have worked really well for this audience, which we have tailored both in content and in design layout specifically to them. Creating a newsletter of your top content along with syndicating your content out to the places your readers are spending their online time will be beneficial to your content strategy and audience growth. In order for your new website to continue growing, you need to ensure your site gives the visitors a reason to come back. You have to show your value through your content and offerings. Watch your bounce rates and time on site to see how your users are engaging with your content. This new site (and indeed any site) will always be a work in progress, so continue to watch it and brainstorm ideas to keep it fresh and valuable for your audience. If you let it go stale your audience will know and stop coming back.

My blog on marketing metrics has some valuable insights into what to look for when you start watching your audience grow.

In summary:

  • Know what problem you are trying to solve
  • Make sure you have enough content for your audience before splitting it off on its own
  • Set success metrics and benchmarks -- know what success looks like
  • Start building, writing, distributing and tracking.

Have you ever divided your audience onto separate sites? have others built up new audiences? What successes are you seeing?

Categories: Drupal News

Web Metrics a Digital Marketer Should Care About

4 June 2016 - 2:49am

To be successful in digital marketing -- heck, all marketing -- you need to be data driven. I look at different types of metrics on a daily basis, but I have a core set of metrics I look at weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and wanted to dive into why I look at these and how these same metrics might help you and your strategy. Let’s dig in.

Tools I Use
The key tools I use are Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Crazy Egg heat mapping, and SalesForce for revenue and lead data reporting.

What Metrics and Why?

Standard Metrics
Unique visitors: I look at unique visitors as my standard traffic metric, since pageviews are inflated when you’re looking at top-line traffic. A single person can be counted a dozen times if you look at just pageviews as they move throughout your site, sessions are also another inflated metric when looking at total visitors. One unique visitor over your set time period shows a more true representation of your total audience

Page views: I know I said above I feel this is a deceptive metric but it does add value. Page views call tell you how deep your visitors are digging into your site, how engaging your content is to induce them to read more … or it can be an indication that they can’t easily find what they are looking for. Page views are super important to publishers who need to build an inventory for ad impressions. For a marketer they mean something else altogether. This is also a good way to keep track of the load on your site.

Mobile traffic: I watch this number to pay close attention to our mobile traffic growth. B2B companies haven’t picked up the levels of mobile traffic like most B2C companies have, but it has been slowly increasing. We want to always keep our site optimized for mobile ease-of-use.

Organic Traffic: This type of traffic is our most valuable because it comes to us naturally, it wasn’t bought or bribed. These users are showing genuine interest in our products and information about them, and we want to ensure this is growing.If it isn’t, then we need to catch it fast and see what we can do to fix it.

Click events: I track all clicks on pages set up through Google Tag Manager. This gives me the ability to have granular level reporting on sections of our pages as needed. This data helps add value to our heat maps that we also generate through Crazy Egg software.

Engagement metrics:
Time on site: What does this metric mean? Is too long a time spent on your site bad, meaning the visitor can’t find what they need? Is it good because they are staying to read your blog content? This metric gains value from the qualitative data discussed above. More time on blog type content is a good thing, because it means the visitor is reading more and finding value in your content. When you notice users spending large amounts of time on pages that don’t seem to make sense, you can learn a lot from doing a usability test and watching someone go through your site.

Pages per session: this metric tells you on average how many pages each visitor looks at before they leave your site. If you are a blog site, 1 might be ok. You need to know your business and your user paths to define what success means for your business.

Bounce Rate: This metric indicates if the content your visitor lands on is what they expected. A high bounce rate means someone landed on the page and then left without clicking or taking any other action. This is something to watch, since you want to ensure people know what to expect when they land on your site, and so you can keep them engaged enough to take that next step.

Exit Rate: Where are people leaving your site? You know that everyone will leave your site at some point but if you are aware of this metric you can help ensure they are leaving because you have fulfilled their needs, and not because you haven’t provided them with the logical next step which indicates your UX might need some work.
For further detail, you can read my previous blog post on how to keep traffic on your site, where I talk a lot about exit rate and bounce rate.

Sales Funnel Metrics:
Total Leads/total form fills: I track total leads collected by our web properties on a regular basis so we can easily track our conversion rate of all visitors to leads. We consider form fills to be one of our key goals and I track this by total leads coming in through our website. I collect this number through SalesForce.

Total MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads): I track total leads and then watch as those leads flow through our sales funnel. I like to keep track of how many of our total leads are turning into qualified marketing leads for our sales team.

Topline Opportunities: This is tracking potential dollars generated from the website. It is important to know which conversion sources on your website are generating potential for your organization. I track top-line opportunity to ensure the quality of the leads coming through and at what rate they turn into opportunities.

Total Bookings: How much money does my website generate? Reporting on total bookings or closed business can help you justify spending more on your website if and when necessary, and it is also a huge validation that you are doing your job well. If your site is an ecommerce site this is very important. For B2B businesses like ours, we need to ensure our site can provide the information our customers need to be able to make a purchasing decision.

How often do you look at metrics?

I look at Google Analytics every day for ad hoc requests that come up, but I really dive into specific numbers on a weekly basis. I’ve found digging in more often than weekly will make you go a bit crazy because data fluctuates regularly and taking a long view is better to see trends worth digging into. I also populate an executive dashboard on a weekly basis for our CMO and CEO to see how our website is performing and get a view into the health of the site which is an indicator into the potential health of our business. I roll my reporting up weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. This gives me a nice view to compare seasonality trends and to watch the growth long term.

These are the base set of core metrics I pull on every site I manage. Some sites require that I go into more detail in specific areas such as a blog section or product pages if the site has a specific focus or goal. I pull these metrics out of Google Analytics on a weekly basis and keep them in a spreadsheet. This allows me to easily go back and compare data year-over-year or month-over-month. (Author’s tip: Exporting data out of Google and storing it in spreadsheets has been beneficial to me on multiple occasions.)

Why do you care?

As a digital marketer you are probably asked to develop a web strategy or sub-strategy for things like blogs or social media. How do you start that exercise? Metrics of course! I recently needed to dig into our blog and create a blog strategy to drive its growth and examine its role in our overall content strategy. I started by looking at the various metrics described above relevant to our blog to get an idea of where we were starting from and what reasonable growth targets would be. You can apply this type of thinking to other strategies as well, like content and even personalization strategies. I think this information is important to every digital marketer because if you don’t know what has been successful on your website then you don't know how to create more of it?

Categories: Drupal News

Demandware acquisition heats up the customer experience market

3 June 2016 - 4:00am

The battle for the marketing cloud just got way more interesting. This week, Salesforce announced its acquisition of Demandware for $2.8B in cash. It will enable Salesforce to offer a "Commerce Cloud" alongside its sales and marketing solutions.

The large platform companies like Oracle and Adobe are trying to own the digital customer experience market from top to bottom by acquiring and integrating together tools for marketing, commerce, customer support, analytics, mobile apps, and more. Oracle's acquisition of Eloqua, SAP's acquisition of hybris and Salesforce's acquisitions of ExactTarget were earlier indicators of market players consolidating SaaS apps for customer experience onto their platforms.

In my view, the Demandware acquisition is an interesting strategic move for Salesforce that aligns them more closely as a competitor to marketing stack mega-vendors such as Adobe, Oracle and IBM. Adding a commerce solution to its suite, makes it easier for Salesforce's customers to build an integrated experience and see what their customers are buying. There are advantages to integrated solutions that have a single system of record about the customer. The Demandware acquisition also makes sense from a technology point of view; there just aren't many Java-based commerce platforms that are purely SaaS-based, that can operate at scale, and that are for sale.

However, we've also seen this movie before. When big companies acquire smaller, innovative companies, over time the innovation goes away in favor of integration. Big companies can't innovate fast enough, and the suite lock-in only benefits the vendor.

There is a really strong case to be made for a best-of-breed approach where you choose and integrate the best software from different vendors. This is a market that literally changes too much and too fast for any organization to buy into a single mega-platform. From my experience talking to hundreds of customer organizations, most prefer an open platform that integrates different solutions and acts as an orchestration hub. An open platform ultimately presents more freedom for customers to build the exact experiences they want. Open Source solutions, like Drupal, that have thousands of integrations, allow organizations to build these experiences in less time, with a lower overall total cost of ownership, more flexibility and faster innovation.

Adobe clearly missed out on buying Demandware, after it missed out on buying Hybris years ago. Demandware would have fit in Adobe's strategy and technology stack. Now Adobe might be the only mega-platform that doesn't have an embedded commerce capability. More interestingly, there don't appear to be large independent commerce operators left to buy.

I continue to believe there is a great opportunity for new independent commerce platforms, especially now Salesforce and Demandware will spend the next year or two figuring out the inevitable challenges of integrating their complex software solutions. I'd love to see more commerce platforms emerge, especially those with a modern micro-services based architecture, and an Open Source license and innovation model.

Categories: Drupal News

Analytics Now Available In Acquia Lift

2 June 2016 - 12:00am

"Data! Data! Data! I cannot make bricks without clay!" -Sherlock Holmes

Delivering personalized experiences requires data. The more data, the better the experience. And when that information also takes context into account—information about the preferences, behavior and interests of your visitors—the more powerful the possibilities become to provide a relevant, engaging experience.

Acquia Lift builds a profile from all available data for every person that interacts with your brand. This includes the content that an individual is most interested in, their level of engagement, their historical behavior, their geography, how they were referred to you, and so on. It can also integrate with other channels and systems, such as Marketo, to pull in their stored data and stitch together a comprehensive picture of the customer across their the various devices and identities into a single, unified profile. This ongoing stream of visitor data is matched in real-time to segments in order to enable Lift’s testing and targeting capabilities.

But what’s data without measurement? We’re excited to announce that with Lift’s recently launched analytics capabilities, it’s easier for customers to not only capture data but also understand it. Lift customers can now start to measure the impact of their personalization efforts, identify optimization opportunities, and gain insight into their users.

Introducing Acquia Lift Analytics

Lift now features a powerful analytics engine, complete with a series of pre-built reports and dashboards that help customers answer questions such as:

  • What does the customer journey look like?
  • How do my different visitor personas behave?
  • How do my different segments of visitors perform?
  • What content resonates the most with different audiences?
  • How is visitor engagement trending?
  • How are my campaigns performing?

The new analytics in Lift was built to provide insights that help customers better understand their audiences and achieve their personalization objectives. It is not intended to duplicate the extensive information that you already obtain from your existing web analytics tools but rather to supplement it. For example, providing a report for "bounce rate" in Lift is probably not that interesting, since that is web-centric information readily available from Google Analytics. On the other hand, showing the number of unique people by Lift persona or segment that reached a certain goal can be very useful information for a marketer who is assessing the effectiveness of their personalization campaigns.

Six month trend of number of people in the Lift “Developer” segment who filled in an inquiry form

Lift’s analytics was designed to ensure that reports and dashboards run quickly. The immense amount of data in Lift can take time for an analytics engine to crunch, but customers don’t have time to waste waiting for results. To ensure that performance is fast and efficient, we combined the power of Amazon Redshift, a petabyte scale data warehouse, with pre-built aggregations for every report and dashboard that are refreshed nightly. This means that most reports and dashboards will run in seconds, despite millions or trillions of rows of visitor data being involved.


Conversion rate and average time, by persona, of people who filled in an inquiry form

Available Reports

Documentation on the over 30 new Lift reports and dashboards can be found here. They are broken out into the following topic areas:

  • Content - Insights into which content performs best, optionally filtered out by Lift segment or goal event.
  • Conversion - Insights into which people reached a particular goal event, optionally by persona or content keyword.
  • Engagement - Insights into engagement scores, the number of page views over certain periods of time, and the amount of time a customer spends on your websites, optionally filtered out by goal event.
  • Events - Insights into event trends, optionally filtered by Lift segment or goal event.
  • People - Insights into people, broken out into facets such as geography, persona, segment, favorite content, etc.
  • Segments - Insights into segment performance, such as which segments reached a particular goal event, or which segments tend to be in common with other segments.
  • Touches - Insights into where visitors are coming from and what kind of platforms they are using.

We hope you like the new analytics capabilities in Lift. Stay tuned for more to come!

Categories: Drupal News

How to Search and Set Filters in Acquia Content Hub [VIDEO]

31 May 2016 - 11:46pm

Most major brands are managing hundreds of individual digital experiences, all of which require their own content. That content can easily end up siloed within different systems, across different departments. Finding what you need quickly can be a serious challenge.

One solution to that challenge is Acquia Content Hub, with its built in search functionality. With the right filters and automatic subscriptions in place, content discovery and syndication becomes much less of a hassle. This saves valuable time that could be better spent creating great content, rather than searching for it.

Here’s a quick demo of how Acquia Content Hub’s search and filter functionality works:

Categories: Drupal News

Is There Still a Need for a Comment Section?

27 May 2016 - 5:22am

“Don’t read the comments.”

That has become a mantra of creators across the Internet. No matter how much time and effort one puts into an article, video, photo, etc., inevitably someone will have something negative to say. Comment sections have become battlegrounds rather than bridges to creators or brands, a haven for spam and hate speech. The ability to anonymously voice opinions and spew whatever comes to mind has directly contributed to the growing practice of trolling: posting deliberately offensive or provocative comments online with the aim of upsetting or eliciting an angry response from someone. A perfect example of this is the the trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot; here you’ll find a comment section riddled with disdain, fat-shaming, blatant misogyny and claims of ruined childhoods, all over a movie that hasn’t even been released yet.

This was not always the case. At the dawning of Web 2.0, comments were considered critical to success; they were the first real example of two-way conversation between a brand and their online audience. Comments, along with product reviews (which were brilliantly harnessed by Amazon) were the first example of consumers having a direct digital line to voice their thoughts and opinions with brands on formerly one-way web pages. However, consumers were quick to realize the power they wielded. The Age of the Customer brought forth legions of trolls and spammers like orcs out of Mordor. Now there was a venue to openly complain, criticize, battle and belittle anonymously.

Spammers began to see an opportunity as well, deploying automated bots, armed with free Rolexes, work from home opportunities and prescription drug offers. Many a blogger was notified they had comments only to find a horde of spam had invaded their turf.

Spam aside, comments are just too important to relinquish altogether. Turning them off would lead to accusations of being unwilling to answer questions or “engage.” Letting anything go without review meant truly odious words would live under one’s brand and reputation. So brands began to moderate heavily. They set user guidelines and began investing in technology that automatically filtered out both posts that violated said guidelines as well as spam. Despite their best efforts, two things started to happen:

  • Commenters figured out new ways to stay vicious while still staying within the guidelines
  • Social media began to change the entire digital space and made comments obsolete

Once social share functionality was introduced, the higher quality conversation around articles, blog posts, videos, etc. moved outside of the website. It makes sense if you think about it; would you rather talk to random strangers about an article on that article or have a discussion about it with your family and friends as you share it with them on Twitter or Facebook? Also, if read something and really liked it, would you rather comment on it or share it with others who might also enjoy it?

With the best conversations about a piece of content happening on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, the comments section is losing it former importance. Comments are no longer the preferred place for two-way conversations.

Social isn’t the enemy but a saving grace in a way. Social sharing can lead to an increase in organic audience growth, expanded reach, and as Google factors in the impact of social media on its search algorithm, even improve search optimization. Tools like Disqus allow users to use their social logins to comment instead of creating a new login for every site. But despite this, native comment sections still are a breeding ground for negativity.

In response, several large publications like CNN, Bloomberg, Reuters, and Popular Science have decided to do away with comment sections entirely. In fact, Wired has chronicled the end of commenting; since 2014, more and more news sites have been ditching their comment sections. However, the removal of comment sections has been met with some fierce opposition, especially in a time where there is a lot of backlash at the media and concern around free speech.

This begs the question: does digital media still need comment sections? Personally, I can see both sides of the argument, so I’m not sure.

“I look at comments similar to ecommerce product reviews,” explains Katelyn Fogarty, Acquia’s Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing (and fellow blog author). “It really shows the value and engagement [of a post] if a reader comments.”

Kate also notes that social media has contributed to the lack of engagement with comment sections because it’s easier to take to sites like Twitter to voice opinions.

“I personally think comments are important and we might just need to find ways to encourage users to comment and not skip over [them]”.

A happy medium that sites like Hellogiggles (whatever, I already admitted to technically being a millennial) have been implementing is “selective commenting”; allowing comments on some articles and not others, at the discretion of the publication. But probably the best hybrid approach is using social media plugins to act as the “outsourced” comment section of a website. The best example of this in my opinion is Buzzfeed; who uses the Facebook Comments plugin. Even though native commenting is available, Facebook commenting is the first option users are presented with. It uses Facebook’s own reporting functionality to mark things as spams and report abuse. As a frequent Buzzfeed commenter, I will fully admit to reporting spam and hate speech when I see it. I know, sometimes heroes don’t wear capes.

I, like many people apparently, got Sarah Manning in the ever-important “Which ‘Orphan Black’ Clone Are You?” quiz.

There are some industries where despite some negativity, comments still hold quite a bit of value. In the tech space, where credit, kudos and collaboration are important, so are comments.

For us at Acquia, the ability to comment on posts is particularly important to our audience of technical pros and developers and our engineers who operate in the collaborative model of open source development. The Acquia Development Center sees a lot of quality exchanges between members of the Drupal community. Comment sections on websites with technical content serve as forums, and are a familiar way for audience members to not only communicate with the “brand” but also with each other. While Acquia is far from a major news publication, and doesn’t publish polarizing articles about politics, we need to provide our customers and users and partners with a “place” to share, ask, critique and comment. Both on our own properties but also in the greater digital world outside of our walls.

What do you think? Should comment sections be eliminated in favor of social media discussions? Or do comment sections still have value?

(Yes, that was intentional).

Categories: Drupal News

Kickstart Your Personalization Plan with a Digital Strategy Workshop

27 May 2016 - 12:04am

Last winter when we committed to revamping our personalization strategy on the Acquia Developer Center site, dev.acquia.com, we asked the Lift product team if we could be treated like an Acquia customer from start to finish. One of our key product offerings is Acquia Lift, a product built for website personalization. When someone purchases Lift they have the option to purchase a Professional Services workshop to guide their implementation and focus on their personalization strategy, and we wanted to go through that process ourselves on one of our digital properties. This idea worked well for my team who got to participate in an active workshop, and the Lift team was able to use the experience as a training exercise for on-boarding new employees.

What is an Acquia Lift Workshop?
The Acquia Professional Services team helps to build the foundation for our customers’ personalization strategy by using a workshop format. We use the workshop to define the customer’s business objectives, create customer profiles and personas that shape how Lift is configured, identify key tactics, and set milestones on an execution roadmap. This workshop generally takes place during a planning phase, which for new site builds can happen during the design and development process. The workshop is delivered by a Strategy Consultant and a Technical Consultant over (5) consecutive days: four (4) continuous days on site and one (1) remote.

What’s Included in a Workshop?

  • Review of all historical data
  • Development of an overall personalization strategy
  • Development of Lift personas and segments, creation of a consolidated customer profile
  • Exploration and definition of personalization tactics to run within a pilot campaign
  • Alignment of a technical roadmap to business objectives

What happens before the workshop?
Before our workshop began, we needed to give the Lift team access to our Google Analytics account so they could create benchmarks and get a feel for our historical data. We also needed to determine who on our team would attend the workshop. We wanted our key stakeholders to be present, along with the members of our team who would be using Lift on a daily basis.

What happens during the workshop:
The workshop started by really stepping away from the project at hand, and creating a theoretical situation to work with. We started by mapping out what our ideal hotel experience would look like from booking to checking in. This got us thinking about the experience and focusing on the important pieces of that journey. We were also asked to draw out our experience instead of just voicing it, so that we’d have to move outside of our comfort zone and really think differently. It was a great exercise and a fun way to start off the workshop. Then we took what we learned from our hotel booking journey and started applying it to our current website. We thought about what goals we’d want our users to achieve, and then considered step by step how they would get there. This experience was pretty eye opening because we found lots of gaps in our flow. We were ignoring the ease of use and expecting our users to figure it out. We were so close to the experience from working with it on a daily basis that we didn’t even realize where we were failing.

Once those gaps were identified, we started defining what we really wanted to happen and the steps we might take to get there. Honestly this is where the meat and potatoes was for me in the workshop. In defining the journeys we wanted our users to take, we identified most of the personalization strategies we have put into place. This also identified large areas of our site that we needed to fix and update. I love when the rubber meets the road!

The next big focus was building our unified customer profile. This is always an important step, because the more you know about your visitors’ browsing experience, the smarter you can be in delivering that experience. Step one was collecting the data and making sure we collecting it from every possible touch point in the full customer journey, and not just the one website we were looking at currently. We were focusing on dev.acquia.com, but also needed to consider that the user may have come from acquia.com, or may have been going to other properties such as docs.acquia.com or insight.acquia.com.

Once we had our customer profiles, we started building and segmenting our audiences. We spent a lot of time defining our audiences. Dev.acquia.com dives deep into the developer audience, so we started tagging all content by roles such as back-end developer or front-end developer. That way we could build audiences around those groups of users. Then for each role, we were able to build out a larger content strategy.

Last but not least we needed to define our success metrics. What were the goals that would make us feel like our personalization strategy was successful? We defined these for dev.acquia.com as being:

  • Grow our known user in Lift
  • Increase webinar registrations
  • Increase free tools usage
  • Increase loyalty through increased page views

What happens next?
At the end of the workshop you receive a well crafted report of everything that was discussed during the session. For me, this acted as a to-do list. We found a bunch of gaps in our user flows that we needed technically fixed before we started personalizing. We created tickets for those and assigned them out. Next we continued to work with the Lift Ready team to start setting up some of our first personalizations. We created our audience segments during the workshop, and for the Acquia Developer Center website it was based on tagged topics and tagged content personas. We started by attacking our homepage and personalizing the left hand rail by audience. We also identified a drop off in our traffic on our blog landing pages, so it was recommended that we add in content recommendations based on topic to the right sidebar within our blogs. Then we waited and watched the data come in. Internally our next step was to continue this process on our main website acquia.com, and to connect the user profiles to build one unified view of our users. This step is an ongoing project and something that we’ll continue to watch and iterate on regularly.

Categories: Drupal News

The Cloud Evolution

24 May 2016 - 11:20pm

Long before we knew what it was called, we started relying on cloud- based technology. And it began simply as we all started to manage our virtual email accounts. But this initial introduction to cloud computing only hinted at how reliant we would become on its capabilities 15 years later.

Today, the cloud is with us all throughout the day, most tangibly through our smartphones. From the moment our alarm app wakes us up, we check our Gmail account and the weather at breakfast, before setting up Google Maps on our commute and listening to our library on iTunes. We check our Facebook feed and online bank account at lunchtime, before scrolling Flipboard for an evening recipe. After work, we might go for a run and rely on our Fitbit and iTunes library again. Once back home, we enjoy some online shopping on websites powered by Amazon Web Services, watch our much-loved TV series on a streaming service like Netflix or read the latest Kindle download, before checking our email one more time and setting that alarm app. The cloud and all the infinite possibilities it creates is there from morning until nightfall, helping us with our critical decisions and managing the information we care about the most.

As consumers we benefit from brands leveraging the cloud to entice and serve our needs and desires, anywhere, anytime. Today, our expectations are sky high as we rely on smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, apps, proximity experiences and increasingly, wearables, to deliver relevant, personalised and contextualised digital experiences from our favourite brands.

The journey between the first cloud software services and where we are today has been truly transformational. The first generation of Software- as-a-Service technologies now confidently outperform their on-premise counterparts with the value of the market now due to exceed $112,8bn by 2019 (IDC 2015). These quickly evolved to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), enabling developers to have more flexibility and reliability and access to advanced technologies to produce better digital services for customers, without the responsibility to manage the hardware.

For those organisations requiring robust, high availability and leading- edge digital services to deliver today’s personalised digital experiences that I spoke about earlier, Platform as a Service (PaaS) is now the game changer. Its power lies in providing IT, marketing and overall business benefits in a single, fully scalable digital platform. The seamless integration available with other cloud modules, for example those providing CRM, social media, marketing automation and analytics services, are a marketer’s dream. Today’s businesses are able to respond and adapt more quickly to changes in their markets as a result.

PaaS also brings true operational and development-related agile- working practices to those businesses using it, in turn attracting the top tier of developer talent. According to VisionMobile’s recent survey ‘Cloud & Desktop Developer Landscape’, cloud application and solution development has a higher proportion of professional developers (64%) compared with 51% for desktop. PaaS developers can use increasingly sophisticated architectures to develop the brands they work for at a conceptual level with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), paying on a subscription-based model as an operating expense rather than a capital investment.

With this latest iteration of cloud experience services firmly established, another benefit is emerging that will increase the rate of its adoption. The data optimisation and analytics that PaaS can feed into a company’s insight department means that developers and marketers can deliver more sophisticated, personalised customer experiences. At a brand level, they are more in-tune to and able to deliver on customer 2 requests in full, and at the same time develop innovative and leading services based on new platforms and channels.

Cloud computing capabilities have come a long way. We now rely on the technologies to immerse, entertain and inform us in our daily lives, as brands continue to push the cloud’s boundaries to create the best customer experiences that they can.

Categories: Drupal News

The Secret to Successful Digital Transformation? Let Your Customers Lead

24 May 2016 - 12:22am

I know, I know, you’ve heard this all before: Every enterprise needs to undergo a digital transformation. Great digital experiences are necessary to win, serve, and retain customers. Personalized omnichannel experiences are the new table stakes in a highly competitive, digital-first world.

My Twitter feed is jammed every day with a stream of eternal truths like this. You get it. Everyone gets it.

But here’s what too many enterprises don’t get: Shifting from current digital state to future digital state is hard. It requires a balance of expertise, culture, and technology.

And, it requires a deep mindshift that many enterprises haven’t yet realized or are incapable of accomplishing.

The idea crystallized last week when I attended the Forrester Forum for Digital Transformation in Orlando. The big reveal: if you want to be successful with digital transformation, you must shift from being a “customer-aware” enterprise to a “customer-led” enterprise.

Every company will say they put customer experience first. But at a time when digital relationships are paramount, successful businesses and brands are building this into their DNA. They’re creating what Forrester calls a Customer Obsessed Operating Model.

There’s no one right way to become customer-obsessed and to build a customer-led culture. But it’s a concept that’s being put into action by many companies driving digital success today.

CVS Health is doing it. Led by Chief Digital Officer Brian Tilzer, the CVS digital lab team has shifted from an enabler of digital strategy (providing tools and tech) to being the driver of rapid digital innovation to benefit customers.

Tilzer, speaking at the Forrester event, described how CVS leverages digital capabilities to redefine the store experience through customers’ eyes. CVS sends text alerts telling you when prescriptions are ready (creating happy customers and cutting phone calls to pharmacy techs). It’s using scanners to capture your new healthcare membership card (saving a few minutes and mitigating long lines). And, it’s running a pilot project at 350 stores for curbside pickup, so elderly customers and parents with a car full of little kids don’t have to go inside. A CVS app enables online ordering of anything in the store; location-based notifications can alert delivery runners when the customer arrives.

Others are doing it, too. Forrester’s Ted Schadler describes how old-school manufacturers, like tractor-maker John Deere, are shifting to a digital-centric, customer-led mindset. Deere is building software to help customers – farmers – be more effective in planting and tending crops based on big data. Companies that are customer-led are putting developers in call centers to listen to customer issues – so they can hear what customers want, but WHY they want it. And, this creates passionate employees who better understand how their work impacts customers and allows product, digital experience, marketing, and support teams to better serve customers and figure out how best to leverage digital means to do it.

These shifts enable a customer-led mindset that can create desirable new products and services, educate customers at the right time, at the right place, and with the right experience. There are hundreds of opportunities to support customer interactions and behaviors to enhance their experience and boost your business relationship.

My takeaway: Digital transformation efforts and the digital customer journeys you create don’t come in a box. The enterprise needs blend of strategy, technology, expertise, and culture, working together. It’s not just one thing. And, it’s definitely harder than jotting down 140 characters worth of buzzwords on Twitter. Creating compelling emotional connections with your digital experiences requires everyone to be led by your customers.

It’s still early in a game in which “digital” as defined in digital transformation, digital experience, and the like, means more than digital marketing. Far more. Digitalization of business, building customer-led enterprises that rely on new digital interaction paradigms – that’s where the big action is happening next. It’s still blue-sky stuff for many brands.

The good news is that there’s still time for businesses and brands to capitalize on this opportunity to win and serve their customers, and to create new products and services that customers want. And, to use digital content as a strategic asset. Digital content, and the platforms that support content, will power the next wave of customer communications and drive the emotional experiences that make life-long customers. There’s ample opportunity to think customer-first and build strategic plans – encompassing digital content applications and platforms, as well as organizational approaches – built around customer needs, going beyond business as usual.

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Partner Profile: Phase2

23 May 2016 - 7:32pm

At Acquia, our partners are an incredible part of our success. In this series, we’ll be profiling some of our premier partners, showcasing who they are and what they do, in their own words.

We spoke with Frank Febbraro, CTO and one of the founders of Phase2. Phase2 is a recognized leader in open technology and has designed and built some of the most trusted websites in the world. Through their partnership with Acquia, they continue to utilize their expertise in digital transformation to deliver essential solutions to their clients. Frank’s role at Phase2 includes working to ensure that clients are getting the very best solutions that focus on the root of their challenges. The ultimate goal is to use digital technology to transform how they provide value to their customers.

Phase2 Quick Stats:
  • Founded: 2001
  • Location: Phase2 is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, and has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Portland, OR
  • Number of Employees: 130+
  • Top Clients: RedHat, The United Nations, Twitter, Johnson & Johnson, and Turner Broadcasting
What are your areas of expertise?

Industries: Enterprise, non-profit/ NGO, healthcare, sports, retail, media & publishing, education, technology, and government.

Specialities: Digital strategy, design, content strategy, front end experiences, full stack development, and DevOps, all with a focus on value delivery.

What areas are you looking to expand or invest in in the future?

Frank explains, “The real value we provide to our clients is staying ahead of the experiences they need to deliver to their customers. We invest heavily in the right creative and technical capabilities to ensure we are always putting our clients a step ahead their competition and delighting their customers.”

When potential clients come to you, what challenges do they need your help to address?

“Phase2 clients recognize the opportunities and challenges presented by today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. They want a partner that will help them use the right strategy and technologies to create meaningful connections with their audiences. Our clients often need to optimize content for omnichannel delivery, enhance collaboration internally and externally, and transform how audiences experience information.”

When it comes to technology, what environments do you support? What role do customers ask you to play in technology strategy or selection?

“Everything from on-premise to cloud hosting environments, we provide full stack development across most open source technologies.

Our clients understand that we craft enterprise platforms using a wide variety of approaches tailored to their goals. Our role is to help clients achieve their digital strategies and deliver maximum value to their customers. We partner with our clients from the onset of digital strategy through taking systems and experiences live.”

What project / work are you most proud of?

“WhiteHouse.gov was a momentous occasion for Phase2 and open source, a project which strengthened our status and expertise in bringing open source content management to high profile websites. The decision by the administration to build the site on Drupal was a major milestone for open source. It was an indicator that Drupal’s maturity and stability were ready for the most prominent sites in the world. We are incredibly proud of the leading role we played in that transformation.

Recent notable projects include our work in Drupal 8 with Memorial Sloan Kettering, our latest Atrium build for the Urban Institute, and our continued expansion of the MLS platform. Turner Broadcasting, RedHat, and Weight Watchers are other significant partners.


Major League Soccer (MLS)

Urban Institute

Phase2 has been an Acquia Partner Site of the Year winner and finalist. In 2015, we were finalists in the Public Sector and Sports categories for our work with San Mateo County and Bassmaster, respectively.”

What would you say sets your agency apart from your competitors?

“We occupy the space between the creative agencies who brand and the system integrators that engineer. We combine strategy, development, and creative thinking to meet our clients’ needs at every stage in their digital journey. As our tagline states, ‘We are the creative thinkers you want, paired with the technical team you need.’”

What is most important to you / what do you value most as an agency?

“We exist to make our clients more successful. We help our clients achieve their missions by providing strategy and technology focused on the root of their challenges. In everything we do, we always bring it back to our six values: we are dedicated, collaborative, smart, authentic, adaptable, and fun. We seek out clients and team members who embody these values. They are the glue that bonds all of our work together.”

What’s one random fact about your agency?

“Our team includes a professionally trained opera singer, a bee farmer, a metaphysics expert, an expert scuba diver, a novelist, an award-winning home brewer, an Emmy Award winner, a Navy veteran, and many more people with diverse talents.”

Why partner with Acquia?

“Acquia shares Phase2’s commitment to open source and in particular the Drupal community. By partnering with Acquia, we can work together to champion Drupal as a premier technology solution for enterprises around the world.”

Categories: Drupal News

Clickbait: How to Lose Your Audience's Trust

20 May 2016 - 3:58am

If you’re in the digital marketing business, staying on top of the latest marketing, media, and social trends is considered paramount to survival. Knowing and adopting the latest trends shows that you know what you’re doing, that you refuse to be left behind, that you’re in the know, and that you’re connected. However, while staying on top of trends is generally a good idea, not every trend should be followed. There are some content trends (yeah, yeah, there's that word "content" again) that marketers continue to follow like lemmings to the sea. One of them is clickbait.

Clickbait is lazy

The definition of clickbait makes it sound innocent enough and as a writer, I get it. Writing good articles with catchy headlines that entice someone to read is kind of an artform. It’s a balancing act between communicating what your article is about, and using the right keywords to make the reader feel compelled to click. The competition for ever-shorter attention spans continues to grow, making this progressively harder. But the answer isn’t to throwing a “You’ll Never Guess…” in front of whatever your subject is. That’s just plain lazy.

What’s even lazier is letting a third-party populate the bottom of your website with irrelevant, clickbait-y content. You know that I’m talking about; the misleadingly titled “related links” section, often sites and sources you’ve never heard of, served up by clickbait factories like Outbrain or TK. The recipe is simple: use a picture of a celebrity or something risque, be salacious, promise a fixed number of things -- “10 Celebrity Plastic Surgery Disasters” is a classic -- and you get the picture. These pretty much never have anything to do with the article they are attached to and often the same ones appear on multiple news sites.


Here’s an example of what Revcontent puts at the bottom of a Newsweek article titled “Inside the ‘Triumph and Tragedy’ of Smithsonian’s New African-American Museum”

Another example is what I’ll call email subject line trickery. In lieu of the “You Won’t Believe…”, clickbaiters will use something more person like “RE: Your Vacation Plans” to get you to open their email. Ask yourself: Are you sure you should be using tactics usually reserved for spammers and scammers?

Clickbait is insulting

(The following section contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season six)

I might be getting a little too personal here, but I find clickbait to not just be lazy but insulting. Whenever I see a “You Won’t Believe…” or “You’ll Never Guess…” I feel like I’m being talked down to by the author because chances are, yes I can. I can almost guarantee whatever revelation your article has uncovered, I can wrap my head around. It shows very little confidence in your audience.

The morning after episode two of Game of Thrones, season six aired, every media and entertainment site couldn’t wait to talk about the big reveal. Jon Snow lives! I never doubted it for a second. Now I understand that there was a lot of competition for eyeballs, especially with such a popular show. But if you pair a “You’ll Never Guess What Happened Last Night on Game of Thrones!” with a picture of Jon Snow, you’re treating me, your reader, like I’m an idiot.

Anyone who is a fan of the show can surely grasp Jon Snow, subject of one of the biggest GoT fan theories, coming back to life (in the exact way pretty much everyone predicted he would, no less). In a show that has dragons and direwolves, where main characters can be brutally offed without warning, there’s not much fans of the show wouldn’t believe at this point. Instead of trying to lure them into an article, why not give it to them straight: Jon Snow’s Fate Revealed on Last Night’s Game of Thrones. There’s a headline free of both trickery and spoilers.

Clickbait breaks down audience trust

It’s happened to all of us. You click on an article that piques your interest only to find out it pretty much has nothing to do with the headline. Or the headline makes an article sound much more exciting than it actually is. It’s disappointing.

On the flipside, if you’re a writer, you’ve probably put out at least one piece that could be considered clickbait. A classic example is trying work in a trending topic that has nothing to do with your business; Why Moving from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is like Tom Hiddleston Replacing Daniel Craig as James Bond. Sure, it’s saying that both things are an upgrade (well, the latter is more of personal preference), but what do the latest Bond casting rumors have to do with building open source digital experiences?

“Click-bait is rarely newsworthy, but it does attract eyeballs. The assumption seems to be that audiences might stay for the ‘serious’ content after gorging on the fluff,” said Jeffrey Dvorkin, former managing editor and chief journalist at CBC Radio in his PBS.org column on the subject. He goes on to say that in reality, the public resents clickbait headlines for wasting their time. Clickbait is becoming so loathed that there is a movement called “bait shaming” where bloggers rip apart the worst offenders. For example, SavedYouAClick, whose (slightly NSFW) Twitter account provides the public service of “saving you from clickbait and adding context”.

As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. If a publication starts using clickbait, their audience starts to distrust them. If they lose trust, they stop visiting their site.

On a more practical security note, clickbait is now being used in malware attacks and phishing scams. This has been especially prevalent on Facebook. As social media security firm ZeroFOX explains, “For the cyber scammer, Facebook offers a couple of huge benefits. The first is virality: if enough people click a malicious link, perhaps one that hijacks your account and reposts itself, the Facebook scam can self-propagate ad nauseum with zero maintenance.” These cyber scammers often use clickbait to entice you. If you’re a legitimate news source, do you want to run the risk of being associated with cyber scammers?

The Internet is vast and there is plenty of room for silliness. There are scores of articles out there that are meant to be lighthearted and funny and not focused on keyword optimization or driving sales leads. However, if your content is tied to specific goals -- audience growth, traffic, revenue, leads, etc. -- then using clickbait is actually a missed opportunity. It’s a missed opportunity to show your audience respect and deliver quality content that meets or exceeds their expectations. Sure, it works for a while, or else no one would use it. But once your audience catches on, that’s the end of it.

In the end, it’s easy to believe, and you’ve probably guessed, it’s just not worth it.

Categories: Drupal News