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BAC | Credomatic Transforms Banking with Acquia Lift

2 December 2016 - 11:20pm

For many financial services companies, digital transformation is an uphill battle. Strict industry regulations and an emerging millennial demographic that expects responsive design and engaging experiences are among the challenges facing the financial services sector in the digital age. These obstacles have crippled many financial services companies, but BAC | Credomatic knows this doesn’t have the be the case. In a presentation at the 2016 Acquia Engage conference, Luis Serrano Alvarez of BAC | Credomatic shared how the financial holding company became the first and only bank in Central America capable of delivering real-time, personalized experiences to its customers.

In 2015, BAC | Credomatic discovered that the number of digital users visiting its site was increasing at a rate of 100 percent year over year. The bank’s digital platform couldn't keep pace. The company suffered from a disjointed technical system, a complicated IT infrastructure, and its digital properties lacked an engaging user experience and a responsive design. BAC | Credomatic wanted to deliver a new multi-channel, user-centric banking experience for the Central American economy, and to create a platform that would enable marketing teams to create tailored user experiences.

For BAC | Credomatic, the first step was understanding what makes a good website. Serrano and his team studied the digital platforms of other financial services companies and investigated brands that are revered for the digital experiences they deliver. From Tesla to Amazon, Netflix, and Uber, BAC | Credomatic recognized the common thread: a dedication to user experience. Providing customers with an intuitive and engaging user experience is a rarity within the financial services industry. BAC | Credomatic sought to redefine how banks interact with customers online and to develop a digital platform that deemed the user the priority.

BAC | Credomatic turned to Acquia and its Lift suite of personalization tools to elevate customer engagement and brand experience. This process began by understanding that every customer is unique. “Success is different for every user,” Serrano said. “The priorities of a customer who is looking for a loan can be very different compared to the customer who registers for a new credit card.” To properly service both loyal and prospective customers, BAC | Credomatic would have to develop a personalization strategy to make each user’s journey unique.

With the help of Acquia Professional Services, BAC | Credomatic developed personas around users who had real problems and needs. The construction of a new digital platform attempted to provide customers with answers and intuitive solutions to these needs. With Acquia Lift, BAC | Credomatic can now push personalized content and provide tailored online experiences to all of its users, regardless of their entry point. For the first time, BAC | Credomatic digital strategy is data-driven because Acquia Lift allows the company to remain informed of customer analytics and statistics.

BAC | Credomatic has developed a digital platform that makes customers the priority. BAC | Credomatic as emerged a leader in digital experience delivery in the financial services industry, and it has the results to prove it. The company's’ new website has increased organic traffic by 140 percent and site visit duration by 15 percent. In the first six months alone, BAC | Credomatic witnessed an 101 percent increase in online sales. If that wasn’t enough, over the past year BAC | Credomatic has realized a differential profit of more than $13 million since rolling out the new site.

Watch the full presentation, Transforming Banking in Emerging Economies, below:

Categories: Drupal News

What Acquia.com is doing with Acquia Lift

1 December 2016 - 11:56pm

I have been using Acquia Lift on acquia.com since the beginning days of the product, and over the years I’ve fallen in and out of love with personalization. Part of the reason for fluctuating feelings on personalization is because, simply put, personalization is hard. It’s less about the tools you are using to do personalization and mostly to do with resources, strategy and maintenance of your campaigns. It is easy to get excited about personalization but actually implementing it successfully it isn’t always that simple.

Crawl, walk, run

Starting small is very important and this is where I’ve failed in the past. The biggest lesson I’ve learned working with Acquia Lift is to pick one type of campaign and make it successful before you go too deep on other options.

The starting point for us this past year was industries (formally verticals). We took our top 3 best performing industries and decided to personalize one section of our homepage. We didn’t do this on multiple pages or try and cover every industry we support but focus on the key ones that are driving traffic to our site and on the top page of our site. Another lesson we kept in mind was that this type of test isn’t something that you run for only a short period of time then stop: personalization is the long haul. If people are clicking through these assets we’re serving up through our personalization efforts, then we will want to keep this running indefinitely.

After we had run the industry campaign running for a while, we took our next step which was to create a campaign that hooks into our Marketo connector. Since the Marketo connector can grab data from Marketo our marketing automation platform to show different content to known users, we decided to use this on our newsletter signup block in our footer. If you have already signed up for our newsletter and the system recognizes, you then you will see the next upcoming webinar in that spot instead. This allowed us to get more content featured across our site and be a bit smarter about our known visitors.

Next, we decided to create a campaign by buyers stage in our life cycle. What this means is we looked at our buyers profile and came up with three lifecycle stages; education, solution and vendor selection. We then went through and tagged all of our resources by these stages and once that was done we used these stages on our product pages. At the bottom of each of our product pages we have a resource section which grabs the most recent resources tagged by product and displays them. While this gives good visibility into new content is does not necessarily display the content you need to help you take the next step with our business. With Acquia Lift we were able to recreate these resources views with very complex options to display content which aligned to the buyer stage as well. We made some decisions based on behavioral patterns; for example, if a visitor were to view education content three or more times we made the assumption that that visitor was in the education phase and we would then display additional education content, filtered by that product. We applied this methodology to the other stages as well. This does three important things for us; it keeps the page fresh, brings older -- but still great -- content to the forefront for the visitor and it gives the user the most relevant content for them at that time.
Default resource listing:

Customized tagging listing:

This campaign for us has been by far the most complicated but we expect that it will have the biggest pay off. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without having created those previous campaigns first to really get a grasp on what was needed to make personalization successful on acquia.com. Personalization is a process and needs to be thought about and taken slowly. Reviewing your data is also a ton of time so don’t overlook the campaigns once you start them. Enjoy this process and do it right.

Categories: Drupal News

Site Security and Availability in Turbulent Times

29 November 2016 - 4:54am

On Friday, October 21st, Dyn, a popular global provider of managed DNS (Domain Name Service) infrastructure services, suffered a day-long outage caused by a large-scale DDoS attack. The attack disrupted Dyn’s DNS service delivery, first at its East Coast data centers and then throughout the rest of their U.S. and global data centers. Major online brands were impacted as a result of the outage caused by the attack.

The Dyn attack was identified as the latest affront involving the Mirai botnet code base, which was previously used to take down the blog of noted security journalist Brian Krebs. The Mirai botnet that targeted Dyn was estimated to have harnessed the collective power of hundreds of thousands of compromised webcams, DVRs, CCTV cameras, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices worldwide. This army of compromised devices was able to generate a massive volume of malicious traffic that overwhelmed Dyn’s DNS services. When DNS is unavailable, sites using the service experience an outage because no one can find those sites.

Based on public analysis of the Mirai code that has been made available, the botnet had multiple attack vectors at its disposal, which enabled it to flood its victims with attack traffic. These vectors included both established and novel volumetric network attacks, in addition to an application layer attack intended to consume web application server resources. While early analysis did not show the latter vector being used against Dyn, it’s useful to note that application layer attacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication as attackers capitalize on vulnerabilities at the web application tier.

Mirai’s effectiveness highlights the importance that organizations must place upon mitigating the effects of these attacks on their sites and DNS infrastructure. If your organization relies upon digital experiences for strategic execution and advantage, then protecting your sites and DNS infrastructure through DDoS mitigation and online security services should be high on your priority list.

How Can Acquia Customers Protect Themselves?

Acquia helps its customers deliver engaging digital experiences in the face of a constantly evolving threat landscape through its Acquia Cloud Edge service. Acquia Cloud Edge mitigates the effects of DDoS and online attacks on customers’ sites and DNS infrastructure, and helps sites remain as accessible as possible through unplanned traffic surges with a global content delivery network (CDN).

DDoS and Online Attack Mitigation

Acquia Cloud Edge provides services that mitigate the effects of volumetric network attacks. With its significant investments in global data centers and network bandwidth capacity, Acquia Cloud Edge absorbs attack traffic at the network’s edge so your origin infrastructure in the Acquia Platform doesn’t have to. Acquia Cloud Edge also provides a web application firewall (WAF) that mitigates application layer attacks. The WAF blocks hackers from applying SQL injection (SQLi), cross site scripting (XSS), cross site request forgery (CSRF), and other forms of attacks against your application with its support for the OWASP Top 10 rule set so that you can keep your sites and customer content secure. The last thing you want to have to deal with is hackers making off with any valuable customer data from your site, and Acquia Cloud Edge’s WAF is a perfect compliment to our DDoS mitigation services to ensure that your sites’ visitors continue to have a trusted experience with your brand.

Highly Available DNS

Acquia Cloud Edge provides an ultra-fast, secure, authoritative DNS service for Acquia customers. According to dnsperf.com, the Cloud Edge DNS services powered by CloudFlare are consistently ranked the fastest in worldwide DNS performance. Using an Anycast network powered by over 100 global data centers, and with over 10 Tbps network capacity, the Cloud Edge DNS services ensure rapid propagation of changes and fast DNS look-ups from anywhere around the world.

Powering more than 35% of globally managed DNS domains, Cloud Edge DNS also comes with built-in load-balancing, automatic failover, rate-limiting, and filtering. For added security, it offers DNSSEC to add a layer of trust on top of DNS by requiring DNS responses to be validated.The Cloud Edge authoritative DNS services are backed by proven network and security infrastructure enabling it to mitigate large-scale DDoS and other online attacks. Overall, Cloud Edge makes DNS easy and dependable, with all of your domains managed through Edge’s user-friendly web interface or via a robust API.

Global Performance and Availability

Acquia Cloud Edge helps organizations deliver fast, responsive, as well as secure, digital experiences through the caching of site content on its global content delivery network (CDN). That CDN stores site content at over 100 global data centers so visitors around the world can load your sites’ content from the data center that is geographically nearest to them. The closer the site’s content is to the visitor, the faster the site will load for them. While the CDN can help to significantly speed site loads for visitors, it also plays a critical role in ensuring high site availability.

The CDN is highly scalable and decreases the number of requests being made to your origin site in the Acquia Platform. If you experience a significant spike in traffic, due to a sudden increase in traffic (a news event, eCommerce sale, live performance) or a malicious attack, visitors will still be able to access the cached content efficiently. This increases the likelihood that visitors will be able to access site content during a high traffic surge scenario.

Take the Next Step

With today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape, organizations must be ready when they are attacked. It is no longer a matter of “if,” but “when” attacks will occur, as demonstrated by the recent Mirai attacks. With Acquia Cloud Edge, Acquia Platform customers can mitigate attacks on their sites as well as attacks on their authoritative DNS infrastructure. Let us show you how Acquia Cloud Edge and the Acquia Platform can make your sites faster and more secure, ensuring that visitors from anywhere around the globe can access your site, even in the face of a DDoS or other online attack.

Categories: Drupal News

Open Y: Helping YMCAs Collaborate and Share Around the World

29 November 2016 - 4:15am

Guest blogger Ricardo Osuna is the Director of Marketing Communications at FFW, an Acquia partner. Ricardo leads FFW’s brand strategy, content marketing, website management and internal communications. He is passionate about exploring the ways that we as people communicate, and using that knowledge to collaboratively build and create with others - in business, in art, in technology, and in life.

The YMCA is one of the most well-known nonprofit organizations on the globe. For over 160 years, the YMCA has been strengthening communities through facilitating youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. As each Y is focused on their own neighborhood, they are also each responsible for maintaining their own digital spaces and tools at their own expense.

In 2016, several YMCA teams recognized the opportunities that could exist if the YMCAs began to collaborate as an online community, instead of developing their websites and apps independently of each other. A group of marketing, technology, and digital experts from the YMCA and several partners, including FFW and Acquia, worked together to establish the Open Y initiative.

What Is Open Y?

The Open Y platform is a content management system built on Drupal 8. As an open source solution, Open Y allows YMCAs and digital partners can contribute a digital tool or improvements—extending functionality for all users.

Open Y brings together a community of YMCAs and digital partners to provide a common digital vision. It’s a platform that offers more than just a specific Drupal distribution for YMCAs: it’s a set of tools that allows each YMCA to share their digital solutions with each other and collaborate together to improve the digital presence of partner YMCAs.

The Open Y Collaboration Drives Innovation and Impact

The Open Y initiative runs on Drupal 8, which was selected for several reasons:

  1. Many YMCAs were already using Drupal
  2. The YMCA wanted to use a new software that would have a long lifespan
  3. Drupal 8 is open source

Choosing an open source software in particular was an important reflection of the values of the project, which is founded entirely on the philosophy of collaboration. The ultimate goal is for each participating association to share their digital initiatives and improve on others’ work. When everyone can share tools and branding and collaborate on innovative work, everyone wins.

Providing an Open Source Digital Platform for Marketing and ecommerce

The digital world changes rapidly, and users have high expectations of recognizable brands. To meet and exceed the needs of all its users—both community members and YMCA administrators alike— FFW built the core Open Y platform around a few core principles:

  • Mobile-friendly brand templating and content
  • Content scheduling for marketing and promotion
  • Content management tools for multimedia, webforms, social media, and more
  • YMCA-specific features such as location finder, alerts, brand-compliance, and other custom features
  • 3rd party integrations, such as MindBody Personal Training Management, Personify Member Management, Netpulse’s mobile application, and GroupEx Pro online scheduling
  • SEO tools to help websites succeed in search

However, as with any open source effort, the Open Y is a work in progress with expansions in its future. Some of the many planned improvements to the project include multilingual and translation functionality, content personalization, a landing page wizard, and expanded integrations with other systems used by YMCAs, such as Daxko and Active Networks.

Fostering a Community of YMCAs and Digital Partners

Building and improving Open Y is something with which FFW and Acquia are proud to be involved. It’s currently supported by a core group of four YMCAs: the YMCA of Greater Twin Cities, the Red wing Family YMCA, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, and the YMCA of Greater Houston. Over a dozen other YMCAs have committed to using Open Y in the future, and many more are exploring the tool for use in their own digital projects. A growing list of Open Y participants and evaluators is available here.

Learn More about Open Y

To learn more about the Open Y project, including the future of the platform and the many benefits of getting involved with the project, join us for a webinar on November 30 at 1pm Eastern.

For more direct information, OpenYMCA.org is the home of Open Y and has some great information on the initiative and how to get involved. And for those who are curious about the practical applications of the Open Y, there’s a case study on the many improvements Open Y brought to the YMCA of Greater Twin Cities available on FFWagency.com.

Categories: Drupal News

Open Government Change We Can Believe In

28 November 2016 - 1:00pm

Last summer, I was facing the imminent end of my appointment in the Obama administration. With six months until the inauguration of a new president, I needed to figure out the next step in my career, while trying to maintain the feeling that I was doing something that matters. For me, no job has been more professionally nor personally rewarding than that of public service. We have made significant progress in improving government technology, but there is so much more work that needs to be done.

When I was presented with the opportunity to join Acquia, and expand their global public sector strategy, I saw a chance to stay on the front lines of the incredible revolution that has been unfolding in government technology over the last decade. It was an opportunity to continue my career path, and personal passion to promote the use of open source technology to make civic institutions better.

Elections bring change, and with that comes uncertainty. Government bureaucracies are not built for change. Embedded within them is an inherent inertia to maintain the status quo. It is a feature, not a bug in the system, meant to project stability and invoke public confidence that things are working as expected. In the technology world however, this approach is a recipe for certain failure.

The movement towards open source and open government is less a partisan issue and more a rejection of the limitations represented by proprietary software. People often look at the Obama administration as the harbinger of this open source government movement. In fact, the Open Government Directive of 2009 was not the beginning, but rather a validation of a generation of work, dating back to Richard Stallman’s GNU Project in 1983. It applied the fundamental beliefs of the open source software world to the operations of public sector institutions.

Reading the Open Government Directive, I am reminded by how important the prescient words were to get the public sector past the adoption tipping point for open source technology.

“The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration form the cornerstone of an open government. Transparency promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the Government is doing. Participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise so that their government can make policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the Federal Government, across levels of government, and between the Government and private institutions.”

These three principles of transparency, participation and collaboration are also at the heart of open source software, and in my mind there is no greater form of civic participation than contributing to open source platforms. While running digital technology for the White House, I would regularly reference that over 800 independent developers were regularly contributing to the dozens of modules required to run WhiteHouse.gov. That is the power of open source.

From the Open Data movement in the United Kingdom (that began around the same time as the US Open Government Directive), to the launch of the U.S. citizen petition portal“We the People,” it is completely clear to me that the rise of open source, open APIs, and cloud computing in the public sector will continue to thrive and expand in a way that absolutely transcends political movements or ideologies.

At the White House and the Department of State, I had the honor and privilege of leading change from the inside. We pushed hard every single day to modernize processes, technology, and culture. It was not without major frustrations, some turbulence, and a chorus of “no’s” on a regular basis. But it is imperative we continue to make government more open, more responsive, and improve the experience of its citizens have in all of their interactions with the institutions that govern them.

The focus on improving this experience is why I believe strongly in Acquia’s role in transforming the public sector. In partnership with the incredible Drupal community, Acquia has been instrumental in demonstrating and delivering the value of open source, from national to local governments, from the U.S. to Australia, the City of Boston to the State of New York.

In this next phase of my career, I will be focused on helping from the outside. There are clear political divisions in this country and in the world. But, what unites us all is the firm belief in the need to continuously improve the experience of government. We will continue working to achieve that mission, and that is change we can believe in.

Categories: Drupal News

Modeling Personalization Investment Costs and Overall ROI / Value

23 November 2016 - 5:40am

This is part four of a four part blog series.

In my previous blog posts in this series, we looked at understanding the core value of our digital property, followed by modeling the benefits of personalization. Now let’s look at investment costs associated with implementing personalization and calculating our overall ROI and value.

First, estimating investment costs: We need to look at implementation project costs and ongoing operational costs associated with personalization. I typically use a 3 year timeframe to calculate Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The cost categories for implementing personalization are roughly the same as those for building and maintaining a traditional website. The chart below illustrates splitting build and maintain against creative and tech.

Just with building a website, there are no hard and fast personalization figures for each cost category above. Some organizations may allocate costs 1 & 2 as one-off project costs (Capex), whereas others may smooth these costs, absorbing them into 'business as usual operational expenditure (Opex). But broadly speaking, these categories stand as a useful way to separate and estimate costs. I go into more detail on this below, in the example.

Once we’ve modeled the investment costs, we can simply move to Step 4 which involves subtracting the costs from the benefits, to arrive at an ROI. Again, this is typically measured over a 3 year timeframe, in order to calculate the total net benefits, or the project’s net economic return. Finally, we can detailed the non-financial impact to provide an overall value case, as outlined in my first blog in this series.

So, now time for an example.

Step 1: Let’s take a mid-size retailer with an annual revenue $300m / yr. Roughly 12% of revenue, or $36m, comes directly from the commerce website.

Let’s assume this is the baseline value pre-personalization; $36m per year, or $3m per month.

  • We can see the site has 2m visitors per month and 60,000 transactions per month. A conversion rate = 3%
  • The average online revenue per user (ARPU) is $50, with 60,000 transactions per month, giving $3m revenue.
  • Sales are seasonal so the exact number varies by month. What is interesting here is not necessarily the exact numbers but more the relative numbers before and after personalization. So, we need to ensure we’re controlling for any seasonal, or other, differences when it comes to testing our hypotheses, that personalization will increase conversion rates and revenue.
  • The site also advertises third party products and makes $4m / yr in revenue generation from ad revenue and referrals.
  • In addition, the site has a lead gen / awareness / brand building element and also has some product support information, although we’re not quantifying that value here.

Now, let’s assume the retailer has grown 5% each year, so we’ll fairly model a 5% growth each year regardless of whether we implement personalization. Ad revenue remains flat. We could model something like this:

Step 2: Now, let’s assume we implement personalization in the form of content targeting: displaying unique content to users based on something we know about them such as context, behavior or explicit identification. Let’s say, we aim to segment skiers and hikers and display content based on location, and sport preference. We might see the following results.

No impact to number of unique visitors per month or acquisition channels (sources - mobile traffic, organic traffic, click events, referring URLs). This shouldn’t be surprising as we haven’t done anything to drive new traffic to the site or change SEO.

However, we see slight improvements on engagement metrics for the content targeted sample:

  • Number of page views (pages per session) increases 5%
  • Time on site increases by 10%
  • Bounce rate decreases by 10%
  • Exit rate decreased by 10%

Overall, we see revenue increase in two ways; The engagement metrics correlate to an increase in conversion rate (from 3% to 3.5%) and the ARPU increases by 10% (from $50 to $55).

So, overall with personalization, conversion on 2m visitors is now 70,000 transactions per month at $55 = $3.85m rather than $3m in Yr 1. Sales are seasonal, so we need to ensure we’re measuring like for like, when looking at any uplift for personalization but we can also test against a control group which sees general, not personalized content.

Also, given the improved engagement metrics, we can show a 10% increase in ad revenue. So, when we forecast projected revenue with personalization against that without, we get the following comparison chart - showing forecast revenue before and after personalization.

The total difference in revenue over 3 years = $33,355,500.

Step 3: Investment cost to implement personalization

In this example, the typical costs for illustrative purposes, are outlined here:

  1. Creative - Personalization strategy & use cases. Executed through 1-2 workshops with the site owners and editorial team. A third party facilitated this, with one-off $15k consultancy cost, within a timeframe of 1-2 months. Internal costs up total costs to roughly $50k.
  2. Tech build / design & configuration of the personalization tool (driven by functional requirements). This cost category can vary wildly; It can include the tool purchase, together with the tech cost to setup and configure the tool. Here the tool is Cloud and subscription based, so relatively simple to configure. The initial tech investment required was around $15k of external consultancy to advise / configure + internal costs, totaling $30k.
  3. On-going personalization / including managing metrics / analytics. Typically a marketing team might have a site owner, content editorial, tech representatives, data, analytics.. Here, I’ll roughly model 1 FTE equivalent at $120k / yr fully loaded cost - and assume a 10% increase year on year.
  4. Technical maintaining of the tool with updates. Assuming a Cloud based subscription model for the tool itself, we can round to $100k annual subscription cost for the tool. A single tech FTE ($100k/yr loaded cost) may own this and other marketing tech. If we can assume 20% of their time is dedicated to managing personalization we arrive at an annual $20k effort cost + $100k subscription cost = $120k annual opex.

This gives us a table with a 3 year personalization TCO as follows:

It is worth noting that I have seen personalization initiatives run as small projects for significantly less than this. I’ve also seen truly transformative omni-channel personalization initiatives for orders of magnitude more than the sum shown here. This is for illustrative purposes only.

Step 4: In this example, is this investment worth it? This step is a case of simple maths, subtracting investment costs from benefits to get net benefits. When we chart the benefits minus costs, we get the following:

In other words, set-up will cost around $80k and TCO over 3 years = $837k.

This investment realizes a 3 year net revenue increase of $32.518m. So, the net revenue benefit is 38.8x the investment, a healthy ROI.

Now it is important to consider this is a revenue based model. Some organizations may want to model profit rather than revenue for their true ROI. Let’s assume in retail, the profit margin on revenue is 25%, then the total net profit benefit = $8.13m. Now the ROI on pure profit = 9.71x the investment.

Step 5: The ROIs here are impressive. A sound and complete business case always considers more than just the numbers and sometimes it is the soft benefits which will justify a personalization initiative, especially if the numbers alone are underwhelming, as can be the case for smaller organizations. Increases in customer retention, enrichment, and advocacy have not been modelled here but may make an initiative a no-brainer, outside of ROI.

Finally, it is sometimes interesting to note what other organizations are doing. I’ve read a number of articles recently stating that personalization in 2016 is a must-have, not nice to have. A number of organizations are implementing personalization - not based on the numbers but FOMO (fear of missing out). What’s the risk of doing nothing? Perhaps a simple break even on the numbers is enough to justify the investment, given the other intangible benefits.

If you found this blog interesting and would like to complete a value assessment for implementing personalization on your digital properties, please get in touch.

Categories: Drupal News

5 Steps to Get Your Drupal Site Multilingual Ready

19 November 2016 - 3:35am

Guest blogger Calvin Scharffs is the VP of Marketing at Lingotek, an Acquia partner. Calvin is a dedicated executive with over 18 years of experience managing products, sales, marketing, operations, and personnel. His experience ranges from work with a Fortune 500 company to small start-ups.

Everyone is jumping on the localization bandwagon because it’s dawning on enterprises everywhere that creating site content in a customer’s language is one way to personalize their experience and improve engagement. That means more organizations are going to prioritize making their Drupal websites multilingual, so we’ve created a handy checklist to help you get ready.

From Module Mayhem to Built-in Language Support

Drupal 7 is a very stable and well-used content management platform and it supports a vast array of modules, but it wasn’t built with multilingual in mind. Making a Drupal 7 site multilingual can be a time-intensive process for developers. To address this issue, the Drupal community went to work to rebuild language support. Drupal 8 was created to understand language from the beginning. Custom or contributed modules or themes don’t have to understand language support--it’s already built in.

Drupal 8 is a great platform to work with, not only because it is so multilingual capable out-of-the-box, but also because you can easily expand while maintaining the translatability of your data. The Drupal 8 multilingual core paves the way for more automation, more seamless workflows, and better publication management.

Whether you use Drupal 7 or Drupal 8, every Drupal developer who works with contributed or custom modules designed for multilingual or non-English sites needs to know how to build the best integration possible.

To make your path to global engagement and localization easier, we’ve created a checklist for getting your Drupal site multilingual ready in five steps.

Step 1: Understand Your Site

First step in your multilingual prep is to understand your site! Take a look at your customizations, nodes, fields, and modules so you have an idea of the size and scope of your multilingual prep. Let’s be honest though, most of us will never really know our sites completely. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Start your multilingual readiness by taking a look at your theme, content, and modules.

Step 2: Examine Your Theme

Next step, review any customizations you have. Make sure all strings are wrapped in a t() function. You need to ensure both your base and sub-themes are multilingual ready. It helps if you use a well-established, multilingual-ready base theme like Zen, BootStrap3, etc.

Step 3: Think About Your Content

Figure out how many nodes are on your site and familiarize yourself with how and where they are used. Find out how many different content types you have and make note of diverse custom fields. The more types of content, the more complex your site translation will be. It’s also important to know how many languages are currently on the site, so check your node language settings. If they aren’t set up correctly, it can lead to translation barriers down the road.

Step 4: Rein In Your Modules

Find out how many modules are installed on your site. For multilingual, the fewer modules installed, the better! When it comes to contributed modules, you’ve got to rein them in. Too many modules can compromise functionality and interfere with site translation. Limit your modules to those that you really need and use. It’s best to have as few as you can (under 200). Be sure to code review your custom modules to ensure all strings are properly wrapped in t() functions.

Step 5: Examine Potential Trouble Spots

There are some additional areas that have the potential to become trouble spots. They may not affect large portions of your site, but it’s good to know where you might run into issues. Take a moment to inspect the following areas to ensure your Drupal site’s multilingual readiness:

  • URL Aliases
  • Taxonomy Terms
  • Blocks
  • Fieldable Panels Panes
  • Mini-panels
  • Groups
  • Views

Every Drupal developer who works with contributed or custom modules designed for multilingual or non-English sites needs to know how to build the best integration possible. It’s also good for Drupal themers who want to make their theme templates translation-ready and for those who want to know how to build Drupal multilingual support for modules, themes, and distributions. By doing a little upfront prep, and following this short 5-step checklist, you will be ready to join the legions who are making the switch to multilingual.

Learn more about integrating translation in your site, check out the Lingotek - Inside Drupal Module.

Categories: Drupal News

Open Y: The Future of Community Engagement with the YMCA

17 November 2016 - 12:34am

Customer interactions often start and end online. Organizations need to prioritize innovation and collaboration to ensure high levels of community engagement. In a presentation at the 2016 Acquia Engage conference, Nathan Maehren, SVP of Digital for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, and Chang Xiao, Managing Director at FFW Agency, spoke to the digital transformation currently underway at the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities and, soon, across the larger network of Y’s.

The YMCA’s mission is to play a role in youth development, inspire healthy living and make a change in local communities. Like many nonprofit organizations, resources can be limited; however that is not necessarily a barrier to digital transformation anymore. Modern community engagement starts by meeting community members where they are, simplifying access to information and communicating a unified brand. To get there, it’s time for organizations to invest in their digital futures.

The YMCA was faced with the challenge of a decentralized and diverse digital ecosystem. With 2,700 locations and 20 million members in the U.S. alone, Y’s of all shapes and sizes are doing digital nearly 900 different ways. The challenge is not just to centralize their digital experiences but to reach their customers and to serve their communities more effectively.

To tackle this challenge, the YMCA turned to FFW, Acquia and Drupal to help launch Open Y. Rooted in the philosophy that collaboration drives innovation and impact, Open Y is the YMCA’s open source initiative to bring digital transformation and unity to the 160-year-old YMCA movement.

For the YMCA, digital transformation starts with the shift to open source. At its core, the Open Y platform offers high-quality user experience and integration, as well as increased levels of control and flexibility; from centralizing information on programs and services to establishing consistent and shareable branding, content and templates. Open Y has dramatically increased accessibility to the Y’s offerings and improved asset management. More than that, the organization is investing in innovative technology like connected devices to bring real-time, contextual experiences to their members—like, customized training programs delivered straight to exercise machines.

While the Open Y initiative is in its early stages, it’s on track to see exponential growth over the next few years. In just eight months, the YMCA has had over 30 Y’s commit to Open Y, or list the initiative as a top priority within their communities. The move to open source has been instrumental for the YMCA, and the initial results serve as proof for other organizations facing similar obstacles.

Watch the full presentation, Open Y: Bringing Digital Transformation to the 160-Year-Old YMCA Brand, below:

Categories: Drupal News

Modeling ROI for Personalization: Determining Impact

16 November 2016 - 6:57am

This is part three of a four part series

In my last blog post, I explained how to determine the value of your digital property (website). This is a key baseline requirement before moving to the next step; quantifying the uplift of implementing personalization (or any other enhancement).

First, what do we mean by personalization? Let’s look at two common personalization use cases:

  • Data Collection: Collecting data from the very first visit to create a unified visitor profile for each visitor (anonymous or known) based on their historical and real-time activity across sessions, devices, and other channels. This information may be used to better understand your customers which may inform your ways of working / products or services.
  • Content Targeting: Displaying unique content to users based on something we know about them such as context, behavior or explicit identification. This can be combined with A/B/+ testing.

Each of these use cases may have a different value, which may also vary depending on the type of site we’re dealing with (commerce, subscription, awareness, lead generation or process efficiency). So, let’s take each use-case in turn.

Data Collection

Capturing customer data and profiling customers will help you determine the lifetime value (LTV) of customers. Understanding your customers better includes; who they are, why they buy, how they buy, what they buy and how much they spend, what they think about you and your competition, if they are they satisfied, and will they return?

Knowing these things allows you to make smarter, data-driven decisions, such as targeting higher value customers. Studies have shown that businesses that understand their customers realise greater value from them. This data analysis provides the insight but without ‘action’ the data is in itself useless. So, the exact personalization process and impact will depend on how the data is used.

Content Targeting

Showing more relevant content to visitors based on their profile should increase engagement metrics including time on site and pages per session, whilst decreasing things like bounce rate and exit rate. This effect should, in turn, increase sales funnel metrics like total leads, conversion rates against goals, MQLs, topline opportunities and total bookings / revenue.

Once we know the personalization use case we’re implementing, we can start to model the value uplift and in some cases we can test this. If a specific content targeting scenario already exists, we can test the impact by A/B testing against a control. Measuring people’s responses to content, with and without personalization, is the surest way to prove or disprove a hypothesis and draw conclusions around the benefits of personalization.

Many sites may have many different functions and I recommended focusing on just one ‘value-area’ of the site. Focusing on just one personalization use case will help simplify the process. Focus on ONE value area and ONE use case.

If we attempt to measure general personalization, across the whole site, we can see many iterations of potential value areas; probably too many to easily decipher and quantify. This is perhaps why valuing website personalization has been nebulous. If we break down the value areas and use cases, we can cut through the complexity.

So, if we focus on specific site goals and specific use cases, what kind of results might we see? This is the killer question and the one I get asked a lot. What industry standard figures exist for uplifts to conversion rates, for example. The short answer is, there is little published ‘standard’ data available. The site circumstances and personalization use cases tend to be relatively specific and often unique.

McKinsey states “Organizations able to understand and skillfully act on complete customer journeys can reap enormous rewards: increasing customer satisfaction by up to 20 percent and revenue growth by 10 to 15 percent, and lowering the cost to serve by 15 to 20 percent” but this is a general statistic aligned to improving customer journey’s rather than specific to personalization.

Here’s a few examples of specific uplift from personalization across different site types. Examples 1-3 can be scientifically proven with A/B testing against a non-personalized control and the value measured. The fourth example - process efficiency sites - can also be tested against a control but quantifying value is typically a little more speculative.

Once we’ve modeled business benefits, our focus should shift to understanding what it takes to implement the transformation required to realize these benefits. Next up, we’ll take a closer look at the invest required for a successful personalization program.

Categories: Drupal News

Putting Machine Learning into Perspective

15 November 2016 - 5:27am

With the launch of new apps, smartphones and IoT devices, robust amounts of data are exploding out of new digital touchpoints. The challenge lies in turning this data into actionable insights. In a session on machine learning and data science at Acquia Engage 2016, Katherine Bailey, Principal Data Scientist at Acquia, and Dave Ingram, Product Manager at Acquia, discussed how organizations can put machine learning into perspective.

Too often, we get carried away with dark visions around the future of artificial intelligence (AI). But machines can only be as smart as humans train them to be. The idea that AI is growing out of our control is a far-flung fantasy that creates skepticism and fear about the future of technology, rather than a productive framework for leveraging it.

Understanding the Limits of Machine Learning

A popular technique used in machine learning is word embedding—creating mathematical representations of words to train machines to understand human language. But machines can only be as smart as the data we feed them, so no matter how great your algorithm or how many hundreds of dimensions are used to represent our words, machines will never know more than what humans write, code or speak. This realization may ease our fears around AI taking over the world, but it has also surfaced concerns around human biases that can impact our “intelligent machines”.

Machines have been taught biased understandings based on the specific words and sentences (and people) that train them. Questions around ethics are also popping up. For example, developers working on self-driving cars are tasked with programming them to choose between saving a passenger or saving a pedestrian crossing the street. Machines can only be as ethical and unbiased as humans—a humbling realization that will be the focal point of many AI conversations in the near future.

The Indisputable Strengths of AI

While there are many debates around bias and ethics, AI’s successes in areas like text classification, sentiment analysis, and content similarity have gone undisputed. For this reason, there is tremendous potential for organizations to focus their attention and resources on the proven successes of artificial intelligence that make business practices more efficient—and Acquia is building software to do just that. Take Acquia Lift. Lift uses machine learning to organize data, help customers build contextualized digital experiences, and more efficiently move consumers from discovery through purchase and beyond. Products like these show that the true potential of AI lies in the careful and strategic hands of humans—not the super-intelligent machines themselves.

AI has already helped companies engage with consumers, helped marketers build more strategic campaigns, and helped sales teams target the most relevant audiences. Though the future of machine learning is unknown, it’s a future that should be embraced rather than feared, and we should stay focused on creating a business landscape that is as efficient and productive as humanly possible.

Watch the full presentation, Machine Learning & Data Science: From Possibility to Probability, below:

Categories: Drupal News

The Verdict's In: The Jury Speaks on Acquia Engage Awards 2016

12 November 2016 - 1:02am

The stories of digital transformation that we hear from our customers are the best reward of working at Acquia. We’re extraordinarily proud of the role we play in our customers’ digital strategies. And that’s why we’re particularly honored to have wrapped up this year’s newly rebranded Acquia Engage Awards. The winning projects showcase the amazing digital experiences that Acquia's partners and customers are building today.

More than 150 submissions were received. Our judges, an esteemed panel of journalists who cover this market very closely, reviewed submissions from a field of 88 finalists to select the 13 winners. They evaluated each entry on the basis of the visual design, functionality, integration and overall experience as demonstrated in both the reviewed site and accompanying essay submission.

Judging an award contest isn’t easy, and that was certainly true here. The jury poured over a 100-page brief and reviewed 88 sites to narrow the field. Every finalist made a strong and worthy argument for consideration. In most cases the winners submitted entries that offered a high level of insight into their business strategies, and how digital experience delivery is helping them achieve their goals.

“The essays were large deciding factors for me,” said Laura Myers of CMS-Connected, who served as a judge for the award program. “I always looked for the exact goals to be laid out and the processes in which they were achieved. The essays often provided insight into technical challenges, project execution, results, and other outcomes which were not apparent from site evaluation alone.”

It was our pleasure to honor the winners of the 2016 Acquia Engage Awards during our annual customer conference, and we’re glad to share more insight into the judges’ commentary on the winners. Learn what set these projects apart from the field of outstanding finalists.

Brand Experience: VML and Xerox

The most impressive thing about Xerox's website was its ability to have visual representation of rebranding. The website demonstrates that Xerox is not just a print-and-copier shop. There are barely any signs of printers and copiers on the home page! A nice case of designing with branding in mind. Their results were super impressive as well.

-- Dom Nicastro, CMSWire

Commerce: HS2 Solutions and Wilson Sporting Goods

Wilson Sporting Goods had seamless integration and representation of all their brands, which was explained as a top priority in their essay. The custom creation experience was well-executed and from a marketing standpoint, they paid great attention to the huge influence that athletes have on purchasing decisions.

-- Laura Myers, CMS-Connected

Consumer Brands: MyPlanet and SpartanNash

The vast majority of shoppers choose their supermarket based on location—whichever is closest to their home or office gets their business. This means you have to give them a very good reason to visit your online presence. SpartanNash is digitizing their traditional business in very compelling ways. From the accessibility of rewards and coupons to the integration of social interaction and recipes, SpartanNash makes the customer want to shop online.

-- Beth Negus Viveiros, Chief Marketer Network

Digital Experience: Princess Cruises and Princess@Sea

A guest on a cruise is there to relax, but there are still many variables to consider when on board, from dining and entertainment options, to childcare and off-ship excursions. This mobile site is a standout because it makes it extremely easy for guests to take care of business quickly. It enhances their travel experience, and their relationship with the Princess brand.

-- Beth Negus Viveiros

External / Customer Community Sites: Miggle and ThinkNation

So chuffed to have won this with @ThinkNat @lizziehodgson01 and the team #drupal #acquiaengage https://t.co/5YaQXRvy0E

— miggle (@miggle) November 3, 2016

The ThinkNation site was very bright and eye-catching. Using video was also a great way to tell their story. My overall impression is that they are fostering the positive growth and ambition of a generation by creating a community. If that is their business goal with the website they more than achieved it.

-- Laura Myers

Financial Services: CI&T and Commonwealth Financial Network

#ICYMI - CI&T is the only partner with 4 nominations on the @acquia Engage Awards. Check finalists here: https://t.co/KiUMAZNmff pic.twitter.com/Qq38swCfKa

— CI&T United States (@ciandt) October 19, 2016

The Commonwealth Financial Network did a fantastic job of balancing the regulations that are intrinsic to the financial services industry with important customer information that was well organized and easy to find. The financial services industry can be volatile, and the Commonwealth Financial Network demonstrated the longevity of their brand with an engaging website.

-- Beth Negus Viveiros

Healthcare: Hatch 130 and Steward Health Care

Out of 150 entries, Hatch won the #AcquiaEngage Award in #Healthcare for our 10 @Steward website designs! #ux #ui https://t.co/Zk8nTmzLcw pic.twitter.com/2fFKeWt1fa

— Hatch130 (@Hatch_130) November 10, 2016

Steward had me at "what are you looking for?" This is a really nice way to greet a web visitor and offer them six different content paths in addition to a search bar. A wonderful, inviting way reflective of the mom-and-pop store manager who greets the shop visitors with a smile and handshake. You want healthcare websites to be in-and-out, and this website succeeds there. They knew their website was not patient-friendly, and now it is.

-- Dom Nicastro

Health Sciences: The Formery and DKMS.org

The DKMS website clearly fulfilled the organization’s goals and executed great results. The website establishes an effective balance of providing compelling human stories while respecting the severity of the issue. Finally, the ability to donate is easy. The implied action is clear and there is no implied stress when making a gift. DKMS is a great example of how the Health Science industry can use digital to their advantage.

-- Laura Myers

Higher Education: KWALL, Connective DX and Clark University

Clark University nailed the personalization game thanks to a hard-working mission supported by their marketing team and agency, ConnectiveDX. They collected personas and segments and used personalization effectively through the very intuitive and helpful MyJourneys feature on their website. Clark has to stand out in a competitive region for universities and they more than make their mark.

-- Dom Nicastro

High Technology: Isovera and Intralinks

Third year in a row winning an @acquia Engage Site of the Year award. This is for our work with @intralinks https://t.co/QhhNjJj3mG pic.twitter.com/eUIE5iDrsN

— Isovera (@isovera) November 9, 2016

Visually, the Intralinks site was engaging and streamlined. It was easy to navigate and from an integration standpoint it was impressive given all they had to tackle. I liked that their chat was obvious but not as aggressive as some, and I feel that they express their offerings very effectively.

-- Laura Myers

Media, Entertainment for Publishing: Cogapp and Yiddish Book Center

What an honor! A sheynem dank—thank you, @acquia, & thank you to the wonderful @cogapp for fantastic work & for being so fun to work with. https://t.co/kQrKmQnaAi

— Yiddish Book Center (@YiddishBookCtr) November 4, 2016

Great results from a massive undertaking. The organization rescued more than a million Yiddish books and digitized every title along with Yiddish Audiobooks of archival recordings, and more than 600 in-depth oral history videos.They've done a great job in that effort by creating a nice, visually-appealing site where a user can search across all the entire site, including all the content edited in Drupal, the Digital Library and Collections.

-- Dom Nicastro

Nonprofit: FFW for YMCA Twin Cities

Very easy to navigate and find the information needed. Hugely accessible to an array of user profiles and very modern for what I’d initially picture as a website for the YMCA. Their innovative work with Drupal 8 is also impressive and sets a new precedent for what is capable with digital.

-- Laura Myers

Public Sector: IDEO and City of Boston, Department of Innovation for Technology

Boston has set the gold standard for municipal websites. The city’s digital team has created a site that is not only attractive but easy to use. Realizing that citizens go to the site with very specific needs—parking regulations, track pick-up, street cleaning, etc.—the site makes it easy for visitors to quickly navigate around and get what they are looking for. It is extremely functional and simple to use—something rarely said about sites of this type.

-- Beth Negus Viveiros

Categories: Drupal News

What Does the Future of “Digital Experience” Look Like?

11 November 2016 - 4:53am

It’s no secret—our digital world is growing and evolving every day. Today there are more devices and data points than ever before, and it’s fundamentally changing the way we interact with the web.

In a presentation at the 2016 Acquia Engage conference, Preston So, Development Manager at Acquia Labs, discussed the international games in Rio de Janeiro as a good benchmark to track digital innovation. The 2016 games saw advancements like more sophisticated digital signage, live streaming, and interactive content on apps and websites.

But the 2020 games in Tokyo will be even more advanced. In preparation for the games, Japan’s government is experimenting with new tech innovations. Attendees at the Tokyo games may be escorted to their seats by robots, and judges will use sophisticated 3D laser technology to analyze and score an athlete’s performance. It’s only four years away, but the changes in the overall experience of the games will be astounding.

2020 might seem far away at the moment but changes to our everyday digital experiences are already starting to take root. As So says, our relationship with the web to-date has been very much pull-based—we search for information in a browser, and algorithms spit back the information we seek. In the future, we’ll see a shift to a push-based web. Relevant alerts and information will automatically be delivered to our phones, smartwatches and more at the moment we need it. And more and more, that information will be pushed to a “browser-less” platform—for example, an audio alert from your Amazon Echo device.

How can brands create these relevant, push-based experiences? It requires a lot of data analysis and management, a solid understanding of context and a sophisticated knowledge of new form factors (IoT devices) and functions (AR / VR).

To prepare for the future, Acquia has created Acquia Labs, a specialized R&D group focused on the future of digital experiences. Labs provides companies with access to—and an understanding of—what’s on the horizon of digital. What trends are driving digital forward, and how will those trends translate to different platforms and customer experiences?

So unveiled one of the first digital innovations from the Labs team at the 2016 Engage conference: a demo integration between the conference website (listing session times and information) and Amazon Echo. With a simple question to Alexa, the user receives all the information they need to stay organized and informed at the conference. It’s easy to imagine how a replication of this experience with any website can drastically improve our lives and the way we interact with digital content.

The team is hard at work on more innovations for the future of the web. I can only imagine what we’ll see by 2020.

Watch the full presentation, ACQUIA LABS: LIFE ON THE CUTTING EDGE, below:

Categories: Drupal News

Content and Commerce: a big opportunity for Drupal

10 November 2016 - 11:08pm

Last week Acquia announced a partnership with Magento. I wanted to use this opportunity to explain why I am excited about this. I also want to take a step back and share what I see is a big opportunity for both Drupal, Acquia and commerce platforms.

State of the commerce market

First, it is important to understand what is one of the most important market trends in online commerce: consumers are demanding better experiences when they shop online. In particular, commerce teams are looking to leverage vastly greater levels of content throughout the customer's shopping journey - editorials, lookbooks, tutorials, product demonstration videos, mood videos, testimonials, etc.

At the same time, commerce platforms have not added many tools for rich content management. Instead they have been investing in capabilities needed to compete in the commerce market; order management systems (OMS), omnichannel shopping (point of sale, mobile, desktop, kiosk, etc), improved product information management (PIM) and other vital commerce capabilities. The limited investment in content management capabilities has left merchants looking for better tools to take control of the customer experience, something that Drupal addresses extremely well.

To overcome the limitations that today's commerce platforms have with building content-rich shopping experiences, organizations want to integrate their commerce platform with a content management system (CMS). Depending on the situation, the combined solution is architected for either system to be "the glass", i.e. the driver of the shopping experience.

Lush.com is a nice example of a content-rich shopping experience built with Drupal and Drupal Commerce.Drupal's unique advantage for commerce

Drupal is unique in its ability to easily integrate into ambitious commerce architectures in precisely the manner the brand prefers. We are seeing this first hand at Acquia. We have helped many customers implement a "Content for Commerce" strategy where Acquia products and Drupal were integrated with an existing commerce platform. Those integrations spanned commerce platforms including IBM WebSphere Commerce, Demandware, Oracle/ATG, SAP/hybris, Magento and even custom transaction platforms. Check out Quicken (Magento), Puma (Demandware), Motorola (Broadleaf Commerce), Tesla (custom to order a car, and Shopify to order accessories) as great examples of Drupal working with commerce platforms.

We've seen a variety of approaches to "Content for Commerce" but one thing that is clear is that a best-of-breed approach is preferred. The more complex demands may end up with IBM WebSphere Commerce or SAP/hybris. Less demanding requirements may be solved with Commerce Tools, Elastic Path or Drupal Commerce, while Magento historically has fit in between.

Additionally, having to rip and replace an existing commerce platform is not something most organizations aspire to do. This is true for smaller organizations who can't afford to replace their commerce platform, but also for large organizations who can't afford the business risk to forklift a complex commerce backend. Remember that commerce platforms have complex integrations with ERP systems, point-of-sales systems, CRM systems, warehousing systems, payment systems, marketplaces, product information systems, etc. It's often easier to add a content management system than to replace everything they have in place.

This year's "State of Retailing Online" series asked retailers and brands to prioritize their initiatives for the year. Just 16% of respondents prioritized a commerce re-platform project while 41-59% prioritized investments to evolve the customer experience including content development, responsive design and personalization. In other words, organizations are 3 times more likely to invest in improving the shopping experience than in switching commerce platforms.

The market trends, customer use cases and survey data make me believe that (1) there are hundreds of thousands of existing commerce sites that would prefer to have a better shopping experience and (2) that many of those organizations prefer to keep their commerce backend untouched while swapping out the shopping experience.

Acquia's near-term commerce strategy

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. Countless point solutions exist that are optimized for narrow use cases (e.g. mobile commerce, marketplaces and industry specific solutions) as well as solutions optimized for different technology stacks (e.g. Reaction Commerce is JavaScript-based, Magento is PHP-based, Drupal Commerce is Drupal-based).

A big part of Acquia's commerce strategy is to focus on integrating Drupal with multiple commerce platforms, and to offer personalization through Lift. The partnership with Magento is an important part of this strategy, and one that will drive adoption of both Drupal and Magento.

There are over 250,000 commerce sites built with Magento and many of these organizations will want a better shopping experience. Furthermore, given the consolidation seen in the commerce platform space, there are few, proven enterprise solutions left on the market. This has increased the market opportunity for Magento and Drupal. Drupal and Magento are a natural fit; we share the same technology stack (PHP, MySQL) and we are both open source (albeit using different licenses). Last but not least, the market is pushing us to partner; we've seen strong demand for Drupal-Magento integration.

We're keen to partner with other commerce platforms as well. In fact, Acquia has existing partnerships with SAP/hybris, Demandware, Elastic Path and Commerce Tools.

Conclusion

Global brands are seeing increased opportunity to sell direct to consumers and want to build content-rich shopping journeys, and merchants are looking for better tools to take control of the customer experience.

Most organizations prefer best of breed solutions. There are hundreds of thousands of existing commerce sites that would like to have more differentiation enabled by a stronger shopping experience, yet leave their commerce capabilities relatively untouched.

Drupal is a great fit. It's power and flexibility allow it to be molded to virtually any systems architecture, while vastly improving the content experience of both authors and customers along the shopping journey. I believe commerce is evolving to be the next massive use case for Drupal and I'm excited to partner with different commerce platforms.

Special thanks to Tom Erickson and Kelly O'Neill for their contributions to this blog post.

Categories: Drupal News

Modeling ROI for Personalization: Valuing Your Digital Properties

9 November 2016 - 5:23am

This is part two of a four part series

In my previous post, I introduced the concept of crafting an ROI for personalizing your digital properties. Now it’s time to dive into more detail.

The first step is to understand your core business and digital customer experience as it relates to personalization. This is potentially the hardest step, so bear with me.

To measure success of implementing personalization, we need to be clear on what we’re measuring, how we’re measuring it and to ensure any changes we see are as a result of our actions. This step in the process is required as a baseline from which to demonstrate a financial uplift after implementing personalization.

First ask; what is your website worth? This doesn’t mean how much would it cost to build, but rather, how much revenue is it generating? The answer to this question should be a prerequisite when considering any enhancements to your digital properties. That said, answering this question can be far from straightforward, especially for non-commerce sites.

For digital properties that aren’t generating revenue directly, how do you articulate the operating value? Wikipedia lists 50 different types of websites ranging from; awareness sites, blogs, to brand-building sites, galleries and wikis, in addition to commerce. How do we measure the dollar value of all these?

The first critical step is to go back to the core business. Ask, how do you make money, then ask, how does the digital property support this core business? The following are the four most commonly encountered business models of a digital property:

  • Sites selling something (direct revenue), e.g. commerce, subscription sites
  • Sites aiming to sell something indirectly, e.g. content for commerce, lead generation sites
  • Awareness sites including news or publishing. These mostly rely on advertising revenue and occasionally subscription revenue
  • Sites for savings, e.g. process efficiency, help, support or FAQ sites.

Often different business models merge across a single site or group of sites. Sites can also satisfy both B2C or B2B and often also vary by geography, business unit, region etc. This complicates things and is partly why the task of quantifying value can prove to be difficult. The Venn diagram below illustrates the potential complexity of this situation.

The most common business models spanning typical websites. Where does your site fit?

Given this potential complexity, my recommendation is to start by focusing on a single site business model - that is, just one non-overlap area of the Venn diagram. Obviously getting hard quantifiable value is easier for some business models than others. The site goals will vary by type of site and most product owners measure site metrics according to these goals. If you’re wondering what metrics should matter the most, Kate Fogarty, Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing at Acquia, has put together a quick guide on which web metrics a digital marketer should care about and why. These metrics all have their place but for measuring ROI we want a hard link between site metrics and quantifiable value - i.e. money.

I’ve provided some examples here of metrics to measure, depending on your site type.

Commerce & Subscription Sites

The value of commerce and subscriptions sites -- sites selling something -- is linked directly to revenue. The link is so strong one can measure the value per minute, hour, or day. For example:

  • When Amazon went down in 2013 for a reported 40 minutes, the outage was estimated to cost $4.72 million in lost sales, based on the company’s average sales of $117,882 per minute.
  • When the British supermarket - Sainsbury's - site went down in 2008 due to an internal glitch, the site was valued between £569k and £710k per day. This calculation was based on 8,000 to 10,000 shoppers a day, with an average basket size (average revenue per user, or ARPU) of £71.

Typically, a commerce site owner will report on additional, detailed metrics to provide general indicators of business health. These can also provide a baseline for measuring uplift from personalization and include:

  • For projected revenue look at the total number of customers, conversion rates and lifetime value (LTV) of a customer. Calculating LTV can vary - here’s a good short blog for further information on the value of new customers
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU), also referred to as Revenue per Visitor (RPV), or Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) for subscription sites
  • Cost to acquire a Customer (CaC) and Churn.

In short, measuring value from commerce and subscription sites is a simple link to revenue and / or we can measure additional metrics impacting revenue and profit.

Lead Generation & Content for Commerce

Content marketing sites create valuable content as a means to build awareness, but ultimately as a motive to increase customers and revenue. These sites are aimed at pushing people through the sales funnel but don’t necessarily include a commerce engine, or capture the final stages of the funnel. Despite the lack of a direct commerce component, these sites still play a significant role in the sales process. Modeling value, however, can be a little more challenging. This is where I have a lot of conversations around baseline value of a site prior to implementing personalization.

Let’s take an organization with a general lead generation site. A prospect may be aware of the brand via general marketing, TV advertising and / or word-of-mouth referrals. The prospect may receive a mailshot, an email, and go online to the website and eventually buy in-store. How is the website’s influence quantified across the varying channels?

We are now in ambiguous territory. What role does the site play in awareness, education, driving conversions, preventing sales drop outs etc? Whilst the websites isn’t generating income directly it is influencing sales and therefore has value.

For retailers, both online and traditional, Forbes claims that 30% of shoppers begin their searches on Google while 49% start on Amazon. The vast majority of shoppers in total begin a search online, when you include sites such as Etsy, eBay and Shopify. So, what effect does the site have, or not have, in this commerce journey even when the purchases are primarily off-line?

If we can measure how leads convert into customers and we can calculate lifetime value (LTV) of a customer, we can estimate revenue and value: Total leads x conversion x LTV

But this assumes we’re accurately measuring leads and conversion rates. Sites help build brand awareness but the link from brand awareness to ‘leads’, or ‘conversions’ and therefore revenue isn’t always clear.

Sure, we can look at engagement metrics such as; number of visitors, unique visitors, page views, time on site, bounce rates, exit rates etc. But these don’t necessarily relate to revenue either.

One option is to baseline site goals, such as the percentage of visitors who clicked on a page (CTR), or filled in a form, or submitted a query, or even a customer satisfaction survey. We can then look at uplift in these quantifiable metrics after implementing personalization and make some assumptions on value from here.

As an example, we can hypothesize that 30% of buyers visit the site at some point in their decision journey, even if the final purchase is in store. We can also assess the customer decision journey as see ‘drop-outs’ at various stages. We may hypothesize that 25% site visitors would go elsewhere if they couldn’t find the information they were looking for online. So, we can start to attribute a given percentage of revenue to the site, albeit assumptions based. We may attribute a range of say, 2% to 5% or whatever % of revenue to the site, as long as the underlying assumptions are reasonable and can perhaps be tested.

Crafting ROI is often a bit of both art and science and this is definitely the more arty part.

Awareness

Publishing sites are often driven primarily by advertising revenue and are usually measured on engagement metrics, such as: unique visitors, page views, time on site, ‘impressions’ (i.e. CPM) or clicks (i.e. CPC) or some combination thereof.

Showing improvements in engagement scores will often drive value in advertising revenue. This can often be quantified relatively easily. When Google’s home page was offline for about five minutes August 2013, estimates suggested this cost Google about $545,000 in ad revenue.

Interestingly, some awareness sites are moving towards alternative revenue streams, based on monetising user data. Think Facebook and LinkedIn.

  • Facebook, a market cap of $253 billion and the ninth-biggest company in the S&P 500. Clearly Facebook has a value based on user data which is far higher than its advertising revenue potential.
  • LinkedIn recently sold to Microsoft for $26.2 billion. The value is in the data rather than revenue generated from recruitment consultants and users paying for services.

The key is to understand the model and how much the data is ultimately worth. If you know the value of your customers, or the value of your customer data, you can work out a monetary value attributable to users of your website.

Process Efficiency

Some websites can digitize processes in such a way to unlock significant value by compressing timelines and eliminating duplication or inefficiencies. A simple example many finance companies opt for includes converting customers to receive on-line documents rather than hard paper copies. This can reduce the cost of printing and posting, resulting in significant savings for both the business and customers; a win-win.

Many simple information-only / support websites can save costs. Common questions can be answered in on-line FAQs rather than from a call center. Reducing the number of enquiries made to a call center using an online support website can save significant costs. This is especially true in government and public sector services.

Example metrics we’d look to measure as a baseline here include:

  • Support calls / on-line tickets resolved
  • Engagement metrics; Time on site and CTR. Interestingly, these metrics are often reversed to show reduced, rather than increased, time on site and shorter click-through rates to show the site is channeling the user to the appropriate resolution quicker
  • Customer satisfaction ratings.
The True Value of Your Site

Any of the models above often coexist on the same site and to complicate things, some sites include alternative revenue streams, or new innovative models which don’t easily fit into the above categories. The key is to carefully consider the different ways that your website contributes to your business and aim to quantify that. It is only realistic to track improvements in something when that ‘something’ is quantified and regularly monitored.

As a final check point, you can cross-check the operating value of your site against the spend on your site. This is a way to ‘mark your own homework’ when determining site value.

Gartner suggests the average spend on marketing is around 10% of total enterprise revenue. If we assume 25% of the 10% (or 2.5%) of total revenue is spent on digital / online / maintenance of the corporate website, then this is the value you’re assigning to your site. If the value you’re calculating is less than the spend allocated above, you may not be calculating true value, or you’re overspending on your site!

Another view is to think about the negative impact on your business if your website shutdown tomorrow. What would the cost be to your business? This is the true value of your site.

In my next blog I will show how we can build on this baseline to help justify the investment of implementing personalization on your site.

Categories: Drupal News

A plan for media management in Drupal 8

8 November 2016 - 5:23pm

Today, when you install Drupal 8.2, the out-of-the-box media handling is very basic. For example, you can upload and insert images in posts using a WYSIWYG editor, but there is no way to reuse files across posts, there is no built-in media manager, no support for "remote media" such as YouTube videos or tweets, etc. While all of these media features can be added using contributed modules, it is not ideal.

This was validated by my "State of Drupal 2016 survey" which 2,900 people participated in; the top two requested features for the content creator persona are richer image and media integration and digital asset management (see slide 44 of my DrupalCon New Orleans presentation).

This led me to propose a "media initiative" for Drupal 8 at DrupalCon New Orleans. Since then a dedicated group of people worked on a plan for the Drupal 8 media initiative. I'm happy to share that we now have good alignment for that initiative. We want to provide extensible base functionality for media handling in core that supports the reuse of media assets, media browsing, and remote media, and that can be cleanly extended by contributed modules for various additional functionality and integrations. That is a mouthful so in this blog post, I'll discuss the problem we're trying to solve and how we hope to address that in Drupal 8.

Problem statement

While Drupal core provides basic media capabilities, contributed modules have to be used to meet the media management requirements of most websites. These contributed modules are powerful — look at Drupal's massive adoption in the media and entertainment market — but they are also not without some challenges.

First, it is hard for end-users to figure out what combination of modules to use. Even after the right modules are selected, the installation and configuration of various modules can be daunting. Fortunately, there are a number of Drupal distributions that select and configure various contributed modules to offer better out-of-the-box experience for media handling. Acquia maintains the Lightning distribution as a general purpose set of components including media best practices. Hubert Burda Media built the Thunder distribution and offers publishers strong media management capabilities. MD Systems created the NP8 distribution for news publishers which also bundles strong media features. While I'm a big believer in Drupal distributions, the vast majority of Drupal sites are not built with one of these distributions. Incorporating some of these media best practices in core would make them available to all end-users.

Second, the current situation is not ideal for module developers either. Competing solutions and architectures exist for how to store media data and how to display a library of the available media assets. The lack of standardization means that developers who build and maintain media-related modules must decide which of the competing approaches to integrate with, or spend time and effort integrating with all of them.

The current plan

In a way, Drupal's media management today is comparable to the state of multilingual in Drupal 7; it took 22 or more contributed modules to make Drupal 7 truly multilingual and some of those provided conflicting solutions. Multilingual in Drupal 7 was challenging for both end-users and developers. We fixed that in Drupal 8 by adding a base layer of services in Drupal 8 core, while contributed modules still cover the more complex scenarios. That is exactly what we hope to do with media in a future version of Drupal 8.

The plan for the Drupal 8 media initiative is to provide extensible base functionality for media handling in core that supports the reuse of media assets, media browsing, and remote media, and that can be cleanly extended by contributed modules for various additional functionality and integrations.

In order to do so, we're introducing a media entity type which supports plugins for various media types. We're currently aiming to support images and YouTube videos in core, while contributed modules will continue to provide more, like audio, Facebook, Twitter, etc. To facilitate media reuse, WYSIWYG image embedding will be rebuilt using media entities and a media library will be included to allow selecting from pre-existing media.

We consider this functionality to be the minimum viable product for media in Drupal 8 core. The objective is to provide a simple media solution to make Drupal 8 easy to use out of the box for basic use cases. This would help users of sites large and small.

A work-in-progress prototype of the proposed media library.Expected timeline and call for help

We believe this could be achieved in a relatively short time — to be included in Drupal 8.3 or Drupal 8.4 as experimental modules. To help make this happen, we are looking for organizations to help fund two dedicated code sprints. The existing contributors are doing an amazing job but dedicated in-person sprints would go a long way to make the plans actually happen. If you are willing to help fund this project, let me know! Looking to help with the implementation itself? The media team meets at 2pm UTC every Wednesday. I also recommend you follow @drupalmedia for updates.

I tried to make a list of all people and organizations to thank for their work on the media initiative but couldn't. The Drupal 8 initiative borrows heavily from years of hard work and learnings on media related modules from many people and organizations. In addition, there are many people actively working on various aspects of the Drupal 8 media initiative. Special thanks to everyone who has contributed now and in the past. Also thank you to Gábor Hojtsy, Alex Bronstein and Janez Urevc for their contributions to this blog post.

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Engage 2016: Day Two

5 November 2016 - 5:34am

Day two of Acquia Engage opened with a bang...or rather, a laugh. Best-selling author and Silicon Valley writer Dan Lyons took the stage to discuss his experience with tech start-ups. Lyons’ presentation was equal parts funny, myth-busting and foreboding as he pulled no punches talking about trends in the tech industry.

Nestle and govCMS

After Dan Lyons’ keynote, Nestlé’s Chief Digital Operations Officer Filippo Catalano took the stage to talk about digital transformation. Nestlé’s commitment to digital success is apparent; their Digital Services Unit is working with thousands of websites, hundreds of mobile apps, and thousands of social media properties and with hundreds of partners. What was most striking about Catalano’s presentation was how innovation and experimentation are a primary tenets in Nestlé’s culture.

The morning’s general session theme of innovation continued with Australian Department of Finance Sharyn Clarkson’s presentation, GovCMS: Creating an Innovation Culture in Government. Clarkson, who traveled all the way from Australia, reviewed the challenges that the Australian government faced with their digital ecosystem. Just one of their cities had 350 different CMS, which translates to one for every 10,000 people living in the district. With virtually no budget, they realized they needed to get creative to solve the problem. Open source became the answer and govCMS was born.

“Going open source and cloud is a pretty big deal for government. When government makes a move, it mainstreams open source."

Clarkson also spoke about their process of iterating on everything and their goals for the future; Government as an API. Clarkson believes that through both open source and things like personalization, government can move closer to having a 1:1 relationship with every citizen.

DigitasLBi and the “Big Ideas in Digital” Panel

The second general session of the day kicked off with DigitasLBi’s SVP of DLBi Studios George Hammer and SVP of Strategy & Analysis Christopher Blaydon taking the stage to talk about how brands and agencies think about content. George started off by encouraging brands to rely less on agencies for ideas; often, the best ideas come from internal sources. Filled with comic book and pop culture references (which I obviously appreciated!), Hammer challenged the audience to think about the following statement: What if content did more vs. making more content? Can we get away with creating less content if it’s more engaging? Blaydon followed Hammer with suggestions on how to better measure the impact of content.

Closing out day two’s general sessions was the Big Ideas in Digital panel, moderated by Acquia’s own Bryan House and featuring Holly Bounds, Digital Strategy Leader, GE Energy Management, Chris Desiano, Director of Digital Marketing, Pfizer, and Joel Meek, Vice President of Operations, reddit.

Each panelist spoke about the challenges their brands have faced with digital, like how Pfizer must always be cognizant of both FDA and regional regulations whenever they try new technology or launch on a new channel. The panelists also spoke of successes, like how reddit often becomes the default community for the hottest topics on the Internet like Pokemon Go.

The panel ended with each presenter being asked what is their least favorite thing about technology (Bound: HD video, if you’re in front of the camera. Desiano: email because it’s never ending. Meek: wi-fi on the airplane because sometimes you need a break from the Internet). As for favorite technology, Desiano remarked that he really likes Sonos speakers and looks forward to more in home automation and Bounds looks forward to personalization helping to clear out some of the noise of the web.

All About Gin

What better way to end Acquia Engage 2016 than with a gin tasting! Naomi Levy, Founder of Beyond the Mixing Glass, walked the audience not through just the types of gin but also its ori-gins (last pun of the conference, I swear)!

Track Sessions

The second day of track sessions continued to highlight the incredible work that Acquia’s customers are driving. A panel of digital heroes, including Sharyn Clarkson from the Australian Department of Finance, Raul Jimenez of Nestle, and Jeremy Kutner from Warner Music Group, shared insights on how to be the champion of digital transformation in your organization. The Politics of Digital track featured another star-studded panel, with presenters from Trinity University, Pfizer, Flight Centre, PAC-12, and El Camino Hospital explaining how they adopted Drupal and Acquia for their business.

Acquia Engage Award Winners

Congrats to all of the winners of the Acquia Engage Awards that were announced yesterday! You can also view the full list here.

And that’s a wrap but mark your calendars for Acquia Engage 2017! A big thank you to all our partners, sponsors, customers and attendees! We’ll be back at the InterContinental October 16-18 next year!

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Engage 2016: Day One

3 November 2016 - 10:40pm

Acquia Engage is back for 2016 and the first day did not disappoint. The conference opened up with a warm welcome from CMO Loren Jarrett, followed by CEO Tom Erickson and CTO Dries Buytaert giving their traditional “State of Acquia” address.

Dries and Tom’s presentation centered around the five pillars that have shaped Acquia’s product strategy over the past year: open source, open APIs, cloud, security and governance. Acquia’s fearless leaders also shared stories of customer success including the digital transformations of MTA, Nestle and NASDAQ.

IBM and WPP

Day one’s General Session continued with a presentation from IBM’s VP of Content and Marketing Platform’s Rudy Chang, who discussed the company’s digital transformation. IBM has found that in order to launch products successfully and achieve full adoption of new technology, they need to take what Chang calls the “Velvet Glove and Sledgehammer” approach. This approach favors early iterative development instead of top down mandates and has proven successful for IBM.

Next up was an interesting overview of how technology is changing the world via our partners at WPP. Presenters included Martin Coady of VML, Bret Otzenberger of Mirum, Laurent Burman of POSSIBLE, Gabriel Stern of Wunderman, Jorge Teyssandier of Globant and Jessica Criscione, of Ogilvy. The panel was moderated by WPP’s own Annie Miller and focused on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, machine learning and creating natural interfaces.

MRM / McCann, NASDAQ and Mother of All Demos II

Laura Simpson, Global Director of McCann Truth Central, had some really interesting insights in her presentation The Truth About Youth. Laura has been studying how how millennials create and interact with content. Some of the key takeaways included that “adult” is now a verb, over editing photos and using hashtags is “uncool” and that content is now expected to be both instant and frictionless.

Then the program shifted from youth culture to financial services as Brad Peterson, Executive Vice President and CIO of NASDAQ took the stage. Peterson lead us through the evolution of NASDAQ and their recent move to Drupal 8 as the platform for their 3000+ investor relation websites.

Finally, it was time for the sequel to last year’s most anticipated event: The Mother of All Demos! Chief Products Officer Chris Stone and his team of engineers took the stage to talk about recently released Acquia products and to walk us through live demos as well as what’s coming in the future. Chris was also joined on stage by Magento CEO Mark Lavelle. Yesterday, Acquia announced its commerce partnership with Magento.

Track Sessions

Yesterday’s track sessions offered a robust mix of Tech Talks, Politics of Digital and even the chance to steal some of Acquia’s customers’ best ideas. Acquia’s Preston So and Jacob Suchy teamed up for a Tech Talk to discuss how decoupled Drupal can power your entire digital ecosystem. Brian Carty shared how Steward Health reinvented their website to put the patient first in the Politics of Digital track. Emmis Radio’s Jeff Tracker and Tat Wza discussed with Acquia’s own Chuck Fishman how they leveraged the power of digital to redefined what it means to broadcast radio.

Acquia Engage Award Winners

Congrats to all of the winners of the Acquia Engage Awards that were announced yesterday!

(The remaining winners were announced early this morning, too.)

Day one wrapped up with The Blue Drop Lounge party in the ballroom that was equal parts epic and swanky. Guests enjoyed the photobooth and gaming tables while The Mod Society got everyone moving... except for the folks who were glued to the TV to watch one of the most legendary World Series’ ever between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.

Congratulations to the Cubs on their historic win! We know something about that here in Boston. We'll be back tomorrow with a recap of day 2. For live coverage, please follow us on Twitter or #AcquiaEngage.

Photo credit: Samara Vise

Categories: Drupal News

What to Consider When Building an Event Website

27 October 2016 - 11:31pm



Three years ago, we launched our annual customer conference, Acquia Engage. Since the conference was founded, I have been managing the event’s website. We’ve learned a lot in the past three years, and have made some great improvements that I thought would be valuable to share. The first year we started with a simple site, but we have gotten more advanced over time.

Where to start?
If you need an event website, what components should your site have? The main sections I always start with are:

  • Homepage
  • Agenda
  • Registration/checkout

These are the three basic segments required to have an event website. Of course there are additional pages you can add, such as venue, contact, FAQs, speakers and session descriptions. These pages will help round out your event or conference website. However, there are many other things to consider when building your event website.

Additional Features to think about:
Like most projects, as you start to dig in, there are always lots of small things to consider. Event websites are no different. Here is my list of features to consider as your event website begins to grow:

  • Coupons - Will you be provide discount coupons? How will these work? Will you have dollar off amounts or percentage off amounts? How will you ensure they can’t be applied to more than one item in the cart or used on multiple orders? Coupon codes require lots of testing and planning around the coupon logic.
  • Purchase confirmation emails - These are easy to forget, but are often very helpful and important to the user. You want to make sure your confirmation email lets the user know about hotel and contact information in addition to anything else you may want to share after they have registered. These emails should also confirm how much the user spent on the ticket, what coupons were applied, and if they need to print, download or pick up any tickets. For Acquia Engage, we also link to our FAQ page. Basically, a purchase confirmation email should include any information that will be helpful to the user at the time of purchase.
  • Add-ons - Will you be selling anything else besides event registration tickets? This year we started offering pre-conference workshops at an additional price. This is a nice feature for the user, but complicated our checkout process. Some questions we had to answer included: can they only purchase workshops if they are buying an event ticket? And what happens if they already purchased a ticket and then decided to buy a workshop These scenarios make the add-ons workflow harder than it seems.
  • Exporting your orders - This is an essential feature for your internal events team. They need a quick and easy way to evaluate who is coming, how many tickets have been sold and how much money has been collected. It’s important to have a simple way to export all of your orders and view what has been purchased.
  • Referral source tracking - The first year we hosted our event, we were just excited to have registrations and didn’t care much about where they came from. The following year we really needed to start digging in on what marketing efforts made the most impact on our registrations. So, we added in referral source tracking into our registration process. Based on URL parameters, we set a cookie on our website that gets stored during the checkout process. This tells us what marketing campaign drove the registration so that we can evaluate, which efforts paid off and which ones we won’t consider doing next year.
  • Post event site updates - What does your site look like after your event? Do you want to share photos of the event? Do you need to tell your attendees what to expect next year? This aspect of event websites is easy to overlook. We prepare a homepage update that says thanks for coming and we look forward to seeing you next year. We also include a fun slideshow that recaps the event. This gives the users an update of what's happening next year and a chance to find their own photos in our slideshow. I would recommend planning any post event site updates ahead of time, as things can often be chaotic once your event is underway.
  • Posting sessions - Now that your conference is over, will you post and share your session presentations? Depending on a speaker approvals, we’ll either post session slides or recordings. In addition to ensuring that you have the proper approvals, site users will need to be able to find these sessions. We actually flip our agenda page into a presentation page and attach slides and recordings directly to the agenda items. Not only does this his make it easy for the users to find, but it’s great to pair the original description pages with the full sessions.

Every year I find ways to make this process work a bit better for us, and I hope that if you are launching your first event website that you can use some of these tips to get started. I know that when we first launched our Acquia Engage conference site, I was looking for an article like this to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything. Leave a comment if you think I’ve missed anything, and I can work to update this post.

Categories: Drupal News

The Differences that Set Acquia Apart Among WCM Leaders

27 October 2016 - 3:48am

For the third year running, Acquia has been positioned as a Leader by Gartner, Inc in the 2016 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management*. The report places Acquia (the only open source provider among the Leaders) high and to the right. We’re an elite among elites, with strong momentum, or as CMSWire.com wrote, “Boston-based Acquia made the biggest positive move.”

If you haven’t seen the report, take a minute to download it.

I view the report’s results in a few ways.

In truth, I believe that our position in the Leaders’ quadrant is a great reflection of the hard work our global team does every day to help our customers achieve their digital experience goals with open source Drupal WCM running on Acquia Cloud, our Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). And the things that make us different from other vendors in the Leaders’ quadrant are worth looking at more closely.

Acquia’s placement also reflects our customers’ brilliant efforts to harness our platform for digital experience and business digitalization, enabling them to survive and thrive in a competitive world. Pfizer. BBC. Nestlé. Vodafone. The Government of Australia. These are just a few of the thousands of organizations who’ve successfully transformed with Acquia to deliver better experiences, drive higher engagement, and be more competitive and responsive to stakeholders.

Looking at the WCM landscape, I see a market that has changed dramatically. There’s still a lot of commonality, a lot of “me too,” among WCM vendors. For some, the WCM feature battles never end. They just shift efforts into new areas: How much MarTech can we stuff into our system today? In general, vendors talk the same talk, make the same promises, and deliver similar products. Everyone wants to help customers deliver better digital experiences. And, everyone wants to make it easier on you, the CIO, the CMO, the web developer, the digital / IT leader, the content marketer, to survive and thrive amid digital disruption.

What’s uncommon is how Acquia helps organizations achieve these goals. When someone asks me how Acquia has moved so fast to the pinnacle of WCM and digital experience, or why they must consider Acquia for digital transformation, I point to two key differentiators: open source and cloud.

1. Open Source Drives Faster Digital Innovation

CIOs and other enterprise decision makers used to be allergic to open source software. Today, open source is eating the world. It’s inside every enterprise in one form or another, especially around web technology. Commercial software vendors even try to claim a stake by touting how elements of their software are based on open source. Open source is powerful and empowering. Open source is cool.

Here’s the fact: Acquia was founded to help organizations succeed with Drupal - the most widely adopted enterprise open source WCM worldwide. More than 1 million sites and tens of thousands of developers collectively stand behind Drupal. Organizations use it to innovate faster. Developers and IT teams build more robust digital platforms and experiences (not just sites). Marketers and digital leaders deliver and manage new levels of engagement across a proliferation of digital channels. Allergic to open source? Not anymore. Today, open source is an essential and preferred foundation for digital transformation, digital experience and rapid, ongoing innovation.

Here’s a fresh example: NASDAQ announced it’s leveraging Drupal 8 and Acquia for its new investor relations digital platform, powering the IR digital experiences of more than 3,000 publicly traded companies.

Stacie Swanstrom, Executive Vice President and Head of Nasdaq Corporate Solutions, said, “Our transition to open source technology empowers IR professionals to transform the online experience by improving communications with investors, media and buy-side and sell-side analysts. Born from both innovation and client demand, we are changing the way companies engage internal and external stakeholders by delivering best-in-class intelligence, analytics and streamlined communications tools."

2. An Approach That’s Cloud-First, Not Cloud-Fake

When we started nearly nine years ago, almost every enterprise did the same thing with their WCM software. They ran it on their internal infrastructure, kept their IT teams sweating, and invested way too much time, effort and expense in “on premise” hosting. Too many organizations did this, but failed to invest in digital innovation and new business models. Today, they’re gone or trying to catch up.

The same can be said for WCM vendors, who continued to build software destined for on-premise deployments.

Acquia believed the future of WCM and digital experience required a cloud-based platform to support open source, to provide a flexible, scalable, secure environment for sites and more -- a platform for digital business, a platform for innovation, without the customer worrying about infrastructure. Acquia’s cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service then and now remains Acquia’s focus. The speed of customers’ shift to cloud for WCM and DX has been explosive. Growth of Acquia’s PaaS has grown dramatically. Now, many of our competitors are trying to catch up (or, whitewashing their cloud offerings to make them look appealing. Cloud-washing, you might say.)

Today, our secure, scalable PaaS is used by thousands of enterprises worldwide for Drupal-based sites, multichannel experiences, and digital applications. Some organizations run one or two sites or applications; others run 1,000 or more.

Gartner analyzes the changing architectures of WCM systems, stating in the report: "Cloud-first strategies will win the day.”

Other WCM vendors try to pass off as equivalent their WCM “managed services” or claim traditional hosting as “cloud hosting” just because it’s running on rented infrastructure.

But enterprise decision makers have figured it out. The difference is in the details. The Acquia Platform provides not just production hosting for sites and digital experiences. It also provides the self-service tooling and capabilities for everyone involved in building and delivering digital results. And, our PaaS subscription is focused on security, scaling up and down on demand, monitoring and maintaining your infrastructure and your application itself - a world of difference from plain vanilla hosting. And, as your success grows (more sites, more applications, more innovation) your software license costs do not grow. (e.g. “Need another site? That will be $100,000 for another license.” Sound familiar? ) Another benefit of open source.

Reports from analyst firms like Gartner provide a great starting point to understand a fast-changing market and the major players. Download the report to get a clearer understanding of the WCM landscape and the vendors vying for your attention.

* “Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management,” by Mick MacComascaigh and Jim Murphy, September 28, 2016.

Categories: Drupal News

Modeling ROI for Personalizing Your Digital Properties

26 October 2016 - 3:59am

This is part one of a four part blog series.

Many studies extol the benefits of personalization. Gartner states “by 2018 organizations that have fully invested in in all types of personalization will outsell companies that have not by 20%”. Forrester, in their Revenue Impact Of Customer Experience, 2015, report found that there is “a clear link between customer experience improvements and loyalty-driven revenue potential, based on increases in retention, enrichment, and advocacy”. While all this talk about personalization is exciting, where do you start with your own digital properties?

Implementing personalization requires a transformation; transformations that live or die based on senior stakeholder commitment, governance and control. These three things are best achieved when there’s a clear shared goal - and a great, clear goal is often revenue. Therefore, the best place to start a personalization initiative is to quantify a financial return on investment (ROI).

Acquia’s personalization ROI framework was created after discussion with many prospects and customers. We also have an Excel model to help model actual numbers.

Acquia’s Personalization ROI Framework

Step 1: Understand the Core Business and Digital Customer Experience

In my experience, the best place to start your personalization initiatives is by understanding how your digital properties support your core business. For the purpose of this post, it is assumed that the digital property is a main corporate website. However, this approach could equally apply to any digital customer experience.

Understanding the core business model and how the digital property supports this may sound simple and in some cases, it is that simple. However, in many cases actually quantifying the value can be a challenge. A single website will often include different business models. I have mostly encountered four models, as follows:

  • Sites selling something (direct revenue), e.g. commerce, subscription sites
  • Sites aiming to sell something indirectly, e.g. content for commerce, lead generation sites
  • Awareness sites including news or publishing. These mostly rely on advertising revenue and occasionally subscription revenue
  • Sites for savings, e.g. process efficiency, help, support or FAQ sites.

Whilst many sites will merge these models, to keep things simple, I suggest focusing on just one aspect of the digital property when starting out.

Each type of site will have goals with site metrics. Where the site metrics are dollar (revenue) related, quantifying value is obviously straightforward. Examples of these types of metrics include those for commerce or subscription sites; ‘total sales / revenue’, or ‘average revenue per user (ARPU), or average order value’, together with total conversions etc.

Where site metrics are not directly linked to dollar values, quantifying value can be a little more challenging. Examples include engagement, using metrics such as; ‘click tracking’, ‘page views’ or ‘time on site’. Here we need to be a little more creative in understanding the link between a metric and a dollar value. Conversion metrics can play a part here; we can set goals or events and estimate a value for these. For example, a form fill may capture an email address, converting an unknown user to a known user. The email address may be linked to a dollar value, albeit indirectly.

Step 2: Detailed Proposed Personalization Use Cases

Once we understand the site business model and metrics, the next step is to model potential personalization use cases. For example, targeted content means showing specific and relevant content based on context-aware information. We can hypothesise that this may result in increased engagement, which may in turn lead to:

  • Increased purchases, or subscriptions, on a commerce or subscription site.
  • Increased brand awareness, resulting in conversions on a lead gen site.
  • Increased page-views, dwell time or click-through-rate (CTR) and social sharing on an awareness site, leading to increased ad-revenue.
  • Process efficiency, leading to reduced cost to serve, cost takeout elsewhere or simply increased customer satisfaction.

For any of the examples above, simply collecting user data in itself may be valuable. This data can be used to better understand customer behaviour and drive different business behaviours. Indeed, many studies show that a better understanding of your customers can have significant business benefits.

Understanding the type of site we’re dealing with, including the site goals and metrics, involves a consultative discussion with site stakeholders. We typically need to explore scenarios, agree on assumptions and variables and develop hypotheses for how personalization will increase value. This can be ‘art’ as much as ‘science’ but in some cases we can test assumptions with small trials in order to harden and test our hypotheses as we go.

Step 3: Estimate Investment

Once we’ve agreed the potential benefits of specific personalization use cases and monetized these, it’s time to look at the required investment costs of implementing personalization. This goes beyond project implementation costs to include total cost of ownership (TCO) over an agreed timeframe. TCO includes “people and process” costs, as well as technology costs. Complete personalization initiatives often result in a change to the target operating model (TOM), so this should be modeled too.

Step 4: Calculate the Project’s Net Economic Return

After estimating potential benefits and costs, the ROI is calculated: (benefits minus costs) to reach a quantified (dollar, or Euro, or GBP, or other) number. I typically model this per year, over three years. Any longer than a three year ROI is a long time in digital. Also, most organizations want to see a return on Personalization within the first six months to a year.

If required, we can apply standard ROI adjustments, for example applying net present value (NPV) adjustments. This basically reduces future costs and benefits, based on a weighted average cost of capital (WACC), as future money is worth less than money today. In my experience, this adjustment is rarely required, given the broad-brush levels of accuracy we’re dealing with.

Step 5: Detail Non-Financial Impact

Once we have a hard quantified ROI, we should also consider the softer impacts of implementing personalization. An example of a soft positive impact could be non-quantified customer loyalty and advocacy. This is clearly beneficial to the business but may be difficult to actually agree on a dollar value. An internal positive indirect impact could be attracting and retaining talent in your organisation as you use interesting technology. Or, it could be simply keeping up with the competition. Conversely, an example of a potential negative impact could be customer perceptions; customers can feel personalized content and offers are creepy if not done right. A sound and complete business case always considers more than just the numbers and sometimes it is the soft benefits which will justify a Personalization initiative, especially if the numbers alone are underwhelming.

Finally, the ROI model should leave some scope for investigating various scenarios, sensitivities and risks. What will happen if the expected benefits aren’t fully realized, or if the project costs over run? What is the risks of doing nothing? A do-nothing baseline may result in a natural decline as the competition implements personalization. Many organizations may be driven by fear of a ‘do-nothing’ approach, rather than an ROI opportunity - sheer FOMO (fear of missing out).

Assuming we estimate a positive ROI, we have a great starting-point to progress a personalization initiative. A typical minimum net ROI is 3x to justify such a change program. A higher ROI is great but has to remain credible. Less than 3x ROI can be risky. That said, non-financial elements should not be underestimated. In my experience to date many customers place equal weight on the ‘intangibles’ of improving customer experience.

Once we’ve agree the overall value, including the ROI, regularly referencing this value should maintain stakeholder buy-in, increasing the chance of project success. The ROI should also act as a baseline for future benefits realization and continuous service improvement (CSI). This is not simply an one-off exercise to approve a budget, it is key to realizing business value on an ongoing basis.

In the next posts in this series, we’ll take a deeper dive into each of the above sections. If you’d like to discuss any of this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Otherwise, stay tuned.

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