Enhancing Acquia Lift Personalization with Custom Tracking

May 05, 2020
By Elvis Komskis,
Data Engineer

Acquia Lift makes personalization and website testing as easy as point, click, and personalize, and Acquia’s just taken recent strides to make the setup process easier for marketers. Like most personalization tools, simply adding it to your site will unlock new and exciting capabilities, however, to truly be able to get value out of the product, marketers need to take time to map business objectives to a personalization strategy, and customize their setup.

Personalization is a topic that has been discussed quite a bit lately and for good reason. Eighty-nine percent of businesses are investing in personalization, and it’s becoming easier than ever to provide relevant consumer experiences with the right tools and strategy. As a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms, Acquia’s personalization tool has gone through several iterations, with each version adding new functionality and simplifying the experience to get personalization up and running on your site.

Out of the box, marketers can easily swap out content to ensure it appeals to its target audience. Audiences can be defined by a variety of attributes including geolocation, campaign, device type, or user behavior. To take Lift to the next level, it’s time to start thinking about custom tracking through a simple setup with Google Tag Manager. 

Getting Value Out of Acquia Lift

Acquia Lift captures an impressive amount of data with the standard implementation. Pulling from your content hierarchy and what the tool can identify about a visitor, you have access to a host of fields that can be used to determine when and where to add an A/B test or a personalized experience.

Understanding what content people are consuming, or rather what pages they’re visiting, is pretty easy! There are ways to set up extra metainformation about your pages and content to give Lift some idea about the content beyond the Page URL and Page Title. For instance, if you’ve created and tagged content using a keyword or persona taxonomy, that’s easily passed into Lift and aggregated to provide insights like “Favorite Keyword.”

In practice, this can be used a number of ways. If your site was promoting an event like a meetup or a training, you could easily combine someone’s current geographical information with contextual data about the content they're viewing to add a personalization campaign to promote your upcoming event.

But what about the other items that happen on your site beyond viewing a page? While you can understand a lot about a user based on the pages they visit, you can likely think of a number of items on your site that users complete on a regular basis, or even interactions that you may be trying to encourage with your campaign. It could be submitting a form, watching a video, downloading a case study—all of these are potential interactions that could be missed by Lift’s default implementation.

This is where custom tracking for Lift comes into play! 

Events, Goals, and Custom Tracking in Lift

There are a few phases to implementing and using Acquia Lift. Many companies grapple with “who owns” a particular tool or product, and personalization tools can be especially misunderstood. The first phase of Acquia Lift is largely an IT or development task: get it working. Whether you’re on a Drupal site or another platform, there’s dev effort required to add the code or module to the right place, connect the various APIs, and configure the basics.

Too often, this is where companies stop with their process. It’s imperative to move on to the next phase, which is making Lift work for you. You have a unique site with unique business objectives and the only way to make Lift work for you is to put time and effort into translating those into measurable goals within Lift. Often, this work includes configuration within the tool and tracking extra information, and may lean into the marketing team or an analytics team. The ability to connect marketing efforts with onsite goals is imperative, as well as the ability to add flexible tracking to the site and implement changes quickly.

Lift provides a number of ways to customize your setup, particularly around the data you collect and how you organize it. Let’s cover a few of the basics.

Acquia Lift Goals

Inside the Lift interface, Goals can be created to represent high-level, measurable objectives. Goals are then used within Campaign setup, so you can understand how a particular test or personalization affected the completion of a particular goal on your site. There are automatic goals created for you, like clicking through on a particular campaign, but you’ll want to set up your own goals that match your site objectives.

This setup process occurs within the Lift interface, but may require extra effort noted below. Sidenote, this a lot like setting goals in Google Analytics! You’ll see a lot of parallels to Lift’s tracking schema and how Google Analytics collects and stores information.

A Plea For Using Google Analytics Goals
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Acquia Lift Events

So, how do we get extra interaction information into Lift? We can use Events to pass information to Lift which reflects those important actions that people take on your site. Lift events can serve three main purposes: collecting data for reporting, using events as goals, and building behavioral segments.

Like goals, you’ll have to configure events in Lift first, to describe what you’re tracking and create a place to store the information. Sending events to Lift requires extra work. Lift provides a JavaScript API to help pass this information from the website to Lift, but don’t worry, you don’t actually need to know what that means. Much like implementing marketing and analytics tags on your website, you can use a Tag Management tool like Google Tag Manager to make this process easier. We’ll go through how to set up Events later in the post.

Acquia Lift Custom Tracking

There are other items that are beneficial to pass into Lift, but will also require custom tagging and setup on your site. This information can be used to tell us more about the individual visiting your site, or updating what we might already know about an individual. We will mention this, but the process is generally the same as sending events to Lift.

Collecting Event Information in Acquia Lift

Deciding what to track and how you’ll get that information isn’t necessarily easy, however, setting up the events in Lift is pretty straightforward. 

To create an event login to Acquia Lift and click into the Configure tab on the top navigation. Next, select the Events tab in the sidebar navigation and click the Add New Event CTA. 

image show how to create and add a new event in acquia lift

 

image showing event details in Acquia lift

Within the event detail choose an event name which will be visible in the Lift interface and create an ID that will be used to implement the actual event. Congratulations, you’ve successfully defined an Event in Lift!

Implementing Acquia Lift Events using Google Tag Manager

The preferred and recommended method of implementing custom event tracking for Acquia Lift is through Google Tag Manager (GTM). In case you aren’t using Google Tag Manager yet, (you should be) it provides fast deployment of tracking codes, built-in templates, ability to work in multiple workspaces, reduces developer overhead, and the list goes on and on. 

Simply put, what would have taken two to four weeks can be done in a matter of two to four hours. Imagine a world where you can bypass a lengthy developer backlog, sprint planning, and waiting for a release cycle. Here’s 10 more reasons to start using Google Tag Manager right now.

As one of the most popular (and free) tag management tools, GTM is often used to implement the free and paid Google products like Google Analytics, Google Ads Conversion tracking, and more. With immense flexibility, you can also use GTM to load custom HTML and JavaScript, which means you can use it to add things like surveys and third-party tools to your site as well.

Acquia has gone one step further and made it extremely easy to implement custom event tracking in GTM with the Acquia Lift Capture custom template. Google Custom Templates are a newer feature in GTM. Community-built using a restricted JavaScript library, custom templates are easier to use and less risky than adding code or HTML. Acquia’s custom template is easy-to-use and asks you only for the information needed, so marketers never have to touch code!

Getting Started with Google Tag Manager Custom Templates
By Kevin Haag,
Consultant, Analytics & Insight
· May 28, 2019

Those already using GTM are well-prepared to start adding Lift events and custom tracking. Often, the same information we track in a tool like Google Analytics (i.g. case study downloads) should also be tracked in Acquia Lift. This means we can often reuse GTM variables and triggers.

Adding the Acquia Lift Custom Template

Acquia’s support documentation outlines how to add the template to your GTM container, and it’s a super easy process.

Follow these steps:

Step One

Access the template gallery by clicking on the Templates item in the left side panel navigation.

image of Template Gallery in Google Tag Manager

Step Two

Select the Acquia Lift Capture template and add it to your workspace.

image showing how to import tag template

Once you’ve imported the custom template the implementation follows the typical GTM process of creating a tag, mapping variables to custom parameters, and adding a trigger. 

Using the Acquia Lift GTM Custom Template

The GTM custom tag template that you’ve added has a number of ways to pass custom information to Acquia. You’ll need to combine this Tag with a few other concepts in GTM to pull it all together.

Tags in Google Tag Manager do a thing, often sending information to another place or adding functionality, for example analytics or advertising tracking, loading a survey, etc.

Triggers are used in GTM to identify when something happens, for example, someone loads a page, clicks on a link, watches a video, etc.

Variables are used in GTM to grab and store information from the page or the action the user took, for example the page URL, the link that someone clicked on, etc.

You’ll need all of these pieces to determine when and what information you send to Lift. Adding a new Acquia Lift Tag prompts you to select a capture type: event, identity, or update person.

image showing Acquia Lift Event in GTM

Events for Lift

Use the event capture type to track things like contact form submissions, case study downloads, newsletter signups, video views, and other interactions you might already be tracking in Google Analytics. Custom parameters or metadata in Lift are similar to the concept of Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics. Depending on the event, you can customize them to include additional data like categories, video length, or user attributes like job title and company. We get into more details around events in our follow-up post, Custom Events Strategy & Tips for Acquia Lift.

Capture Identity

Use capture identity to store additional information about your users like email, account ID, or name. The capture identity event type allows you to send user data without having to send an event. You could collect a user’s job title when they fill in the form field rather than waiting for the form to submit. The benefit of this capture type is that it includes a range of default values (email, account, Facebook, Twitter, name) as well as the ability to add custom parameters. We can think of these as user scoped custom dimensions in Google Analytics.

Update Person

The update person capture type comes in handy when you want to update user attributes without sending an event. It’s helpful when there is data from a third-party source that you want to append to a user profile. You can append user IDs from platforms like Google Analytics, Salesforce, or Magento to have a better understanding of your omnichannel personalization strategy.

Setting Up Lift for Success

You can and should begin using Acquia Lift immediately after the technical implementation of the Acquia Lift and Acquia Content Hub on your site. Out of the box, there are a number of immediate use cases that won’t require any extra effort.

However, the setup and configuration of the tool by someone familiar with the marketing and business goals of the company is the important next step that is crucial to realizing the value that testing and personalization can bring. As these steps become easier thanks to Acquia’s changes, the barrier to a customized setup becomes lower and lower.

An easier setup means that we can spend our time focused on the important tasks of strategic campaigns and iterating quickly. Keep reading in the series for more technical information about the setup and theory of Acquia Lift custom tracking!