Charity, Health, Education, Other

Personalised digital experiences

A flexible digital marketing platform capable of personalisation can take the effectiveness of your non-profit website to the next level, by responding intelligently to individual user preferences.

A GOOD website will cater for a number of different user personas and needs.

It’ll offer a consistent user experience on any device, and make it really easy for users to find what they’re looking for. These days, that’s the very least visitors will expect.


A truly GREAT website, however, will do much more.

It will build up a picture of each user’s behaviour as they visit and interact with the site. It will collect and mine their data – anonymously at first – and offer up personalised, relevant content each time they visit. It will pick the content that best fits their interests and use the calls to action most likely to result in them engaging with you more closely.


To explain how this works, let’s have a look at the UX stage of the website design process.

User personas and journeys

As part of user experience design, you’ll have pinpointed a number of different user personas – fictional characters that describe real users – to describe what each is looking for on your website, and the action you want them to take. For example:

  • A service user looking for support – downloads helpful content or ‘clicks to call’ from their mobile
  • A financial donor – signs up to a regular monthly donation
  • A potential student – downloads a prospectus
  • A potential employee – applies for a job
  • A campaign advocate – signs a petition and shares the campaign on social media.

With your key user groups encapsulated in personas, you can elaborate on their journeys through the website, design an optimal structure of content and craft an elegant, responsive user interface. It is at this point in the process that a classic website with static content – i.e. content that does not change according to who the user is – diverges from a dynamic, personalised experience.

Dynamic content management

The best websites now go beyond the established UX process for static content using data-driven, automated content management to tailor what users see when visiting your site. There are several mature systems on the market today focused on content personalisation. Acquia Lift caught IE Digital’s attention because it integrates seamlessly with Drupal - which is our CMS of choice.

This technology takes websites beyond simply having great landing pages and an intuitive site structure. It is able to collect and link behavioural data across multiple devices, and dynamically shape content, serve relevant promotions and provide appropriate calls-to-action.

One possible user journey

This is best explained with an example. Here’s how Acquia Lift could work in a charity context:

  1. An anonymous user sees some campaign content on Twitter and clicks through to the charity’s website. They view a couple of campaign videos and watch another about volunteering.

  • Lift records an anonymous record based on the user’s laptop IP address
  • Logged as interested in volunteering
  • Logged as preferring video content.
  1. Later that week, the same user Googles the campaign name and returns to the site from the same laptop. Lift recognises them, and dynamically changes the main homepage content, showing a video of volunteering success stories and details of an upcoming fundraising abseil. The user watches some of this content, and follows the on screen prompts to register for a fundraising pack.

  • Lift records a name and email address for Amy Wallis, who is added to receive future email comms
  • Lift now links the anonymous behavioural data, collected previously, to Amy’s personally identifiable record.
  1. A couple of weeks later, Amy receives an email and clicks a link from her iPad.

  • Lift updates Amy’s record with details of her tablet device
  • Lift shows Amy one of two animated banners being A/B tested. Banner A doesn’t grab her attention and she leaves.
  1. Amy is shown Banner B on her next visit based on aggregated engagement data. She clicks to read more about group fundraising events and watches a video. She completes an enquiry form, requesting details for corporate partnerships. She explains that she works as a charity advocate for a Fortune 500 company.

  • Lift records that a goal has been met
  • Organisational details are added to Amy’s record
  • A task is created to contact Amy and explore how the two organisations can work together.

Success! The charity has engaged Amy, shown her more of the stuff she wants to see, and recruited a really valuable contact.

The next level of user engagement

As you can see, a tool like Lift can deliver a truly joined-up, personalised user experience across multiple channels. The system provides everything you need to respond intelligently to individual user preferences and personalise your content, test and evaluate alternatives, and deliver against your digital marketing objectives.

For lots of organisations, a beautiful website with a well-designed user experience is plenty for what they need. But for some – where you have a large volume of content, a particularly rich set of audiences or a set of ambitious goals – a flexible digital marketing platform capable of personalisation can take the effectiveness of your website to the next level.

The best non-profit websites now go beyond the established UX process ... and dynamically shape content, serve relevant promotions and provide appropriate calls-to-action.

Ed Wilkinson
Digital Services Director, IE Digital