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Google Optimize is being sunsetted in September 2023: What are my options?

  • By 3chillies

Google Optimize and the related Optimize 360 service offer opportunities to optimise and improve your website through A/B and multivariate testing. However, Google has announced that these services are closing down on 30 September 2023, meaning that web teams will have to find an alternative solution to optimise their website.

In this article we’re going to look at some of the optimisation options that are available for those who need to make the switch, but also for those who are looking to start optimising their website.

What is Google Optimize?

Google Optimize is a web optimisation platform that helps teams to carry out tests and see related analytics from the results, in order to make improvements to increase engagement and conversation rates. It has been around in one form or another since 2012 and integrates with other popular Google products such as Google Analytics.

While Google Optimize is a “freemium” version that can be used by for simple A/B and variant testing, Optimize 360 is a more sophisticated, paid-for solution with advanced tools aimed at digital marketers in the enterprise. Both products are being sunsetted at the end of September 2023.

Optimize helps teams to carry out three types of test:

  • A/B testing: tests two different version of a page, usually with some variations across both versions.
  • Redirect testing: tests two different versions of a page, but usually better where the pages are very different.
  • Mutlivariate testing: where you test a page which has multiple variant versions – perhaps with some of the different page elements that you’re testing in different combinations with each other.

All the tests work by presenting the different versions at random to different visitors and the collecting analytics on the results to compare their effectiveness. In a more sophisticated optimisation solution, you can compare results using segments already involved in your personalisation efforts, for example.

Is using an application like Google Optimize worth it?

The answer is yes! Most digital marketers want to actively improve their website, particularly to increase sales and lead generation, as well as encourage return visits. Actively optimising the experience through testing is a key way to achieve this, helping to make smaller, iterative improvements and learning what really works with users.

Actively optimising your website through A/B or multivariate testing has several advantages:

  • You learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t, helping you to make better decisions in optimising your site.
  • Having testing data from users allows you to show business stakeholders the best option, which can be very important when everybody has a conflicting view about your website and thinks they are right.
  • It gets you into a continual improvement mindset and also focuses the mind on thinking about design and how users engage with your site.
  • It actually becomes really quite fascinating and satisfying once you get the hang of it!

What are my options to replace Google Optimize or start optimisation?

The good news is that there are many tools that you can use for A/B or multivariate testing that range from free through to extremely expensive, depending on the level of sophistication you require. It’s worth spending some time researching options and asking peers in other organisations what solution they are using.

It’s also possible that your current Content Management System (CMS) or Digital Experience Platform (DXP) either has a native optimisation feature for A/B testing that you can already use or has a connector to an optimisation platform that it will play nicely with. Below we describe three viable options, which may be attractive based on the CMS or the sophistication of your needs.

Optimizely experimentation platform

One of the most popular advanced optimisation solutions for the enterprise and more advanced digital marketing teams is Optimizely. While Optimizely is a fully-fledged DXP (formerly known as Episerver) it comes with an advanced “experimentation” platform that can be purchased separately. This piece of kit has always been branded as Optimizely and is designed for teams who are continually optimising experiences as part of their core activity.

Optimzely allows marketing teams to integrate variant testing into their whole deployment and design approach, and fuse testing with personalisation and segmentation. Optimizely provides a very sophisticated set of tools that allows digital marketers to experiment, but it probably not an option designed for teams only using the Google Optimize freemium service on a more casual or ad hoc basis, and who are not actively using personalisation.

Unsurprisingly. Optimizely is trying to entice new customers by offering a discounted platform and migration service to existing Google Optimize customers.

Sitecore Experience Platform and Sitecore Personalize

If you’re already using the Sitecore Experience Platform, you may already have access to A/B testing as part of the Experience Optimisation module. This supports A/B Testing and multivariate testing at both the page and component level and includes a number of features to support a sophisticated approach to testing.

If you’re not using Sitecore as your core CMS or DXP or you are adopting a composable architecture that utilises some Sitecore features , then the Sitecore Personalize offering is available as a separate product. This features robust A/B testing and optimisation features that are integrated with your approach to personalisation, and work across multiple channels. Again, this is an option for larger enterprises with a complex digital footprint that actively want to optimise digital experiences that are delivered to different market segments.

UMarketing Suite for Umbraco

Umbraco is an excellent CMS that is really easy to use but still has plenty of power; it’s one we of often use in our client projects. Umbraco doesn’t have a native A/B testing feature but there is a suite of tools that integrate with it to deliver optimisation. UMarketingSuite is an Umbraco-endorsed “marketing toolbox” that is designed to work seamlessly with the core Umbraco CMS and includes A/B testing, analytics and personalisation. It’s actually a product that we offer our clients.

A/B testing is very easy in UMarketingSuite with elements such as a split screen editor to compare the choices, analytics that report if something is statistically significant, useful automation that advises how long you need to run the test and more. It’s a good choice for teams that are starting to carry out A/B testing on their Umbraco site, and are just at the beginning of their optimisation journey, but also for those who are already actively optimising.

Next steps

If you need to come off Google Optimize we suggest take the following steps:

1. Research the market now

September will come quickly. Start actively researching the market now to find some sensible options – don’t leave this one to the last minute.

2. Arrange product demos

Arrange a demo or free trial of different products so you can experience the product for yourself. Always take the administration experience into account – is it easy to use?

3. Make a decision and plan your transition

Decide on an option and then plan your transition to the new product, again leaving plenty of time for you and your team to get your heads around it and make sure everything works.

Need advice? Get in touch!

A/B and multivariate testing are fundamental to optimising experiences for your customers and site visitors. If you’re an existing Google Optimize customer or just want to get started on website optimisation, its worth spending time to find the right solution. If you need advice or want to chat to us about your needs, then get in touch!

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