August 08 2023

The Value of A/B Testing and Google Optimize Alternatives

google optimize a/b testing platformsA/B Testing is a strategic way to assess variations of a page and determine which version produces better engagement, higher conversions or more meaningful activity. This may involve testing a lifestyle image against a more focused product image, or testing longer, more informative content against brief and direct copy. By performing an A/B test, you can ensure a landing page is optimized for best results based on real data, increasing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Letting you experiment on a subset of traffic before rolling out changes to all visitors, A/B Tests can also help you identify updates that may be beneficial to your website experience as a whole.

Choosing the Right A/B Testing Platform

There are several vendors that offer third-party integrations for A/B Testing on your website. A popular free tool offered by Google called Optimize is unfortunately being sunset starting 9/30/2023, leaving existing users looking for alternatives to the platform.

Typically, A/B Testing solutions operate on a subscription basis, and can potentially increase in cost based on how much website traffic you receive. Google has recommended several vendors including AB Tasty, Optimizely and VWOfor A/B Testing specifically. While all of these platforms have paid tiers, VWO has a free version for websites that don’t receive as many daily visitors, and doesn’t offer all of the benefits of the paid tier. Many smaller businesses may find that the free version offers enough for their needs.

Some Content Management Systems (CMSs) such as Kentico have built-in tools that allow for Personalization and A/B Tests, as well. However, these may require an upgraded license and have limitations to the type of content you can modify or how you can build audiences. Before you start researching third parties for these marketing services, it’s worth confirming whether any of the platforms you’re already using offer them and if out-of-the-box capabilities support your testing goals.

Measuring A/B Test Success

When deciding to implement an A/B Testing strategy, you should have a clear goal in mind. Common reasons for A/B testing include measuring engagement, conversions, and other meaningful activity to determine which strategic approaches perform best. In addition to looking at page-specific results, you’ll also want to measure overall results on the website. This will allow you to evaluate the full experience and consumer journey, and compare data with that of the average website visitor.

One of the major benefits of Google Optimize is that it was integrated directly with your existing Google Analytics property. You could use existing Goals and Events to determine which version of an A/B Test is more successful, or whether Personalization is resulting in a higher conversion rate than regular website traffic. The recommended alternative platforms all have ways of measuring success, though not all integrate the same way with Google Analytics. Either way, you’ll want to ensure your KPIs are tagged correctly so the better version of the page can be determined.

Elements To A/B Test

Once you’ve decided to run an A/B test, chosen a platform and determined what a successful test looks like, you’ll want to select which elements of the page or website will be modified as part of the test. When visitors arrive on your page, they likely see a combination of content types, images and calls to action. One simple test is to compare how the use of different images impacts engagement rates. For example, does an image of a family generate better results than something more formal? Or, you can test variations of the call to action (CTA) text to see if one drives more conversions. The descriptive text on the page can also be altered to see whether succinct, visual snippets of information or detailed, long-form content contributes to more meaningful actions.

If you’re testing variations of multiple elements on a page, it can be hard to determine which specific change resulted in the better performance. This is where running a Multivariate Test (MVT) can be helpful. An MVT is a way of running an A/B test, but instead of just showing an A version and a B version it shows multiple combinations of all modified elements to determine the best combination. This means you can launch your campaigns with the knowledge that your landing pages are set to drive the highest success rate.

Getting Started

While A/B Testing is a helpful tool for website marketing, it should be performed with purpose. If you think your marketing plan could be helped by testing content variations, you’ll want to ensure you’ve chosen a platform that allows you to test the appropriate elements on your website and measure which version performs best. If you need help with an A/B or Multivariate Test on your website, connect with ZAG's team of experts to strategize and implement a successful approach.

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posted by
Patrick Trayes
Patrick Trayes
Associate Director of Client Analytics

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.