Optimize is an offering as part of Google’s Analytics and Analytics 360 platform. It allows you to run experiments on your website in order to find the best matching experience for segments of your visitors. Google Optimize offers up to 10 Personalizations. The tool aims to help you optimize your pages and improve their overall performance.
Optimize, like any A/B testing tool, works best if you have a significant amount of traffic that you can direct to the test(s), to ensure its value and credibility. You can specify an objective and see how the variants perform against that objective. It is possible to test things ranging from a completely different homepage to small changes of the CTA button.
Google Optimize is deeply integrated into the Google universe. Connecting your AdWords to your tests is very easy and the analytics part is covered by Google Analytics. It also has integrations with Google Big Query and Google Firebase, making this one connected web of Google tools. It is important to remember that the ability to measure and track performance depends on the quality of your Google Analytics setup. Google also mentions that many customers do not have the correct setup to allow for proper analysis, so don’t be one of those customers, and make sure you have your Analytics set up properly!
Keep in mind: this review does not tell you about Optimize 360, the enterprise product that has a lot of additional features and no limitations for variations or domains. For a quote on Optimize 360, you must talk to their sales team.
If you are using Google Tag Manager (GTM), you do not need code, or developers. You can use the Google Optimize tag template that is already built-in and available in GTM. Then you’ll have to fill in your information and run the Google Optimize tag. This may result in a flicker of the original content though, if you do not also inject the accompanying page-hiding code.
Finally, and this is very important, in order to create a test and access the visual editor you will have to be using the Google Chrome browser and the Google Optimize Chrome Extension which you must download.
Like with many free Google things, there is no customer support.
- A/B testing: Test multiple versions of a page to find the best performing one.
- Multivariate testing: Test multiple elements on a page to find the best combination.
- Personalizations: Sending 100% of traffic to a winning variation.
- Redirect testing: Test separate pages against each other.
- Visual and code editor: Make simple visual edits or advanced code changes.
- Targeting: Segment the visitors you include in your experiments.
Our respondents were particularly happy with the following features.
- Google is a big name
- Google Optimize is a free tool.
- The UI is very familiar for most of us.
- It is natively integrated with Google Analytics.
- Google Analytics is putting everything under one roof.
- It can be a good option or at least a good start for smaller companies.
- Optimize is significantly lacking when compared to Optimize 360.
- Optimize is limited in how much you can do with it:
- 5 concurrent experiments
- 10 personalizations
- Getting started is free, but once you exceed the limits you can only upgrade by paying tens of thousands per month.
- Google is notorious for starting new companies and then wind them down, so there is no guarantee the free plan will continue to exist
- Pre-selected experiment objectives only
- There is no Audience Targeting.
- Google has access to all of your data.
- You need Google Chrome and the extension for the visual editor and creating tests, which is a pain in companies with a restrictive software policy.
- You can’t upload images to Optimize servers – you must use your own server or a third-party.
- Code length is limited to 10240 characters.
The verdict about Google Optimize
We appreciate Google Optimize. It is a great tool for playing around and a benchmark for other competitors. However, as possibly the only vendor on our list, it is not suitable for somewehat larger accounts. The reasons are its severe limitations and usage caps. We suspect therefore, that Google Optimize is mainly set up as a service to upsell customers to Optimize 360, the enterprise product.
The most striking point of this product for most is its natural connection with Google Analytics. However, many alternative products also provide integrations with GA. The second big advantage is their superior UI, well-known to most of us.
The appeal of this for many is having things in one place and seamlessly connected. It leads to a natural, easy place for work. However, it also creates a certain dependency on Google. The search giant will own all your data. While this may not be an issue for smaller companies, it is definitely something to consider for enterprise customers.
Despite some limitations for personalization, Google Optimize is a fine competitor for many A/B testing tools. Most importantly, it’s free and a good tool to start experimenting with. As said, we like it a lot.
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