Unless is the new kid on the block, but making its mark on the industry already. It’s a personalization platform for websites – with a twist.
While traditional personalization is mainly used for preferences, product suggestions and dynamic pricing, Unless focuses on “contextualization” – claiming it’s not about what you say, but how you package that message. In practice, this means that choice of words, images, examples and social proof can be tweaked to appeal to the background of each unique visitor. This can go as far as showing different versions of the page to people based on their educational level, industry, their mood or even the weather.
The system is packed with features. Using persistent audiences, Unless offers full funnel personalization options. This means that a visitor can get a unique user experience across multiple web pages or even subdomains – all the way from your landing page to your checkout, for example. It gets even better: multiple personalized content snippets may fire in the same web page, allowing for simple 1:1 personalization. By defining a control group, you can see the conversion uplift for each of your business goals and audiences.
Finally, although the Unless service is global and most of their customers are from the US, the company itself is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. As a result, they make sure that the service complies with the strict data protection laws in Europe. For US customers looking to do business in that part of the world, this can come in handy, too.
Google Optimize solved the “get started fast” issue with their Chrome plug-in (which is already very clever), but Unless took it a step further and allows you to start without code access directly – using some sort of reverse proxy solution. Basically, you can submit your website URL and start personalizing from within the Unless dashboard without waiting for your developers to install the Unless script snippet. Once the Unless system detects that the Unless snippet is properly inserted in your website, it will automatically move to the live view.
For simple scenarios, Unless offers “recipes” with the most common use cases that will automatically generate the required Audiences, Personalizations and Goals. If you are not sure what works best, you can just add your business objectives as Goals and sit back. The Unless service will automatically suggest the most successful audiences for you – a great tactic to get your Growth Hacking efforts started.
When asked, Unless claims to be the “fastest personalization service on earth”. In several videos that we have seen, the Unless team explains how they built their entire system using the latest “serverless” technology, like AWS Lambda and DynamoDB: the technology that is also used by Netflix, Twitter and Amazon. For end users, this basically means that the system does automatically scale with traffic, even under the heaviest of loads.
Well, we know that speed is important. Visitors should see their personalized content immediately, without a flash of the original content – if not, they will feel tricked and that is a conversion killer. While we are not sure Unless is indeed “the fastest”, we can sure say that it is speedy. It doesn’t delay our test website loads at all, and we haven’t been able to detect any flash of original content.
Unless offers free product walkthroughs, demos, and a 14-day trial. All customers receive an extensive onboarding and access to training material. A customer success manager helps with setting up personalizations and regularly checks in with you. Unless is very responsive through chat or email.
- Goals: set business objectives, add a value, and measure visitor success.
- Segmentation: define visitor audiences based on lots of conditions, with a membership duration for return visits.
- Suggested audiences: map and target different groups of people automatically, using pattern recognition.
- Parallel personalization: show different content snippets for multiple audiences on the same page, for an individual result.
- Inline and code editor: edit pages visually or through code.
- Insights: in the dashboard, you can see how your audiences are doing.
- Google Analytics integration: see how your variations are performing, right in GA.
- Simple testing: use a control group to compare your personalizations with the original page.
- Email, CRM and other 3rd parties: use your existing data to personalize more effectively.
Our respondents were particularly happy with the following.
- Simple UX for a complex product.
- You can immediately start using it, even without code access and without installing a browser plug-in.
- Overall little to no code knowledge needed – their WYSIWYG editor can do a lot.
- Their smart add-ons are simple to implement and get quick results.
- The solution protects your SEO efforts, by allowing only the Ads Bot to index your variations.
- The performance of the service (loading times and such) is really good. No FOUC issues.
- Very responsive, helpful team.
- It is still very affordable when compared to competitors.
- Great solution for agencies, with its unlimited personalizations, users etc. on offer.
The following caveats were mentioned in the survey results.
- The solution is very specific and useful for personalization only – unlike the bigger players, who have a very wide feature palette. Don’t use it for extensive A/B testing.
- Their UI changes often, because of the frequent feature updates. This can be a bit surprising sometimes.
- Although pricing is based on unlimited users and personalizations, it is capped at domains – so if you have more than five websites, you will have to choose a more expensive plan.
The verdict about Unless
Although the solution is very specific, Unless is an interesting contender in the SME market for personalization. In a very short time, they have managed to become quite popular.
In particular, our respondents were happy with the performance of the service (i.e. the absence of FOUC – no flash of unrendered content) and the speed at which the team pumps out new features and improvements. According to our survey, there is much to love, like unlimited, full funnel personalization and the ability to fire personalized snippets for any combination of different audiences at the same time. Also, the really simple implementation procedure was mentioned.