Google Optimize will sunset on September 30, 2023 – what are marketers doing next? We’re here to tell you.
Here, you’ll learn:
- Why Google Optimize is being sunset
- How to handle data migration
- What our experts suggest you do before the sunset
- Which alternative tools marketers love
Google’s website optimization tools (Google Optimize and Google Optimize 360) have been key players in the online marketing game since their launch over five years ago.
Built with the intent to help businesses of all sizes easily test websites and improve customer experiences, these tools are being put to pasture in the wake of the launch of Google Analytics 4.
But why is Google Optimize being sunset? Google’s reasoning is sound:
“We are focused on bringing the most effective solutions and integrations to our customers, especially as we look toward the future with Google Analytics 4.
“Optimize, though a longstanding product, does not have many of the features and services that our customers request and need for experimentation testing. We therefore have decided to invest in solutions that will be more effective for our customers.”
Now the kicker: what does this mean for digital marketers? We spoke with Jenny Palmer, director of marketing operations at HawkSEM, to find out more. With over 10 years of digital marketing experience (almost four of them here at Hawk), Palmer is a bona fide wizard when it comes to optimization tools.
Read on for her pro tips and expert insights on what to do next.
What is Google Optimize?
Google Optimize is part of the Google Marketing Platform suite of tools, and is designed to help users create more effective, user-friendly websites. It allows website owners and marketers to test variants of web pages through things like A/B testing, redirect tests, and multivariate testing (MVT).
Plus, you can run optimization experiments to improve user experience and achieve specific business goals through your website.
To give you a good idea of what features and capabilities to look for in alternative tools, let’s take a look at what Google Optimize is and what it does for businesses.
Google Optimize has been a favorite conversion rate optimization (CRO) tool for its easy-to-use interface, plethora of essential features, and its free version (which natively integrated with Google Ads and Google Analytics).
When it comes to running experiments involving extensive tests, however, it’s also notoriously limited:
- You can only run five tests at a time
- Tests run for 35 days maximum
- You can only have three goals at a time
- You cannot run tests on apps, only websites/landing pages
In the wake of all this, it’s important to take stock of what features your business needs in its testing tools, and how it can help you reach your goals.
Google Optimize alternatives
With Google Optimize out of the game, it’s time to find a pinch hitter. Whether you’re looking for primarily an A/B testing tool or something a little more robust, there are plenty of alternatives to your optimize account.
Here are Palmer’s top recommendations:
Visual Website Optimizer (VWO), is a website optimization and A/B testing platform. This tool helps businesses and website owners improve their websites’ performance by conducting experiments, such as A/B tests and split tests, to determine which design, content, or functionality changes lead to better user engagement and conversion rates.
VWO provides a range of features and tools to facilitate these optimization efforts, including:
- A/B testing
- Multivariate testing
- Split URL testing
- Goal tracking
- Heatmaps & session recordings
- Conversion funnels
- Integration with other marketing platforms (including Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager – and likely GA4)
- Codeless testing
Huge bonus for companies that choose VWO: there is a free version. Although, Palmer cautions, it does have limited capabilities.
2. AB Tasty
AB Tasty is a digital experience optimization platform that focuses on website and mobile app testing, personalization, and targeting. It provides tools and features that allow businesses to improve the user experience, increase conversions, and drive better results from their online presence.
AB Tasty is a classic choice for marketers, product managers, and website optimization professionals. Here are some of the key features and capabilities to consider:
- A/B testing
- Audience targeting and segmentation
- Dynamic testing
- Multichannel testing
- Visual editor
- Insights & analytics
Luckily, AB Tasty is also on Google’s list of platforms to collaborate with on GA4 integration.
Overall, AB Tasty is a versatile platform that empowers businesses to optimize digital experiences by conducting experiments, delivering personalized content, and targeting specific audience segments.
It helps organizations make data-driven decisions to improve user engagement, conversion rates, and overall online performance – sounds like a pretty good deal to us.
Optimizely is hugely popular amongst marketers – and for a good reason. With a suite of tools and features fit for all kinds of testing, personalization, and targeted experimentation, this platform is a winner.
Here are some of Optimizely’s key features and capabilities:
- A/B testing
- Multivariate testing
- Feature flags
- Targeting & segmentation
- Experimentation across channels (including web pages, mobile apps, and server-side)
- Analytics & insights
Optimizely is best known for its flexibility and scalability. This makes it a popular choice for organizations looking to optimize digital experiences, iterate quickly, and make data-informed decisions to enhance user engagement and conversion rates.
When is Google Optimize being sunset?
Google optimize will be sunset on September 30, 2023.
What should I do before Google Optimize sunsets?
Change is inevitable in the digital landscape, and as marketers, we must be prepared to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition.
Assess your current setup
Before taking any action, it’s essential to understand your existing usage of Google Optimize. Take stock of your experiments, A/B tests, personalization campaigns, and any critical data stored within the platform. Knowing what you have will help you make informed decisions moving forward.
With Google Optimize on the way out, it’s time to evaluate alternative optimization platforms. Palmer’s recommendations above each offer similar features for A/B testing, multivariate testing, personalization, and more. Compare pricing, features, and integrations to find the best fit for your needs.
Plan your data migration strategy
Data migration is a critical step in this transition. The good news here, according to Palmer, is that most of the big players will offer easy migration solutions to make the transition easier.
You’ll want to ensure that all your experiments and historical data are safely moved to your chosen platform. Depending on the complexity of your setup, you may need the help of your IT team or a professional migration service.
Re-create campaigns and experiments
Once you’ve migrated your data, recreate your campaigns and experiments in the new platform. This is an opportunity to optimize and refine your strategies based on past results and lessons learned.
Back up your data
Even after migration, it’s smart to keep backups of your historical data from Google Optimize. This ensures that you can reference past experiments and learnings as needed. (This writer knows there’s nothing worse than forgetting to hit that proverbial save button).
Monitor and optimize
As you transition to a new platform, closely monitor the performance of your experiments and campaigns. Continuously analyze data and make adjustments to improve results. Remember: optimization is an ongoing process.
Loop in your team
Your marketing team needs to be aware of impending changes. Schedule meetings or training sessions to ensure everyone understands the new platform and its capabilities. Encourage team members to explore the features and experiment with any new tools and get comfortable.
When asked what marketers should do to prepare, Palmer’s advice is simple: Don’t wait.
“Choose a new tool and ensure that you can familiarize yourself with the new tool before you’re forced to use it,” she advises. “Once you’ve chosen the right one for your business, you can migrate campaigns, plan for new tests, and save old reports and data.”
The sunsetting of Google Optimize presents challenges and opportunities for marketers. By assessing your current setup, exploring alternatives, planning your data migration carefully, and keeping your team informed, you can navigate this transition effectively.
As any good marketer knows, optimization is an ongoing journey. And the key is to adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape.
And, whether you use Google Optimize often or not, the sunset of this tool will undoubtedly make way for other strides in digital marketing as a whole.
As WebFX put it, “…it will be intriguing to see how GA4 develops to enhance the optimization analysis of other significant conversion rate optimization (CRO) solutions.”
And I must say, I agree.