E-commerce

What Does the Sunsetting of Google Optimize Mean for Your Digital Experimentation?

Mar 22, 2023

Google has announced that it will discontinue its Google Optimize and Optimize 360 user experience testing tools by September 30, 2023.

In January, Google announced that it was sunsetting its Google Optimize and Optimize 360 user experience testing tools as of September 30, 2023. This means that from this date, Google Optimize will no longer be accessible, and all experiments will cease to run.

This is bad news for the many commerce websites which make use of this (often free) tool to A/B test their website pages to improve user experience and conversions.

Google Optimize’s user-friendly and low-tech approach made running experiments on website pages accessible to many businesses. Native integration with Google Analytics also made it a popular choice.

So, what does the sunsetting of Google Optimize mean for your digital experimentation?

 

What is Happening with Google Optimize?

First, why is Google shutting down Optimize?

Google has stated that Optimize does not have many of the features and services that its customers ask for and need for experimentation testing. This has prompted it to invest in other more effective solutions.

The sunsetting seems to be connected to Google’s move from Universal Analytics (Analytics 360) to the new Google Analytics 4.

What to do Before Google Opimize Sunsets?

Will Optimize users lose anything when access is cut off?

It’s important to note that Google hast stated that users cannot access their experience inference results or historical Google Analytics raw data from Google Optimize after the sunset date.

Therefore, if you want to secure copies of this data, download it before September 30, 2023.

It is also worth seeing whether this data is compatible with your new choice of A/B testing tool if you want to continue to make use of it.

Another thing to check is whether all the results of past Optimize experiments have been fully implemented onto your website so that you don’t lose anything when Optimize shutters. This might be a factor if you are using Optimize’s personalizations for targeted visitors.

Start Looking at Optimize Alternatives Now

Now is also the time to starat looking into alternatives to Google Optimize. This will give your business the space to explore what is out there and evaluate what is best for your needs before Optimize sunsets.

Waiting until Optimize is discontinued will cause a gap in your experimentation while you look for another option. You may also find it harder to get fast support from your new provider if you switch at the last minute as they could have an influx of new customers.

Perhaps the biggest question commerce companies have is - will Google replace Optimize with a new tool?

The answer is not exactly.

If integration with Google Analytics is important to your business, the good news is that Google is actively supporting third-party A/B testing integrations for Google Analytics 4.

We’ve seen Google take the same approach with other products, such as Data Studio and Tag Manager, allowing third parties to write plugins to send data to analytics.

Google has already confirmed that it is collaborating on new integrations with several leading A/B testing companies, including:

  • AB Tasty
  • Optimizely
  • VWO

The company has also stated that it will make its APIs publicly available so anyone can integrate their A/B testing tool with Google Analytics.

But it’s not yet clear when these integrations will be available or what features they will include, which makes it difficult to judge whether this will be best for your business.

Best Alternatives to Google Optimize

Google Optimize isn’t the only experimentation tool on the market. There are lots of other companies that provide A/B testing capabilities, including (in alphabetical order):

  • A/B Smartly
  • AB Tasty
  • Adobe Target
  • Conductrics
  • Convert
  • Dynamic Yield
  • Kameleoon
  • Optimizely
  • Unbounce
  • VWO
  • Webtrends Optimize

Many of these companies are looking to fill the gap left by Google Optimize by offering special discounts for Optimize and Optimize 360 clients and introducing free tiers to their service.

This means that now is a good time to switch to another experimentation tool if you want to minimize the cost of doing so. It also gives you an opportunity to look at whether you need to upgrade your A/B testing capabilities to get the most from your experiments.

Choosing an alternative A/B testing tool is not as simple as picking a name off this list though.

How to Choose the Right A/B Testing Tool

Every experimentation tool is different. They have different features, different pricing, different levels of complexity, and so on.

Whether you’re starting with A/B testing for the first time or looking for a replacement for Google Optimize, it’s important to make the right choice of tool for your business.

Here are some things to think about when working out your A/B testing needs:

  • What do you want to test
  • What is your budget for A/B testing
  • What is your tech set-up
  • How much traffic does your website get
  • Are you able to make changes on a technical level or do you need a code-free WYSIWYG interface
  • How much time/resource can you put into A/B testing
  • How many tests do you want to run (on average)
  • What other tools do you want to be able to connect your A/B testing tool to (e.g. Google Analytics)
  • Do you want AI support with your A/B testing
  • Do you need to meet privacy regulations (like GDPR)

For example, almost everything can be A/B tested on your website from the font, images, and colors on the page to the pricing and recommendation modules. The features you get will be based on the A/B testing solution you choose, as well as the time and money that you can invest in testing.

Knowing what you want to be able to measure, such as cart abandonment rates, sign-up numbers, purchases from a page, clicks on recommendations, and increases in revenue, will help you work out what elements of a page you need to be able to change and test. This will help guide you when looking at the capabilities of A/B testing tools.

Another major thing to consider is whether a specific tool will work with the technical set-up of your site. A headless commerce or composable commerce environment may be able to use tools and features that a legacy e-commerce set-up can’t (and vice-versa).

Additionally, you need to think about how you will make the changes that you want to test. Do you have the technical capability within your business to make more complex changes within the source code of a page? Or do you need a simpler WYSIWYG tool that lets you create tests code-free?

The answers to these questions will affect what you’re able to test on your website pages as some elements will require edits to code. If you don’t have the necessary tech know-how in your business, then it isn’t worth paying for an A/B testing tool that you can’t fully utilize.

Experimentation is Vital to Business Success 

The worst thing that you can do is stop running A/B tests when Google Optimize sunsets.

Whatever kind of commerce business you are, you should be running experiments on your website pages. Only by doing this can you understand what your customers respond to and implement improvements.

Almost half of the online shoppers (42%) decide whether to stay on or leave a website within 10 seconds, according to a recent survey of US and European shoppers by Storyblok. Another 20% make that decision within five seconds.

Even small changes can make a big difference to whether customers stay on your site and convert. A/B testing tools like Google Optimize make it possible for every e-commerce company to dip their toe into website experimentation.

Get ready for the shift

Avensia wants to make A/B testing easy and accessible for all commerce businesses.

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