A/B Testing for All!

Optimizely is bringing A/B Testing to the Masses

Optimizely is a web analytics company that was built on a very clear premise – make website A/B testing dead simple so that any company can use it to collect data and optimize their websites. This testing allows websites to make small tweaks than can increase engagement, click through rate, and conversions. Tech start-ups have used it to increase app downloads, media sites has used it to increase subscriptions and time spent on the page. In 2012, the Obama and Romney campaign both used Optimizely to increase the efficacy of their state-specific landing pages and drive online fundraising. The case studies on the website demonstrate the vast applicability of Optimizely.

Before Optimzely and its peers, A/B testing was manageable, but a much more arduous affair. Using products like Google Analytics or Omniture (now Adobe Analytics), provided the data to see user behavior and engagement on individual pages and through a defined conversion funnel. However, tagging every single page takes time and coding (albeit very straightforward coding). Once these key metrics were captured and a baseline was established, the site could then be modified and a marketing manager could monitor the change in performance. However, this on/off switch isn’t quite the same as doing a truly randomized A/B test where the control site and experimental site are live concurrently – and without there is the pesky problem of correlation v. causation. Of course, this experiment could be set-up before Optimizely, but it required the technical know how that I expect is beyond most marketing managers who were just trying to optimize conversions.

That’s where Optimzely comes in. It requires minimal coding, is very low cost to test out the basic features (there is very basic freemium package), and offers a WYSIWYG visual editor that a non-technical person can use to modify the experimental landing page or site. The ease of use and the return on investment for customers has led to tremendous growth for Optimizely. “DIY” A/B testing has quickly become ubiquitous and is considered an industry standard by CMOs.

In the past six years, Optimizely has raised over $145M over six rounds. As other web analytics firms have started offering similar services, Optimizely has continued to expand their offers to include multivariate testing, advanced targeting, email marketing optimizations, personalized content, and general analytics services. It will be interested to see what Optimizely decided to do next. They have made it much easier for individual companies to gather actionable data. They haven’t done as much when it comes to aggregating this data, at least publicly, which could lead to better prediction algorithms or insights for marketers. As A/B testing becomes the standard, how will Optimizely optimize themselves?

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Student comments on A/B Testing for All!

  1. Very interesting. Optimizely seems to have created a great, easy-to-use product that puts the power of data analytics in the hands of marketing managers. They did it first in the form of A/B testing, but have now added a new tool – personalization. While companies like Netflix and Amazon have built powerful personalization engines that deliver customized recommendations to users, this capability has remained out of reach for many companies with less engineering prowess. However, last month Optimizely launched Personalization, which allows companies to customize their websites to individual users in real-time and track lift to measure the overall impact in a way that is intuitive and easy to use.

  2. Sounds like a great tool for companies which are not tech oriented. A lot of managers have good analytical ideas but encounter the barrier of actually executing them. I guess that what Optimizely do is not very hard and in case of competition, a first mover advantage would make a big difference, because right now it seems like business owners are not quite aware to this service.

  3. Great post! Some of the case studies seem very interesting and useful for their users. It seems like this tool is primarily used by small businesses. In that case, do you have a sense of the retention rate that Optimizely sees?

  4. I was recently thinking about the importance of proper A/B testing to make meaningful changes to one’s website and customer acquisition strategy and I was frustrated by my lack of knowledge – great to know there’s a hack! This is a compelling product and my only concern would be that now Optimizely has proven the value of its services, data giants like Adobe, Amazon and IBM could easily follow suit and crowd them out, particularly as they can bundle various business services.

  5. Optimizely is such a cool company and I love that they launched personalization. Since there are so many A|B testing options in the market, its a good step for them to differentiate from competitors. Personalization is what really improves the user experience and people are started to expect much more from their mobile experience, so the fact that Optimizely does this for desktop and mobile is key.

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