John Lincoln

Complete Optimizely Review For CRO

Vitamix faced a challenge. The blender manufacturer’s website saw an 80% shopping cart abandonment rate.

That’s unacceptable in any industry.

The company turned to Optimizely for a solution. Vitamix used the tool to add a mini-cart to its website so visitors could see a personal list of items next to a call to action.

The end result: order conversions increased by 13.7%.

But is Optimizely right for every business? Is it right for your business?

In this review, I’ll go over the platform’s key features. I’ll conclude by listing its pros and cons.

Complete Optimizely Review

What Is Optimizely?

Before I get into all the features, let me give you a broad overview. Optimizely is first and foremost an experimentation platform. Marketers use it to test hypotheses. A sample hypothesis is: “If I change my call to action button from blue to red, conversions will increase 15%.” You can prove (or disprove) that hypothesis with Optimizely. But Optimizely is more than just an experimentation platform, it’s also an experience optimizing platform. It helps you create a website that attracts and retains people who are in your target market. It also enables you to convert those people into paying customers. Keep in mind: there are numerous ways to create a positive user experience online. That’s why Optimizely isn’t just one product, it’s a suite of products. In the following sections, I’ll go over each of those products individually.

Optimizely Review: Optimizely X Web Experimentation

If you’re looking to conduct experiments on your website, then you’ll want to look at Optimizely X Web Experimentation. Simply put: it’s a split-test and multi-page testing platform. It’s also an enterprise-class product. So it will work on the busiest of websites. That doesn’t mean it only works for large sites, though. It will tackle single-page sites with minimal traffic as well. Additionally, Optimizely X Web Experimentation allows you to exclude specific groups from your testing. That’s helpful if you want to test a specific market segment. It also enables you to deliver variations based on cookies, ad campaigns, geographies, or other dimensions. You can even use the tool to run different experiments on the same page simultaneously.
Optimizely Review: Web experimentation
Optimizely Review: Web experimentation
Best of all, though, is that Optimizely X Web Experimentation allows you to create and launch tests without writing a single line of code. You won’t have to recruit developers. You won’t have to give engineers a list of requirements. All you have to do is use the tool’s visual editor to create your experiment. Once your test has run, you can view the results by campaign, device, browser, or your own custom segmentation. Then, make an informed decision based on those analytics.

Optimizely X Web Personalization

You probably already know about the importance of personalization in marketing. Optimizely X Web Personalization is a product that will help you deliver targeted experiences in real time. Here’s how it works: Optimizely “keeps tabs” on your visitors. Then, it delivers relevant content based on their personas. You can see immediately how that would be valuable with an ecommerce site that’s a virtual department store. Returning visitors who bought shoes in the past see content that advertises the hottest deals in footwear. Visitors who live in cold-weather climates see content that advertises jackets. As with the Optimizely X Web Experimentation product, you can keep track of visitor interests without writing a lick of code. The product also enables you to extract insights about your visitors from:
  • Browser behavior
  • Demographic info
  • 3rd-party data
The end result: your website delivers increased average order value with lower acquisition costs to happier customers.
Optimizely Review: personalization
Optimizely Review: personalization

Optimizely Review: Optimizely X Full Stack

Maybe your business has an app in addition to a website. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to learn more about Optimizely X Full Stack. It’s a tool that helps you gauge the impact of performance improvements, feature enhancements, and back-end changes. Use it to test user experience on search results, promos, menu navigation, and more. And here’s one of the best benefits: you can make changes in real time. In other words, you won’t have to update the code and deploy a new version to the app store. That will cut down on your release cycle and give you a quick turnaround when conducting experiments.
Optimizely review: full stack
Optimizely review: full stack
The tool works with apps written in the following languages:
  • Python
  • Java
  • Ruby
  • Node
  • PHP
  • C#
  • JavaScript
  • Objective-C
Optimizely X Full Stack includes an open-source SDK and pluggable components to give your developers more flexibility. It also uses a lightning-fast decision engine. Experiments won’t adversely impact app performance. Finally, the tool is designed with a scalable architecture. As your audience grows, Optimizely can handle the additional workload.

Optimizely Program Management

How would you like to scale testing efforts across the enterprise and increase your turnaround time by a factor of five? If so, then check out Optimizely Program Management. In a nutshell: it’s a collaboration and knowledge-sharing platform. Here’s how it works: team members come up with ideas about experiments and share them on the platform.  Then, management prioritizes those ideas and assigns teams to conduct experiments. They also use an executive dashboard to follow the progress of experiments in real time and make informed decisions about changes. Rinse and repeat. Team members continue to contribute ideas and the story goes on.

Optimizely Review: Stats Engine

All of the other Optimizely tools would be useless without the Stats Engine. That’s the component that shows you the results of your experiments. The Stats Engine was developed with the aid of researchers from Stanford University. It includes a variety of innovations so that it offers results fine-tuned to a digital environment. For starters, results are always valid. It’s often the case in online marketing that you have to wait until your sample size reaches a certain number before you get valid results. Optimizely uses sequential testing so you can see results without waiting. The Stats Engine also gives you a confidence level that’s not offered by traditional statistical models. According to the company website, there’s a 95% chance that you’ll make the right decision with Stats Engine. Other models give you a less than 70% chance. Finally, Stats Engine adapts to your experiments. There’s no need to change how you’re doing things just to make it “work.”
Optimizely Review: stats engine
Optimizely Review: stats engine

Who Uses Optimizely?

So who uses Optimizely? People across various organization teams and in a number of verticals. First, marketing teams like Optimizely so they can take the guesswork out of marketing. The tool offers answers to key questions backed by scientific analysis. Marketers also use Optimizely because it helps them improve the customer journey and enables them to have a higher return on marketing spend. Product development teams appreciate Optimizely as well. They rely on the tool’s full-stack testing capabilities to create an app that’s designed to capture and convert customers. They also like Optimizely because it allows them to get customer feedback, experiment with features as rollouts, and test redesigns before launching them. Optimizely is also well-suited to people who work in different verticals:
  • Ecommerce – Optimizely not only helps reduce shopping cart abandonment, it also gives design teams the ability to make shopping personal. Further, it allows customers to continue their shopping journey from various channels, such as mobile, email, and desktop.
  • Travel – Nowadays, people are booking flights on smartphones. Optimizely helps travel app teams ensure that mobile users enjoy a top-notch experience. The tool also helps marketers upsell with travel packages that are frequently purchased together.
  • High Tech – Companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft rely on Optimizely for experimentation.
  • Finance – Consumers rely on digital platforms to file their taxes, deposit paychecks, and even send money to friends and family. Optimizely enables finance teams to run tests in a secure environment.
  • Media – Not too many people are getting their news from a physical newspapers anymore. They’re relying on news sites, blogs, and apps. Optimizely enables media teams to find trends that can increase traffic and keep people coming back for more info.

Optimizely Customer Success

Optimizely doesn’t just offer a suite of tools, it also delivers a team of professionals who will guide you on your journey to success. For starters, the company provides you with a dedicated Customer Success Manager. That person will help you train your team and get the ball rolling on experimentation. You’ll also get quarterly reviews with that CSM. That way, you can be sure that you’re on track to meeting your goals. If you’re in need of professional services, Optimizely can put you in touch with one of its business partners. They’ll supplement your existing team to help you get up and running quicker. You can also sign up for Optimizely Accelerate. That’s a “bootcamp” that lasts 8-12 weeks. When you’re done, you’ll probably know everything you need to know about the platform. Optimizely also offers Optiverse, an educational community that includes a comprehensive set of user guides and recorded training sessions. Finally, you’ll have access to Optimizely’s technical support team that can help you with everything from simple questions to complex setup issues. The company also offers a Priority Support option that will give you quicker turnaround times and 24/7 coverage for important problems.
Optimizely review: customers
Optimizely review: customers

Optimizely Review: Pros and Cons

So what are existing users saying about Optimizely? Let’s look at the pros and cons. First, the pros:
  • Get tests up and running within 5 minutes
  • Once you publish an experiment it goes live immediately
  • Eliminates the need for developers when running tests
  • Enables teams to make quick decisions
  • Customer Success Managers are great
  • Perfect for putting hot-fixes on your site
  • Community is very helpful
Now, the cons:
  • Preview mode sometimes buggy
  • Changes in pricing make it more challenging for small businesses
  • Redirect tests hard to set up
  • Not reliable when making changes to a test that’s running
  • Some minor bugs here and there

Optimizely Review Conclusion

Optimizely is an outstanding testing platform if you can afford it. If you’re a brand new startup with little cash to invest, you’ll have to look at other testing solutions. You probably won’t be able to accept the price tag. On the other hand, if you’ve just gone through a round of funding and are flush with cash, Optimizely is arguably one of the best user experience optimization platforms on the planet. Go for it.  

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John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Ignite Visibility is a 4x  Inc. 5,000 company. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the books “Digital Influencer” and “The Forecaster Method.” Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketers in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. Lincoln has also made “SEO: The Movie” and “Social Media Marketing: The Movie.” His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.

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