Google Optimize: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

If you are new to testing and want to explore personalization, you first have to play with easy-to-use tools before taking a deep dive into a pool of complicated tools.

One of those easy-to-use testing tools you should consider is Google Optimize (Optimize).

Marketers, in general, have a love and hate relationship with Optimize.

Some marketers love using Optimize for their experiments. And some totally hate it.

This is a clear indication that Optimize has a good, bad, and ugly side — it depends on which marketer you ask.

In this post, I’m not going to pick sides.

My goal here is to hold Optimize up high and show you every side of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

You will have to pick a side yourself.

But before delving into the nitty-gritty of Optimize — here’s a brief definition of Optimize.

What is Google Optimize?

Google Optimize is an online testing and personalization tool from Google that enables you to do conversion rate optimization and enhance user experience on your website.

Google Optimize has two versions. One is a free version, and the other one is a paid version.

The free version is called Google Optimize, and the enterprise version is known as Google Optimize 360. Both versions are part of the Google Marketing Platform.

Most common experiments you can run on Google Optimize include:

– Color changes
– Call To Actions and copy changes
– Image changes
– Re-ordering the page’s elements
– Styling
– Redesigns of web pages
– Reducing the size of a page
– Removing potential clutter
– Header navigation changes
– Animation

Now that you have an idea of what Optimize is, let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly side of this tool.

The Good Side

The Price

The cost of entry for Optimize is free. All that you need is a Google account and some knowledge of how marketing experimentation works.

User-friendly

You don’t need to be an expert in experimentation to set up and launch an A/B test experiment in Google Optimize.

Many testing options

Almost all of those essential types of testing are available on Google Optimize. You can use Optimize for A/B tests, Multivariate tests, Split URL tests, Server-Side tests, and Personalization tests.

Native Integration with Google Products

Integrating testing tools with Google Analytics can be a headache. But not when you are using Optimize. This tool’s seamless integration with Google products — like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google Ads — is regarded as its main competitive advantage.

The Bad Side

Limited Live experiments

Unless you upgrade to Google Optimize 360, the free version of Google Optimize limits you to 5 simultaneous experiments. For a company with a high testing velocity, this number is too small.

Limited code length

You do not have to worry about this if you only use Google Optimize’s visual editor for some copy changes. But if you intend to create an advanced experiment, your script will be limited to script to 10240 characters.

No Live Customer Support

In a world where customer support is fast becoming a competitive advantage, you’d expect every online tool (Optimize included) to have an efficient live support feature. Optimize only has self-service and community forums.

The Ugly Side

No image upload feature

This can be a thorn in the flesh. The image upload feature is an essential feature that you should expect to find in every testing tool. But when using Optimize, you can’t upload images into the tool’s servers.

No audience targeting feature

Yes, you read that right. Even if Optimize has native integration with Google Analytics, it doesn’t allow you to do GA audience targeting. This means that you can’t focus your experiment on a group of visitors who might have exhibited specific behaviors on your website. And that’s a big problem.

Page Flickering

This is one of the main problems associated with Optimize. Page flickering is when the original version of a page appears during A/B testing before a variation is displayed. This is problematic because it negatively affects the user experience and may lead to your visitors not trust your site.

Lacks in-depth on-page analysis

Optimize doesn’t have important features like scroll maps and heatmaps. You will need a different tool to access those features. And adding more tools to your site might affect the performance of your site, and chances are high that data between these tools can be inconsistent.

What more can you add to this list? If you have read this far, thank you.*

You can read more about conversion rate optimization on the Invesp blog.

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