Google has announced that it will sunset its web analytics and A/B testing tool, Google Optimize, at the end of September 2023. The tool, launched over five years ago, was created to help digital marketers and webmasters optimize their sites for conversion rates and general visitor satisfaction.
Here is a brief retrospective of Google Optimize to give the freemium web application its proper sendoff.
Google launched Google Optimize in 2016 as an updated version of Google Website Optimizer. Although Google has always offered a paid 360 version of Google Optimize, it is better known for its free version, which was a formative tool in helping the digital marketing industry understand conversion rate optimization (CRO). At its height, Google Optimize had a 60% market share due mainly to being a free tool—its primary competitors could charge upwards of $60-70k per year.
Google often offered Google Optimize 360 contracts as a free incentive for businesses signing up for Google Analytics. However, as Google has rolled out Google Analytics 4, they have had issues integrating data streams from Optimize. As such, despite the previous success of Google Optimize, in January 2023, Google announced it would be sunsetting the product on September 30, 2023, with no plans for a successor.
As one of the first CRO tools, Google Optimize deserves credit for introducing the digital marketing industry to CRO best practices. However, as most users chose to use the free version of Optimize, the tool was limited in its functionality when compared to its competitors. Google Optimize isn’t as fast or as complex as other tools, and developing within the tool was fairly difficult.
Additional limitations found in the free version of Google Optimize include the limitation to five live tests taking place at one time. Therefore, while it enabled businesses to get started with CRO and A/B testing, Optimize often fell short in delivering everything digital marketers needed.
Despite early industry rumors that there would be a new A/B testing feature in GA4, Google has denied they are working on a successor to Google Optimize. As such, businesses will need to adopt different A/B testing solutions.
There are certainly pros and cons to this brave new world of A/B testing. As companies explore new A/B testing offerings, they must rethink their strategies, fostering innovation in their processes. However, while this can benefit established businesses, smaller companies will likely suffer. Without a free solution like Google Optimize, less mature businesses will likely find it difficult to justify the costs of other A/B testing tools.
For businesses looking for alternatives to Google Optimize, Search Laboratory has partnered with two tools, Optimizely and Webtrends Optimize. Optimizely is an excellent option for any organization, while Webtrends Optimize is ideal for smaller to larger non-enterprise organizations.
While these partnerships present a range of options for our clients, we remain platform agnostic – meaning, we can work with any tool that suits the client best in terms of budget and features.
With just a month left before Google Optimize is sunset, the time to find a new tool without having a testing gap is short. Therefore, businesses should seek a new CRO tool as soon as possible. We can help businesses explore what options are available and what features they should be looking for, given their needs and budget.
As we say goodbye to Google Optimize, we look forward to what the future brings, and how businesses review, experiment, and adapt their testing strategy on their journey to finding a new A/B testing solution.
To learn more about how Search Laboratory approaches conversion rate optimization, explore our insights here.