As of September 30th, 2023 Google Optimize is being deprecated. This is super sad because it was our favorite and cheapest option for running A/B tests. Fortunately, we have a plan b for low-cost A/B testing tools.
To put it another way, a haiku way:
Google Optimize gone,
Organizations now seek
A new A/B tool.
What was Google Optimize?
Google Optimize was Google’s free tool that allows you to test different variations of your website. You can create A/B or multivariate tests to change just about anything on your site and then quickly determine the impact on customer behavior. If you choose to pay for Optimize 360, you can access advanced targeting options. This allows you to test different website variations for unique segments of your audience in order to deliver a personalized experience.
For example, let’s say your goal is to increase volunteer signups. You could test different call-to-action copy to see which messages drive the most conversions. Using Google Optimize’s advanced reporting along with Google Analytics, you could determine how your copy resonates with audiences coming from different traffic sources, locations, and more.
Going one step further, if you want to increase the number of volunteers in New York specifically, you could use Optimize 360 to build a version of your homepage with a volunteer-targeted call-to-action that appears only to users in New York (website visitors from outside of New York would see your regular homepage).
Google Optimize Best Practices
Before you jump into the wild world of A/B testing with Google Optimize, be sure to keep the following best practices in mind:
Create an A/B testing plan and set timeline expectations
Before you run an experiment, decide what you want to test and in what order. Don’t just outline what elements you want to test, but consider specific hypotheses: Will emotional appeals perform better than statistics in copy? What about families vs. individuals in images? You should only test one element at a time, so keep this in mind when you outline your plan.
Next, review your previous traffic to set timeline expectations. You want your tests to run for enough time that they generate statistically significant results. A/B Test Guide has a handy calculator so you can enter how many average monthly visitors a page receives and determine how long it will take for you to generate statistically significant results.
Decide on key metrics
Data don’t lie, but Google Analytics can be misleading. Choose your key performance indicators (KPIs) carefully. When analyzing the data, remember to review all possible variables for why something does or does not work. Just because a variant wins this month on this page doesn’t mean it will work on every page in perpetuity.
Only test one element at a time
Otherwise, you won’t know what is affecting the results. Keep the winner of the test running and try a different variation to see if that winner is actually great, or if it’s just better than the previous option.
Test on desktop-only first
If you are unsure of how a change in Google Optimize will affect your CSS or mobile responsiveness, restrict your tests to desktop-only traffic. It will limit the number of sessions, but will avoid a headache for your developer.
Remember: There are no losers in A/B testing
Expect some tests to be total failures. But remember: You may not generate any leads or have a clear, statistically-significant winner with each test. This doesn’t mean that you haven’t learned anything. Keep iterating and learning to find that buried treasure.
How to increase impact on Google Optimize
So, how can nonprofits and social impact organizations use Google Optimize to increase their impact? Below are some ideas for tests to run to increase awareness and conversions.
Awareness tests for Google Optimize
Metrics to look at: Bounce rate, time on page, pages/session
- Copy placement: Does it work better above or below the header image?
- Number of internal links on a page: What’s the sweet spot?
- Including a video: Does it increase or decrease engagement?
- Layout of the page: What’s the ideal layout for your users?
- Including a click to Tweet or share: Does it enhance or distract?
- Header copy: Is your audience more into clever puns or copy that gets straight to the point?
- Images or gifs in a piece of content: Again, do they enhance or distract?
Metrics to look at: Goal completions, goal conversion rate
- Button copy: Generic “Click here” or something clever and on-brand?
- Button color: Consider extremes like blue versus red or yellow versus green
- Button location: Top of the page, bottom of the page, or on the right side
- Number of buttons on the page: How many is too many?
- Number of fields in a form: Do users prefer one long form or a stepped-out process?
- Form copy: How much context is needed?
- Design of form: Should you include images or a logo (or even a video) or keep it simple?