Visual Website Optimizer: How it Compares to The Rivals

Using an A/B testing tool is one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your website sales and leads (without having to buy more traffic!)

To help you understand the different tool options available to you, I have created a guide that compares the three leading tool choices: Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely, and Google Content Experiments (previously called Google Website Optimizer).

All of them have their advantages and disadvantages (particularly Google Content Experiments), so I have created a grid comparing Visual Website Optimizer with its major rivals, including pricing and functionality. I’ve included some ratings for each feature, and a total score too.

Let’s get started with the ratings (which I officially updated Aug 11th 2014):

Google Content Experiments
Cost Free. Plans start at $49 per month (10,000 visitors). Plans start at $17 per month (2,000 visitors).
Test design options 5/10 Basic wizard setup, no visual or code editor. 9/10 Advanced visual and code editor options. 9/10 Advanced visual and code editor options.
Ease to add test code 7/10 Simple, but several page tags needed. 9/10 Very simple – only single code line needed. 9/10 Very simple – only single code line needed.
Multivariate test options 0/10 None. 8/10 Many options available. 6/10 Available, but only for Gold level ($359/month).
Ability to target visitor groups (first time etc)
0/10 None. 8/10 Good targeting behavioral options, with basic ability to build custom ones too. 9/10 Advanced options for behavioral targeting tests, with presets and great ability to create custom segments.
Conversion goals & success metrics 9/10 Very good – can use Google Analytics goals as conversion goals. 8/10 Great – good selection of goals and metrics, including revenue. 8/10 Great – good selection of goals and metrics, including revenue.
Test reporting and segmenting 7/10 Average reporting, but ability to analyze Google Analytics segments. 8/10 Newly improved. Better reporting and added ability to segment results. 9/10 Excellent reporting and ability to segment test results for insights.
Overall comments Promising, but step back from Google Website Optimizer (new features coming soon). Great tool & includes good usability basic tool to gain test ideas from your visitors & testing experts. Definitely more of the ‘expert’ tool, but is more expensive for the premium features.
Overall rating 5/10 Very lacking, needs key features. 9/10 Has the slight edge over Optimizely for beginner testers. 9/10 Better options for testing pros – although it charges more for them.

 

As you can see, Google Content Experiments is seriously lacking in functionality, so I’m now going to focus on the differences between Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely.

Visual Website Optimizer Overview

In May 2014 they performed a major overhaul on their interface and launched new features like test report segmentation and support for app testing (and check out this great guide on the improvements). Here are some pros and cons that should be noted:

Pros:

  • Includes other testing related basic tools like heat maps and visitor surveying.
  • Intuitive new user interface with great test design wizard to help you.
  • Excellent ‘idea factory’ helps you create better test ideas (by type/element etc).
  • All features included in monthly cost – no adding fees for greater functionality.

Cons:

  • No built-in multi-page testing functionality (across navigation/check-out etc).
  • Offer fewer real-time support options in comparison to Optimizely.

Try it for yourself though: Get a free 30 day trial of Visual Website Optimizer

Bonus help for Visual Website Optimizer: If you purchase a VWO subscription through my affiliate links, I’ll give you a FREE 30 minute advice session so you get best results from it, including reviewing proposed test ideas.

How to get the bonus:signup to VWO using this link, then contact me and copy/paste the signup conformation text in it. We will then schedule a time for the free session.

Optimizely Overview

Optimizely has also grown leaps and bounds recently as an outstanding A/B testing tool. Here are the notable pros and cons of the tool:

Pros:

  • More of the ‘premium’ tool in comparison to Visual Website Optimizer.
  • Competes well with Adobe Target and other enterprise level testing tools.
  • Offers more options for running behavioral targeting tests.
  • Better integrated options for experts, including options for multi-page testing.
  • Offers extensive community and academy for getting the most from the tool.

Cons:

  • Has the cheaper basic service level, but charges more for functionality like MVT.
  • Set-up test wizard a bit too simple – doesn’t highlight key test functionality well.

Try it for yourself though: Get a free 30 day trial of Optimizely

Which is better? Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely? 

Really it’s kind of like a Pepsi Vs Coke thing – many experts will only use their favorite,with many casual users not really noting the key differences.

To help you make up your mind, here are my expert two-cents about both tools:

  • Visual Website is better for beginner and casual testers, with extra built-in (but basic) tools like heatmaps and visitor surveying.
  • Optimizely offers better options for advanced testers, but charges a premium for features like MVT testing. Also has a cheaper basic level.

Overall, Visual Website Optimizer has the slight edge for casual A/B testers, with extras like heatmaps, but its more expensive than the basic version of Optimizely. For serious A/B testers, I definitely recommend Optimizely – more comprehensive offering, even though you have to pay extra for premium features.

Ultimately I suggest you try a free trial for both of the tools and see which one you are most comfortable using and meets your needs better.

Extra reading: If you want to get better results from using either of these testing tools, don’t forget to read my essential user guide for testing tool success!

Bottom Line for Google Content Experiments Users

It’s time to start using a better testing tool! Even though it was a great idea by Google to integrate it into Google Analytics, it’s unfortunately taken one step forward but two steps back. While it offers improved conversion goal reporting, you can’t even do multivariate testing in it yet.

So unless they greatly beef it up soon (which there is already talk of), I suggest you try using either of the other tools I compared. They don’t cost much more than a free tool (monthly plans start at just $17 for Optimizely), especially when you consider how much ROI you get – increased conversion rates and website sales too!

Wrapping Up

That’s my expert two cents. Now over to you the readers – what is your favorite A/B testing tool, and why? Please comment below!

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  • http://keywordgrouper.com/ PPC Campaign Generator

    Why would Google make a worse product than they previously had available to users?  In other words, why would they discontinue Website Optimizer and roll it into Google Analytics with fewer features making it less useful?  Can someone please address this?

  • http://twitter.com/nielstybjerg Niels Tybjerg

    Thanks for the comparision – I agree in your thoughts about VWO and Optimizely but haven’t checked out Content Experiments yet. 

    But do you have any insight into how the different testing tools affect load speed? A few times we’ve experienced troubles in this area with Optimizely.   

  • http://twitter.com/Gsignal Blair Keen

    Good post Rich. 

    Also recommend this resource to people:
    http://www.whichmvt.com/

    It’s a site created by the team at Conversion Rate Experts which covers pretty much every testing tool there is!

  • http://twitter.com/Gsignal Blair Keen

    Good post Rich. 

    Also recommend this resource to people:
    http://www.whichmvt.com/

    It’s a site created by the team at Conversion Rate Experts which covers pretty much every testing tool there is!

  • http://twitter.com/richpage Rich Page

    Good question! First of all, it wasn’t making them any money directly, and didn’t have good ties with Adwords like Analytics does to make it worthwhile. In terms of lack of features, I know this is just the first release – they just wanted to get the concept right, and will add key features soon, hopefully MVT. Keep your eyes peeled…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=723333132 Sisse Marianne Bertelsen

    I have to say that I love Optimizely. It’s just so easy to use, and they are really helpful when you’re not good with code. (I should start charging them for all my recommendations.)

  • http://twitter.com/timjrobinson Tim Robinson

    Hi Rich, 

    You missed ZenTester. Super easy to use, has most of the features of the others and can be used for free too (definitely low cost ;)). 

    Regards, Tim

  • Pingback: Web Analytics Tools Not Named Google | Teach to Fish Digital

  • Hedvig

    thanks Blair for sharing this extended test, helped me to decide

  • Mark Hall

    Thanks for the comparo, Rich – nice quick synopsis for a newer CRO guy like me. Now I know which tools to explore in more detail.

  • martijn

    Hi, my name is Martijn and I work at Optimizely. Check out this article: http://blog.optimizely.com/2013/12/11/why-cdn-balancing/

  • http://conversionxl.com/ Peep Laja

    Rich, this comparison is not accurate in many aspects. Optimizely built-in segmentation rules. Its targeting options are phenomenal. Optimizely has multi-page experiments that VWO doesn’t. You don’t mention support – Optimizely has phone support in the US and Europe, cover a wide range of timezones. VWO support is only India time, over email.

    And – try comparing VWO heatmaps to any dedicated heatmap tool such as Clicktale, Crazyegg etc – numbers don’t match, at all.

  • http://rich-page.com/ Rich Page

    Hi Peep – thanks for your comments. At the time of initially writing this over a year ago, the targeting aspects of Optimizely weren’t very apparent or as good as they are now. I will certainly be investigating their targeting options in more depth, and clarifying that in the matrix.

    In terms of support, yes, that is very valid (even though some testers rarely use support depending on what they are testing). I will add a support section on the matrix to help readers understand those differences.

    And totally agree with your point about VWOs built-in heatmaps and visitors feedback tools, they certainly don’t compare to using more robust specific tools like you mentioned.

    I am going to be adding more sections to this comparison very soon to make it even more comprehensive and up to date. Please feel free to email me or reply with other feedback about these tools. Thanks!

  • http://vwo.com/ Paras Chopra

    Hi Peep,

    Thanks for your comment. Regarding support, you’re not accurate. We’re giving 24×7 support and our support is phenomenal. I suggest you check out tweets and testimonials such as: http://screencast.com/t/X9zqXIs7nbB and https://twitter.com/dalbke/status/355693689902862337

    Just because we’re based out of India doesn’t mean we don’t provide support. Moreover, we do provide phone support if an issue isn’t able to get resolved over email.

    Moreover, VWO has 15 segmentation and targeting options including geo, referral, browser and many other options. Here’s the full list: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/knowledge/what-are-different-types-of-segment-options-available/

    Yes, VWO heatmap options doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that are in dedicated tools but the tight integration of heatmaps with A/B tests more than compensates for it. Moreover, VWO has options such as “consolidated heatmaps” that even dedicated tools don’t have. Consolidated heatmaps allows you to generate heatmap by aggregating clicks over multiple pages that share same layout. It’s very useful for eCommerce sites that have same layout for product pages.

  • http://conversionxl.com/ Peep Laja

    What I meant by segmentation was analyzing test results across segments. How did the test perform for one segment or another.

    I had poor customer experience with you myself, what can be more accurate than first-hand experience? Especially with very slow response times. I complained several times and I only heard back defensive rhetoric (“other people like our support!”) like now. You can’t invalidate my own personal experience saying “no our support was good”. It was not.

    I’m glad that your support is now 24/7, that will be of great help.

  • http://vwo.com/ Paras Chopra

    Yep, agreed, you can’t invalidate personal experience. You did have a poor experience but I recommend you to try once again. We’ve been constantly improving and support is a big priority for us.

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