Visual Website Optimizer: How it Compares to The Rivals

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VWO screenshot
Using an A/B testing tool is one of the quickest and easiest ways to discover which variations of your website most increase your website sales and leads.

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 (VWO) 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 Sept 20th 2016):

Google Content Experiments vwo logo small
Cost Free. Plans start at $49 per month for ‘startup’ level (10,000 visitors). Plans start at $49 per month for ‘standard’ level (for 1000 visitors).
Test creation options 5/10 Basic wizard setup only, no visual or code editor. 9/10 Advanced test creation options available for all plans. 8/10 Advanced but multi page not in standard plan.
Ease to add test code 7/10 Easy but several page tags needed to be added. 9/10 Very simple – only one tag needed. 9/10 Very simple – only one tag needed.
Multivariate test options 0/10 None. 9/10 Many MVT options available in all plan levels. 9/10 Many MVT options available in all plan levels.
Targeting ability for tests (new visitors etc)
0/10 None. 8/10 Good targeting behavioral options for all levels, with basic ability to build custom target segments. 9/10 Great targeting options in the standard level, with advanced targeting at higher account levels.
Conversion goals & success metrics 9/10 Very good – can easily 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. 8/10 Excellent results reporting, but segmentation not in standard level.
Overall comments Promising, but a big step back from the Google Website Optimizer tool. Great tool, also includes newly improved heatmap tool to help gain better test ideas. Definitely more of the ‘expert’ tool, but is more expensive for the premium levels.
Overall rating 5/10 Very lacking, needs key features. 9/10 Has slight edge over Optimizely for beginner A/B testers. 9/10 Better features for testing pros – although it charges more for them.
Free trial? Try Content Experiments – free Get a 30-day free trial of VWO Get a 30-day free trial of Optimizely

 

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

Here are some pros and cons that you should know for Visual Website Optimizer:

Pros:

  • Includes other A/B testing related tools like visitor click heat maps.
  • Intuitive new user interface with great A/B 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).
  • Sometimes it’s hard to create tests across pages with complicated URLs.
  • Offer fewer real-time support options in comparison to Optimizely.

Try the tool for yourself: Get a free 30 day trial of Visual Website Optimizer

Bonus: Free Visual Website Optimizer Secrets Guide!
Learn 10 secrets of the Visual Website Optimizer tool to ensure you get much better results from your A/B tests. Grab your free bonus VWO secrets guide now!

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 the most options for running targeting tests (at professional level plan).
  • Better A/B testing options for experts, including options for multi-page testing.
  • Offers extensive community and academy for getting the most from the tool.

Cons:

  • Set-up test wizard a bit too simple – doesn’t highlight key test functionality well.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to preview A/B test variations easily and quickly.

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 tools like click heatmaps to help you find test ideas.
  • Optimizely offers a good standard account, but really performs for advanced testers with their enterprise level (but is expensive).

Overall, Visual Website Optimizer has the slight edge for casual A/B testers, with extras like heatmaps and the idea factory. For serious and seasoned A/B testers, I definitely recommend the Optimizely professional level – more comprehensive offering, even though you have to pay much more for it.

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 much better results from using either of these A/B testing tools, don’t forget to read my essential user guide for A/B testing tool success!

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.

  • http://www.twitter.com/BrunoHug Bruno Hug

    I think you’re wrong, Google content experiment allows multivariate test. It’s just not accessible in analytics, you have to add code on the page.

  • Wesley van der Hoop

    Sadly, I have the same experience. Of the three e-mail conversations I had, two were not supportive at all. Long response time, the answers not solution oriented etc.

    I asked them not to bill me, they did it anyway (thank god the transfer was blocked). Then I reminded them I did not want to get billed. No response. Two days later they send me a reminder that my bill is still open!

    I honestly don’t know why I am still using VWO.

  • Taruna

    Hi there,
    I am Taruna, marketer at Visual Website Optimizer. I am really sorry about the bad experience you had with our support and billing. Please let me know your VWO Account Id at taruna.manchanda@wingify.com so that I can get this sorted at the earliest.

  • Darren DeMatas

    Good stuff, Rich! Thanks for updating the comparison chart.

  • vladmalik

    I would say the opposite. We’ve used both and we found Optimizely to be the more basic tool. VWO is more customizable, reports are more detailed, and you can download all data. We’ve found Optimizely a bit limiting.

  • http://rich-page.com/ Rich Page

    No problem Darren! Glad you liked it.

  • http://rich-page.com/ Rich Page

    Interesting to hear your thoughts – VWO has certainly improved a lot recently.

  • http://rich-page.com/ Rich Page

    Yes, unfortunately they don’t make it obvious to the average user though – and the reporting doesn’t work well for it.

  • Pete Storey

    From a pretty low level of usage/investigation of either, I’d say Optimizely is slightly more user friendly (just preferred the interface), but for us at 100k visitors a month, it’s TEN TIMES as expensive as VWO. Yikes. It’s not that good.

  • Paul Peltokangas

    While VWO and Optimizely are both good products there is a fundamental restriction to what can be optimised on your website. Once you have chosen your Java Script Main Frame both with have to adhere to the logic with in it. If you want to go pro and start modifying your website without any limitations try out Frosmo!

  • MaximusPhotography

    This is a fake compare. It’s been used to promote optemizely. Crap

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