Google Optimize Sunset: Everything You Should Know

Google Optimize Sunset: Everything You Should Know
17 May, 2023 • ... • 488 views
Natasha Zack
by Natasha Zack

Earlier this year, Google announced its plans for Google Optimize sunset. The news caused quite a commotion in the digital marketing community all over the world. But why exactly? In this article, we’ll explain the essence of the problem and focus on the solutions to ensure your business runs smoothly regardless of the circumstances.

So, what’s the matter, anyway?

Here are the key points, in brief. 

  • In January 2023, Google announced it will “sunset” Google Optimize and Optimize 360, the company’s popular website analytics and testing tools. 
  • According to the official announcement, both tools will continue to operate until September 30, 2023, after which date they will become unavailable. 
  • Until the said date, users can continue to run experiments and personalizations with Google Optimize. But processes that remain active on September 30 will be shut down.
  • Right now, there are quite a few alternatives to Google Optimize on the market. The sooner you choose your best alternative and move on, the fewer problems Google Optimize sunset will cause you later on. 

Now, let’s take a look at this topic in more detail. But first…

What is Google Optimize?

Just in case, let’s start at the beginning — namely, define Google Optimize and explain what’s special about it.  

Google Optimize is a popular website split-testing and personalization tool that enables various types of tests: A/B, multivariate, redirect testing, and more. In other words, this tool helps create different versions (or variants) of a website, compare how they perform, and deploy the winning variants to increase website conversion rates. That, in turn, helps generate more sales and, ultimately, more profit.  

Here’s what the reporting on a typical A/B test looks like in Google Optimize: simple and clear.

Google Optimize report
Source: Google

For several years, testing with Google Optimize has been an essential part of the digital marketing strategy for thousands of businesses —  especially small and medium-sized ones, who couldn’t afford paid enterprise-level software. 

The main reasons for such popularity were: 

  • Native integration with Google Analytics. Instantly seeing test results in Analytics means you can quickly identify the best-performing variants and take action. 
  • Reliability and ease of use. The tool features a visual editor that makes creating new variations really simple and doesn’t require coding. 
  • Being free to use, unlike most other similar tools. Currently, the overwhelming majority of competitors only offer paid plans.   

For most users, these pros clearly outweighed the not-so-critical cons — which, of course, Optimize also has: for example, some note limited features and a somewhat steep learning curve.

Yet now there are only a few months left until Google shuts down its “star” product. So, why is that happening? 

As it turns out, the reasons behind this choice are quite solid.

Why is Google Optimize closing?

Google Optimize has been operating for over five years now, which is a long time considering how fast the digital landscape changes. And in fact, it seems that the rapidly changing environment is exactly the reason for Google Optimize sunset. 

According to Google, in 2023 “Optimize does not have many of the features and services” that the company’s customers need and request. Therefore, the company has decided to invest in “solutions that will be more effective” for its customers. In particular, investments in  “third-party A/B testing integrations for Google Analytics 4” are mentioned in the announcement.

Google doesn’t name any features that are currently lacking in Optimize, however. But considering the current agenda and the features competitors in the field offer, these may be AI-powered segmentation and personalization, among others.

Anyway, what we know for sure is that Google Optimize is closing for good — and even though the tool has alternatives, its sunset will impact the market to some extent. But how exactly?

How Google Optimize sunset will impact the market

Because of the extreme popularity of Google Optimize, the news about the tool’s approaching end has stirred the CRO/experimentation and digital marketing communities. But while some professionals are lamenting the loss of the widely-used free and accessible tool, as well as of its paid enterprise-level counterpart, others don’t see reasons for panic. 

Their arguments? First of all, there are plenty of alternatives out there already. Besides, more alternatives are likely to emerge soon because where there is high demand, there’ll always be enough supply. 

Another assumption is that Google Optimize was only critical for small businesses — and those cannot truly benefit from A/B testing due to insufficient traffic volume, anyway. As for the medium-sized companies and the big fish, they can easily move on to other tools with similar features. The transition will take some effort, of course — but they can manage. 

As for compatibility with Google Analytics, that is not going to be an issue as well, provided Google goes along with its plan to offer integrations with at least three popular testing tools: AB Tasty, Optimizely, and VWO.

So, Google Optimize is shutting down: What should you do?

First and foremost, if you are not a Google Optimize user, you should not consider this tool as an option for your business at this point because there are just a few months left until it shuts down. Given that, the best you can do is pick an alternative from the list below (or based on personal recommendations), set up an account, and start with it right away.

If you are currently a Google Optimize user, it makes things a bit more complicated — but not too much.  

So, here’s what you need to do. 

Leave Google Optimize

Obviously, it’s imperative that you part ways with Google Optimize soon, even though the tool will continue to operate for a few more months — and “soon” here means as soon as possible.

Firstly, as the tool is being gradually “sunsetted”, glitches are likely to occur more and more often, experts warn. You don’t want that for your website, so it’s best to move on to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Secondly, it’s always best to do things in advance to be able to weigh in all the pros and cons and choose the best possible solution. Considering how much of a hassle migrating to a new tool can be, you shouldn’t wait too long to make a move. 

So, here’s a plan of action:

  1. Decide on your budget. 
  2. Choose the best alternative you can afford.
  3. Implement the new solution and run a QA test.
  4. Train your team.
  5. Enjoy the results.

Migrate to GA4

Another crucial step is migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 aka GA4. If you have already done it — then great, you’re good to go after step 1. 

If you haven’t — first of all, you should do it immediately: as Google warns, migration at this point is critical because Universal Analytics “will stop processing data on July 1, 2023. This will affect all analytics data on your website as well as other processes such as email analytics that rely on data from website analytics tools, among other things.  

Also, it’s best to align your migration to GA4 with switching Google Optimize for another tool, experts advise. The reason is, this tactic will make the transition simpler as you won’t have to take extra steps — i.e., connecting GA4 to Google Optimize and then leaving the latter in just a few months.

Choosing alternatives to Google Optimize: 7 best options

As mentioned earlier, Google is already collaborating on integrations with AB Tasty, Optimizely, and VWO. But there are other big players on the market that are also worth considering as alternatives to Google Optimize.  

Below is a list of the most notable ones, including the three picked by Google, for you to consider. 

AB Tasty

AB Tasty tool screenshot
Source: AB Tasty

Free plan: No information available.

Free trial: No information available. 

Pricing: Custom quote. 

AB Tasty is one of the top-rated testing and personalization tools particularly popular with e-commerce companies due to a large number of features crucial for the industry. The most notable features include personalized messaging, A/B testing, AI-powered personalization, and product recommendations.  

Besides that, users note the software’s ease of use, flexibility, reliability, and a responsive support team. The consensus is that AB Tasty is an overall great tool that helps improve conversions and UX. 

On the downside, the pricing is not transparent: you can only get information on custom quotes on request. Based on the reviews*, however, we can assume that AB Tasty is not too expensive compared to its main competitors. 

Optimizely

Optimizely tool screenshot
Source: Optimizely

Free plan: No.

Free trial: No information available. 

Pricing: Custom quote. 

Optimizely is one of the leading providers of digital experience optimization tools in the world, and Web Experimentation is just one of its products. The tool is popular with large enterprises and e-commerce companies. For the latter, Optimizely offers an array of AI-powered personalization features to deliver options such as individualized search rankings and product recommendations. 

Other strengths highlighted by users include easy, intuitive interface, excellent speed (as compared to competitors), and a strong supportive user community. 

For small businesses, however, Optimizely pricing might be too steep, reviews indicate. Also, customer support is said to be a bit lacking, especially considering the price tag.   

VWO

VWO tool screenshot
Source: VWO

Free plan: Yes.

Free trial: Yes (30 days, no credit card required). 

Pricing: Starts with $308/month (billed annually). 

If you are looking for free/affordable alternatives to Google Optimize, VWO might just be the tool you need. By far, it is the only one in its tier to offer a forever-free plan that includes everything a small business needs for a start: A/B testing, split testing, visual editor, and more. And when you decide to upgrade, there’s a 30-day full-featured free trial to test the waters. On top of that, there’s currently a discount for those migrating from Google Optimize. 

Apart from that, there’s also a brand name you can trust, as VWO is one of the market leaders in experimentation. Also, users praise the tool’s intuitive interface, reliable support, and an overall ease of use. 

However, glitches may occur if your page code is complex, or when you scale up your tests. Among other drawbacks, reviews often mention behavioral insights limitations.

Considering Google’s announcement, the three tools listed above are likely to be the safest choice right now. However, Google also promises to make its APIs “publicly available so anyone can integrate their A/B testing tool with Google Analytics in the coming months.” 

That means you don’t necessarily have to go with the tools Google is currently collaborating with. Instead, you can choose any other tool that best suits your needs.  

So, here are a few more possible alternatives to Google Optimize.

Dynamic Yield

Dynamic Yield tool screenshot
Source: Dynamic Yield

Free plan: No. 

Free trial: No information available. 

Pricing: Custom quote. 

Dynamic Yield is another big name in the experimentation and optimization world. Particularly popular with the retail industry and the mid- to big-sized enterprises, the company offers a variety of advanced features such as optimizing customer journeys, AI-powered predictive targeting, and more. 

As pricing goes, Dynamic Yield is said to provide good value for its price. Most often, users highlight the quality of support, an abundance of available options, and excellent personalization features. 

The drawbacks, according to the reviews, include occasional difficulties with the tool’s implementation, a somewhat confusing interface, and slow loading.   

Convert Experiences (Convert.com)

Convert tool screenshot
Source: Convert

Free plan: No. 

Free trial: Yes (15 days, no credit card required). 

Pricing: Starts with $99/month, flexible pricing.

The two great things about Convert are the pricing options and a 15-day free trial period. Pricing is flexible and includes five plans, from Community Web that can be a great fit for small businesses to Enterprise with custom pricing if you have a lot of traffic. This makes the tool remarkably cost-effective — especially considering you can save 30% on an annual plan. 

Apart from the great price-value ratio, users praise Convert’s ease of use, reports that are good for clients, knowledgeable and responsive support team, and an option to deploy the winning version within the tool (without making changes to the live website). 

The cons cited by users include limited goals, somewhat basic reports, occasional glitches, and an interface that might be difficult to navigate for novices.  

Kameleoon

Kameleoon tool screenshot
Source: Kameleoon

Free plan: No. 

Free trial: No information available.

Pricing: Custom quote. 

Though much lesser-known than other tools on this list, Kameleoon has exceptionally high rates among its users. Best for mid-sized to enterprise-level companies operating in the consumer goods industry, it is most praised for its multi-functionality and scalability — the tool offers web experimentation, feature and full-stack experimentation, and personalization all on one platform. 

Other advantages include a supportive and result-oriented team, ease of use, accuracy of data, and data security standards. 

On the downside, there is a lack of flexibility and fine tuning when it comes to some settings, and longer development times for some experiences. 

More alternatives

Other popular and highly-rated alternatives to Google Optimize include: 

  • Adobe Target 
  • Webtrends Optimize
  • SiteSpect 
  • LaunchDarkly 
  • Split, and more. 

As you can see, the choice is far from limited!

Bottom line

Google Optimize was a good and popular tool — but luckily, there are good alternatives too. So nothing terrible will happen after Google Optimize sunset. 

However, you need to take care of your testing options in advance to avoid problems. 

Here are the steps you need to take:  

  • Leave Google Optimize as soon as possible. 
  • Migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
  • Choose an alternative for Google Optimize and implement it on your website.
  • Keep an eye on the news to not miss any important updates on the topic.

 

*For tools overviews, user ratings and reviews from G2 and TrustRadius were used among other sources. 

Article by
Natasha Zack
I’m a professional journalist with 10+ years of experience. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with various kinds of media — print, online, broadcast. Currently, I write copy for brand media and teach English part-time. I also have my own edtech passion project dedicated to teaching English via Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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