The Best A/B Testing Platform for Every Type of Business
Maybe this sounds familiar: You’ve combed through the data, thought up a few ideas, and presented them to your digital marketing team. Next comes the implementation — but which tactic should you go with? And how can you be certain it’s the right one?
This is where A/B testing can come in handy. With A/B testing, you won’t have to make high-stakes marketing decisions based on a “feeling.” Instead, you can get solid, data-backed answers to the questions asked above, and execute your ideas with the confidence that all good marketing requires.
Of course, to do this testing effectively, you’ll need the right tool for the job. In this guide, we’ll show you the 5 best A/B testing platforms to help you drive conversions and move the needle on engagement.
What Is A/B Testing?
In a nutshell, A/B testing (also known as split testing) is a process that enables individuals, teams, and companies to compare two versions of any digital asset.
Through this process, we can show people two variants of the same content — typically a landing page, email, ad, or social post — and determine which one users respond to better.
There are two things of note in that definition:
- A/B testing turns new ideas into an agile process rather than a long, drawn out, and likely expensive one, and
- We prefer to center A/B testing around the user instead of the vast bucket of “performance.”
In some cases, what performs the best (i.e. the “winning” version of an A/B test) is determined by which landing page or email blast drove the greatest amount of revenue or lead form completions.
However, oftentimes that diagnosis feels kind of reductive to us. Sure, we test for things like revenue and goal completions, but what we’re really interested in manipulating during our A/B tests is the user’s experience.
How can we influence user behavior? If we move the form above the fold or swap the hero image out for a block of text, how will the user respond? Are they more engaged or less? What user pain points are we mitigating? Did we accidentally create more friction?
A/B testing leads marketers down a path of continuous improvement without having to invest significant resources. It lets us test an idea or a hypothesis and gather evidence and data before committing to a potentially costly change.
To learn more about why we run A/B tests, be sure to check out this blog post.
Why Does the Platform Matter?
There are several A/B testing platforms and tools available that can make the job of any marketer much easier and more efficient.
Most email tools and ad platforms have native A/B testing functionalities. There are also free, dedicated split-testing platforms that should cover the needs of someone just getting started with testing on a smaller website.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are paid platforms that unlock a whole host of functions for incredibly high-volume sites — think cross-domain testing, advanced targeting, form analysis, etc.
If you end up springing for the latter, as marketers so often do, it’s easy to end up overpaying for a robust A/B testing platform when you’re only really using 1 or 2 of the 100+ features. That’s why it’s imperative that you choose the right tool from the outset.
In this article, we’ll break down 5 of our favorite A/B testing platforms for marketers and businesses of all stripes. By the end, you should feel confident knowing that the tool you choose is the right one for you and your needs.
The 5 Best A/B Testing Platforms of 2021
1. Google Optimize
Google Optimize is Google’s entry-level A/B testing tool, and it’s a crowd favorite among beginner experimenters for its free price point and ease of use.
Setting up Google Optimize is simple and straightforward: All you need is a Google Analytics account and a Chrome Extension. There’s no credit card required, unless you want to run more than 5 experiments at a time or run tests for an enterprise — in that case, Optimize 360 would be a better (but costlier) fit.
Google Optimize’s native integration with Google Analytics (along with the fact that it’s free) makes it very attractive to anyone just getting started with A/B testing. However, its UI leaves something to be desired, and the platform’s relative lack of advanced features could be a red flag for the more experienced experimenters among us.
Who’s it’s for: Small- and medium-sized businesses/websites, A/B testing beginners, marketers who mostly run basic A/B tests
Who it’s not for: Large businesses and enterprises, websites with high-volume traffic, marketers with highly segmented audiences
With over a decade of experience in the website optimization industry, Optimizely is one the most well-known A/B testing platforms out there. It’s also one of the most robust website optimization platforms on the market — and the price tag reflects that.
Optimizely is built for enterprise-level companies who are serious about testing and providing users with personalized experiences. One of Optimizely’s biggest advantages is its ability to run multiple tests on the same page without compromising results or data integrity. It also lets users create highly customized audiences and save them for future tests and analyses.
If you or your company are just getting started with A/B testing, we would recommend trialing a free or simpler tool than Optimizely. Optimizely is best suited for businesses that plan on heavily engaging with other aspects of CRO beyond A/B testing, such as split URL testing (testing variations of your website across different URLs) and multivariate testing (testing multiple different variations of your website at once).
Who’s it’s for: Large businesses and enterprises, companies with a dedicated CRO team
Who it’s not for: Small- and medium-sized businesses/websites, A/B testing beginners, marketers who mostly run basic A/B tests
VWO (short for Visual Website Optimizer) is another popular, well-known A/B testing platform.
VWO has a friendlier price point than optimizely and, per the name, a better and more intuitive UI. In fact, we think VWO has the best user interface of any testing platform on the market, and it’s great for doing everything from creating a hypothesis to building a test in the native WYSIWYG editor.
To set up an A/B test, VWO has a step-by-step process that helps even the most novice testers understand and successfully deploy a test. But while the WYSIWYG editor is easy to use for simple A/B tests, marketers without any knowledge of CSS or HTML will almost certainly need help from a developer for more complex tests.
VWO’s friendly UI carries over to its in-house reports, which provide more than enough information for declaring the winner of a test. However, for more robust analytics, marketers will need some familiarity with Google Tag Manager to connect the platform to Google Analytics.
Who’s it’s for: Medium-sized companies and mid-tier marketers who mostly run basic A/B tests
Who it’s not for: Large companies and marketers who run complex tests that may involve significant customization and segmentation
Unbounce differs from the other platforms on this last in that it’s a landing page builder first and an A/B testing platform second.
Unlike the other platforms listed here, which integrate with an existing website’s stack, Unbounce is an entirely separate entity that allows marketers to create landing pages on a subdomain of an existing website (e.g. www.test.example.com).
This makes it great when paired with multi-channel campaigns like paid social and email — marketers can build any number of landing page variations and direct users to any and all of them.
The big downside here is that, unlike traditional A/B testing platforms, marketers can’t test changes to their existing websites. However, they can still test messaging, imagery, creative, etc. without making any changes to their current branding and messaging.
Who’s it’s for: Multi-channel marketers who want to build landing pages independent of the main web stack
Who it’s not for: Marketers who want to run traditional A/B tests on an existing webpage or site
5. Adobe Target
Adobe Target is (famously) the most expensive A/B testing tool on the market. But if you work for an enterprise-level company and you’re already using Adobe Analytics and Marketing Cloud, this is most likely to be your best fit.
Adobe Target has similar features to other enterprise-level tools like Optimizely — custom audience targeting, multivariate testing, etc. — but it offers even more advanced optimization and customization through its self-learning algorithm. This algorithm adapts your content in real time to help you and your company meet the changing needs of customers.
Features like these allow Adobe to justify the hefty price tag. They’re great, but if you’re looking for an enterprise-level A/B testing tool and you aren’t already in the Adobe Analytics / Marketing ecosystem, they may not be worth it. In that case, you’d probably be better off with Optimizely.
Who it’s for: Enterprise companies and marketers who are already using Adobe Analytics and Marketing Cloud and want the absolute best platform money can buy
Who it’s not for: Small- to medium-size companies who can’t afford it and don’t need all the bells and whistles
At the end of the day, the tool you choose will never matter as much as the way you use it.
That’s why it’s important that, whichever platform you go with, you invest time and resources in learning it fully. After enough time, it should feel like an extension of your own brain (and that should feel like a good thing).
We should also emphasize that A/B testing won’t do any good if you’re comparing two flawed ideas. That’s why, as always, you should always make sure your all bases are covered from the outset. Your ideas should have a solid foundation, based on whatever data you have available to you, with predetermined KPIs to help you gauge whether or not they’re working effectively.
After all: Experimentation is a kind of science, and sometimes your hypothesis won’t be correct. Whenever you find yourself in that position, there’s no shame in going back to the drawing board. Your future self will thank you.
Finally, if the task of running A/B tests becomes too burdensome, come talk to us. We have a whole team of CRO analysts that’d be happy to help you work through your testing problems.
Wheelhouse is here to help!
No matter what type of company you work at — whether it’s new or old, B2B or B2C, indie startup or fortune 500 — we can help.
Our digital strategists and CRO analysts are some of the best in the industry when it comes to design and experimentation. We take a holistic approach to testing, interviewing stakeholders and developing a deep understanding of your business to discover which areas will have the most impact.
The end result is a tried-and-true landing page that’s proven to drive conversions, and you can rest easy knowing that your website is the absolute best version of itself.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to ask a simple question or start a years-long journey with us — we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call, use our online form, or leave a comment below to get in touch!
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