A/B testing is just about the best way to improve your website’s sales, and most users even report that they actually cut the costs of customer acquisition.
What could be better than that? Because there are so many companies offering this tool, however, it can be difficult to know which one to use. Many people will opt for the free tools offered by Google, in favor of saving money, but be willing to put out a little cash on a real tool will help you see serious returns.
For this comparison, we’ve chosen two of the internet’s favorite A/B testing tools and done a side by side comparison so you can easily pick the one that will be best for your website, budget, and business. Keep in mind that both Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer have their own advantages and drawbacks, beyond just the price.
Optimizely touts itself as A/B testing that you will actually want to use. Instead of getting you bogged down in useless data, it claims to present only information you can actually use and in a format that will tell you what is working and what’s not. It says that it will take the place of a dedicated website monitoring team (which most small businesses can’t afford anyway), and make it possible for even the smallest business to have access to the information that drives big businesses’ most successful marketing campaigns. It also claims flexibility and functionality that other optimizers can’t offer.
Those are some pretty big claims. Does Optimizely deliver and how does it stack up against Visual Website Optimizer? Let’s start with what Optimizely does well.
The first major benefit for Optimizely is the price. At only $17 per month, it is definitely affordable even for businesses that find themselves seriously strapped for cash. Those $17 dollars promises 2000 site visitors and before you even have to commit to the program, you get a full month’s worth of a free trial. That is, however, just the bronze level. There are four other levels to choose from, which offer more features and more site visitors. While 2000 site visitors might not seem like very many, for a company just trying to find its footing, it’s an excellent way to draw in customers and start to build a mailing list, as well as to give their marketing messages time to gain traction. Once the real money starts pouring in, upgrading is easy.
Optimizely has also tested extremely well when it comes to customizability. There are plenty of advanced features that make it easy to edit the code of your website, even if you are not an expert in any programming language. For those who are really not code-savvy, Optimizely will even generate custom lines of code that can be implemented onto the website and which will make it easy to make changes at a moment’s notice.
They also rank highly when it comes to the amount and quality of data that they gather and how they report it. The user can select what kinds of data they want to hear about and how it is presented, so that when a change needs to be made or something is really taking off, it’s easy to see where and how. One of the best features is the ability to track revenue in comparison to marketing methods. It is also a favorite among those who like to be able to really dig into the data, as there are plenty of choices for how to organize and analyze collected information.
The one area that Optimizely falls short is when it comes to multivariate test options. While simple A/B testing may be fine for most companies, especially in the beginning, some may want access to more sophisticated techniques. While Optimizely does have multivariate test options, they are only available at the second-highest level, which starts at $359 per month—a bit steep for a startup or burgeoning business that just wants to see how well it is performing in the marketplace.
While Optimizely does have a low-cost starting level, beyond “Bronze,” the prices really jump up. Though users can add more site visitors for additional money, without jumping up to the next level, there are some features that many companies will find necessary that are only available at the higher levels. The “Silver” level jumps to $71 per month, and the “Gold” to $359. While they also pile on the monthly visitors and functionality, those prices are likely to be far too steep for the companies that could benefit from them the most.
The Bottom Line
Optimizely is a great place to start and grow, especially for small, online companies that are looking to experience the optimization process, without having to sacrifice too much time or money to get started, but also want to stay with the same company as they grow and improve their website and their knowledge of A/B testing. Unlimited experiments are a huge bonus, and the ease of use and comprehensiveness of the data are major draws. If you feel that you can do plenty with what the $17 package provides, then Optimizely is the way to go.
Visual Website Optimizer
Visual Website Optimizer’s claim to fame is the ability to design and run tests, even if the user has absolutely no knowledge of code or HTML. For small business owners, this can be a major draw. They also offer A/B testing that can be expanded into multivariate testing as the tests go on, as well as data which can help explicate customer behaviors. It claims to be an excellent optimizer for those looking to track revenue, see what SEO and marketing efforts are working and which need to be scrapped, and can even provide suggestions for how to improve. There seems to be quite a few enterprise-sized companies that benefit from this service, though there is a pricing level that can tailored even for small, one-man operations.
Like Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer has very good code adjustment and editing services. Where it beats Optimizely out, however, is in functionality for users who are not versed in HTML or code. Changes can often be made visually, instead of having to delve into lines and lines of confusing code.
A/B testing and multivariate testing are standard at every pricing level, as is geo-targeting and the much sought-after usability testing. Having a feature that tests how usable a website is to consumers is a serious bonus, as even the best content and products can be stifled by a website that is difficult to understand or navigate. They even offer email support for those users who are a little lost when it comes to optimizing their websites or who have problems with one of the features.
Another bonus of Visual Website Optimizer is the price. It, too, offers a month-long free trial to it users, allowing them to get a feel for the service and understand how to use it properly before they decide which pricing level they want. At first glance, Visual Website Optimizer appears to be more expensive than Optimizely, and it is—if you are content with just 2,000 site visitors a month. At $49, Visual Website Optimizer’s lowest pricing level will rake in 10,000 visitors per month, which makes it a far better deal. There is also standard multivariate testing, even at the $49 level.
Overall pricing is good, too. With only three “paid-for” levels, starting at $49, then jumping to only $129 for 30,000 site visitors in testing, and then an enterprise level that requires a special quote. In some ways, this makes Visual Website Optimizer a better deal than Optimizely.
One feature that is a favorite of current users is the “Heatmap.” This gives you a very visual representation of what content, which links, and what images are working, and which are being ignored by potential customers. This is a great way to organize and present data, which allows the user a unique insight into how to improve the website overall.
Visual Website Optimizer might be lacking in some of the features that advanced users are looking for. Optimizely has more features that appeal to those who are experienced in the testing game and are looking for meaty data they can really leverage into more sales. That’s not to say that Visual Website Optimizer doesn’t offer plenty of great data, it is slightly more basic that the information provided through Optimizely. That may be a bonus for those not prepared for the meatier data and who need only the essentials. Though it is competitively priced, starting out a $49 might be too much for some small businesses who have only a few dollars to spare.
Another drawback might be the sheer amount of features. Even at the most basic level, Visual Website Optimizer offers its users plenty of great features, and a user not familiar with how to use them can become bogged down in them.
The Bottom Line
Visual Website Optimizer is best for users that are unfamiliar with code, HTML, and the system of A/B testing. Other users might feel that their hands are being held a little too much. The pricing, on the other hand, is hard to beat for the number of site visitors that you will be in touch with every month.
Which Is Better, Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer?
Which service is better will ultimately come down to what you need, and in many ways, because there are few significant differences between Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer, especially at the lower pricing levels and lower experience levels, this can be an either/or situation. At its core, Visual Website Optimizer is better for those just starting out and who only plan of testing casually.
Optimizely is better for those looking for extremely in-depth data. The basic level is cheaper, but many of the necessary features are missing and require an upgrade to a more expensive level. If you are simply using a free content optimizing tool, however, it is time to upgrade if you want to start seeing real results. Most experts will point towards Optimizely—but that’s probably because they use it themselves. The best way to determine which one to use is to go for the free trial that both services offer and pick which one best matches your needs and abilities.