Optimizely is a web analytics company that was built on a very clear premise – make website A/B testing dead simple so that any company can use it to collect data and optimize their websites. This testing allows websites to make small tweaks than can increase engagement, click through rate, and conversions. Tech start-ups have used it to increase app downloads, media sites has used it to increase subscriptions and time spent on the page. In 2012, the Obama and Romney campaign both used Optimizely to increase the efficacy of their state-specific landing pages and drive online fundraising. The case studies on the website demonstrate the vast applicability of Optimizely.
Before Optimzely and its peers, A/B testing was manageable, but a much more arduous affair. Using products like Google Analytics or Omniture (now Adobe Analytics), provided the data to see user behavior and engagement on individual pages and through a defined conversion funnel. However, tagging every single page takes time and coding (albeit very straightforward coding). Once these key metrics were captured and a baseline was established, the site could then be modified and a marketing manager could monitor the change in performance. However, this on/off switch isn’t quite the same as doing a truly randomized A/B test where the control site and experimental site are live concurrently – and without there is the pesky problem of correlation v. causation. Of course, this experiment could be set-up before Optimizely, but it required the technical know how that I expect is beyond most marketing managers who were just trying to optimize conversions.
That’s where Optimzely comes in. It requires minimal coding, is very low cost to test out the basic features (there is very basic freemium package), and offers a WYSIWYG visual editor that a non-technical person can use to modify the experimental landing page or site. The ease of use and the return on investment for customers has led to tremendous growth for Optimizely. “DIY” A/B testing has quickly become ubiquitous and is considered an industry standard by CMOs.
In the past six years, Optimizely has raised over $145M over six rounds. As other web analytics firms have started offering similar services, Optimizely has continued to expand their offers to include multivariate testing, advanced targeting, email marketing optimizations, personalized content, and general analytics services. It will be interested to see what Optimizely decided to do next. They have made it much easier for individual companies to gather actionable data. They haven’t done as much when it comes to aggregating this data, at least publicly, which could lead to better prediction algorithms or insights for marketers. As A/B testing becomes the standard, how will Optimizely optimize themselves?