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Data & Analytics

Don't let the sun go down on your experimentation programme

by Ryan Fox
27th January 2023

Google Optimize and Optimize 360 will no longer be available after 30th September 2023. The tool can be used until then, but it has left many Marketers and Product Managers scratching their heads and faced with a need to think of alternatives to support their experimentation programme.

Google have hinted at enabling people to continue experimenting with GA4 but it seems unlikely a direct replacement is coming in, since they haven’t explicitly mentioned it.

The news provides a good opportunity for all companies to pause and take stock of their experimentation programme, whether they are Google Optimize users or not. The time is now to invest in evaluating current and future tools, as a sign of intent, and a commitment to the future of experimentation.

The advantages of moving to a more mature tool

On the heels of the sunsetting news have come countless posts singing the praises of Google Optimize with many also pointing out its limitations. Optimize has always been a starter tool since its inception, able to fly under the radar despite only allowing programmes to mature so far.

Given this, now is the perfect time to consider acquiring a more advanced tool for experimentation, for which there are many advantages.

Removing limitations on what can be tested and embedding experimentation within product teams

Tools such as Google Optimize, which are implemented as a tag on the client-side, have long been lamented by engineering teams for the potential impacts on page performance and site resilience. Experiments implemented in this way are also limited in terms of what you can test.

Choosing a tool that offers both client-side and server-side capabilities brings experimentation to more teams, allowing product teams to manage experiments, with developers building tests in the native codebase. This vastly increases the scope of what can be tested, where you can test and how rapidly; you are no longer limited to design changes on the website, instead almost anything is possible across any digital touchpoint with your customers.

It is important to have both client and server-side capability available. It’s not a question of client vs server side testing. Being able to deploy experiments both client and server side is the ideal scenario, providing the most flexibility and agility to organisations and teams. Only having one method will limit your test velocity and the types of experiments you are able to run, ultimately frustrating everyone involved.

Closer integration with your existing technology stack

Google Optimize and other client-side tools are implemented onto websites with minimal fuss and often without developer involvement. But this implementation is typically shallow and limits how integrated your tool is.

Your next tool could allow you to embed testing within the release pipeline for your developers, allowing teams to release with the confidence that changes will not have a negative impact and will promote innovation. It may also allow you to experiment directly within your content-management system, with content editors able to discover which content draws the most interest or which headlines to use.

Integration with your data architecture could allow for a richer exchange of information with your Central Data Platform (CDP) or Digital Marketing Platform (DMP), and better targeting/personalisation with both on-site and off-site communication, e.g. ads, emails, push notifications.

Support teams from the tool supplier

Part and parcel of most platforms is a broad catalogue of articles around not only the usage of the tool but the practice of experimentation. Signing on and investing with a optimisation product normally comes with some form of client success manager who ensures that you’re getting the most out of it.

This support and guidance can help those scaling or just getting started with experimentation to think beyond the tooling and into deeper aspects such as experimentation strategy and how to drive growth, the skills you want to bring into teams working on experimentation, and further integrations you can make with other technology providers.

It’s worth remembering not all paid-for tools will offer the same level of support but investing in one can mean a supplier becoming invested in your experimentation programme. This can drive adoptions and growth while helping you achieve a greater return on your investment.

Going, going, gone

Ultimately, Google Optimize is here until the end of September 2023. There are hundreds of testing suppliers available and anyone looking to move should take their time to carefully consider which one is right for them. However, treat this inflection point as a chance to take your experimentation to the next stage in your journey.

If you want to chat through any of this, feel free to reach out to me or any of the team here at Foolproof.

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