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After the sunset: 5 Google Optimize alternatives and what to do next

Google Optimize has long been the go-to user testing tool for many businesses. It conveniently integrates with the entire Google suite and a host of other invaluable platforms (like Hotjar 👋). Plus, the price is right—it’s free.

But now the search is on for Google Optimize alternatives: in September 2023, the tech giant is officially pulling the plug on this industry-leading platform.

Ready or not, you’ll have to rethink your experimentation strategy and make time to weigh what you really want and need from a user testing tool.

Last updated

7 Apr 2023

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9 min

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Understand the user behavior behind your A/B test results

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What does the Google Optimize sunset mean for online businesses? 

The lights will go off on Google Optimize (GO) on September 30, 2023. This is true whether you’re using the standard free version, or the paid upgrade, Optimize 360. This means:

What should I do before Google Optimize is discontinued? 

If you rely on GO in your day-to-day experiments, don’t panic. Google's announcement gives users plenty of time to smoothly migrate to another tool to keep experimenting. 

For a healthy breakup with GO, follow these five steps:

  1. Make a migration plan: work back from the sunset date and plan the timeframe in which you’ll complete all the following steps, so you can transition to your new experimentation software before lights off

  2. Appraise your experimentation habits: research what your team uses GO for. Do you go deep into personalization-based experiments, or just use it to A/B test simple cosmetic changes to your site? Could you get similar insights from watching user session recordings? What integrations do you use alongside GO? All this information will help you decide what factors you need to look for in a replacement tool. 

  3. Investigate which tools would fit your needs: research tools that could fill the gap GO will leave in your tech stack. Take a few free trials, read some reviews, and talk to salespeople. 

  4. Select your winner: once you've decided on your replacement, come up with a plan to train your team on how to use it

  5. Begin the migration: connect your integrations to the new platform, and begin moving your experimentation processes over

5 Google Optimize alternatives

Optimize will certainly leave some big shoes to fill, but we’ve done the research for you, so your next experimentation tool suits your needs just as well. Here are a few of the best options on the table.

1. Optimizely 

Founded in 2010, Optimizely is a popular choice for online businesses running A/B and multivariate tests. Google has also officially announced an easier integration between Optimizely and GA4 in the future.

#The Optimizely Experiments dashboard
The Optimizely Experiments dashboard

The platform offers: 

  • Multipage funnel tests: link related variants from different pages. For example, if you want to test a new slogan for your product, you could make sure that visitor ‘A’ sees the same variation of your slogan on your homepage as they do on your product page.

  • More audience targeting options: segment your experiments by multiple variables at once, and ensure your changes resonate with the precise audience they’re intended for 

Good to know: Optimizely is marketed to Enterprise-level customers—pricing is only available on demand, but we’re talking thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per year.

💡Pro tip: if you decide to invest in Optimizely, use Hotjar to understand why your A/B test results look the way they do.

Link your Optimizely X account to Hotjar to set up surveys for users who participate in your experiments. For example, you might ask, “How easy was it to use this page?”

Once the survey has collected some responses, filter them by whether respondents saw the ‘A’ group or the ‘B’ group of the experiment, so you can understand the thought processes behind your users’ behavior.

Use Hotjar events to run a survey on a specific variation you're testing

2. Hotjar

Hotjar is a digital experience insights platform that shows you how your customers behave on a web page. Use it to deepen your understanding of the results you receive from another A/B testing tool or even in place of A/B testing.

#The Hotjar Dashboard collects all your important metrics in one place
The Hotjar Dashboard collects all your important metrics in one place

It slides easily into your experimentation process by integrating with tools like Kameleoon, Optimizely, Google Analytics, Shopify, and Zapier. Plus, a handy Dashboard presents a clear overview of your user statistics. 

How to use Hotjar to add depth to your A/B tests 

  • Use Hotjar Heatmaps to understand where your customers click: a great way to identify new user testing hypotheses is with heatmaps, which show you where your customers linger on a web page—and the areas they ignore completely. For example, you might notice an important CTA is so far down a page that most users never see it—and come up with a strong hypothesis that you’d get more conversions by moving it a little higher up. 

  • Watch recordings of users navigating your A/B tests: use Hotjar Recordings to capture videos of users’ click paths as they move through the pages you’re running an A/B test on. Once recorded, you can filter these between users who saw the ‘A’ and ‘B’ versions of your site. Watching how users interact with each version of your site helps you understand why your test results look the way they do. 

#Recordings offer a ‘fly on the wall’ perspective on users’ journeys through your site
Recordings offer a ‘fly on the wall’ perspective on users’ journeys through your site
  • Use surveys to gather feedback on your A/B tests: use Hotjar to run surveys and learn what your users think about the changes you’re A/B testing. For example, if you’re testing a new feature, you might ask all participants, “What would you do to improve this feature?”

How to use Hotjar to replace A/B tests

If you’re looking for time-tested conversion rate optimization (CRO) tactics beyond A/B testing, simply talk to your users to find out what they’d prefer. 

Here’s how:

  • Run good old-fashioned user interviews: Hotjar Engage allows you to easily run remote user interviews with a searchable pool of 175,000+ verified participants. It streamlines the admin of user testing so you can get feedback from real people without weeks of planning and fix usability problems before they become expensive.

  • Concept test your new ideas: save time and money from having to A/B test at all—Hotjar’s concept testing surveys let you present different user interfaces (UI) and designs to your visitors and customers, so they can vote on and tell you themselves which version they prefer before you decide to go ahead with the change.

#Test different design hypotheses with Hotjar’s concept testing
Test different design hypotheses with Hotjar’s concept testing

3. Omniconvert

Omniconvert is a user-friendly tool for conversion rate optimization, including running A/B tests. 

#Omniconvert’s point-and-click editor lets you A/B test front-end changes without a developer’s help
Omniconvert’s point-and-click editor lets you A/B test front-end changes without a developer’s help

Omniconvert’s key features include: 

  • Advanced audience segmentation: split up your audience by more than 40 parameters—for example, you could choose to run a test on just returning visitors, or on visitors from Ohio. 

  • CRO tools beyond experimentation: set up exit-intent surveys and pop-up banners, for example

  • Great user support: Omniconvert offers great support, according to many reviewers—which is invaluable with such a multifaceted platform

  • Competitive pricing: prices start from USD 273/month. Omniconvert currently offers additional discounts for businesses switching from Optimize 360.

Good to know: it’s slightly unclear that clicking ‘sign up free’ means signing up for a free trial, rather than a freemium version of the product. 

💡Pro tip: hook up your Omniconvert account to Hotjar to understand what’s really going on with your A/B test results. 

Set up Hotjar to record sessions from the users in your test, and watch playbacks—videos that show how users interacted with your ‘A’ version compared to your ‘B’ version. 

You’ll see your web page through your users’ eyes, and gain insight into the thought process behind their behavior. 

Ready to get started? Head over to our Help Center.

4. VWO

VWO (Visual Website Optimizer) could be a good solution for migrating Google Optimize customers.

#VWO’s main testing dashboard
VWO’s main testing dashboard

VWO offers a free plan for users who only want to test up to 50k visitors a month, and its tier for >100k users is also reasonably priced. Furthermore, VWO offers a discount on its Enterprise plan to defecting Optimize 360 users. 

In terms of features, it offers:

  • A range of experimentation options: including A/B, multivariate, and URL split testing

  • Heatmap and survey features: for connecting with your users’ experiences so you can form strong hypotheses to A/B test

Good to know: only higher membership tiers can edit the mobile display of VWO’s tests. Considering 60% of web traffic comes from mobile, this is a big drawback. 

5. Kameleoon

Kameleoon is a conversion rate optimization software for running A/B, multivariate, and URL split tests, primarily marketed to mid-size to enterprise-level clients. 

#Kameloon’s experiment dashboard gives you an overview of how your A/B tests are looking
Kameloon’s experiment dashboard gives you an overview of how your A/B tests are looking

Kameleoon offers:

  • Multiple page testing: create ambitious, site-wide tests without fear of a ‘flickering’ effect—that is, when customers in the ‘A’ group of your A/B test see a glimpse of the page intended for the ‘B’ group

  • Advanced personalization options: the platform uses machine learning to predict each visitor’s engagement intent in real-time. Kameleoon Predict™ AI can vary what it shows to your users depending on what’s most likely to convert them.

Good to know: the price is only available on request. 

💡Pro tip: Kameleoon doesn’t offer a heatmaps feature, but if you integrate it with Hotjar, you get this functionality. 

Use Hotjar Heatmaps and click maps to see where users spend the most time on the page of your experiment and tell at a glance whether there’s a difference in behavior between the ‘A’ and the ‘B’ versions.

Hotjar Heatmaps shows you the top zones users engage with

Team Optimize till the end? 7 powerful integrations to use

Perhaps you’ve decided to take a break from running user experiments once Optimize closes down, whether to save paying for a new tool or because you’re hoping Google will bring out a new solution in a few months.

If so, it’s worth squeezing the maximum value from your remaining time with Google’s testing tool. Here are seven integrations to help you expand the functionality of GO.

#Optimize’s builder for creating simple front-end changes
Optimize’s builder for creating simple front-end changes

Google suite applications 

Google’s suite of tools are designed to connect and work together, like pieces of modular architecture. Here are the Google platforms that help you get more from your GO experiments. 

  • Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free tool that acts as an intermediary between your website and other tools. GTM lets you launch Optimize quickly and easily, without editing your website's code, decreasing your setup time. 

  • Google Analytics 4 is the latest incarnation of the tech giant’s free analytics platform. GA4 breaks down your Optimize experiment results so you can understand them better, revealing things like how long users stay on the ‘A’ and ‘B’ versions of your page, and whether your test had any effect on your bounce rate. 

  • BigQuery is a data management tool for enterprise-size companies that have so much information that keeping it in spreadsheets isn’t an option—retail chains, for example—so they can search for patterns in large datasets. 

  • Google Ads is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) ad platform. Use Google Optimize to optimize your Google ads—so if you’re running an ad to drive users to a landing page, you can use Optimize to test different versions of that page and find out which variant drives more conversions. 

Third-party Google Optimize integrations 

GO doesn’t have quite all of the features and services its customers request, according to Google themselves, which is partly why the platform is sunsetting.

Fortunately, a wealth of integrations let you customize the tool to suit your needs perfectly:

  • Hotjar offers a suite of tools to show you how users behave on your site—from session recordings to heatmaps to funnel analysis. Google Optimize helps you understand if a new version of your web page would lead to more conversions than the old one, but Hotjar helps you understand why

  • Zuko Analytics is a tool for investigating how users interact with your forms: where they drop off, how long they spend answering questions, and whether they eventually finish. If your business depends on getting users to fill out a form, you can use Google Optimize to run A/B tests to trial different versions of it, then use Zuko to get a deeper analysis of each version.

  • Lytics is an analytics tool that helps you identify information about your customer segments and create predictive audiences based on that data. For example, it might be able to help you identify users who are likely to buy again. Integrate it with Google Optimize to target your experiments to audiences you’ve identified in Lytics. 

The sun always shines on companies that run user tests 

‘Sunset’ is such a gentle way to describe what is—for many people—frustrating news. But unwelcome as it may be, GO’s closure is also a helpful invitation to investigate how your experimentation strategy could be working harder for you.

Google Optimize's sunset is an opportunity for businesses to rethink their quantitative approach to A/B testing. Companies should look at A/B testing not only as a way to discover which of their two variants converts better—but also as a chance to learn more about their users.

Thomas Busson
SEO Content Strategist at Hotjar

Quantitative data from A/B testing answers your closed-ended questions about what your users respond to, while qualitative insights from platforms like Hotjar inspire new and creative ways to keep them engaged. Create an experimentation strategy that involves both types of data, and you’ll build a product that delights your users.

Gather game-changing insights into your users’ behavior

Combine Hotjar with your A/B testing tools or use it alone for a deep understanding of how users interact with your site.

FAQs about Google Optimize alternatives