Life after Google Optimize: which A/B testing platforms nonprofits should consider
— Written by Nathan Hill with an intro from Marlin.
With the sunsetting of Google Optimize, Marlin encourages all organisations to put in place a plan to move to a new A/B testing tool to ensure a smooth transition. Marlin has provided recommendations of two tools organisations can investigate to see which better suits their needs.
Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
And for anyone who’s been using Google Optimize to A/B test their digital fundraising, that rings especially true. Because in case you haven’t heard …
Google will be sunsetting Google Optimize on September 30! 😭
While this news is sure to cause stress for nonprofits that rely on the popular (and free) platform for their A/B testing needs, it doesn’t mean you should stop testing altogether.
There are other A/B testing platforms that nonprofits can use to continue decoding what works in digital fundraising.
Unfortunately, most alternatives aren’t free, but many of them do offer features that are more powerful than Google Optimize.
If you’re feeling unsure about A/B testing after Google Optimize … or don’t know which alternative will work best for your needs, fear not fellow optimiser!
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at a couple testing alternatives for nonprofits so that you can make the best decision about which to try.
But first …
Why is A/B testing so important for nonprofits?
What works in digital fundraising is constantly evolving.
Which means you should never assume which tactics to pursue, which assets to optimise, or even which words or images to use in your fundraising efforts.
“That’s the way we’ve always done it,” doesn’t fly in digital. Why?
Because relying on your own intuition for marketing is like flipping a coin to determine which version will work best.
No matter how much fundraising experience you have, you never truly know what will work best to motivate people to support your cause online.
What works today (or worked yesterday) might not work tomorrow.
Which means that it isn’t the fundraisers with the most experience, but the ones who are willing to innovate, optimise, and test their hypotheses, who have the advantage.
The benefit of embracing a culture of testing is threefold:
Provides a framework for continuous improvement: A/B testing gives you an advantage by providing a metric-based framework to innovate and improve your digital fundraising assets constantly.
Eliminates guesswork: A/B testing eliminates guesswork and helps ensure that you aren’t “marketing in the dark,” wasting time and resources on efforts that don’t produce results.
Improves user experience: A/B testing allows you to experiment with different design elements and find the combination that resonates most with your audience, keeps them engaged, and ultimately inspires them to give.
New to A/B testing? Need a refresher? Now you can learn how to be an A/B testing expert (even if you don’t know where to start) with NextAfter’s Step-by-Step A/B Testing Guide.
“OK, but why can’t I just run my own A/B tests? Why do I need an A/B testing platform at all?”
Now that we’ve covered why A/B testing is so critical, let’s take a look at the importance of A/B testing platforms and why not using one really isn’t an option.
For years, digital marketers and fundraisers have been spoiled by Google’s free A/B testing platform. So it’s natural that paying to use an alternative may seem like an unnecessary expense. It’s an additional cost. It’s one more approval you have to secure … at least at first.
But without them, it would be extremely labour- and time-intensive for you to run effective A/B tests. Plus it would be nearly impossible to accurately analyse your results!
The essential capabilities of A/B testing platforms:
- Randomisation: A/B testing platforms randomise the distribution of visitors to different versions of a page, ensuring that the results of the test are statistically valid.
- Traffic management: A/B testing platforms manage the traffic to different versions of a page, ensuring that each version receives enough traffic to produce meaningful results.
- Data collection: A/B testing platforms collect data on user behaviour, such as clicks, page views, and conversions. This data is used to analyse the results of the test and determine which version of the page is more effective.
- Reporting: A/B testing platforms provide reports that summarise the results of the test, making it easy to understand and act on your findings.
In addition to these essential features, A/B testing platforms also offer a number of other features that can help you to run more effective tests. These features include:
- Multivariate testing: This allows you to test multiple elements of a page at the same time, helping you to identify the combination of elements that produces the best results.
- Personalization: This allows you to show different versions of a page to different visitors, based on their individual characteristics.
- Integrations: This allows you to integrate your A/B testing platform with other marketing tools, such as CRM systems and email marketing platforms.
A/B testing platforms make it possible for you to accurately collect data, analyse results, and make informed decisions about which version of a page is more effective.
WinstonKnows is a tool created specially for nonprofits as a central place to share test results, monitor active experiments, and collaborate on future opportunities.
Which A/B testing platforms are worth a try for nonprofits?
Now that we’ve established the importance of A/B testing your digital fundraising assets and the critical role of A/B testing platforms in the success of your efforts, let’s take a closer look at a couple of platforms you should consider using to fill the Google Optimize-shaped hole in your A/B testing strategy:
First up is VWO, or Visual Website Optimizer.
If you’re seeking a big, polished solution that can handle all your optimisation needs under one roof, then VWO is a (potentially expensive) answer.
VWO has a ‘SmartCode Checker’ ensures your tests run flawlessly, and its seamless visual editor is a breeze to use.
VWO does go beyond A/B testing. It offers a full suite of conversion optimisation tools, including session recording, form analysis, onsite surveys, and “heatmaps” that can show you exactly where you’re losing potential donors on your most valuable pages.
With these tools, you can capture deeper insights into user behaviour, uncover potential friction points, and devise metric-driven strategies to improve results.
With lots of features and polish can sometimes come lots of costs. VWO is an expensive solution, however they do (currently) have a free usage tier that should suit a number of smaller to medium organisations.
Check out their pricing, test out the platform itself with a free trial, and see if it is the solution for your organisation 🙂
Convert is our other pick for nonprofit organisations looking for a solution to their a/b testing woes.
Convert does a great job keeping the focus on optimisation, with a clean and well thought out interface. Take note that Convert tends to bucket more features into the plans than other providers. For example, ‘Deploys’ are an additional paid feature in VWO, however are included in all plans with Convert.
One part of Convert that we liked was around their alignment to values. Convert markets itself as a ‘conscious business’, and do note work with organisations and websites that spread hate, divisiveness, prejudice, or violence. They have a climate goal to be 100x Carbon Negative https://www.convert.com/conscious-business/
Like with any SaaS tool, we recommend you get yourself a free trial of Convert, check out the pricing, and see if it is the right solution for you.