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8 Cheaper Optimizely Alternatives for A/B Testing in 2020 Compared by CRO Experts
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Two years ago, Optimizely removed the pricing plans that made A/B testing possible for thousands of businesses. The shift left former customers searching for a cheaper Optimizely alternative. Two years on, this article asks whether predictions about the “death of A/B testing” were correct, and considers the best Optimizely alternatives in 2020.

optimizely alternatives banner

To understand why the changes introduced by Optimizely in 2018 were so significant, you have to understand when and why the company became so influential. Strangely, the story of Optimizely’s success begins with a failed A/B test.

On 27 February 2000, engineers at Google ran the first of what would become the company’s most valuable projects. It was an A/B test designed to find the optimal number of results to display on a search engine results page. There were a number of different scenarios: some visitors were given 10 results, some 20 and others 30. The test was a disaster.

Because each of the scenarios affected the page’s loading speed, none of the data was reliable. However, the experiment did illustrate an important fact: loading speed was key. Alongside this, the experience taught Google’s engineers something even more valuable.

If you need to understand how people think and act, the internet offers a resource that real-world experimenters can only dream of. Without meaning to, Google’s engineers had stumbled upon hundreds of thousands of test subjects whose behaviour could be measured with digital precision. That lesson had a big impact on one of Google’s young engineers, a computer scientist who saw the potential for a tool that would put A/B testing in the hands of ordinary people. Ten years later, Dan Siroker launched his own company with a simple slogan: 

Our goal is to make it absurdly simple to run A/B tests on your website. 

The Growth Of Optimizely and A/B Testing

The first year of operations was only a minor success. By October 2011, Optimizely was cash-flow positive (a significant milestone for any startup). However, the subsequent years were a phenomenon. Between March 2012 and 2013, the company grew 400%. Having started just two years earlier, it was now working with over 4000 businesses in 53 countries.

optimizely alternatives early growth
Data collected from www.builtwith.com

Between 2011 and 2014, Optimizely was installed and used by over 350,000 business websites. The problem was, most of these users had unrealistic expectations about what A/B testing would do for their website. 

Many of Optimizely’s hundreds of thousands of freemium users did not appreciate the sample size required to run successful A/B tests, nor did they appreciate the complexities of A/B testing statistics. The result was that Optimizely was flooded with negative reviews. There was another problem, too…

Optimizely And The Google Effect

In early 2015, a new product was launched that began to dismantle Optimizely’s monopoly on free A/B testing. Google’s new Optimizely alternative threatened to do what Gmail and Google Analytics had done to Outlook Express, Webtrends and Omniture. The combination of a free product (Google Optimize) with an alternative enterprise solution (Google Optimize 360) was exactly the same strategy that had allowed Google to create a monopoly on website analytics and email. The following charts, showing the growth of Google Optimize in the five years since its release, demonstrates how effective Google’s market positioning has been.  

optimizely alternative google optimize 360
Data collected from www.builtwith.com

With Google taking a substantial share of the A/B testing market by the end of 2017, Optimizely made a strategic decision to remove its affordable plans and compete exclusively with Google Optimize 360 as an enterprise product. The result was that, in February 2018, tens of thousands of business websites were left looking for the best Optimizely alternative. 

To find the best Optimizely alternative, you need to think about what the software is used for and what kind of features are necessary. They can be divided into two groups: “nice to have” and “must-have”.

 A/B TestingMultivariate TestingVisual EditorBuilt-In StatisticsFlicker ReductionPersonalizationIdeas LibraryAutopilot
Must Have        
Nice To Have        

Multi-Variate Testing: Multivariate testing (or “MVT”) is like a normal A/B test, except it compares a number of different variables independently and in combination. For example, you might test whether the combination of title A with button A or button B is better than title B with button A or button B. However, these kinds of tests only produce significant and reliable results if they are conducted on sites with many hundreds of thousands of visitors a month. As a result, we consider it a “nice-to-have” feature.

Visual Editor: When Optimizely was launched in 2010, it offered a powerful visual page builder that meant anyone could create A/B tests. You still needed to access the page’s code to make more structural changes, but the visual editor gave every member of the marketing team a chance to test their content. For modern marketing teams, this is a “must-have” feature.

Built-In Statistics: One of the major obstacles for Optimizely’s free plan was how difficult users found the statistics. A built-in statistics package that provides everything needed to achieve significant results is a “must-have” feature. 

Flicker Reduction: A/B testing page flicker is a common problem with older A/B testing tools. When the “B” version of a page loads slowly, the original version sometimes appears for a split second. To avoid this, A/B testing tools that operate on the Client Side need to have an exceptionally light pixel and a powerful web server. This is a “must-have” feature.

Personalization: At some point, optimizing your webpages is likely to involve some element of personalization (either dynamic text or geolocation). An A/B testing tool that has these built in, ideally as plugins, is much more valuable. However, this is only a “nice-to-have” feature.

Ideas Library: One of Optimizely’s most popular features is its ideas library, which provides suggestions of things to test on each page. An optimization project should be guided by data and hypotheses, rather than best-practice suggestions, but a library of suggestions is a useful way to get over the “blank page” effect.

Autopilot: What happens if one of your page versions is a disaster? An Autopilot feature is essential, because it ensures that your traffic is sent to the best-performing version of your webpage. This is a “must-have” feature.

We explored every A/B testing tool available in 2020, to find the best Optimizely alternative in 2020. These are the solutions that performed the best.

There are over 20 popular A/B testing tools available in 2020, but most of them are missing the “must-have” features that set Optimizely apart. These Optimizely alternatives have all the must-haves, plus some unique features.

convertize optimizely alternative

20,000 monthly visitors100,000 monthly visitors500,000 monthly visitors1,000,000monthly visitors
Cost/month$49/month$199/month$329/month$499/month

Starting from just $49 for 20,000 visitors a month (the minimum required for statistically significant results), Convertize allows you to test up to 1,000,000 visitors with unlimited variations for only $499 a month.

Convertize
Setup & Subscription$49/month
Number of TestsUnlimited
How Pages are LoadedClient-side script with "Lightning Mode"
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)No
Autopilot Mode or Multi-Armed BanditYes: Autopilot with Hybrid Statistics
Page EditingSmartEditor
Tactic LibraryYes: Neuromarketing Tactics

Convertize is a professional-standard A/B testing tool with all the plugins and features that Optimizely users are accustomed to. However, the platform is designed to be affordable and usable for normal business websites.

Alongside the visual editor, Convertize gives users the ability to add personalization plugins to any page. Simply by dragging the widget to the relevant part of your content, you can add dynamic text, geolocation or notifications. 

In addition to these plugins, Convertize includes a number of features that make A/B testing easier and more reliable.

  • Autopilot manages your traffic dynamically, saving you the money you would lose by sending visitors to a less effective version of your webpage.
  • The Hybrid Statistics engine works using a combination of Bayesian and Frequentist statistics, so you reach significant results faster.
  • A super-light Pixel means your pages load faster than they would with other tools.

visual website optimizer

10,000 monthly visitors30,000 monthly visitors50,000 monthly visitors>50,000 monthly visitors
Testing $199/month$284/month$354/monthcontact sales
Testing, Insights$368/month$531/month$664/monthcontact sales
Testing, Insights, Engage$467/month$714/month$916/monthcontact sales

The pricing scale for VWO is based on both features and traffic. The cheapest options for each of the three main packages include only 10,000 monthly visitors.

VWO
Setup and Subscription$199/month
Number of TestsUnlimited
How Pages are LoadedClient-Side
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)Yes
Autopilot Mode or Multi-Armed BanditNo
Page EditingWYSIWYG Editor
Tactics LibraryYes: Idea Factory

Wingify, the company that produced VWO, was founded in 2010 by the computational biologist Paras Chopra. Launched at the same time as Optimizely, VWO enjoyed similarly explosive growth. Within two years the company had reached the $1 million revenue mark and it is still the fourth most-popular A/B testing solution globally.

Like Google Optimize, VWO comes with a chrome extension that allows you to create experiments from your browser. There are also some nice features, such as the built-in project boards and learning repository, designed to help larger businesses run sequential experiments. The only downside is the pricing, which makes VWO a solution exclusively for enterprise customers.

optimizely alternative omniconvert

50,000 unique visitors100,000 unique visitors300,000 unique visitors
Cost/month$167$324$608

OmniConvert’s website optimization package has a completely transparent pricing scheme and comes with a generous 30-day trial. Once you subscribe to a paid plan, there is a 30-minute 1-on-1 on-boarding session, so you don’t miss any of the platform’s unique features.

Omniconvert
Setup and Subscription$324/month
Number of TestsUnlimited
How Pages are LoadedClient Side
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)Yes
Autopilot Mode or Multi-Armed BanditNo
Page EditingWYSIWYG Editor
Tactics LibraryNo

Launched in 2013, OmniConvert (originally Marketizor) gathered over 500 users in its first year. A grant in 2016 allowed the company to expand to over 50 people and it was rebranded as OmniConvert.

Many of the unique features are quite technical, for example the reporting which comes in either Frequentist or Bayesian statistics. There is also a strong assumption that the user has coding experience, and Javascript in particular.

optimizely alternative google optimize

Google Optimize is free of charge, but Google Optimize 360 is one of the most expensive Optimizely alternatives available. In fact, it does not advertise the full price online.

Google Optimize 360
Setup and SubscriptionFree
Number of Tests3 at a time
How Pages are LoadedClient Side
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)Yes, in Beta
Autopilot or Multi-Armed BanditNo
Page EditingWYSIWYG Editor
Tactics LibraryNo

Launched in 2015, Google Optimize 360 has become the dominant force in A/B testing. You can edit your website using a Chrome extension and can run up to 3 tests at any time.

By far the biggest selling point of Google Optimize is its native integration with the rest of the Google-verse. Switching between Google Analytics, Google Ads and Google Optimize is simpler than integrating other tools with those platforms. Unfortunately, it does not come with personalization plugins or an ideas library.

ab tasty screenshot

AB Tasty
Setup and Subscription$1000 Setup (min.) and $200/month
Number of TestsUnlimited
How Pages are LoadedClient Side
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)Yes
Autopilot or Multi-Armed BanditMulti-Armed Bandit
Page EditingWYSIWYG Editor
Tactics LibraryNo

AB-Tasty is a direct Optimizely alternative, offering enterprise-level A/B testing with a number of distinctive features. In the years since Optimizely’s move away from Freemium A/B testing, AB-Tasty have attempted to differentiate their product in two ways: firstly, as a “Customer Experience Optimization” platform and secondly, through AI-driven automation. 

In the past year, AB-Tasty have added a new Nudge Engagement feature, based on Convertize’s Smart Notifications

crazy egg ab testing

30,000 tracked page views75,000 tracked page views150,000 tracked pageviews500,000 tracked pageviews
Cost/month$24$49$99$249

The use of “tracked page views” to calculate pricing is unusual, and potentially deceptive. However, this is a high-value option compared to the traditional Optimizely alternatives.

crazy egg icon
Setup and Subscription$24-249/month
Number of TestsUnlimited
How Pages are LoadedClient Side
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)No
Autopilot or Multi-Armed BanditYes
Page EditingWYSIWYG Editor
Tactics LibraryNo

Crazy Egg is another combined heat map and A/B testing tool. The visual editor is slightly less robust than alternative solutions, but the interface is exceptionally user-friendly and it is very easy to move between recordings, reports and test results. The results are given in an accessible format, which means that anyone can compare different page versions without learning new statistical skills. Professional CROs may find the reports limited, but the platform allows you to export your data in a CSV file. 

optimizely alternative pagesense

20,000 Visitors30,000 Visitors50,000 Visitors100,000 Visitors
Standard (3 Projects)$32/month$55/month--
Professional (5 Projects)- -$88/month$133/month

ZOHO gives fantastic value for the range of tools it offers. Although the performance reports are probably not detailed enough to replace a more comprehensive platform like Google Analytics, they could provide a quick and easy way to compile monthly marketing reports.

A/B Testing Tool Features
Setup and Subscription$18-435/month
Number of Tests3-25
How Pages are LoadedClient side
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)No
Autopilot Mode or Multi-Armed BanditNo
Page EditingWYSIWYG Editor
Tactics LibraryNo

As with Freshmarketer, ZOHO Pagesense is a not a dedicated testing platform, so it doesn’t have the additional features that make the other Optimizely alternatives more efficient. However, you do have access to a number of visual reports alongside the conversion rate graphs you would expect with A/B testing. Whilst it might not be the most efficient way to optimize individual elements, Zoho is a great tool for analysing how your treatment affects your visitors’ behaviour.

optimizely alternative freshmarketer

5000 Contacts10,000 Contacts20,000 Contact25,000+ Contacts
Cost/month$79$129$207Hidden

As one of the most affordable Optimizely alternatives, Freshmarketer is a great option for small businesses who can also take advantage of its other tools (such as a contact list management system). However, it is important to note that this is not a pure A/B testing tool; the focus is on engaging and developing your leads.

FreshMarketer (Zarget)
Setup and Subscription$49/month
Number of TestsUnlimited
How Pages are LoadedClient Side
A/B/n Testing & Split TestingYes
Multivariate Testing (MVT)Yes
Autopilot Mode or Multi-Armed BanditNo
Page EditingYes
Tactics LibraryNo

Freshworks bought Zarget in 2017 and renamed it Freshmarketer. The A/B testing tool is part of a Conversion Rate Optimization package that includes a bewildering array of seemingly unrelated tools. However, the platform does provide heat-maps, on-page surveys and a visual page-editor.

This table shows the “nice-to-have” and “must-have” features for Optimizely and each of the alternatives. We have used a weighted scale to give each option a Features Score out of ten.

 A/B Tests20,000 visitors/monthValue (1-3)MVT TestsVisual EditorHybrid StatisticsFlicker ReductionPersonalizationIdeas LibraryAutopilotFeatures Score
Convertize
 $493       9
VWO $2842       9
Omniconvert $167/month2       7
Optimizely  Hidden 1       7
Google Optimize $03       6
AB Tasty  Hidden 1       6
Crazy Egg $243       5
ZOHO Pagesense $233       5
FreshMarketer (Zarget) $2072       5

The following “must-have” features were given double weighting:

  • Hybrid Statistics
  • Flicker Reduction
  • Autopilot

Optimizely is a great product for enterprise customers who want a familiar platform and are not concerned about monthly costs. However, these are our recommendations for everyone else: 

  • If you need an all-round A/B testing platform to run reliable tests, your best Optimizely alternative is… Convertize 
  • Businesses who need an enterprise-level solution at a lower price could try Omniconvert or VWO as an alternative.
  • For startups and small businesses who need a lot of different features, including A/B testing, Freshmarketer is the best alternative.
  • If you only want to run one or two tests and you are an experienced A/B tester, try Google Optimize.
Stephen Courtney

by Stephen Courtney

Stephen is a digital marketer with a background in the history and theory of technology. He now writes about marketing and large technological systems.

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