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Evaluating a new A/B testing vendor: Timeline



Evaluating a new A/B testing vendor: Timeline

Google’s announcement to sunset their Optimize product has hit many companies hard, as they realize they only have eight months to find a replacement.  

However, many teams have not evaluated new software in several years. So, Optimizely’s Strategy & Value Advisory team gathered this helpful vendor-agnostic guide. It’ll help you independently evaluate tools that fit your needs.  

We’ve already powered A/B testing for thousands of companies. To help you get started, we’re offering a special offer for Google Optimize customers. 

Four tips for finding the right fit for a potential replacement 

See ways for mapping out your requirements when looking for a new A/B testing vendor. 

1. Start early.  

Most companies need 2-6 months to evaluate a new piece of software. Plus, an additional 2 months for implementation.  

  • Gradually migrate personalization campaigns and tests. Have a minimum of 1-month overlap with a new tool before GO turns off.
  • Ensure all personalization campaigns and a/b tests are live in your new tool. No wonder CRO experts are conservative about it, calling July 31 your true date for turning off Google Optimize. 
  • Plan for 3-4 weeks for technical implementation, a/a tests, key integrations, and data validation. We can do it all faster, but typically teams need time.   

2. Dream big.  

Changing a tool should unlock the previously restricted digital potential for your business. Know your must-have requirements, but also understand what could be better. Consider Optimizely’s key improvements over Google Optimize. Now, check if you have answers to these questions: 

  • What if you reached stat sig quicker with the industry’s best Stats Engine and delivered more relevant experiences?
  • What if you built an inclusive culture of experimentation that fosters team learning and collaboration?
  • What if you leveraged products that speak to each other and integrated Optimizely seamlessly with best-of-breed tech platforms?
  • What if you needed less developer or data science time to build or understand an experiment?
  • What if you had optimal performance and page load times (also impacting Google’s ranking)?
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3. Don’t underestimate internal approvals.  

We have seen a c-change in the past six months, where due to economic uncertainties, Finance and Procurement teams have added extra scrutiny to every purchase, whether it be for software, headcount, or other tools for growth. Even very flat organizations and rapid start-ups have found their decision-making delayed. 

  • Notify Finance, Procurement, and IT teams early of your need to implement a new tool and ask for their support.
  • Any investment needs to have a structured plan presented internally for WHY you need an investment and HOW you will ensure that you can experience ROI. (Ask your vendor for help!)
  • Show why experimentation and personalization are essential for your business. 
  • Your stakeholders can be on vacation and you may need extra time for review. Plan that their approvals will take 1-2 months; if it’s faster, happy days!
  • You can always communicate to the vendor that you want your contract to start in June or July (see #1 – starting later than July could put you at risk of having interrupted service) 

4. Consult experts.  

Read reports from analysts and CRO experts, not just the vendors themselves. Ask for reference customers to have a call about their experience.   

  • Check out the Total Economic Impact™ of Optimizely’s Experimentation Platform as per Forrester in the latest TEI™ study.
  • GA4 will have some basic split traffic capabilities, as Google Ads already does, but they’ve specifically stated that they will not focus on the “features and services that our customers request and need for experimentation testing”; if you’re just getting started, GA4 may provide enough for your needs, but there’s a high risk for any company that has been running tests already that this will not serve your needs. 
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Maybe your company can move faster than this, but it’s better to build in a buffer. The biggest risk is that you can’t get a tool in place in time and your personalization campaigns, a/b tests, and MVT experiments go dark.   

Example Timeline for Software Evaluation 

1 February 1 March 15 April
Reach out to 4-5 vendors to start the process and schedule the first calls and demos. There is zero commitment, just the research-gathering process.   
Define your requirements, including: 

– Who from your team will be using the tool?

– What types of tests or campaigns are essential?

– What integrations do you need?

– How will you manage collaboration across teams? 

Here’s a vendor-agnostic, helpful list of requirements to consider for an experimentation partner. (If your company requires an RFP, reach out to Procurement immediately – an RFP typically will add 2-6 months to a company’s time to make a decision).   

Based on which tools meet your requirements, reduce your list to 2-3 choices.   
Next, go deeper into your specific use cases, including: 

– Which tests or campaigns are most important to you?

– Is the new tool easy to use for this use case?

– Where did you struggle with Google Optimize and you’d like to see improvement? 

Ask the vendors to collaborate with you to define the growth (and $) you could realize from experimenting via their tool – and how they will help you achieve it. 
Review initial pricing proposals by the end of the month. 

Finalize your choice of the preferred vendor and start circulating the contract & legal docs for review. (Legal review alone can take 1-2 months).  
Ensure engineering resources are allocated for implementation (in July-August); while most Eng teams operate in sprint cycles, it’s important that they have this on their roadmap and understand the need for prioritization.
1 May 31 May 15 June
Present to your leadership & stakeholders the recommended vendor and how you will achieve ROI; your selected vendor should be able to help you and quantify the forecast value specific to your company.  Finalize approvals from Legal, procurement, and finance.  Signing new contract; start provisioning & access to the new tool. 
July & August 1 September 30 September
Implement the new tool. Install Javascript snippet, A/A tests, data validation, GA4 integration, etc. At Optimizely, we can move as fast as your teams are able, but typically customers need at least 3-4 weeks to coordinate schedules with all their internal teams and get this set up. Given the summer holidays in July & August, we recommend starting implementation by July 1 at the latest. 

Keep this the latest date to go live with a new tool and transfer experiments.  


Wrap up final experiments & campaigns running in GO over the next 4 weeks. 

Google Optimize is shut down. Time to go fully live with the new tool. 



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The Vital Role of Traditional Search Engines to In-store CPG Research



10 Ways to Use AI for Better Ads


The CPG customer journey is now more nuanced than it’s ever been, with steady expansions in the ways shoppers can discover, research, and ultimately purchase day-to-day essentials. Part of that journey is tied to traditional search engines like Google and Bing, which play a significant role in the path to purchase for many consumers.

Tinuiti surveyed more than 3,000 US consumers across three unique surveys targeting shoppers in the beauty, food and beverage, and over-the-counter (OTC) health product categories to develop deep insights for the The 2023 CPG Customer Journey report. Here we’ll unpack what the results show us about how these shoppers are engaging with search engines for these purchases, and how that varies by generation.


Retail Sites Beat Out Traditional Search Engines for CPG Product Searches


Across the beauty, food and beverage, and OTC health categories, consumers were much more likely to choose a major retail website like Amazon or Walmart than a traditional search engine as the place they’d most likely start product searches on. This was particularly true of food and beverage shoppers, with fewer than 4% choosing a traditional search engine as their most likely starting point.



These results might lead you to believe that search isn’t all that important for CPG marketers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The real value of search in the CPG customer journey lies in its importance to in-store research.

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Traditional Search Engines Dominate In-Store Product Research Across CPG Categories


In addition to where they were most likely to start product searches, respondents were also asked to select which actions they’d taken in-store to learn more about CPG products. Across all three product categories studied, the number one choice for researching CPG products in-store was to search for the product or brand on a search engine. This beat out other options like visiting the store website or searching on social media, and was significantly more common than searching for the product on a different retailers’ website, like Amazon or Walmart.



This is important because the respondents across all three surveys most commonly chose brick-and-mortar store locations when asked where they’d purchased CPG products in the past month. Grocery stores were the most popular location for food and beverage purchases, while big-box stores like Target or Walmart were most commonly chosen for beauty and OTC health products.

Search engines might not be the first place that CPG shoppers search for products online, but they are very commonly where consumers go to research products right before purchasing in-store.


Generational Differences in Search Engine Use


Looking at how likely respondents were to use search engines for product search and in-store research, there were clear differences that emerged between age groups that varied by product category.

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When it comes to beauty and OTC health products, older generations were more likely than younger generations to turn to traditional search engines for initial product searches online. For food and beverage products, however, the results were much closer together across generations.



However, younger generations were more likely to search for products or brands on search engines when researching products in-store across all three product categories. Notably, older generations were less likely to take any of the actions presented in the survey when researching products in-store, as younger shoppers appear much more likely to head online for additional information before making a brick-and-mortar purchase.





Search engines might not be the first place that CPG shoppers search for products online, but they are very commonly where consumers go to research products right before purchasing in-store. This is true across beauty, food and beverage, and OTC health shoppers. Even large shares of older generations, who are less likely to do in-store research in general, turn to sites like Google to answer questions about their purchases in-store.

Particularly in the case of CPG products, the potential to influence in-store purchases is hugely valuable. Brands should make sure they’re not overlooking the important role search engines play in the customer journey when assessing the impact of this key channel.

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4 White Label Tools to Help Brand Your Agency’s Services



4 White Label Tools to Help Brand Your Agency's Services

As a digital marketing agency, your team renders its services to clients by using a stack of cloud-based tools. The services you offer might include building clients’ landing pages, optimizing their website’s search engine presence, capturing leads for them to nurture, running their email marketing campaigns, managing their social media, or any number of other options.

You likely already have a toolkit in place that helps you tackle all client work and communications. But are these tools helping you build your agency’s brand?

White-label tools are software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions developed and maintained by third-party vendors that you can rebrand and customize to showcase as your own. You can tailor these tools to match your agency’s (or your client’s) branding — in terms of the logo, colors, fonts, etc.

This creates a consistent, agency-branded service experience that helps boost your client’s confidence in your agency, thus improving your reputation, loyalty, perceived value and bottom line. But for each marketing activity mentioned above, there are plenty of white-label tools to choose from. Hunting and figuring out the best ones is a rather time-consuming task.

This post is here to help. Here are four great white-label tools to brand your agency’s marketing services and deliver a more compelling client experience.

1. Tilda

A beautiful, functional website is the foundation of any brand’s online presence and marketing success. Tilda is an intuitive drag-and-drop platform that provides a quick and easy way to build your clients’ websites and landing pages.

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Whether it’s for a one-time promotion or a downloadable content freebie, Tilda offers a wide range of pre-designed blocks that you can customize to suit your client’s landing page requirements in terms of design and functionality. Its visual editor allows you to add multimedia content (images, videos, etc.), use custom fonts, integrate payment systems, add animations, and a lot more.

It comes with a built-in CRM that collects statistics on leads and customers, giving visibility into your client’s website performance. On the Personal or Business Plan, you can remove the “Made on Tilda” label that is added to all pages by default. Coupled with a custom domain, this removes all mentions of Tilda, making it a feature-rich white-label website builder ideal for agencies.

The end result is a branded, responsive, fast-loading, and SEO-friendly website or page that helps you drive leads and revenue for your clients.

2. vcita

vcita is an all-in-one small business management platform that lets solo service providers and small teams centralize their routine operations: appointment scheduling, billing, payment collection, client management, and marketing.

1686037654 197 4 White Label Tools to Help Brand Your Agencys Services

With its white-label partner program built for agencies, vcita allows you to deploy an agency-branded web and mobile app that your clients can leverage to efficiently manage their schedules, cash flow, relationships, and nurture processes. You can even offer in-app education flows so your clients can easily learn how to make the most of the platform.

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In doing so, you help your small business clients render a better service experience to their customers, as they can provide self-service appointment scheduling, messaging, and payment options while automating their bookings and invoicing processes — all from the vcita app branded as your own.

This helps your agency stay top of mind and upsell additional services based on the client’s business circumstances. You can also integrate other apps into your app’s dashboard, making it a hub for clients to collaborate with you on whatever projects you like. Plus, your branded app can bring in recurring subscription revenue.

3. BrightLocal

BrightLocal is a local marketing platform that provides small businesses with the tools to manage and improve their online presences. It helps with local search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management, citation building, local link building, localized content creation, and competitive research.

1686037655 79 4 White Label Tools to Help Brand Your Agencys Services

Designed with agencies in mind, BrightLocal enables you to uncover SEO issues that need fixing and the best growth opportunities to rank higher and improve results for your clients. You can track your clients’ local rankings and citations, conduct local SEO audits, manage customer reviews, and provide clients with a live dashboard so they can monitor progress.

As a white-label SEO tool, it lets you create customizable SEO reports (online and PDF) branded with your agency’s logo and colors. You have complete control of the data clients can see. You can also set up automated, agency-branded email reports sent via your own unique white-label domain.

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4. Campaign Monitor

A popular email marketing automation platform, Campaign Monitor offers professionally-designed templates on a simple drag-and-drop interface to create engaging email campaigns such as product announcements, newsletters, and event promotions.

1686037655 685 4 White Label Tools to Help Brand Your Agencys Services

You can segment your client’s customers based on purchase data and then build hyper-targeted segments to send highly personalized emails tailored to their individual interests.

Built with marketing agencies in mind, Campaign Monitor’s private labeling lets you give the platform a complete makeover — logos, fonts, colors, backgrounds, etc. — with your agency’s branding to provide your clients with a proprietary service experience.

A single dashboard gives you a master view to easily manage all client accounts. What’s more, Campaign Monitor integrates with many popular CRM and marketing tools such as Salesforce, helping you build stronger customer relationships for your clients.

Wrapping up

To sum up, white labeling enables you to offer your clients a consistent, agency-branded experience that helps you stand out from competitors, build credibility and authority, and solidify client relations.

Give the tools discussed above a test drive to start white labeling your service offerings right away.

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5 Steps To Better Brainstorming That Works



5 Steps To Better Brainstorming That Works

Re:Think Innovation author Carla Johnson warns content marketers about brainstorming without doing anything to prime the work.

Omitting the critical preparation step, she says, prevents fresh inspiration. It can also lead to ideas that lack the proper audience focus, don’t align with your content strategy, and fall outside execution capabilities.

To help marketers avoid that trap, Carla developed an approach to generating valuable, viable innovation ideas. She calls it the Perpetual Innovation Process (PIP).

PIP shifts your team from their legacy thought patterns to surface novel ideas and manifests them into actionable marketing. It also builds a path around the pitfalls of traditional brainstorming.

Shift your #content team from legacy thought patterns to surface novel ideas and actionable marketing, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Here’s what the process involves and how you can use it to bring more exciting, innovative ideas to market.

Follow the Perpetual Innovation Process

Think of a marketing challenge for which you need an innovative solution. For example, you may struggle to think of a unique theme for a new brand podcast or create an event that advances your thought leadership.

Carla details each step in Re:Think Innovation, but with her permission, I’ve summarized the key points:

Set the stage

You need to know where you hope to arrive. So, before you start the perpetual innovation process, create an objective statement that puts the critical elements into focus.

“Setting an objective creates consensus about the outcome you’re ultimately looking to achieve. It helps you decide what problem you want to solve and how it bubbles up to your goal. It also aligns your team around the work that will need to get done,” Carla says.

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Use Carla’s simple template (below) to set that objective. Fill in the blanks to detail why you need ideas, what they’re meant to accomplish for your business, and what constraints you’ll face on the way:

  1. The intention: “We need ideas to ___.”
  2. The impact: “So we can ____.”
  3. The realistic conditions: “With these constraints ____.”

1686012378 589 5 Steps To Better Brainstorming That Works

Establish a brainstorming objective: We need ideas to ____, so we can _____, with these constraints _____ via @CarlaJohnson @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Carla says constraints are part of the equation to come up with innovative ideas rather than just creative ones. “Anybody could have an amazing idea if they didn’t have to work within constraints like budget and time,” she says.

Setting real-world boundaries pushes a more disciplined form of thinking. “It provides a more cohesive view of your brand, which can spark opportunities to tell bigger, more impactful stories than the ones you initially envisioned,” Carla says.

Seek inspiration and make purposeful connections

Next, set your objective aside (you’ll return to it later) and work through the five steps in Carla’s innovation framework. In the end, not only will you have a stream of actionable ideas, but you can pitch them to secure stakeholder buy-in:

Step 1: Observe. Pay attention to the world around you, using all your senses. For example, you might see children, a ball, a few squirrels, or some trees if you’re outside. If you close your eyes, you might hear music playing faintly somewhere, smell food cooked on a grill, or feel a warm breeze.

You don’t need to ascribe any meaning to your observations or focus on an objective. Simply be mindful of your surroundings and write each detail you notice.

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Step 2: Distill. Scrutinize those individual details and discern their meaning in relation to each other. Look for similarities and categorize them into larger groups and patterns. For example, if you group children and a ball, that might bring to mind the idea of play; the sound of music and the smell of the grill could connect to ideas of entertainment or friendship.

Step 3: Relate. See where opportunities might exist to tell a bigger story about your brand. Compare the similarities and differences in the identified patterns and look for ways they might fit into your working world.

Ask yourself: “How might we transplant the ‘essence’ of friendship into our event challenge?” Or, “How might we apply the idea of play to the theme of our podcast?”

Not all patterns will translate but remember: There are no wrong connections, just ones that may not fit your needs. Prioritize the most evident connections to your business for step four.

Step 4: Generate. Solidify those abstract ideas into real possibilities. Take the broad list of how-might-we questions from the previous step and generate as many content ideas as possible for each. Don’t set any limitations. In fact, the wilder and crazier your ideas are, the closer you get to a truly innovative – and executable – idea. Form them as what-if questions, such as “What if we tried to …” or “What if we combine X and Y into …?”

Systematically probe the viability of each one after the ideas stop flowing. Use the constraints from your objective statement to make go or no-go decisions on which to develop. Whittle the go idea list by asking practical questions. For example:

  • Does the idea align with the brand’s priorities?
  • Is it something the audience needs right now?
  • Does the team have the bandwidth and budget to see it through?
  • Will implementation require unavailable capabilities or technologies?
  • Will other functional teams need to get involved?
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Step 5: Pitch. You’ve already done the hard work by the time you reach this step. Carla refers to the pitch as “the journey of an idea, told in the form of a story.” If you can’t pitch the idea so others will understand and embrace it, you’ll never get it off the ground.

If you can’t pitch an idea so others embrace it, you’ll never get it off the ground, says @CarlaJohnson via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Tell the story of your idea, starting with observe (step one) and working the idea through generate (step four). Present that story through the lens of your audience. Think about what matters to them and how your idea will fit into their world as a cultural product.

Formulate three versions of the pitch – 30 seconds, 90 seconds, and five minutes. Practice delivering each one until you are comfortable enough to deliver them to your stakeholders.

Prepare to conquer your innovation challenges

With a systematic process for generating fresh – and properly focused – ideas, your team can rev up your creative output – and ramp up your ability to add real value to your brand’s experience.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in CCO.

Get more advice from Chief Content Officer, a publication for content leaders (monthly starting May 2023). Subscribe today to get it in your inbox.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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