The Null Terminator

Ethan Ram’s geeky blog on the seam of technology and product management.

Marketing tools review: Google Web optimizer, Visual Web optimizer and Unbounce

A Review of Services I’ve used in GameGround – Part I – A/B/Split testing and landing pages services is a service I’ve built during 2010 and was alive till mid-2011. I’ve managed this startup dev teams, developing a consumer facing social meta-game. This is a short review of several 3rd pty products and services I’ve used and my take on them. The basic approach I’m taking here is the applicability of the product to a lean startup that wants to move fast. I started writing it and quickly found out that it’s actually too long for one post. So I’m going to make it a series of post covering Marketing tools, Community Mgmt. tools, OPS tools and of course, development infrastructure.

Google Website Optimizer

GWO this is a simple and free Google service that assists in A/B/Split testing. The JavaScript API makes the decision on which of the optional views to show and you get clear stats view on which of your options is better. I think this product is too simple and not very helpful as it misses the very basic idea of A/B testing: the whole point of A/B testing is that the designer/product mgmt. can run different views and phrasing to find what works. The problem is that for very small variations of pages you need to push code to your production servers and the marketing team cannot work without a developer that assists them in the process. This leads to too many people being involved and process being too slow. Another problem is that some of the stats are updated on a daily basis. In many cases you’d like to make a decision faster and move to the next test – why wait a day?

Visual Web Optimizer

VWO after giving up with GWO we moved to VWO. This new and relatively cheap SAAS-based product is great! After a simple JavaScript integration one can create page variations using a WYSIWYG HTML editor in VWO’s site. Set test goals, alter text, images and CSS and even replace whole pages in runtime. This means that the marketing team can create most A/B/Split variations by themselves and run the testing without a developer nearby (well… They will ask some Qs…). The testing stats results are displayed instantly in a very clear way (see images) and you can even tell it to automatically stop the testing and always show the winning variant. As a bonus you get heat-map views of your tested pages. The couple of issues we’ve had with them were (a) their inability to run tests on our logged-in pages. E.g. pass the login barrier with their WYSIWYG editor which. This required some extra work in the service integration phase. (b) at one point the testing stopped and we found out that a new version of their JS integration library was published without informing us (the customers). Anyways, I can tell that their support team was fast and gave us a quick remedy. VWO’s slogan is “World’s easiest A/B testing tool” and I think they are doing a wonderful job at it.


Unbounce is a landing pages SAAS. “… a self-serve hosted service that provides marketers doing paid search, banner ads, email or social media marketing, the easiest way to create, publish & test promotion specific landing pages without the need for IT or developers.” Yes! Landing pages for specific audiences and campaigns is an excellent way to drive traffic to your site. And Unbounce’s platform with its WYSIWYG HTML editor simplify the process even further allowing the marketing to create those pages and amange them as part of campaigns they are having without needing development involvement. They even give you multi-pages per landing page (e.g. a small website), a lead generation module, A/B/Split testing tools and other goodies. So far so good.

BUT! There’s a major but here: the SEO marks for those pages on Unbounce are extremely low. Search engines don’t like websites and landing pages that has only static content. They also don’t like it that the landing page in not under your own domain, but rather on Unbounce’s, and so they incorrectly see the landing page as a spam blog. This (among others, I’m sure) led us to get very few displays of our ads on Google Adwords and very few clicks coming from this major traffic source.

We ended up using some other desktop HTML editor to create a single-page site for each landing page. It was then uploaded to our live production servers, under the ‘/play’ folder, using a FTP we opened for it. This way the marketing team could create their landing pages according to the running campaigns and upload them to production with little or no dev/OPS involved. This is lean-thinking in its best – have as little ppl involved in each task. Ppl should mostly be able to complete their tasks end-to-end without needing to interface with others.


One response to “Marketing tools review: Google Web optimizer, Visual Web optimizer and Unbounce

  1. Pingback: A Review of Services I’ve used in GameGround – Part II « The Null Terminator

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