Creating Experiments in Optimizely

April 23, 2015 Sam Brennand

Creating Experiments in Optimizely allows you to easily run A/B tests on a number of elements within your Hub.  

For help with using Optimizely, the best resource is likely the great Optimizely Knowledge Base. However, outlined below is the process you would go through to create an Experiment to test the effectiveness of a pink CTA vs. a blue CTA. 

Step 1 - Create a New Experiment

Log-in to your Optimizely account and access your dedicated Hub Project. In the top right corner of your screen, click the green New Experiment button.  Give your Experiment an easy to remember name and enter the URL of the Hub page on which you'd like to run your test. When you're done, click Create Experiment.

Note: you can run tests on any page inside your Hub, but for best results try to run experiments on item-level pages (i.e. a specific blog post or Flipbook page). 


Step 2 - Load Your Experiment Page

Once you create your new Experiment, you'll see your Hub page load up inside the Optimizely window. From here, you can add different variations to your Experiment that each include slightly tweaked page elements (i.e. a different color or a different page title). 


Step 3 - Change Activation Mode Settings

This is a crucial step to any Experiment you wish to run. To make sure your Hub plays nicely with Optimizely's magical code snippet, you must ensure your Activation Mode is set to Manual. 

In the Experiment view, click on Options in the top right corner of your screen. In the drop down menu that appears, click on Activation Mode


Step 4 - Set Activation Mode to Manual

On the popup that appears, click on Manual: activate manually through the javascript API (Advanced). Checking this box will ensure your Experiments go off without a hitch. Once you've done it, click Apply.


Step 5 - Configure Your Experiment

Now that you've properly set your Project's Activation Mode, it's time to start making your changes. Using Optimizely's intuitive editor you can start to make changes to elements on your Hub, such as tweaking colors or copy, moving or rearranging page elements, or even adding custom Javascript.

The screenshots below walk through the process of changing the color of the CTA from pink to blue. To do so, start by clicking Edit Element... and then click Edit Style.


Step 6 - Make Your Changes

On the popup that appears, you'll be able to customize Text, Color & Background, Dimensions, Border, Layouts, and more.

To change the color of the CTA, tweak the Background Color using the color picker or hex code. You'll notice your changes will appear on the Experiment screen in real time. Don't worry, you're not editing your live Hub and your Experiment won't start tweaking your Hub until you're ready to push it live.


Step 7 - Start Experiment

When you've made your desired changes, click on Start Experiment to push live. Based on your Experiment settings, Optimizely will show different variations of the page to your Hub's visitors and track the effectiveness of each.

To test out your variations, load up your Hub in Incognito mode. Each time you close and load a new Incognito tab, you'll notice your changes take effect (note: you need to close all Incognito tabs before opening a new one). Sometime's you'll see Variant A and sometimes you'll see Variant B. Magic! 


Step 8 - Set Audiences & Goals (optional)

These are optional steps for advanced Optimizely users. If you really want to dive in to the full power of Optimizely, creating Audiences and setting Experiment Goals are worthwhile investments.

Creating an Experiment Audience allows you to target your Experiment to specific visitors or any of your predefined segments. Targeting to an audience allows you to track how specific variations perform with specific buyer personas, for example.

Creating Goals allow you to measure the effectiveness of your Experiment and configure everything to track what matters most to you. In the example below, we've created a goal around Engagement. You might also create goals based on Form CTA Submissions or Link CTA click-throughs. 


Step 9 - Compare Results

You can compare the effectiveness of your Experiments, visit your Results page.  From your Experiment page, click on Options and then View Results

That's it! You've successfully set up your Optimizely Experiment and will know exactly how to design your Hub pages for optimal engagement and conversion. 

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