09 February 2024

Understanding Optimizely: Unraveling Its Core Functionalities

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Understanding Optimizely: Unraveling Its Core Functionalities
Mark LillicrappWritten ByMark Lillicrapp

As Propeller's Technical Director, Mark is responsible for developing digital policy and strategy, implementing infrastructure and leveraging technology to help Propeller and its amazing clients achieve their goals.

Optimizely is a pillar of digital experimentation and optimisation. Its inception marked a significant shift in the potential for businesses to approach testing and personalisation. In this article, Propeller dives into understanding Optimizely and how it has evolved within the dynamic digital landscape.

What is Optimizely?

Optimizely is a digital experience platform that empowers businesses to manage and optimise their digital activities and customer experience across every touchpoint. By enabling companies to test hypotheses and personalise user experiences, Optimizely facilitates data-driven decision-making aimed at improving conversion rates, user engagement, and overall digital performance. It offers an impressive feature and capability portfolio, giving organisations across all sectors the power to elevate their digital performance. 

Evolution of Optimizely in the Digital Landscape

Formerly known as Episerver, Optimizely has undergone incredible development. Initially recognised for its user-friendly interface and robust testing capabilities, it has expanded its suite of features to cover advanced personalisation and management functionalities. As businesses increasingly prioritise data-driven insights and customer-centricity, Optimizely has emerged as a pivotal tool in their digital optimisation arsenal.

Technical Architecture of Optimizely

Understanding the infrastructure of Optimizely is paramount to grasping its capabilities and scalability.

Overview of Optimizely Architecture

Optimizely’s architecture comprises frontend components, backend infrastructure, and data storage and processing mechanisms. At its core, it orchestrates seamless experimentation and personalisation workflows while ensuring reliability and performance.

Frontend components

The frontend components of Optimizely encompass user interfaces for experiment creation, configuration, and result analysis. These interfaces provide intuitive experiences for users to design experiments, define variations, and monitor performance metrics in real-time.

Backend infrastructure

Optimizely’s backend infrastructure comprises a distributed system architecture that supports high availability and scalability. It includes servers for experiment orchestration, traffic allocation, and data collection, ensuring seamless execution of experiments across diverse digital touchpoints.

Data storage and processing

Data storage and processing form the backbone of Optimizely’s analytics and reporting capabilities. Utilising robust data pipelines and storage solutions, Optimizely aggregates experiment data, performs statistical analysis, and generates actionable insights to inform optimisation strategies.

Optimizely’s Experimentation Engine

Understanding Optimizely’s experimentation engine is central to its functionality, enabling businesses to conduct numerous experiments and drive digital optimisation.

A/B testing

Optimizely is the number one company in the world for multivariate testing. Their A/B testing features help to improve website and business performance through:

  • Increase in time on site
  • Boost page views
  • Increase revenue
  • Establish better relationships

A/B testing allows businesses to compare two or more variations of a digital experience to determine which performs best against predefined metrics. By systematically iterating on design elements, content, and functionality, businesses can uncover insights that drive iterative improvements.

Optimizely’s A/B testing offers a brilliant range of experimentation capabilities. Here are just a few:

  • Create and manage audiences with standard visitor behaviours.
  • Create unlimited projects within your environment, identifying different departments within your organisation.
  • Metric and event identification tracking.
  • Enable firing of tests over multiple pages or criteria within your website.

Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing extends the capabilities of A/B testing by enabling simultaneous testing of multiple variables within a digital experience. 

By analysing the interactions between different elements, businesses gain deeper insights into user preferences and behaviour, facilitating more nuanced optimisation strategies. Examples of this include testing the text and colour of a CTA button together.

Feature flagging

Feature flagging empowers businesses to dynamically control the rollout of features and functionality based on predefined criteria. By toggling feature flags in real time, businesses mitigate risk, expedite feature deployment, and personalise user experiences at scale.

Integration with Third-party Tools

Optimizely seamlessly integrates with a myriad of third-party tools, augmenting its capabilities and extending its reach across the digital ecosystem. 

Seamless integration with analytics platforms

Integration with analytics platforms enables businesses to correlate experimentation data with broader performance metrics, facilitating holistic insights into user behaviour and engagement across digital channels. 

Compatibility with customer data platforms and customer relationship management systems

Compatibility with CDPs and CRM systems enables businesses to leverage rich customer data to inform experimentation and personalisation strategies. By harnessing comprehensive customer profiles, businesses can deliver tailored experiences that resonate with individual preferences and interests.

Core Functionalities of Optimizely

Optimizely’s core functionalities consist of experimentation, personalisation, and feature management. At its core, Optimizely empowers businesses to optimise digital experiences with precision and agility.


Experimentation lies at the heart of understanding Optimizely’s value proposition, enabling businesses to validate hypotheses, iterate on design elements, and optimise conversion funnels with empirical rigour.

Setting up experiments

Optimizely provides intuitive interfaces for designing experiments, defining test variations, and configuring experiment parameters to align with specific objectives and key performance indicators.

Running A/B tests

A/B tests allow businesses to compare two or more variations of a digital experience in a controlled environment, enabling data-driven decision-making and iterative optimisation.

Analysing experiment results

Optimizely’s analytics and reporting tools enable businesses to monitor experiment performance, analyse statistical significance, and derive actionable insights to inform optimisation strategies.


Personalisation enables businesses to deliver tailored experiences that resonate with individual preferences, behaviours, and demographics, fostering deeper engagement and loyalty.

Tailoring user experiences

Optimizely’s personalisation features empower businesses to dynamically customise content, messaging, and user interfaces based on user attributes, contextual data, and historical interactions.

Dynamic content delivery

Dynamic content delivery enables businesses to serve personalised content and recommendations in real time, maximising relevance and impact across diverse audience segments and touchpoints.

Segmentation and targeting options

Optimizely offers robust segmentation and targeting capabilities, allowing businesses to define audience segments based on demographic, behavioural, and contextual criteria, and deliver tailored experiences to each segment.

Feature Management

Feature management facilitates controlled rollout of features and functionality, empowering businesses to manage deployment risk, expedite time-to-market, and optimise user experiences iteratively.

Feature flagging for controlled rollouts

Feature flagging enables businesses to toggle features on or off dynamically, mitigating risk and ensuring smooth deployment across multiple environments and user segments.

Progressive deployment strategies

Progressive deployment strategies enable businesses to roll out features incrementally, gathering feedback and iterating based on real-world usage patterns and user feedback.

Rollout and rollback capabilities

Optimizely provides rollout and rollback features. A feature rollout enables you to safely deliver a new feature to your users by controlling who sees it, and when. Optimizely also enables you to use attributes to target your rollout to a certain audience, so that only a subset of users gets access to the feature, for example, users in the UK.

Meanwhile, rollbacks allow businesses to revert to previous configurations with ease in the event of unexpected issues or performance degradation.

Use Cases of Optimizely

Optimizely’s versatility extends across diverse industries and use cases, empowering businesses to optimise digital experiences and drive meaningful business outcomes.

eCommerce Optimisation

Optimizely enables eCommerce businesses to optimise conversion rates, enhance product discovery, and streamline checkout processes through iterative experimentation and personalisation.

Content Personalisation

Optimizely empowers content publishers and media companies to deliver relevant content to different audience segments, increasing engagement, and time spent on site through targeted recommendations and personalised experiences.

Product Development and Iteration

Optimizely facilitates rapid iteration of features and functionality, enabling product teams to gather user feedback, validate hypotheses, and prioritise development efforts based on empirical insights and user behaviour.

Best Practices for Optimizely Implementation

Effective implementation of Optimizely requires adherence to best practices aimed at maximising the value of experimentation and optimisation efforts.

Clear Goal Definition

Clear goal definition is essential for ensuring alignment between experimentation initiatives and business objectives. By defining key metrics and success criteria upfront, businesses can focus experimentation efforts on initiatives with the highest potential impact.

Rigorous Testing Protocols

Rigorous testing protocols, including randomisation, sample sizing, and statistical significance determination, are critical for ensuring the validity and reliability of experimentation results. By adhering to established best practices, businesses can make informed decisions based on actionable insights derived from experimentation data.

Continuous Optimisation

Continuous optimisation entails iterative testing and learning cycles aimed at refining digital experiences and driving ongoing improvements. By leveraging insights

In summary...

With diverse use cases spanning eCommerce optimisation, content personalisation, and product development, Optimizely emerges as a versatile solution for driving meaningful business outcomes. Propeller is a technology partner of Optimizely, contact us today for an Optimizely demo and to discuss your project in full detail.

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