When driving and maximizing incremental revenue to their web and mobile sites, marketers need to rely on proven, industry-validated solutions. Trusting your digital marketing optimization and experience testing to overly simplistic software could be a costly mistake, as many of these basic tools lack the requisite functionality, scalability, and support.

When analyzing and compiling the side-by-side product comparisons for The Forrester Wave™: Online Testing Platforms, Q1 2013 , Forrester Research considered many factors including technology maturity as well as breadth and depth of functionality. The report is one of the most comprehensive evaluations of the testing and optimization space available and examines solutions on 53 criteria. It provides invaluable insight for any digital marketer looking to achieve better returns on their initiatives.

If you’re shopping for an online testing solution, don’t believe the hype out there. From the start, it’s important to ask the right questions, such as:

Is the product scalable, and can you efficiently build upon your initial results and define the most effective strategy?

Adobe Target within Adobe Marketing Cloud serves over 1.2 billion test page optimization requests each day—hundreds of times more than other offerings. Keep an eye on the future, and make sure the tool you choose will be able to scale toward a sophisticated optimization system that can target content to key audience segments automatically.

Does the tool give you the flexibility of deployment and required marketer control and ownership to run an effective program?

Optimization tools should not be “one size fits all.” A single-line-of-code solution can sometimes not be enough, in terms of allowing multiple concurrent tests on a webpage without requiring developer resources. Regional mboxes can also be valuable tools in designating locations where non-technical marketers can build and deploy quick tests without developer involvement, both onsite as well as offsite locations such as emails, social and mobile apps, and display ads. Both approaches are offered in Adobe Target, or can be utilized together.

Does the product you’re considering offer true automated targeting and automated behavioral targeting to deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time?

You may hear about automated offerings, when what’s being delivered is really a limited rules-based targeting system that requires manual (as well as developer) intervention. Know the difference—and what you may be sacrificing—before you adopt one solution over another.

What kind of support can you expect?

No vendor is going to admit their support isn’t enterprise class, but Forrester makes a point in its research to discuss those that still need to “establish enterprise credibility” and expand their professional services and support capabilities.

Will you benefit from integration with other digital marketing tools?

Siloed testing tools can only take your optimization efforts so far. The Adobe Marketing Cloud provides an integrated, collaborative web marketing ecosystem with powerful native integrations in the once siloed areas of social, web experience management, analytics, personalization, and advertising. Partner ecosystems are equally valuable; one element the Forrester report looked at was partner ecosystems, and it recognized providers with what the firm labeled “outstanding partner ecosystems.”

A key takeaway from the Forrester report is that online testing is poised for a major expansion. As more and more companies adopt experience testing and targeting as an essential part of their ecommerce strategy, marketers need to choose their tools carefully. So do your due diligence, and buyer beware!

For us, we were honored to have received the highest overall score in the “Current Offering” category within the Forrester Wave. Adobe Target also earned top scores in a/b testing, campaign management, reporting and analysis, integration, service and support, and corporate strategy.

We’re happy that Forrester worked to separate fact from fiction and address some of the colorful claims in the online testing market. The results of the report help validate what customers should know—and shy away from—when looking for critical digital testing and targeting tools on which to build their business.