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.