Making the Most of Optimizely (Episerver): Visitor Groups and Search & Navigation

By The C2 Group | Originally published at

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to experiment and to do it quickly. No matter what industry you’re in, digital optimization is key to increasing online conversions.

Optimization is all about iteratively testing, targeting, and recommending content or products to create the ultimate digital experience for customers. Thankfully, for fellow Optimizely (formerly Episerver) customers, there are several features and functionality that come with most of its products to help deliver the best experience possible, but they’re not always taken advantage of.

With a deep focus in Optimizely solutions, we wanted to share how we’ve seen clients make the most out of Visitor Groups (segmented personalization) and Search & Navigation.

OOTB Visitor Groups

Out-of-the-box, Visitor Groups lets you target website content and offers to defined audiences. Visitor groups are customized, hand-picked segments that you create based on a set of personalization criteria.

Basic criteria include geographic location, number of visits, search phrases, and submitted forms and form values. For Commerce users, you can personalize content and discount offers based on viewed or purchased products and order information. You can also develop your own customized criteria for further personalization!

Visitor groups do not require an additional license fee and are included for CMS, Commerce, and DXP customers. You can learn more about using Visitor Groups here.

Optimizely’s Free Visitor Group Criteria Pack

This bonus criteria pack is an add-on and requires a separate installation, but no additional license cost, to use. It offers additional criteria without the need for customization to extend the impact of Visitor Groups for both CMS and Commerce products.

Additional criteria to personalize web content include IP range, role (the accessed role when they visit a site), download files, preferred language setting, timely events, search queries, among others. You can learn more about installing and using the Visitor Group Criteria Pack here.

See how we helped a major grain distributor, Anderson’s Grain Group, utilize the Visitor Group Criteria Pack to personalize content based on a user’s weather in a specific area code or other criteria, including previous site engagement.

Anderson’s Grain Group uses Visitor Groups to personalize the homepage experience for each user segment.

Optimizely’s Self-Optimizing Block

Create two to four variations of similar content and let Optimizely do the rest!

A/B test, measure, and automatically select the “winning” content to present to visitors the most and ultimately generate the best conversion rate. View statistics about the conversion probability, the likelihood a variant is shown to a visitor, and the total amount of times each variation has been shown.

The Self-Optimizing Block works with Optimizely CMS and Commerce versions 8 and up and does not require an additional license fee. Once the add-on is installed, you will see the self-optimizing block type available when you create new Blocks. You can learn more about the Self-Optimizing Block here.

We’ve seen clients use the Self-Optimizing Block primarily on the homepage, utilizing carousels to A/B test different variations of content, and eventually just show the most popular variation.

Search & Navigation (formerly Episerver Find)

Search is critical for finding and sifting through (large volumes of) information — fast! Most site visitors abandon a website if they cannot quickly find what they are looking for.

Optimizely’s Search & Navigation lets you build advanced personalization filtering and faceted navigation based on search statistics and visitor behavior. Search & Navigation can be configured to view and analyze search statistics, promote selected content (best bets), manage search phrases without hits, autocomplete and display synonyms for search results, and more.

Search & Navigation comes with all cloud-based Optimizely products (Content, Commerce, DXP), is available for on-premise customers to purchase. You can learn more about Optimizely Search & Navigation here.

See how premier provider of whiteboard, bulletin, and chalkboard products, Quartet, uses best bets to promote its best rated products first in search results:

Quartet, an ACCO Brand, uses Search & Navigation ‘Best Bets’ to push and promote it’s top reviewed products based on the visitor’s search query.

Optimizely Search & Navigation Connections Edition

For an additional fee, Search & Navigation Connections Edition lets you add connectors, which index external site content that is related to, but not actually part of, your website. This can be useful for organizations with a multi-brand presence and want to index brand sites to suggest content and products conveniently to visitors.

We worked with global telecommunications leader, CommScope, to configure Site & Navigation to index, search, and surface relevant products and content across the three brands to deliver a unified search experience and allow users to easily locate and learn about their sought-out solution or application.

Searching for brands ARRIS and Ruckus on the CommScope site indexes and surfaces content from their individual sites.

These are just some ways Optimizely customers can take advantage of some of the commonly missed out features and functionality of Visitor Groups and Search & Navigation. If you have questions about Optimizely and could use help configuring any of these features, get in touch with our Optimizely experts here. Happy optimizing!




The C2 Group specializes in designing, developing, and supporting custom enterprise-level CMS and ecommerce solutions.

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The C2 Group

The C2 Group

The C2 Group specializes in designing, developing, and supporting custom enterprise-level CMS and ecommerce solutions.

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