What is Multivariate Testing?
Multivariate testing is the process of simultaneously testing different variations of a Web page, campaign, or just about any type of Web content, to determine the best performing elements and combinations. In a multivariate test environment, different variations of a Web page will alternately be displayed, and success is measured by which combination better meets the defined website/Web page objectives, i.e. – number of visits or hits, registrations, conversions, etc.
Multivariate Testing Differs from A/B Testing
The difference between multivariate testing and A/B testing is that A/B testing changes only one element at a time and compares it to an “old” version. Multivariate testing involves testing more than one page element/variable at a time to find the best performing elements and combinations to achieve the desired goal.
What Elements Can You Test?
Text, Titles, Images/Media, Layouts, Forms, Colors, Pricing/Bundling/Offers, Calls to Action, Buttons, PPC Ad Titles…
Why Multivariate Testing?
Multivariate testing is a fool-proof, and efficient way to determine which content combination is most successful. Because multivariate testing is data-driven, marketing departments no longer have to speculate on what works best. They can rely instead on data generated by real-life visitors to determine the design and execution necessary for the desired results – therefore giving marketers more agility.
This type of testing has been done for decades in the print catalog industry – where variations of catalogs are sent to a mailing list and orders placed include a reference to the catalog it came from. Reports are generated, showing which catalog produces the most revenue.
Like the catalog recipients, website visitors within multivariate testing for the Web, inadvertently become voters and determine which campaign works better. If there are many variations of a product page, the one that is responded to/acted on the most is the one that wins out and is used moving forward until another test is conducted to try out new data for further improvements.
How to Get Started with Multivariate Testing
Like any good marketing endeavor, you have to start with a strategic plan and work the plan. Once that is established, you’ll most likely need to incorporate the multivariate testing platform into your Web content management system (CMS). Systems like Adobe Test & Target (previously Omniture) and Google Website Optimizer require the inclusion of custom tags into the templates of the CMS; so some technical set-up work is involved.
There are some commercially available multivariate testing solutions that make use of a Web proxy and don’t require any changes to the CMS, such as Sitespect.com and Monetate.com. If you’re lucky enough to have chosen Ektron as your content management system you enjoy multivariate testing as a native function of the CMS.
It is important to test early and test often. It’s like getting in shape. It happens over time rather than all at once, but the results are irrefutable.