What Is Multivariate Testing and Is It Different From A/B Testing?

Posted on October 18, 2023 | Updated on October 18, 2023

In the marketing world, there are many things a marketer can test against each other. Whether it is the conversion rate of two pages with the same product or testing various webpage elements simultaneously, it is all possible with the tools available today. Two of the most popular forms of testing are called multivariate and A/B testing.

However, many people often wonder whether these differ from each other and if it matters which they choose. While these testing methods can seem similar, there are a few key differences between them. Here is everything to know about multivariate testing (MVT) and how it compares to A/B testing.

What Is Multivariate Testing?

Multivariate testing is where different variables are tested together to determine which performs the best or aligns the most accurately with the marketing objective. In the case of a web page, there are various components such as images, videos, Call To Action(CTA), headlines, button color and many more. When this method is applied, specific webpage elements are tested against each other to determine the better choice.

For example, a website owner likes two different CTA lines and has narrowed it down to three button colors. The marketer would then create six different elements with the CTA line and the button color. All the components would then be tested simultaneously to determine which of these elements performs the best.

This is called a multivariate test. To calculate how many tests are needed, the number of variants of the first component is multiplied with the number of variants from the second component. In other words, the two CTA lines are multiplied with the number of button colors.

This technique is not used to come up with different ideas but to test which element helps to convert a customer the best. For multivariate testing to be successful, a large quantity of website visitors is required.

Benefits of Multivariate Testing

The main benefit of multivariate testing is the results are more accurate and valuable. This is because this form of testing utilizes enormous quantities of website traffic. This allows the marketer to determine which variable changes made the most significant impact on the customer.

Another advantage is when this method is carried out correctly, there is no need to run many variants of A/B testing. However, in some cases, it might prove valuable to the marketer to run this test alongside A/B testing to get the best results.

Disadvantages of Multivariate Testing

The biggest disadvantage to multivariate testing is the number of website visitors required. For this reason, this form of testing is usually not suited for smaller type businesses. If a site receives only minimal traffic, the results will be insignificant and might prove more advantageous to run another form of testing instead.

In some cases, not even larger businesses can use this approach, even if many people are coming to their sites. It depends on how many tests are needed. The more tests required, the more website traffic will need to be split.

Another disadvantage of this technique is that it can take longer compared to other testing methods. Sometimes it might be better for a company to run A/B tests because the added time is not worth it.

When To Use Multivariate Testing?

This method is an excellent choice if you want to optimize multiple elements of a webpage or app and are unsure which aspects will impact the customer the most. When implemented correctly, this technique can greatly increase a site’s conversion or sign-up rates.

As mentioned, multivariate testing is only useful if many people visit the website. One great way to determine if this method suits your business is to divide the total traffic by the number of tests required. Google Analytics is a tool that can help find the number of website visitors.

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is where two versions of a website page are tested against each other. For example, two variants of a web page are created and the traffic is split between them to see which page performs better. In this example, both of them are sign-up pages, but they have different elements on them.

This method, sometimes called split testing, allows the marketer to see which page had the most significant impact on the customer and resulted in a conversion. This is different from MVT, where only webpage elements are observed. With traditional split testing, only two variables — webpages — are used and with MVT, it is multiple elements.

This form of testing is also prevalent in email marketing and works the same way, but instead of web pages, emails are used. Two variants of the same message are sent to the client to see which one converts better.

Benefits of A/B Testing

Split testing is usually much faster to run than MVT and does not require significant traffic. This makes it suitable for larger and smaller companies. Many businesses starting out choose to utilize this method.

A/B testing is also a lot less complex when compared to multivariate testing. This technique is very popular and is a valuable tool for many organizations. Another advantage split testing has over MTV is the results are easier to track.

Disadvantages of A/B Testing

A/B testing is an excellent way for businesses to test out different ideas, but it does have some drawbacks. While this testing can use more variables on a page, it will usually increase the time it takes to run the test.

It is best suited for only testing two things together or two variables from a page against each other, not multiple. Also, unlike multivariate testing, this method won’t reveal any details of how customers reacted to the variables on the page.

When To Use A/B Testing?

Split testing is ideal for testing two versions of a page against each other. It can increase conversions, improve the user experience, raise the total of sign-ups to a newsletter and aid with testing different ideas.

Split testing is also the best choice if the website receives less traffic. Compared to multivariate testing, it is a great way to obtain results quickly and easily.

The Best One For Your Business

While both testing methods are similar in design, they have differences that make them more useful for specific scenarios. Often it is better to run multiple A/B tests or use it alongside multivariate testing. Both of these techniques are powerful tools that can help an organization make meaningful decisions to lift them to new heights.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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