What is Multivariate Testing?

Multivariate Tests Defined

Websites are limitless. Online marketers and web designers know that striking the perfect balance of design and content is important for successful campaigns and rewarding when executed well. Multivariate testing allows marketers to test unlimited combinations of elements on a web page and measure the significance of those changes on the site’s conversion rate.

Websites are built with a series of editable variables — images, headlines, buttons, colors, positions, form fields, and so on. Each of these variables has many possible values. With a multivariate test, an online marketer can test multiple values of numerous variables on a page with live traffic and draw conclusions from the results. Multivariate testing also informs marketers about the significance a certain variable has on the conversion rate. For example, whether a button is grey or blue may have no effect on conversion rates, but the button position on the page may improve conversion rate greatly.

Here’s a detailed look into multivariate tests:

To perform a multivariate test, make changes to multiple elements on the page you want to be part of the test. Once you start the test, Optimizely will come up with every possible combination of those changes and show them randomly to your site visitors. While letting the test run, you will start to see results on which combinations visitors are converting best with.

Headline and image to test.

Imagine a company, Acme Widgets, that operates an e-commerce site selling widgets. Visitors to their site land on the homepage and see three elements: a headline, image and button. Acme’s marketing director has a goal to increase purchases and thus decides that she’d like to try different combinations of images and headlines to see which one drives more clicks to the buy button. She sets up a multivariate test with a new headline and new image. Optimizely creates four possible combinations with these assets. As visitors land on the site, Optimizely buckets each visitor into a specific variation.

Combinations of headline and image.

Optimizely tracks and records the number of visitors who saw each variation, clicked the buy button, and the number of visitors who completed the purchase funnel and landed on the “Thank You” page.

The goal of multivariate testing:

Multivariate testing, much like A/B testing, delivers marketers the data they need to make smart, profitable decisions about the user experience, whether they be focused around a targeted campaign or usability overall. The critical difference between an AB test and multivariate test is the number of variables tested in each experiment. Equipped with knowledge of how multiple variables on the page interact and affect each other, marketers can position offers more effectively and increase conversions for whatever the ultimate goal may be.

Using multivariate testing as a method of website optimization is a powerful way to gather huge amounts of user data that gives detailed insights into complex customer behavior. The data uncovered in multivariate testing removes doubt and uncertainty from website optimization. Continuously testing, implementing winning variations and building off of testing insights can lead to significant conversion gains.

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