Search
Search

# A/B Testing Vs. Multivariate Testing: Which One Is Better

| |

### Khalid Saleh

Khalid Saleh is CEO and co-founder of Invesp. He is the co-author of Amazon.com bestselling book: "Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of...

### Join 25,000+ Marketing  Professionals!

Guides / AB Testing Guide / AB Vs. Multivariate Testing

A/B testing vs. multivariate testing? This question plagues every CRO professional every once in a while.

When optimizing your digital assets, knowing whether to use A/B or multivariate testing is critical.

Are you looking to quickly determine the superior version of a webpage for low-traffic sites?A/B testing is your go-to.

Or do you aim to dissect complex interactions between various elements on a high-traffic page? Then, A/B and multivariate testing will provide your in-depth analysis.

This guide breaks down each method and offers strategic insights into deploying them for maximum conversion optimization.

TL; DR? Here are some quick takeaways:

• A/B vs. Multivariate: A Quick Comparison: A/B testing is ideal for testing two versions of a single variable and requires less traffic. Conversely, multivariate testing involves testing multiple variables and their interactions but needs a higher traffic volume to provide significant results.

• Formulating a SMART Hypothesis: Both methods require a clear, evidence-based hypothesis following the SMART framework to predict the outcome and define the changes, expected impact, and metrics for measurement.

• Analyzing Test Results for Actionable Insights: Analyzing results involves tools like heat maps and session recordings. A/B testing emphasizes statistical significance, while multivariate testing focuses on element interactions.

## Decoding A/B and Multivariate Testing: The Essentials

A/B Testing: also known as split testing, compares two versions of a digital element to determine which performs better with the target audience.

It effectively optimizes various marketing efforts, including emails, newsletters, ads, and website elements. A/B testing is particularly useful when you need quick feedback on two distinct designs or for websites with lower traffic.

Key aspects of A/B testing:

• Controlled Comparison: Craft two different versions and evaluate them side by side while keeping all other variables constant.
• Sample Size: Utilizing an adequate sample size to ensure reliable and accurate findings.
• Qualitative Evaluation: Use tools like heat maps and session recordings to gain insights into user interactions with different variations.

### Multivariate Testing:

Multivariate testing takes it up a notch by evaluating multiple page elements simultaneously to uncover the most effective combination that maximizes conversion rates.

By using multivariate testing, you can gain valuable insights into how different elements or variables impact user experience and optimize your website or product accordingly.

Key aspects of multivariate testing:

• Multiple Element Testing: Running tests to evaluate different combinations of elements.
• Interaction Analysis: Understanding how variables interact with each other.
• Comprehensive View: Providing insights into visitor behavior and preference patterns.
• High Traffic Requirement: Demanding substantial web traffic due to increased variations.
• Potential Bias: Focusing excessively on design-related problems and underestimating UI/UX elements’ impact.

Unlike A/B testing, which compares two variations, MVT changes more than one variable to test all resulting combinations simultaneously. It provides a comprehensive view of visitor behavior and preference patterns, making it ideal for testing different combinations of elements or variables.

## A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing: Choosing the Right Method

Deciding between multivariate and A/B testing depends on the complexity of the tested elements and the ease of implementation.

A/B testing is more straightforward and suitable for quick comparisons, while multivariate testing offers more comprehensive insights but requires more traffic and careful consideration of potential biases.

## Designing Your Experiment: A/B vs. Multivariate

Choosing between A/B and multivariate testing depends on traffic, complexity, and goals.

A/B testing is ideal for limited traffic due to its simplicity and clear outcomes. Multivariate testing offers detailed insights but requires more effort and time.

However, before you set up either of the testing types, you’ll have to form a hypothesis. In the case of multivariate testing, you’ll also need to identify a number of variables you intend to test.

### Crafting a Hypothesis for Effective Testing

Prior to commencing your A/B or multivariate testing, it’s imperative to construct a hypothesis. This conjecture about the potential influence of alterations on user behavior is crucial for executing substantive tests.

An articulate hypothesis will include:

• The specific modification under examination
• The anticipated effect of this modification
• The measurement that will be employed to evaluate said effect
• It must be evidence-based and provide justification.

A compelling hypothesis also embraces the SMART criteria: Specificity, Measurability, Actionability, Relevance, and Testability.

It integrates quantitative data and qualitative insights to guarantee that the supposition is grounded in reality, predicated upon hard facts, and pertinent to the variables being examined.

A/B testing vs. Multivariate testing hypothesis example:

For example, if you’re running an A/B test, your hypothesis could be:

Changing the CTA button of the existing landing page from blue to orange will increase the click-through rate by 10% within one month, based on previous test results and user feedback favoring brighter colors.

If you’re running a multivariate test, your hypothesis could be:

Testing different combinations of headline, hero image, and CTA button style on the homepage will result in a winning combination that increases the conversion rate by 15% within two weeks, supported by prior test results and user preferences.

### Identifying Variables for Your Test

Selecting the correct multiple variables to assess in a multivariate experiment is crucial. Each variable should have solid backing based on business objectives and expected influence on outcomes. When testing involving multiple variables, it’s essential to rigorously evaluate their possible effect and likelihood of affecting targeted results.

Variation ideas for inclusion in multivariate testing ought to stem from an analysis grounded in data, which bolsters their potential ability to positively affect conversion rates. Adopting this strategy ensures that the selected variables are significant and poised to yield insightful findings.

### Setting Up A/B Tests

To implement an A/B testing protocol, one must:

• Formulate a Hypothesis: Clearly define the problem you want to address and create a testable hypothesis (we’ve already done it in the above section).

• Identify the Variable: Select the single element you want to test. This could be a headline, button color, image placement, or any other modifiable aspect.

• Create Variations: Develop two versions of the element: the control (original) and the variant (modified). Ensure the change is significant enough to measure a potential impact.

• Random Assignment: Distribute your sample randomly into two segments to assess the performance of the control version relative to that of its counterpart. By doing so, you minimize any distortion in outcomes due to external influences.

• Determine Sample Size: Calculate the required sample size to achieve statistical significance. This depends on factors like desired confidence level, expected effect size, and existing conversion rate.

• Run the Test: Finally, implement the test and allow it to run for a predetermined duration or until the desired sample size is reached.

• Analyze Results: Collect and analyze data on relevant metrics (click-through rates, conversions, etc.). Use statistical analysis to determine if the observed differences are significant.

For a more detailed overview of how to run and set up A/B tests, check out our ultimate guide to A/B testing

### Setting up Multivariate Tests

To set up multivariate tests:

• Identify Multiple Variables: Select multiple elements you want to test simultaneously. This could involve testing variations of headlines, images, button colors, and other factors.

• Create Combinations: Generate all possible combinations of the selected elements. For example, if you’re testing two headlines and two button colors, you’ll have four combinations to test.

After this, all the steps remain the same as in the A/B test implementation, including randomly assigning audience to different combinations, determining sample size, and then finally running the test.

Pro Tip: Implement trigger settings to specify when variations appear to users, and use fractional factorial testing to manage traffic distribution among variations. During the multivariate test, systematically evaluate the impact of variations and consider eliminating low-performing ones after reaching the minimum sample size.

## Analyzing Test Outcomes for Data-Driven Decisions

Finally, it’s time to analyze your results.

For a thorough assessment of user interactions post-A/B and multivariate testing sessions:

• Heatmaps
• Click maps
• Session recordings
• Form Analytics

They serve as indispensable tools by allowing you to observe real-time engagement metrics and dissect and comprehend findings after reaching statistical significance in an A/B test.

### Making Sense of Multivariate Test Data

Interpreting multivariate test data calls for a distinct methodology. In multivariate testing, it is essential to evaluate the collective impact of various landing page elements on user behavior and conversion rates rather than examining aspects in isolation.

This testing method provides comprehensive insights into how different elements interact, allowing teams to discover effects between variables that could lead to further optimization.

When assessing multivariate test data, it’s necessary to:

• Identify the combinations of page elements that lead to the highest conversions
• Recognize elements that contribute least to the site’s conversions
• Discover the best possible combinations of tested page elements
• Increase conversions
• Identify the right combination of components that produces the highest conversion rate.

This process helps optimize your website’s performance and improve your conversion rate through conversion rate optimization.

## Common Pitfalls in A/B and Multivariate Testing

Both testing methods offer valuable insights, but they also share some pitfalls to avoid.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when setting up your A/B or multivariate tests:

• Insufficient Traffic: Not gathering enough traffic can lead to statistically insignificant results and unreliable conclusions.
• Ignoring External Factors: Overlooking seasonal trends, market shifts, or other external influences can skew results and lead to inaccurate interpretations.
• Technical Issues: Testing tools can sometimes impact website speed, affecting user behavior and compromising test results. Ensure your tools don’t interfere with the natural user experience.

## A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing: Final Verdict

A/B and multivariate testing are potent methods that can transform how you approach digital marketing. By comparing different variations, whether it’s two in A/B testing or multiple in multivariate testing, you can gain valuable insights into what resonates with your audience.

The key is to embrace a culture of experimentation, value data over opinions, and constantly learn from your tests. This approach can optimize your strategy, boost your results, and ultimately drive your business forward.

### What is the main difference between A/B and multivariate testing?

Multivariate testing distinguishes itself from A/B testing by evaluating various elements at the same time in order to determine which combination yields the most favorable results, as opposed to A/B testing which only contrasts two variations.

Recognizing this distinction will assist you in determining the appropriate method for your particular experimentation requirements.

### When should I use A/B testing over multivariate testing?

When swift outcomes are needed from evaluating two distinct designs, or when your website experiences low traffic volumes, A/B testing is the method to employ.

On the other hand, if your intention is to examine several variations at once, multivariate testing could be a better fit for such purposes.

### What factors should I consider when setting up an A/B test?

When setting up an A/B test, it’s crucial to consider the sample size for reliable results and precision, control the testing environment, and use tools for qualitative insights like session recordings. These factors will ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of your test.

### How can I effectively analyze multivariate test data?

To thoroughly assess data from multivariate tests, consider how different combinations of page elements together influence user behavior and ultimately conversion rates. Determine which specific sets of page elements result in the most significant increase in conversions, while also noting which individual components contribute the least to overall site conversions.

### What common mistakes should I avoid when conducting A/B and multivariate tests?

Ensure that you allow sufficient traffic to accumulate in order to reach statistical significance. It’s important to factor in external variables such as seasonal variations or shifts in the marketplace, and also be mindful of technical elements like how testing instruments might affect website performance. Overlooking these considerations may result in deceptive test outcomes and false interpretations, which could squander both time and investment.

### Khalid Saleh

Khalid Saleh is CEO and co-founder of Invesp. He is the co-author of Amazon.com bestselling book: "Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of...