A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing: Which is Best For You?

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If you have a website, you need to make sure that you market it well. However, to do that, you need to know exactly what your customers are looking for. There are a variety of ways to do this, but the two most debated options are A/B testing and multivariate testing. What are the differences? Which is better for your site?

Learning the Basics of the Two

First, you need to understand the differences between A/B testing and multivariate testing. There are several key differences, so establishing those is the first move creating the most effective landing page.

  • A/B testing – After creating two versions of a website, you split the traffic coming to your site evenly between the two.
  • Multivariate testing – You only have one version of the website. You are testing a variety of elements inside the page, to see what is most popular.

What Does a Site Need for Each Testing Type?

A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing: Which is Best For You?
Image via Flickr by chris.corwin

Each type of testing is better for different types of websites. Because of this, it is important to understand traffic needs for testing options.

  • A/B testing – Little traffic is needed for this type of testing. You can do this type of testing with any number of visitors to your site.
  • Multivariate testing – For multivariate testing, you need significantly more traffic than A/B testing. This type of testing does not work well for small, new sites.

What are Reasons You Would Need to Use Each Type of Testing?

Both types of testing are great for researching and marketing purposes. However, they each serve different functions, and should be used for different scenarios.

  • A/B testing – Do you have two completely different design ideas? If so, A/B testing is perfect. It will help you determine which design is better for your customers.
  • Multivariate testing – Are you trying to find the best way to get customers to a specific page on your site? With multivariate testing, you can change specific elements on the page, leaving your overall design the same.

What are the Biggest Benefits of A/B Testing?

A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing: Which is Best For You?
Image via Flickr by SHUT theory

This type of testing is perfect for small or new companies that don’t have a ton of incoming traffic. It’s ease of use makes it perfect for those low-maintenance sites.

  • It is quick and easy to set up.
  • Understanding the data is simple, and does not require a lot of hours analyzing.
  • You can test multiple design options at once

What are the Down Sides of A/B Testing?

A/B testing may not be as effective for large sites, unless you are considering completely changing the design of your website.

  • You cannot look at what specifically made one option better than the other.
  • It’s only effective once the site is up and running.

What are the Biggest Benefits of Multivariate Testing?

A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing: Which is Best For You?
Image via Flickr by Noah Sussman

You can get more detailed information on exactly what works and what doesn’t work on the site. This can be incredible helpful when trying to troubleshoot those pesky problems that won’t go away.

  • You can test many different elements on the site, and can test them in a variety of ways.
  • Great for large companies with a lot of traffic.

What are the Down Sides of Multivariate Testing?

There must be a great deal of traffic flowing through the site in order to ge accurate results from multivariate testing. For smaller sites, this can prove to be a significant downfall to using this form of testing. Also, the data is known to be fairly difficult to to interpret, which can be fairly confusing for those that are not so adept.

Both types of testing are great for different types of websites. In general, if your website is small, consider A/B testing. If it is large, the data from multivariate testing is going to be helpful in your marketing strategy.

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By Jon Correll

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