A/B Testing vs Multivariate Testing: When to Use Which Testing Method

Lisa Hutt - November 26, 2014

The terms “A/B testing” and “multivariate testing” are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact different forms of testing and should be used for different purposes.

When you conduct A/B testing, you’re testing two (or more) different pages. When you conduct multivariate testing, you’re testing different elements on a single page. In both cases, you’re testing to determine the best possible way to design your page and communicate your message in order to entice users to perform the desired action.

A/B Testing – Testing Different Pages

A/B testing is the first step in the page testing process – when you’re testing entirely different pages in order to see which pages lead to the desired action. You can test as many pages as you like, so long as you have enough traffic to get a statistically significant result.

Once you’ve finished A/B testing, you can continue to refine your landing page with multivariate testing.

Multivariate Test – Testing Different Variables

Multivariate testing should be used to fine-tune your landing page. Usually, it’ll be performed after you’ve conducted A/B testing on a variety of landing pages.

During multivariate testing, you’re testing different combinations of elements on a page in order to see which combinations of elements works best for your purpose.

For example, one user might see:

Image A
Headline A
Form length A

While another one might see:

Image A
Headline B
Form length B

Depending on the number of variations you’re testing, this could take significant time. This is why it’s important that your test pages get a lot of traffic and conversions. Otherwise, there will not be enough data to determine statistical significance.

Testing is Time Consuming, But Vital

As you might imagine, all of this testing takes significant time and creativity. But the data you get from testing can pay off when it comes to optimizing your pages for conversions.

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