How multivariate testing can change your whole business

15 01 2008
Test Tube

My boss, Frans Keylard, taught me one lesson that exponentially increased my respect for the power of multivariate testing.

While on the outside multivariate testing is about finding the best version of a page, once you know how to test, it can do a whole lot more than that. The information you glean from multivariate testing can shift the whole direction for your product, service and business in general.

Multivariate testing does help you find good headlines, the right images and other content, but it also acts as a survey about your product/service that your visitors don’t even know they are taking.

For example, my company deals with a lot of companies selling to both business and home users. Traditionally, to figure out what was more popular, they would survey people asking, “Would you buy this product for your home or for your business?” They then would count up the responses, the highest being the best one to go with.

At Widemile, I accomplish the same thing using a multivariate test. I serve some visitors business messaging and others home messaging and they respond by buying or not buying. If the page with business messaging has more conversions, then that is the way to go, otherwise go with the home messaging.

(Better yet, if they are both significant in size, find ways to segment them and do more testing.)

In both situations, you’re asking a question and getting an answer. While multivariate testing asks the question less directly, it gets the most direct answer possible, a conversion, from the most direct audience possible, live traffic. This deals with the weakness inherent in surveys; people’s answers and actions don’t always match up.

I’m not saying multivariate testing replaces surveys in all situations, but you get real valuable and actionable information from testing.

It is like killing two birds with one stone, with one small bird (your landing page) and then a huge bird (your overall marketing and business plan.)

Some marketers already do this with their PPC and banner ads, seeing what people respond to and adjusting their overall marketing strategy to what works best. Multivariate testing is an extension of this, but it requires an actual conversion by the visitor.

Start taking surveys of your audience using multivariate testing. All you have to do is key in on a few messages that you think might work, try them out. You’ll learn how to improve your web pages and your business at the same time.

Questions? Comments? This is my favorite topic, so I encourage you to leave a note for me.



3 responses

15 01 2008

What programs do you recommend for multivariate testing?

I’ve done some looking around and only found one so far (MuVar). Most of the companies that say they do it won’t reveal their prices unless you talk to them directly.


15 01 2008

In all honesty, I’ve heard of MuVar, but know very little about its capabilities since they do a lot of marketing but include very little facts about the actual product in their advertising.

Google Optimizer is a great choice. They have created a great product and allow you to get your feet wet with testing. Plus, it’s free if you have an adwords account (or at least put a few bucks into one, if you don’t have one yet.) The webinars with Tom Leung from Google have a lot of great testing tips and explain MVT with Google’s tool very well. I recommend you check them out.

16 01 2008

I’ll check it out. Thanks!


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