Every website in cyberspace is trying to achieve something. It could be sales, lead generation, followers, subscriptions, or anything else. All the efforts made in creating the website, designing it, and writing good content leads to this ultimate goal. Then, what impedes on a website’s ability to get its desired results? Usually, it’s a problem with keeping visitors glued long enough to take action.
Human beings are visually oriented creatures who require stimulating content. What fails to keep our attention will be ignored. We’ll simply move on to the next visually appealing website, which could be your competitor’s. In fact, an old article written by BBC in 2002 revealed that the average attention span of Internet users was nine seconds. It’s likely even shorter now thanks to the plentiful options given to today’s online traffic.
What is visually appealing content to one person may be a turn-off for another. As a webmaster, it’s virtually impossible to single-handedly determine which visuals work best and which fail miserably for all visitors. The best move is to go with the majority and choose the visual that’s liked most by incoming traffic. But, how do you gauge that? Well, that’s precisely where multivariate testing comes in as the answer to your predicament.
What is Multivariate Testing?
Your website is made up of several elements, including images, text, buttons, and videos. Each of these is a variant that can be presented in multiple ways. There can be countless different combinations in which these variants can be visually presented. Multivariate testing is an exercise used to determine the most effective combination of these elements for meeting a website’s goals.
If your website has an element A that can be varied X number of times and combined with element B for Y number of times, you would test all possible variations of these elements. In other words, the variations of A (X) multiplied by variations of B (Y) equals the total number of possible combinations. Are you confused yet? Let’s break this down further through an example. Imagine you’re picking the image and text for you site’s call-to-action button. You zero down it down to four combinations:
|Text Variations||Image Variations|
|Variation 1||Buy Now||Image A|
|Variation 2||Click to Buy||Image B|
|Variation 3||Buy Now||Image B|
|Variation 4||Click to Buy||Image A|
You’ll see here that there are just two images and two text versions. Next, you’d test all combinations of these two elements. You’ll expose part of your incoming Internet traffic to each of these and check out the best conversion rates. The combination that brings in the highest conversions will be your top choice.
Multivariate Testing vs. A/B Testing
A/B testing, also called split testing, is all about creating two distinct web pages that hold the same purpose. The designs and text are different from each other though. It’s a method used to determine which website design garners the most attention and conversions. All you do is expose both pages to a certain amount of incoming traffic and gauge the ratio of conversion. You obviously go with the design that reaps the best sales or leads. A/B is simple when compared to multivariate where you’re trying out several combinations. A/B testing doesn’t demand a huge amount of traffic, so the results are quicker too.
On the other hand, multivariate testing takes considerably longer since you’ll need to wait for a meaningful amount of web traffic to test every combination. There’s a distinct advantage here however. It gives you better insights into which elements of your website are actually driving traffic. In a way, this testing approach helps you understand consumer behavior like none other. You’ll be able to pinpoint specific elements that work wonderfully in your niche.
If you’re wondering which of these testing tools is supreme, there’s no specific answer I can provide. Both tests should be included within your web design arsenal. Although they are slightly different in their complexities, both help to maximize the efficacy of your design.
Tools for Multivariate Testing
Since it’s a lengthy process, it’s recommended that you take advantage of tools that can help you break down each element. I’ve researched a number of testing tools and selected my top picks based on:
- Goal setting
- Traffic segmentation
- Email testing
- Ease of web page creation
- Customer support
Note here that I’ve only considered fully factorial multivariate testing tools. The term full factorial refers to the fact that they provide all possible combinations of website elements. You can evaluate any of the factors in your testing.
AB Tasty: You can try this tool through a free trial and later purchase it for $34. AB Tasty ranks well on all the parameters delineated above.
Avenseo: Again, this tool offers you a free trial, but the full version must be purchased for 300 Euros. The only setback you should consider is that there’s no platform for web page creation.
Accenture: From the business and software giant Accenture, this tool brings you choice-modeling enabled for multifactorial testing. It lacks the ability to create web pages though. The cost is about $33,000 initially and can go all the way to $320,000 with ongoing costs.
Conductrics: This tool checks out good on all fronts except two. You won’t get full technical support and there’s no platform to create new pages.
Convert: Another tool that’s highly cost-effective because there’s zero initial costs and full versions cost as low as $9. Of course, the downside is that there’s no option for analyzing emails.
Optimizely: Last but certainly not least, this tool comes with a fixed monthly fee. Drawbacks can be limiting because there isn’t full technical support, email analysis, or web page creation.
Case Study on Multivariate Testing
If you still have doubts about the efficiency of testing, here’s a case study that proves it can truly make a difference in website success. In a study published in Smashing Magazine, gauged responses for his software download based on multivariate testing.
The download page contained all pertinent information like brand name, description, testimonials, and a very apparent download link. Yet, it was found that only about 40 percent of visitors actually downloaded the software. The challenge was to try and convert the remaining 60 percent or at least a major part of it. The elements chosen for multivariate testing were the “download” button located in the sidebar and the “PDF Producer” presented as a download link under the button. Different combinations were created with below variations:
For the Sidebar Button:
- Button with red color text and “download” written on it
- Button with red color text and “download for free” written on it
- Just the word “download” with the pre-existing blue color and larger font
For the PDF Producer link:
- PDF Producer link in red color
- PDF Producer link with a larger font and preexisting black color
Now, each element was clubbed in various combinations including the preexisting versions. IN all, there was a total of 4 x 3 = 12 combinations. Multivariate testing was undergone to determine which got visitors to click the download button most. The results showed that the “Download for free” text in red plus the pre-existing PDF Producer link has a conversion rate of 63.2 percent. It had an additional 23 percent increase in traffic. The second best performing variation was “Download for free” text in big font plus the PDF Producer link in red color. This combination has a 56.5 percent conversion rate, which was a 16.5 percent increase.
The data clearly demonstrates that multivariate testing is extremely useful. Conducting such an experiment provides a good idea of what people find visually appealing. Testing your website design helps select the best layout that compels users to act by downloading the software in this case.
It’s not wise to assume that your website is visually optimized merely based on your gut instincts. The only way to ascertain the most effective display is by putting it to the test. Multivariate testing gives you real-time data showing what your Internet traffic findings the most compelling. How your call-to-action is projected could make a tremendous difference in people actually engaging with or purchasing from your website. Make use of multivariate testing to make the most of your website’s design and boost your conversions.