Ian Lurie // Mar 16 2008
Friday, someone told me it’s hard to convince folks they need to use multivariate testing in their internet marketing campaigns.
Once my mouth closed, I decided to write this post.
If you already know, you can skip down to why you need it, below.
I can’t define it without twisting my own brain in a knot, so I’m going to use an example, instead.
Say I have a landing page. On this page, I want to test the headline, the body copy, and maybe how I link to the product sample:
You can see the actual page here. You can even hire us if you want. Pretty please?
That’s three variables. I want to find the combination that gets me the most sales. So, I’m testing two other headlines, two other body copy versions, and one other version of the sample pages:
I can split my visitors randomly into 3 groups and send them to each page, then pick the winner.
Problem is, that’s not a complete test. I don’t just want to test these three pages.
I want to test every possible combination of the variables on these three pages, then pick the best combination of variables, even if it’s not represented by one of my examples.
That’s where multivariate testing comes in. With one of the many multivariate testing tools out there, I can create a page template, then insert each of these variables, providing every possible combination.
More important, a well-written testing algorithm can tell me which ‘recipe’ will work best, even if that combination of variables never appeared on one page in the test.
So, multivariate testing lets me compare more than variables. It lets me compare combinations of variables, quickly and efficiently, and then use some mathematical wizardry to find the best possible page configuration.
Internet marketing and multivariate testing were made for each other. You can’t use this method with magazines, television or other traditional media (not without going broke and insane, anyway). But online, you can display a different page layout, different copy, etc. to every visitor if you want to. It’s the perfect environment for sophisticated testing.
You need multivariate testing! You need it because:
Multivariate testing adds a little science to the art of internet marketing. It also brings incremental improvements to your campaigns that add up fast.
You need it as part of your strategy.
Other posts about testing:
Double e-mail open rates with this simple test
Internet marketing case study: Testing Works
10 Great internet marketing excuses, and what they mean
If you want to learn a bit more, check out 3 Steps to Make a Good Multivariate Test. Full disclosure: We’re a Widemile Partner, and I think they’re great.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More