The Difference Between an A/B Test and a Multivariate Test

the difference between ab testing and multivariate testing

Lately I’ve been writing a lot of posts answering questions that we get asked all the time. Well, here is another one:
What is the difference between an AB Test and a Multivariate Test?

Here is the best way to think about it. If you have a webpage and you are experimenting by replacing that page with a different page – then you are performing an A/B test. In the case of multivariate testing you are experimenting by replacing a number of elements within a page all at the same time. It’s like conducting numerous A/B tests on one page at the same time.

So now that you know the difference between an A/B test and a Multivariate test let me tell you about the pros and cons of each.

A/B Testing Pros
– You can vary whichever areas of the page you want
– You can test a more dramatic design or layout
– There are some awesome ways to evaluate each variation (e.g. click heatmap, phone call tracking, analytics integration, etc.)
– Experiments generally take less time than with MVT
– Many times the results are greater

A/B Testing Cons
– You may need multiple test rounds and these take planning
– Setup often must be done manually

Multivariate Pros
– Get more granular to better understand how small page elements effect conversion rate
– Figure out how combinations of small page elements have a compounding effect on one another
– See incremental conversion rate improvements – more conservative approach

Multi-Variate Cons
– You need a lot more variable combinations to be run than with an A/B test
– Generally only works well for large sites with a lot of traffic
– Dramatic design or layout changes are not possible
– Must make sure that all the variations that are being swapped out make sense together, which can hinder creativity

I hope this short post helped clear things up for you around the difference between an AB test and a Multivariate test.

by Josh Becerra

President at Augurian
Josh Becerra
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