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Difference between A/B testing and multivariate testing

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Paras Chopra
Founder and Chairman of Wingify.

Many people seem to get confused about the terms A/B testing, split testing and multivariate testing. Essentially, A/B testing and split testing are the same concepts but multivariate testing is different. So for all practical concepts, consider A/B Testing = Split Testing. The following table will illustrate difference between A/B testing (or split testing) and Multivariate Testing:

A/B Testing Multivariate Testing
What is it? In A/B testing you split traffic amongst two or more completely different versions of a webpage (landing page, home page, etc.) The variations of your original page can differ in any manner. You can either just change the headline; or you can even change entire design, layout, offer and what not in the variations. What you change in A/B test is only limited by your creativity. For example, if you are A/B testing on your landing page you may want to create one version with 15% discount, the other with free shipping and one with the same offer but different page design. In multivariate test, you identify a few key areas/sections of a page and then create variations for those sections specifically (as opposed to creating variations of whole page in an A/B split test). So for example, in multivariate test you can choose to create different variations for 2 different sections: headline and image. A multivariate testing software will combine all these section specific variations to generate unique versions of page to be tested and then simply split traffic amongst those versions. That is, you will get these variations of the page: Headline1_Image1, Headline1_Image2, Headline2_Image1, Headline2_Image2.
How it works?
Traffic Required Relatively Less Huge
Best used for Testing radically different ideas for conversion rate optimization Optimizing and refining an existing landing page or homepage without doing significant investment in redesign
Example Case Study Signups increased by 60% after actually removing the signup form PDFProducer Multivariate Test Case Study

I hope that was a good comparison between A/B testing and multivariate testing. If you think I left any point, please let me know. I will update the comparison table accordingly.

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