Improving Your Email Campaign: The Multivariate Difference

Multivariate testing, at its core, is similar to A/B testing, but differs in that it compares more variables while revealing additional data regarding how these variables actually behave with one another. Much like an A/B test, traffic responding to an email campaign is divided, or split, between variations of the campaign’s design in the multivariate factor; calculating the effectiveness each campaign combination has on the fundamental marketing goal then becomes the purpose of the multivariate test. Once email campaigns have garnered significant enough interest to implement the test, the data from each version is compared to not only determine the most successful campaign, but to also possibly divulge which elements provide the most significant impact (negative OR positive) on a intended party’s interaction.

Multivariate Testing in the Email Campaign Sector

Based on our experience, the most common use for multivariate testing in the email campaign sector has to do with analyzing elements that are up for “debate” – for example, a campaign that encompasses a sign-up form, some variant of attention-grabbing header text and perhaps a call-to-action. To implement a multivariate test on this kind of email, marketing agencies can sculpt three different headlines, two different calls-to-action and two different sign-up form lengths. From here, marketers would funnel target recipients to all possible combinations of these elements (an approach that’s also known as “full factorial testing”), a tactic that divulges why multivariate testing is commonly recommended for email campaigns scheduled for daily distribution.

The variables in each campaign are compared to each other once the test has been implemented, as well as to the variables’ performance within the context of other variations of the test. The result should be a clear picture of which email campaign is performing best and which elements are most responsible for this performance. For example: Varying the length of the included sign-up form may yield a significant impact, while the call-to-action may reveal very little effect on the performance of the campaign.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Multivariate testing remains a formidable method to help marketers alter elements of clients’ email campaigns, for the purpose of determining where they will have greater impact. The differences between A/B testing and multivariate testing should not lead marketers to think of them as opposites. Instead, they should be thought of as two powerful optimization tools that complement one another…after all multivariate and A/B testing are other ways of referring to “email split testing.”