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Overview of multi-variate testing tools

Overview of multi-variate testing tools

Multi-variate testing (MVT) or split testing (aka A/B testing) is the most objective way of evaluating improvements to your web pages. Split-testing tools work by serving at least two variations and measuring results against an defined criteria which variation has performed best.

It may be as simple as changing the headline or something more profound such as the entire page layout, but these tests can produce amazing results. This method of decision-making helps to eliminate guesswork and gut-instinct and can help avoid arguments with your boss or creative team.

You can view some great examples of A/B tests and the effect that they had on website and online campaign performance at www.abtests.com or www.whichtestwon.com.

We’re going to take a look at a few of the best tools out there for running tests that will help you optimise your website to improve results.

Google Website Optimizer

Google provides some great free tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools, which you might be familiar with, but you may not have come across Google Website Optimizer.

Google Website Optimizer allows you to run simple A/B tests with a small number of variations or complex multi-variate tests which allow you to a range of change headlines, text and images simultaneously.

Once you have your designed and built your new page with the variations you want to test, you can get the test started quickly. So if you have good access to web design and developer resource it is a relatively effortless process. You will be required to add some javascript code to your website in order for the tracking to work.

One advantage that Google Website Optimizer has over other tools is that it can be integrated with your Google Adwords account and used from within Adwords.

Sitespect

Sitespect allows you to run A/B or multi-variate tests without any input from your design/development team. You can test different landing pages, content, layouts and functionality without having to tag pages, add javascript or re-engineer pages. It claims to be the “only testing and optimization service that is non-intrusive on your website.”

Which is great, except that it comes at significant cost, with plans starting from $3,000 per month.

If getting your developers to make changes seems to take forever and your budget isn’t too tight, then this is a really sophisticated tool that is definitely worth looking into. However, if you have good access to developer resource and price is an issue there are more cost-effective ways of running MVT tests.

Optimizely

Optimizely lets you edit your page before you even sign up to use the service, so you can see how easy it is to create variations. It can be used without a lot of technical knowledge, but there are even more features available for those who are more code-savvy with a HTML/JS editor for experts.

It automatically measures ‘engagement’ which it defines as: ‘The number of people who click a links or submit a form on an experiment page’. This means that once you’ve created your variations you’re ready to go, however if you wan to create custom goals you can do that too.

The only thing you’ll require from your developer is to add a small line of javascript code to each experiment page, which is a very simple job.

Optimizely is not free, but is unlikely to break the bank either. Their bronze entry-level package starts from $17 per month, with their more popular package coming in at $71 per month.

Visual Website Optimizer

Visual Website Optimizer works in a similar way to Optimizely. You can create variations quickly in their editor and get experiments running in no time. Once again you will need to add a line of javascript to the experiment pages.

I found the visual editor less intuitive than the Optimizely one, but you can easily trial both for free before you make a decision.

Once advantage that Visual Website Optimiser has over Optimizely is that in the reporting gives you more data and better visualizations, and even includes a heatmap report, which shows where visitors are clicking on the page.

If you’re just getting started with MVT testing you can begin with a free trial and their entry level package costs $49 per month.

Email A/B testing

As well as using split testing on your website you can also use it on Email Campaigns in two of the largest email marketing software services, Campaign monitor and Mail Chimp. If you want to know more come back soon for a full blog post.

Landing page A/B testing tools

Custom landing pages can be a great way to drive content to relevant content based on keywords that they’re searching for or campaign that visitors are searching for.

There are also a number of services that allow you to set up custom landing pages for particular products or services including Unbounce.com and Performable.com. They both include A/B testing solutions that allow you to optimise your web pages. The benefit of these services is that you can quickly build and launch targeted landing pages for specific products or services without having to rely on your developers. As well as launching the landing page you can create different variations then monitor them to see which performs best and alter your page accordingly.

Summary

We’ve only covered a few of the available tools, but if you’re not done any multi-variate or split testing before then these tools are definitely worth considering. Testing your web pages and campaigns will help you to choose variations that are proven to boost conversion rates and make you more successful online.

Tell us what experiences you have had of using split testing tools? What were your results and what tests did you run?

If you’d like to learn more about using multi-variate tools to increase conversion rates, and need expert help, read our ebook below for 8 questions you must ask to find, hire and get great results from CRO professionals.

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