For years, online business owners have understood the importance of A/B tests or split tests. This allows a business to use two different versions of a Web page. Conversion and response is then tested to see which of the two is better for sales. Multivariate testing is similar, but on a much larger scale. Instead of two versions, there can be limitless ones. While the testing can be expensive, especially for partial tests, this can really help a business pull in a much higher conversion percentage.


Sometimes sales figures are low because products are bad, and sometimes they are low due to poor content or a bad design. While you may be able to instantly point out issues with your website, knowing exactly what your buyers are thinking can be very difficult.

When you use multivariate testing, you are able to find out exactly what works and what doesn’t. For example, you can list four different variables on your page: the pictures, the content, the color scheme and the product. When the testing occurs, you can use different versions of the content, the color scheme and so on.

The test will go through each variation of the page element, and it will record information such as conversion, the amount of time spent on a Web page and where people were looking based on mouse movements. This type of information is indispensible. Once you find the perfect combination of all the page elements, you can have your website setup for the best conversions.


There are two multivariate test types: fractional-factorial and full-factorial. The full-fractional is usually cheaper, and can be done with free software, such as Google Website Optimizer.

Fractional-factorial only judges a small sample of page elements, but it can cost much more. You may have to spend hundreds or even thousands on this type of test, because it is much more advanced.


Full-factorial is the most in-depth of the two tests, because it judges all of your page elements and all of the possible combinations based on the variables you use. Most website owners prefer this type, because the information is generally better, and it allows a website owner to test a very high number of combinations. While it is generally best to limit the total number of combinations to under 100, you can test an unlimited amount of combinations if you so please.

However, while the method is considered better on paper, it isn’t used as frequently as fractional-factorial. For one, this method takes a long time to effectively use. For less than 30 combinations, you may need to wait months before you get the proper amount of information to make an informed decision about which combination to stick with.

Second, you need a lot of traffic for this to work. If you have a low amount of traffic, then it can take exponentially longer to finish the test, as the combinations won’t be used enough to really judge between them.


While it is much more expensive than a full test, fractional-factorial is used more often because it presents unique business advantages. This won’t give you as much information as the full test, but you can still easily judge the limited amount of combinations used to see which one is best for the short-term.

One benefit of this test is that you only need a few weeks to a month to get enough information from the test to choose a certain page element combination. Not only that, but it works with small websites, so you don’t need a huge amount of traffic. This is great if you are testing out a new product, or if you are trying to grow your business and don’t know what you aren’t getting many sales.


Constantly testing and tweaking your website is part of running an online business. You cannot hope to succeed if you never test out your website to see if alternative elements work better for converting customers. Not only that, but the information from one test may help you with another website if it uses similar elements.

While neither method is quite as quick as a normal split test, both are able to give you more in-depth information because you can test many different elements at once. Try it out, and see how much your conversions rise.