Multivariate Testing vs. A/B Testing: Which One Should You Use?

When it comes to testing different elements in your marketing strategy, two main players take the stage: A/B testing and multivariate testing. While they might seem similar, there is a crucial difference between the two. Choosing the wrong one can significantly impact your results. In this article, we’ll break down the difference between A/B testing and multivariate testing and guide you on when to use each. So, get ready to take your marketing efforts from good to mind-blowingly effective.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing involves creating two different versions of something, such as a landing page, call to action, or web page, to determine which version performs better. It focuses on testing two variables, but there can also be A/B/C tests that examine three different versions and A/B/C/D tests that evaluate four different versions, and so on.

A simple example of an A/B test is when you create two different versions of a web page element and compare their performance. With tools like HubSpot’s Free Landing Page Builder, you can easily run A/B tests without any hassle. These tools automatically crown a winner based on the results, making it a convenient option.

When to Use A/B Testing

A/B testing is ideal when you want to compare two specific designs and want quick and meaningful results. It’s also suitable when you have limited website traffic because, with only two variables to test, you don’t need a large amount of data to draw conclusions.

Advantages and Limitations of A/B Testing

There are several advantages to conducting A/B testing:

1. Data is easier to track: With A/B testing, you focus on two single variables, allowing for hyper-focused test results.

2. Quick results: Testing only two variables enables you to obtain results promptly.

However, A/B testing also has limitations:

1. Limited combinations: Since you’re only testing two variables at a time, you have fewer combinations to explore.

2. Limited insights: A/B testing may not provide in-depth insights into how different elements interact with each other.

What is Multivariate Testing?

In contrast to A/B testing, multivariate testing examines multiple variables simultaneously to determine the best combination of elements for achieving your goals. It’s a more complex testing method and is typically utilized by advanced marketing testers. By testing various elements and how they interact, multivariate testing offers numerous possible combinations for visitors to experience.

When to Use Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing should be used when you have a significant amount of website traffic. This allows you to accurately assess which components of your website yield the best results.

Advantages and Limitations of Multivariate Testing

The advantages of multivariate testing are as follows:

1. Redesign impact: Multivariate testing enables you to redesign your site pages to have the most significant impact.

2. Testing multiple variables: With multivariate testing, you can test more than two variables simultaneously, providing a more comprehensive analysis of your website’s performance.

However, there are some limitations to consider:

1. Significant traffic requirement: Due to the need for sufficient data to test all variables accurately, your website traffic should be substantial.

2. Complex process: Multivariate testing is an advanced and involved testing process that requires a higher level of expertise.

A visual example can help illustrate the concept of multivariate testing. Consider the image below:

In this example, each variation of the web page plays with different variables, such as placement, color, style, and format. Unlike A/B testing, where the variations are noticeably different, multivariate testing focuses on more subtle differences between variables.


To obtain meaningful results from A/B and multivariate tests, it’s not enough to have overall website traffic; the specific pages you’re testing should also receive substantial traffic. Make sure to select pages that are easily accessible and regularly visited by users to ensure sufficient data for analysis. By understanding the difference between A/B testing and multivariate testing, and knowing when to use each, you can enhance the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and propel your business to new heights.