October 16, 2008, 12:00 AM

A/B testing is even better with a C or a D, expert says

Why do A/B tests when you can test many more than just two e-commerce site variables at the same time? This was the theme of a session at this week’s Web Experience Forum ’08, in Boston, by Gomez Inc. and sponsored in part by Internet Retailer.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Why do A/B testing when you can test many more than just two e-commerce site variables at the same time? This was the theme of “Beyond A/B: The Importance of Multivariate Testing to Ensure a Good Experience,” a session at this week’s Web Experience Forum ’08, held in Boston by Gomez Inc. and sponsored in part by Internet Retailer.

“Multivariate testing allows you to try very conservative tactics and very wild and crazy things simultaneously,” said session speaker Keith Reed, e-commerce director at Trend Micro Inc., a vendor of web security and other systems.

Reed said testing is critical to crafting successful online customer experiences, and offered the following tips:

  • Quantify testing goals-not expectations-in advance, and ensure all decision makers involved in the process are on board.
  • Think long term. Take into account future testing by creating a quarterly plan that builds in the inclusion of site changes that test well from quarter to quarter.
  • Run the same tests again from time to time. Web sites can become staid over time, and what tests well today may change because of numerous factors, such as seasonality and week versus weekend behavior.
  • If a test is going badly, shut it off immediately and run a new test.

“The idea behind multivariate testing is to remove the element of luck,” Reed concluded, “and you should test every element involved with what you’re trying to achieve in your web experience.”

 

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