Multivariate Testing Buyer's GuideEconsultancy has today published its first Multivariate Testing (MVT) Buyer’s Guide to reflect the growing interest in testing technology and conversion rate optimization. Below is an outline of the main trends in this market, which are covered in much more detail in the report.

The 107-page guide, which has a global focus, includes detailed profiles submitted by 10 leading vendors, and information about 17 agencies specialising in conversion optimization and implementation of MVT technology. The report also contains detailed advice for those planning to invest in MVT technology or reviewing their options. 

The testing market goes from strength to strength

Put simply, e-commerce is huge business and companies realise that small improvements in conversion rates can translate into significant improvements to their bottom line. 

As website owners across a range of business sectors have got to grips with the basics of user experience and web design best practice, there is less low-hanging fruit available to improve site performance. So they are increasingly using A/B (split) and multivariate testing technology to bring about further improvements.

There is more understanding in the industry that decisions about website design need to be scientifically based, rather than based on the whims of the most vocal internal stakeholder. C-suite executives are more aware of the potential upside and therefore increasingly authorising investment. 

Companies are now adopting a more disciplined and thorough approach to testing. As we pointed out in a blog post earlier this year about digital marketing trends, 2011 is the year of execution.

According to the Econsultancy / RedEye Conversion Report 2010, only 17% of companies said they were carrying out MVT testing, but a further 42% of respondents said they were planning to do this. 

Self-service and self-learning technology give the market impetus 

Technology is now making testing easier. As well as having access to free tools such as Google Website Optimizer, marketers can now benefit from user-friendly and intuitive user interfaces which can get them started on the road to more sophisticated testing and optimization without the need for extensive IT involvement.

As companies become more bought into the concept of multivariate testing, they are developing their capabilities in-house and also working with vendors who offer fully managed services which can remove the burden from in-house teams. Some vendors offer both self-service and full-service options. 

The increased use of predictive algorithms and self-learning technology means that the performance of tests is analysed on an on-going basis with variables adjusted automatically to deliver the best possible results. 

The increased ability to segment traffic is also having a significant impact. 

Companies start to build skill sets and embed culture of testing 

World-beating MVT technology is not a panacea. For starters, you need to know what to test. Companies need to have the right skill sets in place internally as well as processes to carry out systematic testing and site optimization.

There are signs that companies are beginning to invest more in the right infrastructure and technical capabilities, so that they have a level of resources which is commensurate with the opportunity for improved business performance. 

Whilst they are focused on selling their technology, vendors are also typically committed to helping their clients move towards a testing culture and roadmap so they can build deeper and more successful relationships with their clients.

To quote Craig Sullivan, Group Customer Experience Manager at Belron, a lack of internal testing capability and knowledge to complement MVT technology is “like having a Jumbo Jet without a captain.”