How to Maximize Conversions With Multivariate Testing

4 Dec
How to Maximize Conversions With Multivariate Testing

What’s the number one goal of email as an eCommerce marketer?

If you answered, sales, you’d be correct!

There are plenty of ways to gain more sales from your emails. One of the best ways is to make sure you’re sending the best email every time.

However, doing that is harder than it sounds.

That’s where multivariate testing comes in!

And when you use it correctly, it can help you nab even more sales from here on out.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What multivariate testing is
  • How it differs from an A/B test
  • How to incorporate multivariate testing into your email marketing strategy
  • Actionable tips to increase your conversions using multivariate testing

What is Multivariate Testing in Email? 

A/B testing or split testing is where you can test one single element against your control version.

With multivariate testing, you have the freedom to test a number of variations of your emails.

Sendlane, for example, gives you the ability to run as many of four email versions to test.

For example, let’s say you’re sending a holiday email campaign. You have a couple of subject lines you want to experiment with, but you also want to test the offer itself.

With multivariate testing, you can create possible combinations like this:

  • Email 1 (Subject line 1) + (Offer 1)
  • Email 2 (Subject line 1) + (Offer 2)
  • Email 3 (Subject line 2) + (Offer 1)
  • Email 4 (Subject line 2) + (Offer 2)

You can send these to a sample size of your email list to gauge the engagement.

Depending on the results, our platform will automatically pick the email that your contacts are engaging with the most and send that winning campaign to the rest of your list.

The multivariate testing method takes away all the time-consuming guesswork and ensures your contacts receive only the most engaging versions of your emails; allowing you to sit back while your emails optimize on autopilot!

For a full walkthrough of getting this setup, you can check out this resource page here

Want to take advantage of multi-variate testing? Here are a few of our best tips to help you get started. 

3 Multivariate Testing Optimization Tips to Increase Conversions

When doing multi-variate testing on emails, there are three different elements you can test:

  1. The subject line and preheader text 
  2. The actual content and layout of the email itself 
  3. Your CTAs in the email

Below we’ll cover how you can test different versions of each area to help you increase your conversion rate.

1. Test Your Subject Line and Preheader Text 

You can send as many emails as you like, but if only a few people open them, your sales are going to take a hit. There are many ways to improve your email open-rates, and testing your email’s subject line, and pre-header text is one of the main places to start.

Around 47% of people will open an email based on the subject line, and an astounding 69% will mark your emails as spam based solely on what the subject line is.

Nailing this part of things could make or break your conversions and your email marketing strategy as a whole.

While the subject line is essential, your pre-header text is equally as important. It’s roughly 30-90 characters that follow up the subject line and lends itself to your email getting opened.


You can use this section of your emails to add to your subject line and further entice a contact to open it.

The right subject line and a supporting pre-header text can be tough to get right on the first go.

You can use multivariate tests to help you find the best ones for your audience. You could test only the subject line or mix testing both the subject line and the pre-header text.

Here are a few subject line and pre-header types you could test:

  • Lower case vs. title case 
  • Sentence case vs. title case 
  • Using emojis vs. no emojis 
  • Using the name vs. no name 
  • FOMO based vs. no FOMO

Another thing to consider in your subject lines is the length. There’s no right or wrong way here, but anything more than 40 characters will get truncated on display on mobile devices.

It takes practice to write short and compelling copy in under 40 characters or less, but trying out a different combination of elements could improve your open-rates.

2. Test Your Email Content 

Getting someone to open your email is half the puzzle to increasing email conversions. Once they open your email, the content has to be enticing enough to get them to click-through.

There are a lot of areas you can test in your email content:

  • Images and video. You could test one image versus another or using an image versus no image. You could even use GIFs or videos and test them in your emails. Nike test video as part of one of their campaigns and increased conversions by 500%.
  • Copy and personalization. You can test a longer copy versus shorter copy. This could also include adding or changing notes of personalization (i.e. “Hi, Joe!” vs “Hi, Mr. Salvatore”)
  • Layout. Email layout is another important part of things. With more and more people opening things on mobile devices, having layouts that keep this in mind is worth testing. For example, you might move a CTA or coupon code above the fold so it’s easily seen on mobile.

Here is an example of TOMS shoes. These emails are from the same day from the same campaign, however, you can spot the differences:

  • The images are different. One shows one pair of shoes but the other email shows something else (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t buy the black pair… )
  • The copy is different on the images and in the CTA above the fold.
  • The layout is the same, but the colors are different (we’ll touch on colors in just a second)

They sent only two emails but made quite a few changes in each one. This example helps you see what you can test and what that end result might look like.  

What you may not readily notice about this email is the personalization. Both emails have shoes for women, which is of interest to me and what I regularly buy. Other people who have interests in men’s shoes received an email showing shoes for men.

It’s a subtle but important part of things when sending your email. With segmented campaigns, you can easily test content changes while adding this type of personalization.


3. Test CTAs and Your Color Choices 

Call to action (CTAs), or action buttons, are so important to email conversions that just one in your email will increase clicks by 371%. I mean, without a call to action button, how is your audience to know that they need to click-through to your web page or landing page to learn more?

Anyway, you'll be happy to know this is an area you can test that’s thankfully a little simpler to do than the point above.

When you’re testing these, you have a number of variables you could test:

  • The copy of the CTA
  • The placement of the CTA in the email
  • The color of the CTA
  • The number of CTAs

For something seemingly so small, that’s quite a lot to test, but that’s good news — especially since they play such an impactful role on conversions.

Almost every email you send should contain a CTA button of some kind. If you’re unsure where to start, consider testing the color. Another good test is to move the button up above the fold, so it’s the first thing your contacts see in your email.

What color should you use? The jury is out on that one, but one thing we do know:

Whatever color you do use for your button should stand out.

This email from Brooklinen has many CTAS, but as you scroll through the email on a mobile device, each CTA stands out.

The top CTA is bright and above the fold. The product recommendation CTAs are more subtle but are aesthetically pleasing and with a different copy than the first CTA.

While some eCommerce brands benefit from a few buttons, others like Brooklinen may benefit from having more in their emails.

This is a good area for you to test in your emails as well. If you don’t have many CTAs, you could test having more.

The goal of your CTA is to get them to click, so don’t be afraid to get creative with your tests in this area. As you test a certain tone or CTA type and placement, you’ll start to get a better feel of the best combination for your audience.

Keep It Simple When You Test 

Multivariate testing gives you more options when it comes to testing variations. However, it’s easy to overcomplicate things and skew the results in the process.

If you're new to testing, keep your results simple.

Start with your subject lines and your CTAs.

For instance, if you’re testing subject lines, try only 3 different variations as the max rather than all four since it will help concentrate your results.

Remember that the goal is to convert more sales from your emails and you should try to do that in a measurable and simple way so that you can track what worked and what didn’t.

Multivariate testing can add a few extra steps to getting your campaigns out the door, but when you start seeing the significant results roll in (more revenue to your business), it’s well worth the time and effort.

The best part? (Besides increasing your conversion rate.) Once you find what works, there's no need for any redesign. You can use those winning emails as templates for future campaigns!

Ready to take Sendlane for a spin? Sign up for your 14-day free trial now.

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