Multivariate Testing’s Role in CRO (Radiohead versus iTunes)

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Radiohead vs iTunes

The music industry can teach web marketers a valuable lesson about how to maximize conversions. If you’re looking at buying multivariate testing software, this article will help you put things into perspective.

As you probably already know, A/B testing tools—and multivariate testing software—tells you which version of your page generates the most conversions. There’s a two-step process:

Step 1—the Content Creator: Someone creates different versions of a page (or page element).

Step 2—the Scorekeeper: Multivariate testing software keeps score of which version generates the most conversions—and declares a winner once there’s enough data.

The software is an extremely valuable part of the process. Without a scorekeeper, you’d never know which version of the page to keep. However, some newcomers appear to be under the illusion that the software is almost magical—that it can create winning pages out of thin air. It’s not true.

To understand this point, think of how the music industry works:

Step 1—the Content Creator: The artist (such as Radiohead, Coldplay or Madonna) records and promotes a song.

Step 2—the Scorekeeper: A company (such as Billboard, Gallup or iTunes) keeps score of which songs have sold the most copies—then declares the winners (by publishing the pop charts).

Now, if you were a record label looking to create a hit song, you wouldn’t just ask the guy next door to record thousands of tunes, then throw them all at the charts, hoping for a winner. You’d be much better off relying on a fantastic recording artist. That’s because the first step—creating the content—is by far the most important step. That’s presumably why Polydor Records signed a £130m (US$204m) deal with U2.

The same principle applies to your web business: you’ll only get fantastic increases in profits if you make the right changes to your webpages.

Amazon.com agrees…

Amazon Quote

In other words, what matters is what you test.

Please don’t misunderstand us: we think multivariate testing software is essential for a web business. And there are some great solutions on the market.

Just don’t expect the software to be more than a highly sophisticated scorekeeper.

If you want help creating amazing content, you could do a lot worse than read our free reports, or our beginner’s guide to multivariate testing.

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