Conde Nast uses multivariate testing to improve response rates

SAN FRANCISCO — In a session at DMA 06, Chet Van Wert, strategic
marketing director at Conde Nast Publications extolled the virtues of
multivariate testing.

The magazine publisher used the tactic to improve the response rates to
cros-sell offers in their existing customer e-mails.

“From our perspective multivariate testing allowed us to take a big step
forward all at once rather than a lot of little steps,” Mr. Van Wert

Conde Nast sent 12 different combinations of cross-sell e-mail to
current vogue subscriber with an offer to recieve Glamour at a special

The e-mails featured four different offers and two different order form
options. It also varied the subject line, long versus short copy, a p.s.
line and whether or not the subscriber’s name was invoked.

There was a 58 percent difference in response rate from the worst
performing e-mail to the best performing e-mail. More importantly in a
one time test the marketing department learned which variables were
statistically significant to their audience.

“On the order form using selling copy reduced conversion,” Mr. Van Wert
said. “We learned that we should sell them in the e-mail and then make
it as easy as possible to buy.”

The company went on to use multivariate testing in other aspects of
their marketing efforts including sweepstakes entry and the online order

“We did a number of things to make [the oder form] more glitzy, more
seling and more beautiful,” Mr. Van Wert said. “And none of them worked.
At least we now have the data to back up that our original design is the
most effective.” 

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