Create a Multivariate Campaign

When you create an email marketing campaign, there are many ways to present your content, but you may wonder which way is best. Use our Multivariate Testing feature to see how small changes to your email campaigns impact subscriber engagement.

This feature is included with Mailchimp Pro, or our Premium plan.

In this article, you'll learn how to create and edit a Multivariate campaign.

Before You Start

  • Before you create a Multivariate campaign, familiarize yourself with the terminology and ways they can be used.
  • Send combinations to at least 5,000 subscribers to make sure you receive the most useful data from your test. If the size of your list or segment doesn't allow for 5,000 subscribers in each combination, we strongly recommend that you test your entire list and use your email campaign results to inform future campaign content decisions.
  • Wait at least four hours after you send a Multivariate campaign to send a winning campaign. Many subscribers won't engage with your email campaign sooner, which can misinform your test results. Shorter test times may cause a losing combination to go out to the rest of your list. You can see the campaign results at the time the winner was selected in the campaign report.
  • In Multivariate campaigns where content is a variable, choose the winner by best click rate, since opens occur before a subscriber views your content.

Create a Multivariate Campaign

Multivariate campaigns are built in a series of steps, just like other email campaign types. If you haven't started building a Multivariate Campaign yet, start at the beginning of these instructions. If you already started and saved your progress, skip to the step you want to work on.

To create a new Multivariate campaign, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Campaigns page.
  2. Click Create Campaign.
  3. In the pop-up modal, click Email.
  4. Click Multivariate.
  5. Enter a campaign name and choose a list.
  6. Click Begin.

Recipients Step

On the first step of the Campaign Builder, choose the list or segment you want to send your email campaign to. To send to a segment, configure a new segment on this screen, or choose a saved segment.

Variables Step

You'll configure the elements you want to test on the Variables step.

  1. Click the Plus icon for each variable you want to test.
  2. Click the Plus or Minus icons to add or remove additional variations of the variable.
    You can test up to three of four variables, to create up to eight combinations. The number of variations of each variable multiplied together equals the number of combinations. This number is shown in the Summary.
    Screen showing selection of 3 Subject lines and 2 Contents, for a total of 6 Combinations.
    For example, if you want to test 3 subject lines and 2 variations of content, we'll generate 6 combinations of your email campaign.
  3. Under How should we split your recipients?, click and drag the slider to set the percentage your recipients you want to send your test combinations to.
    Screen of cursor dragging slider to 80%.
    Send combinations to 100% of your recipients if your list or segment doesn't allow for 5,000 subscribers in each combination. If you're testing Send time, this is your only option.

Review the Summary to see how many of your subscribers will receive each combination.

  1. Choose whether to determine a winner based on open rate, click rate, total revenue, or manually. Then, choose how long you want the test to run.
    Screen showing how winner will be chosen, with By Open Rate after 4 hours chosen.
    At the end of the test phase, we'll send the winning combination to your remaining recipients.

During the test phase, you can convert to manual selection to choose the winner from the campaign report.

Setup Step

Depending on which variables you test, the Setup step will present multiple Email subject, From email address and name, and Subject line fields.

  1. Type in your variation content in the fields provided. Settings for Send time variations also appear on this step.
    Screen showing three email subject variations.
  2. Check the boxes next to your preferred settings or tracking options.

Content Step

The Content step is where you add content for your email campaign. What you see on this step will vary if you choose to test content.

Test Subject Line, From Name, or Send Time

  1. Choose your layout on the Template step of the Content Builder.
  2. On the Design step of the Content Builder, design and test your email campaign.
  3. When everything is how you want, click Confirm Before Sending.

Test Content

The Content setup page shows a preview for each variation of your email campaign content. To add content to each variation, follow these steps.

  1. Click Add Content for any variation of your campaign.
    Screen of content setup page with cursor hovering over to add content to the first variation.
  2. Select your layout on the Template step of the Content Builder.
  3. On the Design step of the Content Builder, design and test your email campaign. When everything is how you want, click Next.
  4. On the Description step of the Content Builder, type in text to describe the variation of the content. Your subscribers won't see this description, but it will help you remember the differences between each variation.
    Screen of Content description step, with Administration Building Photo to describe the content.
  5. Click Continue to Content to return to your content variations.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for each content variation. On the Template step, use a different template or select a variation you already designed in the Previous Variations tab.
    Screen of Previous Variations tab with one variation option.
  7. When everything is how you want, click Next.

Confirm Step

The Confirm step is where you'll review the combinations that make up your Multivariate campaign.

  1. Review the Pre-delivery Checklist. Click Resolve or Edit to make changes to any section.
  2. After you're finished, Send your campaign now or Schedule it to go out later.
    Screen of Schedule and Send buttons.

Account users with a Manager user level or higher will receive an email when a winner has been automatically chosen, or after four hours if you haven't yet picked a winner manually.


  • If a subscriber opens the campaign page for a sent email campaign, they'll always see the campaign combination they received, even if the winning combination is different.
  • The winning combination of your Multivariate test will appear in the public campaign archive for your list, unless you tested send time.

Manually Choose Winner

If you chose Manual Selection from the drop-down menu on the Variables step of the Campaign Builder, you'll be able to view the campaign report after the test combinations are sent, and choose the winner.

Screen of How should the winner be determined drop-down menu with Manual Selection chosen.

To manually choose a winner, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Reports page.
  2. Click View Report for the Multivariate Campaign you want to work with.
  3. An alert will tell you how long into the testing phase you are and recommend that you wait at least four hours.
    Screen of warning block to manually select winner after four hours.
  4. Review the report for each combination. Under Finalize your test, click the radio button next to the combination you want to send to your remaining subscribers.
    Screen with cursor clicking the radio button to choose the first combination as the winner.
  5. Click Send To Remaining Recipients.
    Cursor clicks the Send To Remaining Recipients button.
  6. Click Send Now in the confirmation pop-up modal to send the winning campaign.

Convert to Manual Selection

After you send your test with the choice to have the winner chosen by open rate, click rate, or total revenue, you may decide that you want to manually choose the winning combination instead.

To convert to manual selection after you sent your email campaign, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Reports page.
  2. Click View Report for the Multivariate campaign you want to work with.
  3. Click Convert to manual selection in the alert block.
    Feedback block showing the cursor clicking the option to convert to manual selection.
  4. In the pop-up modal, type CONVERT and click Convert.
    Modal that asks if you're sure you want to stop the automatic send, with Convert typed in all caps in the field.
  5. When you're ready, choose a combination to immediately send to your remaining subscribers.


In the event that none of your recipients opens or clicks in any of your combinations, the final set of recipients will get the last combination by default. This could happen if your test sends to very few recipients.

If the same number of people click and open your combinations, the first combination will send to the remaining recipients.

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