Gift vs. Discount: A/B Testing in Online Course Promotion Emails

For online course creators. 7 minutes read

In email marketing, A/B testing is considered the systematic approach to compare two variants of an email to determine which performs better in a specific context. When it comes to online course promotion, especially during the holiday season, course creators often contemplate whether to offer gifts or discounts. Let’s discuss the application of A/B testing to help you decide on whether to use gifts or discounts as your online course promotion strategy.


(PHOTO: Karolina Grabowska)


The Basics of A/B Testing


A/B testing, also known as split testing, is an experiment where two variants, A and B, are tested against each other. It is a method commonly used in online course promotion to measure the effect of one variable change. In the context of email marketing for online courses, the method is used to evaluate the effectiveness of different promotional offers in influencing potential students’ decisions.


The primary objective of A/B testing in email marketing and online course promotion is to identify which of the two versions leads to a higher conversion rate. The conversion rate, a critical metric, refers to the percentage of email recipients who take a specific action, such as enrolling in a course. The rate is a direct indicator of the success of the online course promotion or email variant in achieving its marketing goal.


Implementing the Test


Effective implementation of A/B testing in online course promotion, particularly in email campaigns, requires careful planning and execution and involves creating two versions of the email with only the variable – the promotional offer – being different. The design of these variants in online course promtoion is needed to make sure that any difference in performance can be attributed confidently to the change in the offer.

  • Designing Email Variants


In the setup phase, two versions of a promotional email are created. Version A might offer a tangible gift, like an additional short course or a resource material, as a bonus with the course enrollment. Version B, in contrast, would offer a financial incentive, such as a percentage reduction in the course fees. All other elements like design, content, and subject line are kept constant to ensure that the difference in response can be attributed solely to the online course promotion offer.

  • Segmenting the Audience


The audience for the online course promotion email campaign is divided into two groups, with each group randomly receiving one version of the email. The division should take place to maintain the integrity of the test results. The groups must be comparable in terms of demographics and other relevant characteristics to minimize bias.


Analysis and Interpretation


Once the online course promotion email variants are sent, the focus moves to the analysis and interpretation of the results to understand which promotional strategy resonates more effectively with the target audience. Course creators can gain useful discernment into their marketing strategies by examining specific metrics and conducting a thorough analysis.

  • Evaluating Key Metrics


After sending out the online course promotion emails, you need to monitor specific metrics. These include open rates (how many people opened the email), click-through rates (how many clicked on any links within the email), and, most importantly, conversion rates (how many completed the desired action of course enrollment).

  • Data Analysis


Post-campaign, the data from both online course promotion email versions are analyzed to compare their performance. A higher conversion rate in one version indicates its greater effectiveness in persuading the target audience. Statistical significance tests should sometimes be applied to ascertain that the observed differences are not due to random chance.


Strategic Implications


Based on the online course promotion results, course creators can decide which type of offer appeals more to their target audience. If the gift offer proves more effective, it suggests that the audience values additional content or resources. If the discount offer is more successful, it indicates a higher sensitivity to price among potential students. These results can help you make future marketing strategies that resonate with audience preferences.

(PHOTO: Pavel Danilyuk)



As the holiday season approaches, it’s a reasonable time for course creators to explore different marketing strategies. Holidays offer a chance to connect with potential students in a festive and engaging manner. A/B testing presents a data-driven approach for course creators to determine the more effective promotional strategy between offering gifts or discounts in their course promotion emails. The technique helps in making marketing decisions based on concrete audience response data. 


If you need help implementing such strategies or promoting your course in general, Classgrowth might just be the helper you need. Book a call with Classgrowth today and take the first step towards converting your course promotion strategies into successful financial outcomes.


Remember, regardless of whether you’re planning to give gifts, discounts, or other data, the answer is to always ‘deliver’ joy to your audience’s inbox. Happy testing, and here’s to emails that click and tick all the right boxes! 


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