With some lingering instability in the endurance event market, the key question we are hearing from race directors is how can you help me grow my event? The good news? RunSignup offers you a multitude of tools designed to help you rebuild and grow your events. Before we dive into the tools available to you, it’s important to highlight the key tenets of our event marketing strategy:
1. All of RunSignup’s marketing tools are 100% free for you
2. RunSignup will never use your participant data to market other races to your participants
Want a crash course? We recommend checking out one of these two recent webinars:
1. Activate Influencers
The best ambassadors for your event are your participants, with no word more trusted than that of family and friends. Activating those trusted influencers is the key to exponential growth and expanding reach.
Referral rewards allow you to encourage participants to share your event by rewarding them with swag or refunds for reaching a pre-determined threshold of referred registrations. The best part? The refund and the collection of any additional information needed to fulfill the swag (I.E., shirt size) is all automated. Set it and let it work for you!
Referral Rewards Best Practices
- Aim for a high threshold, high reward. Set a goal that’s challenging, but achievable (we recommend 3-5 referrals) and a reward that’s worthwhile (at least $15-20).
- Start early and remind often. Referrals rewards only work if your participants know about their potential rewards. Include information (with pictures!) about your referral program on your website, your confirmation email, social media, and registration follow-up emails.
- Stack (but don’t overcomplicate) your rewards. Providing multiple levels of rewards gives your super-supporters a reason to keep shouting about your event. We recommend ~3-4 reward levels to provide ample incentives without confusing participants.
- Girl power! 70% of referrers identify as female. Factor that into your plans for swag reward styles!
Referral Rewards Resources
The easiest, fastest way for your participants to share your event and expand your reach is by sharing their participation on social media. RunSignup automatically creates a pop-up at the conclusion of registration that encourages participants to share their registration with friends. You can verify that your pop-up is enabled from your dashboard by navigating to Promotion >> Social Sharing.
Social Sharing Best Practices:
- Customize your social sharing language to highlight what makes your event special.
- Customize your social sharing images with engaging, fun, custom images. Race photos from previous years can be great for this purpose!
- Motivate participants to share by reminding them of perks they can earn through referral rewards or providing limited-time coupons they can share with their community.
Social Sharing Resources:
- Setup Guide: Customize Social Sharing Messages
2. Incentivize Registrations
Pricing is one of the simplest ways to incentivize registrations and promote action − across the board, we see around 27% of all registrations coming within just three days of a price increase or registration close. While simple price increases can be effective, you can use our flexible pricing options a step further to provide even more motivation to register.
Pricing strategies that prompt action include:
- Reward people for registering together either through Group/Team Pricing or Multi-Person Pricing.
- Encourage bringing the whole family with Age-Based Pricing
- Capitalize on the local running community with Club Membership Discounts
- Increase the value of each registrant with Multi-Event Discounts
- Start registration strong with Event Size Price Increases
- Cultivate participant loyalty with a Loyalty Program/Priority List
- Create strong calls-to-action with Time-Limited Coupons
Pricing Best Practices:
- Don’t overcomplicate pricing. If participants need to read a novel to determine which method of registering will help them save, it ceases to be effective.
- Prioritize communication. Use your website, social media, and email to remind your participants when and how they can save.
3. Build Your Brand
Building loyalty to your event depends on building a recognizable, consistent brand. RunSignup’s free race website and free email ensure that your brand is always first (not ours).
Gone are the days of paper registrations. Most of your participants first encounter your race through it’s website, making it more important than ever that you maintain a branded website that is equal parts professional, attractive, and informative. Our free, automatically created race websites give you access to flexible website templates with fully customizable branding that allows you to display your event exactly how you want.
Website Best Practices:
- Brand your website with a custom color scheme, logo, and header images
- Brand your domain by bringing any domain or subdomain
- Add a professional look with a cover page
- Make your site a resource hub with unlimited content and pages for all your event details
- Organize your site with a custom menu system and submenus
- Save time by utilizing dynamic elements that automatically display key data like price increase information, top fundraisers, and sponsors.
Email may seem passé because it’s been around forever…but don’t be mistaken − it continues to be one of the most effective marketing tools out there. In a recent case study, we found that email contributed 23% of all registrations to the race we followed.
Email Best Practices:
- Create an email strategy that supports your pricing structure, referral programs, and group incentives with targeted emails reminding participants of opportunities to save.
- Automate emails targeting potential participants who abandon their cart before completing registrations.
- Use registration follow-up emails to continue to encourage participants to promote your event to family and friends.
- Personalize emails with custom replacement tags and individualized links and date.
- Webinar: Next-Generation Email Marketing in Registration
- Setup Guide: Legacy Email
- Setup Guide: Email V2
- Case Study: Email Marketing Best Practices from McGuire’s St Patrick’s Day Prediction 5K
4. Go Old School
Quick Text and QR for Printed Materials
Digital marketing is certainly important, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in reaching people in a more analog way. QR codes and quick text links are automatically created for key actions for every race (Sign Up, Give, Volunteer, etc.), making it simple for potential participants to take action from printed signage.
Quick Text/QR Best Practices
- Include both a QR code and Quick Text option to give people a way to reach your event quickly and easily regardless of what type of technology they are most comfortable with.
- Clearly explain what the QR code and Quick Text will take you to
- Share printed signs and flyers in key community areas
Quick Text/QR Resources:
- Setup Guide: Quick Text to…
5. Built-In Marketing
Here’s the fun part. While we don’t do email blasts or ads for your event, that doesn’t mean we don’t help you promote your event. We have built our platform to automatically drive registrations to your event!
You know all the basic information you input in the race wizard, like location, race name, event distances, and descriptions? There’s a purpose for that beyond just creating your race website: we use all your race details to optimize your race website for search engines, ensuring that your event is easy to find when local event participants are searching. And it works: in 2021, 30% of all race website traffic came from organic (unpaid) search.
RunSignup has an affiliate program that allows large event calendars (like RunningIntheUSA.com and HalfMarathons.net) along with local event aggregators like running stores and timers to use our Open API to automatically pull in all RunSignup events. This means that your race is shared on multiple national and local calendars without you taking any action. In 2021, 10% of all race registrations came from one of these RunSignup affiliates − and it’s all free!
6. Optimize Your Marketing
We see so many companies promise to market your event…but how do you know if their efforts are actually worth the money you are spending?
RaceInsights is a custom analytics engine built right onto your race dashboard. It tracks the origin of every website click, registration, donation, and transaction to help you determine what works (and do more of it).
RaceInsights Best Practices:
- Use Custom Source Tracking to create a unique link to your website for every marketing action you take. This allows you to tie every ad, Facebook post, and outsourced email blast to actual return you see in registrations and transactions.
- Create custom lists by source type to target your marketing efforts by serving Facebook Ads to participants who previously came from Facebook and emails to participants who joined from an email.
- Setup Guide: Custom Source Tracking
- Setup Guide: CRM RaceInsights Source Tracking
- Presentation: RaceInsights Analytics
Tracking Pixels and Conversion Codes
Many marketing services and social media sites have their own tracking pixels and conversion codes to report on the effectiveness of your advertising dollars. You can easily add codes to your RunSignup Race Website right from your race dashboard to further evaluate the ROI of your efforts. Our list of supported codes is extensive, including all well-known options like Facebook, AdRoll, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok, and more.
To add your own codes, navigate to Promotion >> Sitewide Codes.
It’s easy to feel like a marketing strategy − an email blast, social campaign, or advertising blitz − is working. But our data consistently shows that what really works is a little more nuanced and requires consistent community engagement, communications, brand-building, carefully crafted technology, and perhaps the most important step of all: tracking and optimizing your return.