How To Promote Your Race in 2019

Steps to help race event organizers promote races through digital marketing and social media in 2019.

Jason Eisenmenger
2019 M06 24 00:00

Are you rushing to prepare a marketing plan for an upcoming running event? Race event organizers are struggling to keep up with modern marketing trends each year. New tactics and options are constantly being introduced to help advertise. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to sort through all the information available and find the best marketing strategies and tactics necessary to help local events promote registration to new or returning participants year after year. To help save you time and money, the sport.io team put together a list of the most important steps that should be incorporated into a marketing strategy in 2019.

Promoting a race event in 2019 requires a variety of strategies including a website, social media, email marketing, SEO, PPC, word of mouth, and influencer marketing. Event planners should be careful not to place too much emphasis on any one of these categories because the effectiveness of one category might be greatly reduced from one year to another. For this reason, we highly recommend creating plans to use many different approaches during the months and weeks leading up to the registration deadline.

Regardless of whether this is your first race or if you’re an experienced planner looking to brush up on skills this year, this list will help provide a few options that should definitely be part of your strategy. Here is a breakdown of each marketing tactic, why it is important, and how to get started.

Race Website

Planning the web presence for a race event should be one of the most important steps in the process. A website often serves as the home base of information for most events. Participants that enter race events expect to be able to quickly find out information online. Regardless of whether your event’s website is 1 page or 100 pages, there are several critical pieces of information that should be present.

The most important piece of information about a race event usually describes how to register. It is very common, and in many cases expected, that races provide a process for online registration. This can involve many different complicated steps, especially if you seek out a custom solution. Sometimes it’s easier to rely on third party registration platforms in order to make this process easier to manage. Solutions like the one provided by sport.io even allow for events to avoid the costs and time-consuming activities needed to build an independent website. When events are registered on sport.io, a digital presence is provided that allows race organizers to put all of the important information about their events online. Best of all, sport.io even takes care of the registration process for you.

If you do decide to build a website on your own for the event, make sure it includes the following pages:

  • Home
  • About
  • Registration
  • Course information
  • Preparation tips
  • Race day details
  • Cancellation or refund policy

Social Media

As soon as a name for a race event has been decided, it is important to consider reserving the website domain (if you choose to use one) and corresponding social media platforms. Social media can be an extremely effective means of promotion and publicity for race events because it gives communities of people the ability to share information with their networks. Oftentimes, events attempt to reserve names on social media for their events across multiple platforms, only to find out that one or more options are already reserved.

For example, if your event is called the ‘Joe Smith 5k Run’ you might try to reserve a handle @JSmith5kRun on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. You might also try to reserve this username on Facebook and LinkedIn or claim the URL www.JSmith5kRun.com online. But this might already be the name used by another race, and claimed by someone else somewhere in the world. Naming on social media platforms can affect your marketing strategy, your website name, and even your event’s title in some cases. So make sure to consider this carefully.

There are many popular social media platforms to choose from today. The popularity and effectiveness of platforms might vary depending on which region or country you live in. If your race event is in the United States, we highly recommend creating a social media strategy that includes Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Depending on your resources and experience, you may also want to consider utilizing Youtube, LinkedIn, and even Snapchat. One other newer platform that many people do not utilize or understand is called Google My Business. Local businesses often find a great deal of success by using Google My Business. Tools on this platform allow users to make posts similar to those seen on Facebook. Conduct some research of your own before starting on this platform to make sure you create an efficient profile and content schedule.

When it comes to posting on social media, many race event organizers are unsure how to begin or how to create an effective social media strategy. Every event is different, so it is important to consider creating content that meets the interests of your specific market. We do recommend carefully considering how much you post and when. Rather than spending a lot of time on constant posts, detailed photos, or complicated videos, we recommend creating an easy to manage schedule with content that is informative and easy to schedule. There are several free tools available to help schedule social media posts. Facebook allows users to do this within the platform itself. Searching for tools like Buffer and Hootsuite will also help you find other tools that provide the ability to schedule posts on multiple platforms.

Email Marketing

Create your mailing list early on. This can be done in a variety of ways, and the previous years’ participant list is always a great place to start. For new athletes, many websites encourage viewers to sign up to receive email notifications. These can provide valuable information, special offers, and race day updates to people interested in your event.

Another way to increase your event’s reach over email is to find like-minded organizations in your area who might be willing to send out information to the people on their lists. For example, if there are other running clubs, stores, or events in your region, it might be beneficial to reach out to them to ask about sharing email promotions. Sometimes this could mean that they agree to send one or more messages in their emails to their users, in exchange for you doing the same at a later date once you have had time to build up your email list.

Keep in mind, it is important that you do not ‘spam’ users. This is a term that usually refers to sending an overabundance of emails to people, to the point that becomes annoying and/or unwanted. Some types of spam can even be illegal. To avoid problems make sure that you do not email people who have not agreed to be included on your list through opting in on your website or voluntarily supplying their address some other way.

Also, similar to social media, you will want to come up with an email schedule that does not become a nuisance. If your participants or leads receive too many emails, they might choose to opt out from receiving future messages.

There are also some great free or cheap email services that help make this process easy. Programs like MailChimp provide free and monthly plan options that scale up with your business.

SEO

Content is king in the world of modern digital marketing. Get organic traffic to the site by developing digital content and a keyword strategy on your website and social media. To help achieve content goals, it is important to consider how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help.

SEO is a term that refers to a multitude of practices that helps your online content become easier to be found through organic searches. There are many agencies and marketers who charge all kinds of rates to help organizations with SEO. This can be very helpful for large events who are competing to add a lot of participants. However, most small or new race events only need to consider some basic strategies when getting started.

Here is a quick recommended SEO checklist to help race event organizers get started:

  • Make sure you update all the information you can about your event on the website and social media platforms.
  • Decide on a list of 5-20 important keywords that people might use when searching for your event, or activities like it.
  • Review your digital presence and see if there are places where you can easily insert these keywords into the descriptions about your event.
  • Create future content on your website pages, blogs, vlogs, and social media that use the keywords.
  • Make sure your content is helpful for people who might have questions about your event. Do everything you can to answer these questions effectively.

SEO is a long-game, meaning it might take several months or more for an SEO strategy to be really effective. By setting up an event early on sport.io, events can benefit from our relentless effort to optimize specialized landing pages to help them rank higher in all languages for keywords of the given sport.

While SEO is crucial to long-term awareness for most events today, there are many other ways to create a fast short-term impact. For example, social media posts can provide a faster response if used effectively. But the next strategy is known to provide a quick impact if needed across social media and Google.

PPC and Retargeting Campaigns

There are a growing number of ways to advertise your race event. Traditional advertising included tactics like television, radio, sponsorship, newspapers, and local magazine articles. Digital marketing can provide more targeted methods. Before diving into these methods we recommend you carefully consider budgets, methods, audiences, and the creative content that will be used. Digital methods are effective but may also quickly lose money if administrators are not adequately prepared or capable of measuring results.

One method of online advertising that has become easier to use during the last 5 years is called Pay Per Click (PPC). This method refers to paying for viewers to click on online advertisements. PPC usually refers to ads on Google or display networks. It can also be used on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. On social media, PPC or programs like PPC are often referred to as ‘boosting posts’ or simply creating ads.

As mentioned in the social media section above, we highly recommend setting up a Google My Business account for a variety of reasons. This platform can also be used to help users create and manage PPC campaigns through a program called Google Ads. Through Google Ads, race event organizers can set up ads that target people who search for specific terms on Google. Similar to Facebook, these ads can target specific audiences based on interests, location, and other important qualifying details.

Word Of Mouth and Ambassadors

If content is ‘king’ then collaboration is the queen. Even with all of the modern digital marketing tools now available, it is still just as important to work with people in the community to help promote events. To begin, consider the list of local groups you thought about when we mentioned methods for developing your email marketing. Seek out groups in the community that might be able to help you reach many people at once. These are perfect groups of people that you will want to talk to before your event about registering. By building relationships with people in these groups, you might even be able to gain their support by asking them to talk to others in their personal networks about signing up.

Many races now combine word of mouth marketing with social media by creating ambassadors who help promote race events. For example, some popular races now recruit select individuals or even groups of people to become part of groups that talk to other organizations or post updates online. These group members can be incentivized by offering them perks such as free t-shirts, food, prizes, or event registration in exchange for participation or signing up others.

Get Started Now

Looking for more advice on how to promote your race event in 2019? Check back on sport.io frequently for more tips and updates. If you need help setting up event registration, we have a great solution that will help regardless of if your event has a website or not. The sooner you get started, the more effective your marketing strategy will likely become.