5 Key Technologies to Better Market Your Event

March 08, 2016 - By: Charley Dehoney

The question event organizers in the endurance industry ask most is “How can I better promote my event?” I have had the good fortune of building relationships with the best and brightest marketing minds in the Endurance and Obstacle Course Race space and have identified the five key pieces of technology that will help organizers go from Race Director to Growth Hacker in no time.

  1. Social Media 
    I know it sounds like a no-brainer to some, but there are many groups that aren’t yet embracing social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just the tip of the iceberg. There are new platforms gaining users at record-breaking pace—Snapchat, Periscope and Meerkat are fast-growing platforms you may have never heard of but are likely to be where you find your next wave of millennial participants.

    Mike Reilly - The Voice of Ironman, was quoted at TriBusiness International this year, saying “If you’re a race director and you’re not on Periscope, you’re missing a real opportunity to connect with your existing and potential participants.” You don’t need to be a marketing guru to be effective, consider using a social media platform like Nimble CRM or Hootsuite to keep your social media channels organized and optimized.

  2. Mobile Devices 
    Data shows that on average, 87% of event goers discover an event on their mobile device. If you don’t have a strategy for how mobile devices are going to help you grow your race, you better get one FAST! Is your mobile check-out process optimized for today’s smart phone-enabled shopper? If the answer is “no” you are leaving money on the table, and probably lots of it. I’ve seen mobile conversion rates in the single digits consistently in this space, but it doesn’t need to be that way. By using a mobile-ready registration platform you’ll easily be able to expect more purchases from mobile buyers. What’s more, these buyers are the ones who will most likely tell their friends about their plans and who will bring their phone for pictures and social media sharing on race day.

    Make sure you have your hashtags ready to make it easy for your tribe of new mobile participants to tell the world they are going to your event. Another consideration for large races and race series organizations is when to invest in a mobile app of their own. Apps boost brand loyalty, user engagement and represent significant sponsorship opportunities.

    When positioned correctly, sponsors jump at the chance to sit front-and-center on your customer’s mobile home screen through your app. If your event has more than 5-6,000 annual participants, now is probably the time to start considering investing in a mobile app and using it to lock in your anchor sponsor sooner rather than later.

  3. Contact Database 
    This does not need to be a full-blown CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) like Salesforce.com. There are a few new registration platforms (like Events.com) that offer robust contact management features consistent with those you would see in a CRM. If your registration platform isn’t showing you rich information about your users and making it easy for you to communicate with them through the platform, you may be using the wrong one.

    If you need specific integrations across data platforms or are looking to invest in a CRM you may want to look at lightweight applications like BaseCRM, Capsule or Zoho before jumping into a long term commitment with the 10,000 pound gorilla. Each of the above options is reasonably priced and provides high levels of flexibility and out of the box integrations with email, calendar, etc.

    Here’s a great list of 9 CRMs that are lower cost alternatives to Salesforce.com.

  4. Email Automation
    When it comes to staying in touch with your customers, the more consistent you can be, the better. Some races have beautifully designed emails that are informative and relevant, keeping their users engaged year round with tips, tricks and topics that matter to their audience. If this isn’t you, you may want to consider a monthly or quarterly email campaign with some original content that you write or a curation of related topics that will keep your participants opening your emails and signing up for your event year after year. While you can write these emails and send them out via blind copy method, there is a better way.

    There are a number of email marketing platforms you can purchase that allow you to design emails with a branded and professional look and feel. These tools give you the ability to schedule emails and keep them going out at a consistent cadence. Some platforms to consider are Constant Contact, MailChimp (my personal favorite), MailJet or Bronto.

    The largest organizations in the space are investing in Marketing Automation platforms like Marketo, Pardot and HubSpot to take a more integrated approach to communicating with their customers and prospects. These platforms can track user interactions with your website as well as send email campaigns that can be customized based on user behavior. All of the platforms and systems I have mentioned should easily and seamlessly integrate back into your CRM.
  5. Daily Deal Sites
    Whether you are using the larger national brands (Groupon or LivingSocial – are they even still around?) or you prefer working with a local site, Daily Deals should be part of your sales and marketing strategy. If you’re not using Daily Deal sites to create demand or off-load inventory, you may want to research this as a viable channel. Generally speaking, if you list it, it will sell – albeit at a price you won’t necessarily love (unless you have a strategy that makes sense for your event). We see more and more event organizers partnering with Daily Deal sites for 3 key reasons: A) They work – plain and simple. B) Attract early adopters – some events sell a limited number of spots early in their sales cycle to recruit influencers in the hope that these people will share socially and recruit friends to join at the regular price point. C) Move stagnant inventory – some events use these sites to sell unsold inventory just before race day.

Some say, if you have spots, you might as well sell them. Like anything in life or business, there’s no single recipe for success—each event, each race, each organization is different, with unique needs. The best bet is to get to know your audience (participants, spectators, buyers, etc.) if you don’t already.

Do some research to identify which online circles your audience is in, then get out there on social media and re-target them until they sign up, share with their network and sell your next two or three (or more) registrations for you!