What is CRM for Races?

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a term that has been around since the 1990’s when Siebel used it to position their software for sales organizations. Today, CRM has become a hot topic for races who are looking to maximize their connections with customers and increase loyalty and gain new participants. Much of RunSignup has been built from the beginning as a core CRM engine with lots of CRM functionality. Bob is so old that RunSignup is his 6th major CRM.

Wikipedia defines CRM as:

“an approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.”

CRM has in the past been used mostly for businesses with larger transactions and a more targeted sales effort than races typically have. With the lower costs of cloud technology, CRM concepts have come down in price to where even small races can grow using CRM.

Race Day Experience (and Policies)

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 11.06.07 AM.pngBefore we get into the technology, it is important to understand that the most important part of CRM is to have a great race day experience and to make sure your race policies and interactions support CRM concepts.

The Race Day Experience has to be special. There are so many alternatives for people to spend their time and money. And if you want them to come back, much less refer friends and family, they have to think it is a great event.

Race policies can be just as important. Most races want people to sign up early, but have very restrictive refund policies that punish early registrants if they can not make the event with a no refund policy. In the age of social media, you have to protect against negative reviews from a few soured participants.

We see many races turning on the self-serve bib exchange in RunSignup as a fundamental part of using CRM to implement their runner friendly policies. Vacation Races has implemented a very friendly refund policy that decreases the % of refund as their races get closer. This makes sense to participants and they get great reviews and feedback because of the flexibility. At the Scott Coffee Run, Bob has a “no refund” policy, but when he gets an email begging for a refund, he simply gives them a free coupon to use for next year’s race. There are lots of options as part of the RunSignup CRM, so do what makes sense for your race and participants.

CRM Engagement

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 11.05.35 AM.pngIf the foundation is your race experience and policies, the things you want to do with your Race CRM is engage with your various constituencies – Participants, Fundraisers, Donors, Sponsors, Volunteers, Clubs and more.

CRM Engagement happens thru a wide variety and combination of:

  • Channels – your race website, email, Facebook, expos, training groups, etc.
  • Targeting – specific targets like Fundraisers who raised over $250 last year, Participants who have run your race over 5 times, Participants who referred more than 2 friends, Runners who ran faster than 3 Hours, Registrants who signed up with a coupon last year, Registrants who signed up greater than 2 months before the race last year, etc.
  • Promotions – this is how you get them to engage. It might be a loyalty program where there is a special registration period. A Team size competition with the largest team getting their own area with their own port-a-potty and tent. Special pricing or coupons. Special Swag Referral programs.
  • Participant Management – This is where you are taking care of the details of managing your participants. Setting bibs and corrals and communicating expo and start information. Managing changes. Enabling self serve in a way that it drives incremental revenue. And so much more as every race director knows!

CRM Participant Management

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 11.05.12 AM.pngYour CRM should have two focal points. First – make it simple for participants to help themselves. This is usually thought of as enabling bib exchange, refunds, deferrals, etc. The perhaps more important aspect is having the information available to participants via your website, with self serve “resend confirmation email”, automated emails for race day information like giving them their bib number and corral start reminder.

Second, no matter how good your information is, or how easy your website is, there will always be people who want hand holding or are special. The system has to give the race director information about the participant – have they run your race in the past? Have they run other races, or made donations or raised money?

When you have the information, is it easy to process the functions you need to do – switch events, process refunds, resend confirmation emails, put them on a team, etc. And finally, if you have multiple people helping with customer service, is there a way to communicate about customers by making notes that are shared.

CRM Promotion

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 11.05.23 AM.pngAs the Wikipedia definition says, a huge part of CRM is maximizing sales. The two fundamental parts of this are increasing loyalty by getting returning participants, and by leveraging the people who know about your race to invite their friends and spread the word. And with things like Facebook Custom Audiences, find people who are like the people who come to your race.

CRM should have a robust set of tools to execute promotional campaigns that are cost effective. And there should be analytical tools to see what is working and what is not.

CRM Data – Across the Whole Race Lifecycle

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 11.05.57 AM.png

To bring meaning to all of the engagement options you have with your CRM across Participant Management and Promotion, you need to use the data that participants share with you across the entire race lifecycle. When and how they registered, what teams they are on and who are their team members, did they use coupons, do they donate, did they set a PR last year, do they have photos, who cheered them on during the race, etc. Having this all together in a single database designed for races is key.

This data will help increase the effectiveness of your CRM engagement during the participant management phase and the promotion phase.

And remember, your Customers are more than just your participants – it is your volunteers, sponsors, charities, timer, running store, running clubs and the whole community that makes up your race.

Flexibility and Automation

Finally, you want a CRM that is flexible and meets the needs of your race, and has high levels of automation since every race director is short on time!

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