What 2020 Taught Us About Event Marketing

We don’t expect another year quite like 2020, but there is still a lot to learn from the registration patterns of the year. Our 2020 RaceTrends Report showed shifts in marketing strategies as people moved online, and with those shifts, lessons to carry into 2021 and beyond.

Marketing is All About Social

And we don’t mean (just) social media. The major theme of the marketing trends: even with social distancing, social connections are the key to marketing your event. In fact, social marketing tools increased their effectiveness in a virtual world. What does that mean as we return to in-person events?

Referral Rewards are The MOST EFFECTIVE Marketing Tool

How Referral Rewards Work: When enabled, a referral rewards program provides every registrant with an automated referral link that they can share with friends and family. When people register with that unique link, the referrer is credited for the referral – and the race can offer a reward (like an automatic refund or premium swag) to every referrer who refers enough participants to reach a pre-determined threshold. For example, a referrer gets a $20 refund when they successfully refer 5 participants.

Why Referral Rewards Work: It’s simple: people trust their friends and family more than they trust an advertisement (or even an email from you). As a result, people are much more likely to register for an event if it’s shared and recommended by a friend. Offering rewards provides participants with an incentive to take that first step and share the event. Meanwhile, most referrers will not reach the threshold for a refund (5, in the previous example), but will still refer 1 or 2 participants to the event.

What We Learned from 2020: Referrals have always been highly effective, but their importance skyrocketed in 2020, with 17% of registration dollars coming from referrals when they are enabled, compared to 7% in 2019.

  • Virtual events can be a way for people to do something “together” even when they are apart. If you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid event, use referral rewards to encourage participation across the country.
  • As events begin to return in-person, encourage referrals as a fun option for gathering with friends, whether they’re limited to a quick hello or able to join a raucous post-race party.

View the Referral Rewards Refunds webinar or how-to.

Social Teams

There are dual marketing benefits to social teams: 1) this year, they can increase your participation by encouraging participants to invite their family and friends, and 2) participants that share race day with friends are more likely to enjoy the experience, and thus more likely to return in following years.

What We Learned from 2020: Teams joining increased slightly in 2020, with 31.4% of participants joining a team when they were offered, up 2% from 2019.

  • Use team-size incentives (discounts and automatic refunds for groups that reach a size threshold) to further motivate participants to invite their communities. The average size of a team with incentives was 7.3, compared to 6.6 for teams without incentives.

View How-To’s on setting up teams and offering refunds by team size.

Social Sharing

Social media use increased, generally, in 2020. While there some be may return 2019 social media usage as in-person gatherings become possible, social media (especially Facebook) will continue to be a valuable way for your participants to act as ambassadors and promote the event to their broader social network.

What We Learned from 2020: Social media was a driving force of race website views in 2020, with 25% of all page views coming from social media compared to just 17% in 2019.

  • Update your social sharing images and messaging to ensure that your best is shown when the race is shared.
  • Offer programs like referrals and team-size incentives that naturally encourage sharing

How-To’s to customize social sharing messages and confirmation messages for sharing.

Save Money with Free Tools

Event directors continue to deal with budget limitations caused by participant caps and increased safety measures. Take advantage of free marketing tools maximize your revenue and speed your recovery.

  • Race Websites. Free, customizable race websites can eliminate the cost of a web designer, and includes the ability to bring your own domain, complete with a free SSL Certificate.
    • 17% of all race website view came from organic search. Your free race website is optimized to ensure it ranks high on Google and is easy to find.
    • 73% of all website views and 52% of all transactions came on a mobile phone or tablet. Your free website is fully mobile responsive, even when customized.
  • Email MarketingSave your premium email service for another year. Our email service is automatically integrated with all your registration data – and it’s free. In 2020, event directors sent 259 million free emails, an significant increase from 187 million in 2019.
    • Enable automated emails to reach potential participants who abandoned their carts, remind current and previous participants of upcoming price increases, and create drip campaigns to reinforce referral programs, team joining, and fundraising.

View webinars on website essentialswebsite cover pages, and email marketing.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Customize Lists...