Creating an Email Schedule

Even though it’s been around for decades, email is still one of the most important promotional tools available to races. In fact, in 2023 17% of all registrations for races on RunSignup came directly from RunSignup’s email system. Because we know some customers still pay for an outside email service, we know that the true impact of email is event higher. Making it clear it’s something worth investing in. 

That said, sending emails out haphazardly probably won’t garner the impressive results mentioned above. People get over 100 emails per day on average. So, in order to truly capitalize, you need a plan.

In this article we share some tips on how to make a successful email schedule that engages your community and encourages them to sign up for your event. 

Creating your email schedule 

When thinking about creating an email schedule a main point to consider is the type of email you’re sending. For most races, there are five main types of emails they send. 

Each of these different email types tend to go out at different times in the registration cycle for a race. By scheduling each of these different email types, you functionally also build your overall email schedule. 

Below we dive into each email type and give suggestions on when is best to send each. 

Registration emails

As the name suggests, registration emails are messages encouraging people to register. These may be timed with price incentive emails (below), but you should ensure you’re emailing at key points on the registration regardless of your pricing schedule. Registration emails often go out when your race opens, midway through registration, and then right before registration for your event closes. 

When looking at registration trend data, these emails tend to align with spikes we see. The graph below shows this. 

Longer distance races tend to have longer registration periods, so it’s possible you’ll have an additional email for things like marathons and ultra marathons. Since more planning goes into these events, we think it’s best to have an additional email earlier in the registration process, as people tend to need more time to plan. 

For shorter races, it’s the opposite. We see more late registrations for things like 5ks, so sending an additional registration email close to registration close could be a good idea. Since these races require less training, people are more able to register closer to race day.

Price incentives

Price incentive emails refer to messages promoting things like upcoming price increases, or discount opportunities for a race. We’ve found both have a strong impact on registrations. Our data shows 26% of registrations happen within three days of a price increase, or registration close. 

There’s no set timeframe for when these need to go out and will obviously be dictated by when you set price increases, or discount windows for. In practice, it seems like sending an email about a week prior to a price increase and the day before a pricing increase is a good balance. Same thing with a discount code expiring. 

On average we see races do around one price increase per race. However, we think races should consider doing more. You could even consider doing a price increase each month registration is open. It’s an easy deadline to set and can help motivate people to sign up sooner. 

Registration follow-ups

Registration follow-up emails are messages to people who’ve already registered for your race. You can use these emails to encourage people who’ve already signed up to invite others in their networks. For example, you could use these to promote a referral program if you have one set up for your race. 

There’s no set time when you need to send these, many races send them a few days after registration and a few weeks after registration. It’s also good to know that with RunSignup you can automate these emails. It’s a big time saver for you and ensures the messages go out at the right time. This article gives insight on how to do that. 

Along with referral programs, you could use these emails to remind people about things like groups and teams, if they’re available for your race. They’re also a good option to try and raise donations or encourage peer-to-peer fundraising if fundraising is part of your event. 

Logistics emails

The emails mentioned above all fall into the marketing category, but logistics emails are just meant to communicate event information. They’re what we call transactional emails in the last step of the email builder. Meaning they’re for people who already purchased and are simply in relation to what they already bought. These emails are for things like letting people know when packet pickup is, or race start times. 

Generally you want to send these about a week out from your event, as well as the day before your event. Sending these multiple times better ensures people don’t miss the message and get all the needed information.

Similar to other emails, you’re also able to automate these messages with RunSignup by using registration follow-up emails or pre-scheduling the emails. There are even pre built templates in the system for you to use, though we do recommend doing at least some light customization to ensure all your key details are included. 

Emergency emails

Emergency emails are messages sent to let registrants know about any immediate changes. They’re generally for things like weather delays, cancellations, or last-minute route changes. Though no one hopes to send these, it is good to have something built just in case. 

You can create a basic template. Once that’s done you’re able to access them through your template library for any future races, too, which is very useful. In the event you do have to send an emergency email you should do so as soon as possible. They’re not fun to send, but the more time you give people, the better. 

Moving forward

Email is a powerful tool that can help get more people out to your event. But as a comic book uncle once taught us, with great power comes great responsibility. Having a plan in place for your email communications ensures you get the most out of your messages, while creating a positive experience for participants. 

If you want to get even more in-depth on email, check out our on demand webinar Your Email Strategy for 2024

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