Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What many Half Marathon Websites are Missing and Helpful Marketing Tips For Your Running Events

Industry Guidelines for Half Marathons (Managing, Marketing & Website Presence)

Marathon Events that include a Half Marathon Distance
Marathon websites that include a half marathon distance should list the event as Marathon and Half Marathon (or at minimum have half marathon clearly visible on the home page ..... not just the marathon). Half Marathons are a MUCH bigger market than the marathon, hence putting as much emphasis on the half marathon as the marathon is smart marketing.

Dates on Event Sites Should Include the Year the Event Date is Updated For
Websites should include the YEAR of the date they present on the website. Some websites have a date with no year, leaving it very difficult for runners and race calendars to determine if it is last year's event or the upcoming date.

Schedule Half Marathons One Year Out (this has become the expected norm)
If you cancel your event due to low participation, and didn't announce your date one year in advance, ... low participation is no longer an excuse. Let's call it poor planning. The half marathon industry and amount of runners out there is booming. Half Marathon events should identify and update their date for the half marathon event one year in advance. Ten months is so-so, 9 months is really pushin' it, and anything less than 8 months from an event date is unacceptable. For events that post their date less than 8 months away and wonder why their attendance is low, .... most half marathoners these days plan their event schedule a year out.

Be Proactive in Submitting Your Event to Online Race Calendars
Whether you are on top of the game, scheduling and announcing your upcoming race date a year out, or one of the procrastinators posting a date less than 8 months from event date, ...... at least be proactive and submit your updated dates to event sites like the Halfmarathonsearch.com Half Marathon Calendar. The sooner you get this updated, the sooner you will have visibility to your event(s), and draw in the runner's that like to plan ahead. This is also helpful for the race calendars that take a lot of time checking and re-checking to finally find your race date is updated.

Don't Change Your Website Link to Your Half Marathon 
Change the information on the page, but do NOT create a brand new page with a brand new link every year!  There are MANY reasons why you should not create a brand new page every year.

  • First, many people bookmark pages.  Ending up with a dead link to your event year after year, and having to go and re-search for you event is not a pleasant experience for the runners. 
  • It is not fun for online calendars to have to re-dig up your event every year when the link to your event stops working.
  • Creating a new page every year is bad for SEO (search engine optimization).  The longer a page is around, the more value it has, and the better it will do in search engines like google.
Don't Take Your Website Down when the Event is Over for the Year
This is just a hassle all around and similar to above, is frustrating for both runners, and online calendars.

Have at Least SOME all year round Online Presence
If you can't afford to create a website, create a FREE Blogger page. You can post pictures, announcements, date of event, etc, and have an all year round presence online. If you're an organization like a YMCA / YWCA, many notorious for the page and info disappearing after the event is finished for the year, it would be very helpful to create a page that would remain online all year.

List the City and State on the HOME PAGE.
There are many events out there that forget runners land on your half marathon website from all over the US and sometimes out of the country. It's critical to list your city and state on the home page, preferably right under the event name on the primary event home page. This includes some race directors assuming that runners know where some park is that you list on your site. Always design your content with the expectation that readers have no clue where you are located, and have no idea where your event is without the use of something like google maps or gps. List City, State, etc, along with full addresses to event site.

Build Relationships with Local and National Running Clubs
Be creative and give discounts to running clubs to create a great relationship with them. They will be more helpful than you can imagine, and can often get your event extra visibility. Not only that, but having relationships with running clubs such as national Fifty 50 States Half Marathon Club, can often bring you out of state runners in that may not have otherwise come out to your event, or even just great camaraderie. Not always immediate return, but in the long run, having those alliances can really go a long way.

Scenic Photos
It is very important to have photos on your home page of your half marathon venue if you want to truly attract halfmarathoners to your event. People are visual, and are attracted to scenic photos from your event course, in addition to photos of your bling, swag, and maybe even your post race party. This will help draw in runners from all over, such as 50 Staters looking for great events in other states and runners that are not from your community.

Support the Walker Friendly Community
A half marathon in this age is not all about the fast runners, but has become a great event to encourage healthy fun lifestyle, and has grown to be an event supported for both runners, joggers, and walkers (well not by all events of course). Walker friendly is a minimum of 4 hours to be considered an "official walker friendly" half marathon. We encourage your half marathon event to support the walking community and allow a minimum of 4 hours (fully supported) for walkers to finish. Also clearly making this visible on your website will help attract the walking community looking for walker friendly events.Halfmarathonsearch.com also uses a "W" symbol for official walker friendly half marathons on their site. If your event is "official walker friendly" of a minimum of 4 hours fully supported for half marathoners, make sure the "W" is listed by your event at Halfmarathonsearch.com and get the news out. For events that are trying to grow their field, promoting your walker friendly time allowed, and promoting your support for the walker friendly community, is a great way to draw in the growing community of half marathon walkers. Word gets out fast in the Half Marathon community!