We’ve got 10—count ‘em, 10—email marketing tips that you may already know, might be ignoring, or perhaps just forgot along the way in the midst of all your race planning. If you know all 10, congrats! You can just skip to the end, where we have a gift certificate for a free jet ski. If you want a quick refresher, check out our tips below so you can send great emails that will be opened, and read with fervor:

1. Welcome Them

Whether someone just registered for your event or subscribed to your blog, hitch up the welcome wagon and send them a short thank you. Welcome them and tell them what they can expect in regards to upcoming communications.

For example, include something like “You’ll hear from us about once a month with important race updates.” And then stick to that promise! This will help reduce unsubscribes, and is just plain good manners.

2. Don’t Spam

As we just hinted, it can be tempting to send out more and more emails. It’s free marketing, right? Well…yes, but if you exhaust your email list, you’ll be making announcements to an empty room. So tread lightly!

There is no rule as to how frequently you can email your database, but you should only send an email if what it contains will be interesting and valuable to the recipients. This can be hard, but you have to put yourself in their shoes. If a sponsor wants you to make a sales pitch, or registrations are down from last year, don’t blast your database unless you can include something of direct value like a coupon code. Protect those contacts like a little brother who’s getting pushed around by older kids on the playground.

Try reaching out via your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter before you send you out that next email. You just might be surprised by the response.

3. Segment and Personalize

Best email marketing practices dictate you segment your contacts into bite-sized lists. For example, create lists for past registrants, current registrants, sponsors, volunteers, age groups, etc. This is crucial—it allows you to tailor the information you send out and make sure it is valuable and applicable to the people receiving it (see #2!).

Although it will take you more time, you don’t want to blast registration info to people who have already signed up, or start line volunteer info to finish line volunteers. Segment your lists and personalize the information in each email, even down to first names (most email providers allow you to do this dynamically from your list of contacts).

4. Test and Retest

To really get to know your audience, you have to run some tests to see what kind of emails they like best. Split one of your contact lists in half and send two different versions of the same email. You could test two versions of a subject line, bullet point versus paragraph layout, or even images versus text only. Analyze your email open rates and click-through rates based on these tests, and you’ll be able to determine what’s being read, and what’s not.

5. Brand It

Add your logo to every email, and make sure the event name is in the subject line as well as the headline within the body text. This will strengthen your brand, but it’s also professional and makes your email instantly recognizable.


6. Don’t Be Shady

Don’t hide the unsubscribe button within a bunch of links in 8-point font at the bottom of the email (or remove it altogether). And don’t make people go through a 5-step process to opt out. That can be frustrating and creates bad will for your event.

If they want out, let them out and use it as a learning opportunity. If large numbers are unsubscribing, what info can you include that would be more engaging? Put on your marketing cap and dust off that psychology book…both will come in handy.

7. Be Brief

According to several recent studies*, the average human attention span is approximately 8 seconds, which means you don’t have time to play around in your emails. Keep the text as short as possible and easy to scan (add bold headlines, bullet points, etc).

Can you still provide all the important information in 200 words? 100? Cut out as much fluff as possible, or you will lose their…SQUIRREL!

8. Mobilize

In early 2014, mobile web traffic overtook desktop traffic and changed the game forever.** For any business in any industry, your digital marketing—from your website to online ads to emails—needs to be mobile optimized because that’s where people are looking most frequently. If recipients cannot read your emails on a mobile device, you will be missing out on reaching them with your message.

9. Use Your Words

While images look really cool, they aren’t always viewable in emails. Many people have images automatically blocked, and most don’t click “Show Blocked Images” to see them. If your entire email is one big image, your recipients will just see a big blank spot with no words—and the likelihood of that click will go way down. Be sure to put important information in text versus embedding it into an image to give context and ensure it is read no matter what.


10. Have Fun

Email, along with social media, is your most consistent connection with your participants. And just like on Facebook or Twitter, you can use email to show some personality. Keep your tone of voice conversational and authentic to grab people’s attention (ahem, those 8 seconds are ticking) and personify your event. This will make it more fun for you to write emails, and will help you establish your brand and stand out from the crowd.

We’d love to chat with you about your email marketing, how you’re communicating with your customers and how you’re working to grow your race. We have a few other ideas up our sleeve. Feel free to contact us for more race management ideas and resources.

Check out 9 free (or almost free) ways to grow your race to find other options beyond email marketing to get your registration numbers up.

Anyone who skipped to the bottom looking for a free ski boat, thank you for reading our first few sentences! And sorry about the boat…you just participated in our first test on attention spans!

*Statistics Brain
**Search Engine Watch

To learn more about ChronoTrack, contact us.