Facebook Events vs. Pages

When RunSignUp first came out with our Facebook integration we created a very cool feature that allowed us to create a Facebook Event for a race automatically.

The bad news is that Facebook changed the way Facebook Events work.  And you can no longer renew an event and change the date to the next year.

The good news is that Facebook has introduced Facebook Pages.  I am convinced this is the way to go for races now.  I created one for the Scott Coffee Moorestown Rotary 8K that I help direct.  You can create a Facebook Page here, and learn more here.

Over the next week or so I will put up posts that cover this topic in more detail and what we are going to be doing at RunSignUp.

Race Director March Newsletter

Race Directors Newsletter

This month we will discuss how race directors can take advantage of several major features RunSignUp has added – Email Marketing, Custom Widgets, and RunSignUp Sites.

Email Marketing

Communicating with your runners is important in many ways.  Reminding runners that your race date is approaching and to sign up.  Sending educational emails to make sure runners are prepared for your race.  And, of course, any last minute emails that need to be sent.

RunSignUp recently announced the availability of a Free Email for race directors who use our registration service.

See the Release Information.
See the Video Overview.

We have partnered with iContact, a very complete Email Marketing that is a bit more modern than Constant Contact.  We make it simple to upload your participant lists and update them into iContact.  We also auto-log you into iContact, where you are able to upload more contacts (for example if you used Active last year you can upload that csv file).  We do have two requirements – one is a limit of 6 emails per race and that all emails are pertaining to the race.  We do NOT want to turn this into a spam machine, but provide value to race directors and runners.

This is a free service, unlike Active, which charges $9 per month for only 500 contacts.  It is available now under the “Social” Tab on your race adminstration page on RunSignUp.

Registration Right on Your Website!

Do you have your own website?  Did you know that with RunSignUp, you can let runners register right there with our widget technology?  We are seeing an increased number of timers and races embed the widget to make it easier for runners and provide more value to their sponsors.  Here is a video on how to do this.

For example, the Dexter Ann Arbor raceuses the widget.  So do timing services likeL&M Sports.  We just added a new feature that allows races to customize the colors of the widget easily.

Create Your Own Website!

There are many ways of creating a website.  However many of them are too hard and expensive, or they are too simple and don’t give you flexibility.  And none of them are made for runners.

Introducing RunSignUp Sites.  This is another free service from us to help the running community and is available for any running related group or race – even if you do not use our registration service.

We are in open Beta now.  That means it works, but there may be a few bugs. We are still adding features and more running related templates as well as seeking input from people.

For race directors who use RunSignUp already, we have created a “one button push” to create your website.  It embeds the widgets into the right pages, pulls your race description and puts it on the home page so the website is functional in less than a minute.  Very cool!

Take a look at the OverviewVideos and FAQ.  Here are some early Sites:

Reminder – if you are using RunSignUp for a race – go to the “Social” tab and then click on RSU Sites to do the one button site creation – you will then be able to go in and edit it.

RunSignUp Releases Free Race Email Marketing Service

RunSignUp Releases Free Race Email Marketing Service

Partners with email and social media marketing leader iContact to allow race directors free email services for promoting races

Moorestown, NJ – March 9, 2012 – RunSignUp, the leading innovator of online tools for Races and Running Clubs, today announced the availability of a new free email marketing service.  Available immediately, RunSignUp provides a free, fully integrated email service in partnership with iContact, a leading email and social media marketing company, to any race using RunSignUp for registration services.  A video demonstration is available at https://runsignup.com/EmailMarketing/.

Race Directors who use RunSignUp will be able to create and login to their own iContact account.  Using the advanced RunSignUp security system, co-race directors and timers who have been given permission will all be able to access and use the email service.  It includes the following features:

  • Transfer and update participant information into iContact.
  • Generate and send emails easily.
  • Reuse powerful email templates.
  • Track email response rates like bounces, opens and forwards.
  • Add other email lists, perhaps from previous year registrations downloaded from other services like Active.com.
  • Promote your emails easily through Facebook and Twitter.

RunSignUp provides this service for free for up to 6 emails per race, and only for the purposes of promoting or communicating about the race director’s or timer’s race(s).

Geoff Alexander, director of product marketing, iContact stated “We are happy to provide our industry leading email marketing tools to Race Directors and Timers through this partnership with RunSignUp.  With more than 1,000,000 users across the globe, we created the iContact Program Program to allow solution providers like RunSignUp to give their customers powerful, easy-to-use, and fully integrated email marketing for the running community.”

Chuck Block of the Michigan Running Foundation added “RunSignUp continues to bring us new and valuable features for managing and promoting our race.  We have tried the new email marketing and found it very simple to use.  We can use it for both updating runners who have already registered with any last minute communications, and for emailing past registrants to remind them to sign up.  We will be using this to help the dozens of races we time and manage each year.”

About iContact
Based in Raleigh, NC, iContact is a purpose-driven company that makes email marketing and social media marketing easy, so that small and midsized companies and causes can grow and succeed. More than one million users have signed up for an iContact account, and the company maintains B Corporation status, a certification awarded to companies meeting comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards. As part of its ongoing social mission, iContact applies the 4-1s Corporate Social Responsibility Model, donating 1 percent from each of its payroll, equity, product, and employee time to its local and global communities. Visit us online at iContact.com, on Twitter @iContact, at our LinkedIn Group, and at our Facebook page.

About RunSignUp
RunSignUp is the leading innovator of online tools for Races and Running Clubs.  Services include RunSignUp for race registration, RunSignUp Clubs to enable membership management, and RunSignUp Sites for creating free websites for any running related organization.  Over 1,000 race directors, timers, and running club officers use these services today.  Services are free except for processing fees when conducting monetary transactions like race registration or club membership renewals.  RunSignUp is founded by runners for runners, using technical capabilities to bring the power of cloud computing to benefit the running community.

The Open Web

I come from the Internet Technology business with a lot of focus on open source and the newer Cloud models.  This has been a driving force in how we have thought about designing and delivering RunSignUp.

I just re-read an article by a friend of mine on The Open Web.  It is a bit geeky for the race director and timer community, but some of the basics are what RunSignUp is built on.  In particular:

  • We’ll shift our focus away from systems of record and toward systems of engagement.
  • Our business partners will drive us to design web platforms, not just websites.
  • We’ll give smart mobile devices and apps high priority in our designs — usually with a mobile-first policy.

Obviously the big dog in the online running registration is Active.com.  They come from a different era where they drive traffic to their site to make money on registration fees as well as advertising and selling subscriber names.

RunSignUp is designed from the bottom up to live on other websites with our widget technology.  As seen above, the Dexter Ann Arbor Half Marathon allows registration right on their website with RunSignUp.  We think this is where the running community is – out in thousands of different local races and running clubs.  With timers who work in collaboration with their race directors.

We will keep focusing our efforts on this new world of flexibility and freedom.  And check how RunSignUp looks from your smartphone to signup for a race – it is pretty cool… (That’s HTML5 we use and technology like Terawurfl to determine if you have an iPhone, Android or iPad).  Yep it is a new world and we are here to helpt he running community take advantage of this new wave of technology!

We Need Another Great Developer!

RunSignUp continues to grow very quickly by developing easy to use cloud services for the running community. Learn more about us here.

We build in PHP, MySQL and use the Smarty MVC template engine.  We do a lot of AJAX and Javascript on the front end.  We run on an advanced Amazon infrastructure and have a team of 6 part and full time developers.  Our testing environment is expanding to include Selenium and Jenkins.

The ideal candidate will have a strong software development background in the technologies listed above – particularly web and database development.  We will consider recent and upcoming college graduates with a bachelors or masters in computer science or related degree.  Runners are certainly a big plus!

The ideal candidate will be located in the Philadelphia are and be able to work at least some days at our office at IndyHall.  We do distributed development, so that is not a hard requirement.

The company is a well funded startup.  We grew 5X from 2010 to 2011 and expect nearly similar growth this coming year.  Send inquiries to bob.bickel at runsignup.com.

No More Fun?

There was an article in the NYTimes today “No More Innovation for the Fun of It”.  The point of the article was that many of the big companies like Apple and Google have turned into businesses that really only care about money.  And in that pursuit they do things like capture information and figure out ways to use it to gain more money.

This reminds me of a common practice that our friends at Active.com use.  Here is their privacy policy and a key sentence – “Active uses your information to perform transactions, deliver services or information you have requested, and offer you products and services from Active and our trusted partners, programs or services that we believe may be of interest to you.”

What this means is that you pay $3.25 to sign up for a $25 race.  They then start sending you emails.  Most of those emails contain ads from races and others – they are making money from your email.  They try to direct runners to their website to sell more ads.  And of course they have gone far beyond running in terms of their focus and business model.

At RunSignUp, we are all about running and having fun.  Our privacy policy is pretty simple: “we DO NOT sell or share your information with anyone except the Event Director for races you register for at RunSignUp.com.”  And we love creating new ways for runners to come together – for example our new, free Sites offering that allows any running group to create a website for free.  Even if you decide to use Active.com as an your registration method to spam your friends and runners…