Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run Case Study

We have a series Customer Case Studies, in which we take your stories and share your challenges and successes as a learning tool for other RunSignUp users.  This Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run Case Study focuses on tiered pricing for a sellout race, building bib labels, and differentiating your race to create positive word of mouth. 

View the PDF Version of the Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run Case Study

Case Study Header for WordPress

Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run and RunSignUp

Picture1 The 2015 Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run came to RunSignUp after hearing about the integration with Race Director during a Webinar, and seeing results of a poll indicating that a high percentage of Race Director users prefer RunSignUp.  The important factors in the move included a lower cost (the race chooses to absorb processing fees), and the potential to better integrate with their club system.

About the Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run:

2015 marked the 12th edition of the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners’ Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run, directed by club member Daniel Todd.  The event was initially named to indicate that runners’ “dogs” (feet) would get dirty…but someone suggested that Daniel allow actual dogs as well, and the idea took off.  Dogs are not only allowed to participate, but are actually encouraged and provided accommodation (at no additional cost).

Offering Low Cost, Tiered Pricing with a Sellout Race

While the race started with just 63 runners, it has grown over the years and now caps out each year. Because of this, Daniel is able to use a unique tiered pricing system that allows him to reward early registrants.

  • The first 100 Runners pay just $15
  • The next 150 Runners pay $25
  • The remaining Runners pay $35Picture2

To accomplish this in the RunSignUp system, Daniel sets the race at $35, and uses publicly posted coupon codes (limited to the number of users for that price range) for the discounted options.

This year, Daniel used the RunSignUp Loyalty Program to give last year’s runners first access to the $15 slots by allowing them to register earlier.  60 runners took advantage of the Loyalty Program access; the remaining $15 registrations sold out in a few hours when regular registration opened.Picture3

Because the race sells out, the tiered pricing allows Daniel to know ahead of time exactly how many registrations will be sold at each price point, and budget accordingly.  This also helps him to maintain a low price point on the race: his goal each year is just to collect enough in registrations to offer runners a good process, make a donation to a local animal shelter, and put a little bit of funding into the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners Club.

 Building Bib Labels for an Easier Packet Pickup

DPicture4aniel used to do Bib Assignment in Race Director; this year, he assigned his bibs in RunSignup and then synced it with Race Director.  He was able to customize his bibs to include ALL information that volunteers at Packet Pickup might find important, including information collected in custom questions (like whether they have a dog and need a bandana).  The system saves his Bib preferences, so he can re-use that bib label.Picture5

The Bib label builder was very easy and saved automatically. Always, no matter what system I use, somewhere in the mix the labels get screwed up and print off the label…this time, every page printed perfectly.  In other words…it WORKED.  That’s the key.”
– Daniel Todd

Communicating with Runners: Widgets & Email Marketing

The Dirty Dog 15K is listed on the WVMTR’s website; to keep traffic there (and engaged with the club), they use a widget on their Club site for sign ups.

“I really like the addition of widgets.  It appears that people are staying on your website; you can customize it and really make it a part of the site.  Our entrant list on our website is just a widget to RunSignup.”

The second tool that Daniel used to keep runners informed was the new Email Marketing system.  He likes to send both pre and post race emails to his runners, and values the ability to use RunSignUp to communicate effectively with those runners.

“One thing we try to do is to make the race a little bit better each year: that much more organized, that much more efficient…the only way you get a good word of mouth is by putting on a good, efficient race with a positive experience for runners.”

Differentiators:  Creating a Unique Race Experience

The goal of every race is to create an experience that differentiates it from other race options. While allowing dogs was more of a post-naming accident, it has become an integral part of why runners to Charleston, West Virginia from throughout the area for the 15K trail run. In 2015, they had runners from 15 states, as far as Florida and Ontario, Canada.

Runners can bring 1-2 dogs; dogs must be on a leash for the first mile, but can run the rest of the race off-leash within eyesight, and running dogs receive a bandana.  There is also a “Top Dog” prize for the first dog to finish.  A full 107 runners (27% of the race) indicated that their dog was running as well.

There are a few other bells and whistles that Daniel uses to set this race apart:

  • Notifications: Because of the remote location, there is no internet and runners cannot get instant notifications; however, notifications are still turned on and go out as soon as an internet connection is made.  For a 400-person race, this is a nice perk even with the delay.  In 2015, 187 SMS notifications, and 168 Email notifications were sent out.
  • Results Scrolling on a TV Screen: Daniel further addresses runners’ desire to see their results instantly by setting up a scrolling results screen on a TV within about 10 minutes of the first runner finishing.
  • Video Results: There are video results for all runners.  This is complicated by the off-sets of having wave starts for a non chip-timed race, but is popular with the runners regardless. Video Bonus: it also helped Daniel to recognize and disqualify a few runners who were running under someone else’s bib, and had “placed” in an incorrect division.Picture8

Why it matters: As a custom question, the race asks runners a multiple choice question regarding how they heard about the race. 40.8% indicated that they had heard from Family/Friend; another 34.4% were previous participants coming back.

That means an overwhelming 75.2% of participants are registering because either they, or someone they know, had a great race experience.Picture7

Photo credit to Mary Shannon Johnstone…fantastic photos and a fantastic race!

If you have a success story about your race, store or club, big or small,  email us
…we’d love to explore a Case Study on your topic!

Coupon per Event for Multi-Event Registration

Per Event Coupon CodesWe have had the ability to set a coupon code on a per event basis for quite a while. This new feature allows a runner to sign up for multiple events in one transaction and get the coupon code for only the events they are applicable to.

For example, if someone signed up for both the “Welcome Event” and the “Festival and Walk” in the above example, the coupon $ or % off would only apply to the “Festival and Walk”.

Coupons for Corporate Team Teams

Corporate Team CouponsYes, that title was intentional. RunSignUp has extensive support for Corporate Teams. This is where a company is typically providing some sort of support for employees, like helping to pay for entry fees, or providing discounted fees to members of Corporate Teams (perhaps because the company helped with sponsorship of the race). Since the company typically helps with the fee and the race has a lower price we have not allowed coupon codes to be used in tandem with Corporate Team pricing.

People who join a Corporate Team can also join a regular Group/Team as well. One of the options of Groups/Teams is a single Setup fee (eg. $250 for a team of 5 to be paid by the first person to set up the team). We had a request from the Pittsburgh Marathon to allow coupons to be used by Corporate Teams for creating Relay Teams (10% off for the $250 single fee per team).

So now people registering for corporate teams will see a coupon code box during checkout. However, the coupon can only be used for the group/team fees.

Updated Coupons

We have released new functionality with our Coupons that improve reporting, analysis and ease management and creation. In addition we added some nice enhanced features.

Coupons ReportFirst, reporting has been improved with built in ROI analysis. You will note the top table shows the discount amount ($5,386) and the amount of registration fees they produced ($7,790) for an ROI of 144%.

The second table shows the % of coupon usage relative to the overall number of transactions (373 out of 3,843 – or 9.7%) or Registrations and the average coupon discount ($10.45).Coupon Codes

When creating or editing a coupon, you now have finer control of what the Coupon is applicable to as seen on the right. Note that we default all of these to ON when you select Race Registration Fees.

We have also simplified the uses of the the Coupons:


There is now an Advanced Setting section that includes a Notes field (so you can remember why you created this coupon!), as well as further restriction options like it must be a new customer, the total transaction has to reach a certain minimum, or limit the number of transactions for a user. You can also share the coupon code between specfic races that you are the director for:

Coupon Code Advanced Options

All of these features are also available to Partners who can share codes across all of their races. This is useful for multi-city race series or for event management or running stores who help put on races. Here is an example report from a small partner:

Coupon Usage Graph

Finally, there is an API that allows other technology partners to create coupons and pull coupon information.

Copying Race Coupon Limit of 50,000

Copy CouponsWe have recently upped the limit to 50,000 coupons that can be copied when creating a new race with the copy feature. We also now automatically remove expired coupons, which will not count against the 50,000 limit.

If your race has over 50,000 coupons, we suggest that you keep track of them in separate spreadsheets.  Then you can copy the race except for the coupons, and import the coupons on a separate step.

If you have a Partner Account, you can also create coupons that can be shared among races, which may be a better way to handle this type of situation if you want to share 45,000 coupons between races.

Affiliate Discounts

Affiliate Base DiscountRunSignUp’s Affiliate Program was designed for partners like RunningintheUSA.com who have race calendars. It allows them to easily grab all of the races on RunSignUp and list them automatically on their website. We have a tracking code so we know the source of the runner coming to register on RunSignUp.

We’ve taken this idea to a new and different level and given the ability to use the affiliate code to trigger a discount. The idea is that there might be a website or mobile app that wants to give a discount to their customers. This can be useful for sponsors – say a local healthcare company is a sponsor for your race and wants to promote healthy activities to their customers who visit their website. They could put a link on their website to register and include an affiliate code. RunSignUp can detect that affiliate code and give a discount to their customers. You could even run a report at the end of your race and ask the sponsor to repay the discounts.

The other way to think about this is a way to attract certain runners. A perfect example is approaching a local running store and tell them if they put a highlight link on their website, or include your race in their newsletter, then you will give their customers a discount. Running stores are always looking for ways to bring value to their customers and they would love to send an email saying get $5 off a race since you are a valued store customer.

Setting up the discount and affiliate code is relatively easy.  Just go to RunSignUp.com/Affiliate to get your code for each originating website or mobile app. Then put that affiliate code on the end of the race registration link according to the documentation.

On the race side, there is a new pricing option for setting up pricing for each affiliate. Runners who came to register via the affiliate website automatically get a discount unless they enter in another coupon code.

Coupons for Giveaway Upgrades

Giveaway CouponSome races have a cost to some of their giveaway items. For example a free cotton shirt, but $10 extra for a tech shirt.

Up until now, the coupon for race fees also applied to the giveaway items. So if the runner had a 100% off coupon, they also got the tech shirt for free. With this new release you can specify what items receive the coupon discount.

Note that all existing events were migrated to have the race fee coupon also apply for the giveaway item since that is how the system had previously worked.