Registration Web Referral Source

We released a major step forward with our Race Analytics engine today – showing web referral sources for Registrations and Transaction Dollars.

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This is all built on our big RunSignUp Analytics engine that is tracking each click that happens on your race website. Just like Google Analytics, we are tracking the  web referral source – so if a person saw a link to your race on Facebook and clicked on it, we know that click to your website came from Facebook and keep track of that as a pageview. We also keep track of when that person registers and keep track of that so there is a mapping.

For example, in the above race, 6 people came from the Facebook Mobile App generating $144, and 2 people came from regular Facebook in a web browser generating $70.

Other notes:

  • If you have a website for your race, that will likely be the top referrer since people are just coming to – and that is the case above
  • Direct means several things:
    • They typed in the direct RunSignUp URL –
    • They came to and searched for your race
    • They were imported
  • We will continue to build out functionality. In the next few weeks you will be able to:
    • See the split between Registration and Donation $Dollars
    • Create custom tracking codes for your own Campaigns. For example, create a unique code for each Facebook ad or for your own email system if you do not use RunSignUp

We are glad to be getting so much positive feedback on our new dashboards. Here is a snapshot of how they look now:

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What the Running Boom Pop Means for Races

In a recent New York Times article “The Running Boom Has Popped”, Jen Miller says

“Road races have hit the wall. The number of finishers in events in the United States has fallen from a peak of about 19 million in 2013 to just over 17 million in 2016.”

In the RunSignUp Trends Report analyzing trends from 2015-2016 of races, we found a flattening of registrations for races, with the number of registrations going up only 0.5%:

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Before getting too depressed, realize the RunningUSA numbers are based on finisher data that is incomplete, and an increasing number of events are less about the finish times and more about fun and community or charity activities. And there are still tens of millions of people participating in events across the country.

So What’s Race Director to Do?

In short, focus on what happens before and after registration – Promoting your race, and making Race Day a great experience.

RunSignUp knows that race directors have a tough job, and most are volunteers or part time. So we have been building more automated tools that help you promote your event and make race day special. Here are some of the best things you can do that will be quick and easy to set up, and bring more people to your race:

Automated Emails – Simply turn on the Automated Emails for Incomplete Registration and Price Increase. The system will take care of the rest for you – sending emails to people who did not complete registration, and to send custom emails to past participants before price increases.

Referral Rewards – Our recommendation is to set this up to give participants their registration fee back if they get 5 friends to sign up. Races doing this get over 10% of their registrations from the referral program and have an ROI of over 1,000%. And the RunSignUp system does everything else for you.

Facebook Page – Make sure you are integrated with your Facebook page and have set up good sharing options. This way your referrers will be even more powerful getting your race brand exposure. And for advanced Facebook advertisers, use our Facebook Custom Audience feature.

Race Day Notifications – Make sure your timer turns on automatic results notifications so participants get txt alerts of their results seconds after they cross the finish line.

RaceDay Photos – Get a photographer (or ask your timer to provide one!) and get your photos uploaded fast after the race. We automatically tag bib numbers so participants and spectators can enjoy their own pictures – and turn on the ability for them to add their own tags. This can be done very cheaply, and people love photos – at one race of 800 people there were over 34,000 photo views in the 2 days after the race.

RaceJoy – Here is a quote from a recent participant: “Racejoy was amazing. My brother out in Florida watched the “blue spot” go around the screen and listened to a cow bell the entire way and it was so special for him and me. I love it and I will always use RaceJoy! And by the way I’m 71 years old, and I figured it out myself, and that’s saying something. Which means the technology was not complicated and very user-friendly.”

Need more ideas? Feel free to talk with our team to discuss your particular race and what might work for your situation. We have hundreds of features that you have at your fingertips in your RunSignUp bag of tricks – make use of them so your race is not only a survivor in the bubble pop, but a true success.

How to Create a Facebook Ad with Custom Audiences

We recently released support for Facebook Custom Audiences, along with a walkthrough of How to Create a Facebook Custom Audience using these new reports. This walkthrough will show how to take the custom and lookalike audiences created in these previous posts and create Facebook ads targeting these new audiences. To get started, you will need to navigate to your Facebook Ads Manager and click on the Create an Ad button.

The first step in creating a Facebook advertisement is to determine what the ad’s marketing objective is. For most races and events, the primary objective of the campaign will be to drive registrations or Conversions, so for our example, we will show an ad setup with the goal of driving conversions.

Once you have selected the conversations objective, you will be asked if you want to create a split test, and you will be prompted to create a name for the campaign. Split tests are an advanced technique used to compare different advertisements and strategies to determine which are the most effective advertisements. In this example, we will be setting up a simple advertisement without using a split test, but stay tuned for a split-test walkthrough in the future!

The next step in your setup will be to create a name for a new Ad Set. An Ad Set allows you to define a target audience and spending rules. You can then create advertisements within that Ad Set, which will follow all of the targeting and spending rules defined by the Ad Set. This allows you to easily define the targeting and spending, but to create different ad copy for separate advertisements.

Next, you will have to define what a conversion is for this advertisement. You can either use the standard Purchase event, which RunSignUp will trigger when a registration is completed, or you can create a Custom Conversion.

Our next step will be to determine the target audience for our advertisement. The first section of this form prompts the users to select a custom or lookalike as the baseline targeting.

If you are using a custom audience, all the targeting you need to do is to select that audience from the dropdown! Facebook will create a target audience that only references the Facebook users on the list that you specifically uploaded. You can add additional targeting information such as zip code radius, age, and gender, but this will narrow your target list. Since the custom lists generated through RunSignUp will have participated in your event in some way, typically you won’t want to further refine this target audience.

However, if you are creating an advertisement from a lookalike audience rather than a custom audience, additional refinement is a vital step. Unlike a custom audience that is targeting a specific list, a lookalike audience takes the participants on your custom list and attempts to find Facebook users that are close matches and are therefore good targets for your campaign. The caveat, however, is when creating a lookalike audience you can only setup geographic targets by continent or country. This means by default your lookalike audience will target the entire United States.

Obviously, targeting the entire country for a race is rarely the way to achieve the highest return on investment. To address this problem, click on the “Edit Locations” button and enter the name of any locations you wish to target. Facebook will then update a map displaying the different areas targeted by the advertisement. This will then take the nationwide lookalike audience and refine its targeting to only include lookalike participants within the geographical targeting.

The next steps allow you to refine additional targeting, including or excluding participants based on specific interests or connections. Since we are using either custom audiences or lookalike audiences, we do not necessarily need to add additional targeting based on interests, but the options are available.

While you are building your advertisement, Facebook will give you a running total of the approximate size of your audience, an estimated daily reach, and conversions based on your spending. Keep an eye on these metrics as you refine your targeting to make sure you don’t accidentally make your advertisement too inclusive or exclusive.

When you are satisfied with your audience, click on the Save This Audience button at the bottom of the Audience setup. Facebook will then generate a popup with a summary of the information in this target audience, as well as prompt you for a name of the audience. Be sure to name the audience with a descriptive name so it is easy to understand and re-use for any additional advertisements.

After defining your audience, you will be prompted on how you would like Facebook to determine where the ads should be placed. It is recommended that you use the default setting of Automatic Placements, which allows Facebook to determine the best locations to place your advertisements. You can select the option not to place your advertisements in certain locations, but this is only recommended if you have very specific reasons for refining your ad’s placement.

The final step in creating your Ad Set is to determine your Budget & Schedules. Budgets can be set on a daily amount or a lifetime spending. If you select a daily budget, you’ll be given the option to run the advertisement continually or select a specific date range. If you select a lifetime budget, you will have to define the dates you wish the advertisement to run. These scheduling capabilities allow races to create and run advertisements closely linked to specific events, such as holiday discounts or price increase promotions.

The remaining advanced options can further refine your schedule and conversion windows, but can easily be left on the Facebook defaults unless you have a specific reason to refine these parameters.

Once you’ve defined your Ad Set’s target audience and budget, you can create the specific copy of the advertisement you are running. If you have access to a Facebook Page associated with your advertising target, you can link your business’s page to the targeted ad.

Next, you will determine the format and the advertisement. Facebook provides a number of different advertisement options ranging from a single image ad to a slideshow or video advertisement.

Facebook will then prompt you to enter the content of the advertisement based on the type of ad being placed. You can either upload images or select a free stock image provided by Facebook.

The final step to place your advertisement will be to set the destination URL of where to send users who click on the link, the headline of the ad, the text of the ad, and a call to action as shown below:

Facebook will automatically generate the advertisement preview shown on the right. You can select different types of ad previews by using the drop-down menu under the Ad Preview setup, to see how the advertisement will appear in different mediums – both a mobile view and a desktop view.

Once you are satisfied with your ad’s content, click the green Confirm button at the bottom right-hand side of the page. Facebook will review your advertisements to make sure it meets its guidelines, and will begin serving your ads to your target audiences!




Google Analytics Supported Widgets

We are continuing to push the envelope and improve our support for Analytics, making it easier for races to use cross-domain tracking by adding widgets with Google Analytics supported configuration. Cross-domain tracking allows races to report website traffic information (including e-commerce data) to their Google Analytics accounts with accurate attribution of the traffic sources.

We previously released a series of blog posts on our Google Analytics Integration highlighting the features of the integration and covering some uses for data gathered. In Part 3 of the blog series, we detailed how to configure our widgets to support Google Analytics and cross-domain tracking when added onto a race’s website. To remove the need to manually edit widget code for cross-domain reporting with widgets, the Google Analytics supported widget configuration can now be found on the main widget setup pages within the RunSignUp Dashboard.

If a race has supplied us with their Google Analytics account information, we automatically include the Google Analytics supported widget setup right on the current widget setup pages.

If your race is currently using Google Analytics but does not make use of RunSignUp widgets you can still support cross-domain tacking within RunSignUp by following the steps listed in Part 2 of the blog series. Once these options are enabled your RunSignUp and Google Analytics integration will accurately report your traffic information and traffic sources.

Why is this important?

The big question is why is it important that we support (and you setup) cross-domain tracking with Google Analytics. To illustrate the importance, we will walk through an example of how the data from a transaction looks when cross-domain tracking is supported, and what the data looks like when it is not supported.

A Participant’s Path

A previous participant receives a promotional email informing them that the price for the event is about to go up. The participant clicks on a link in the email that sends them to the race’s website. The runner then registers for the race using a widget hosted on the race’s website.

Without Cross-Domain Tracking SupportUsing the above participant’s path, if cross-domain tracking is not supported the transaction within Google Analytics will be sourced to the race’s website. This provides a marketer or analyst with very little information about the transaction as they are unable to determine how the visitor reached the race website to begin with. This type of attribution results in assigning a very high percentage of traffic to the race’s website, resulting in a lot of unusable data.

With Cross-Domain Tracking SupportWith cross-domain tracking support, when the same visitor reaches the page with the RunSignUp widget installed the race website will inform RunSignUp how the participant reached the race website, in this case through a promotional email. Then, when the participant completes their registration, RunSignUp is able to report to Google Analytics that the visitor came from the promotional price email. This gives marketers the information they need to understand the performance of their advertisements and promotions and allows them to make informed decisions.

RunSignUp and Google Analytics Best Practice

To make sure you are getting the most out of your RunSignUp and Google Analytics information, be sure to enable the e-commerce reporting within your Google Analytics account. RunSignUp automatically reports all transactions to determine which traffic sources are generating the most value for your event; however, you must have the e-commerce reporting enabled in your Google Analytics profile to indicate that it should be “listening” for that data.

To enable e-commerce reporting, follow the steps outlined in this Google Analytics support document. Once you have cross-domain tracking supported and you have enabled e-commerce transactions, it’s time to start analyzing!

What’s Coming!

We are continuing to work on our own internal analytics system designed specifically for races and events. The RunSignUp system will provide much of the information currently available through Google Analytics directly within RunSignUp; it will also supply additional information specific to races and events. RunSignUp’s system already automatically tags all outbound emails with tracking capabilities and reports on the effectiveness of both emails generated by race directors, and automated emails activated to send from the RunSignUp system. RunSignUp will continue to expand these capabilities breaking down traffic information from other websites, referral reward programs, and attributing transaction and donation dollars to their respective sources.

RunSignUp Leads the Way in Race Marketing with Facebook Custom Audience Support

Press Release

Moorestown, NJ – RunSignUp has released several reports that simplify the process of creating Custom Audiences in Facebook and providing races with access to a key social media marketing tool. Facebook Custom Audiences allow advertisers to target advertisements to specific lists of known customers (or lookalike profiles) instead of building the audience based on broad demographics. The curated lists lead to better conversion rates and an increased return on investment (ROI) for an event’s marketing dollars.

RunSignUp Founder Bob Bickel explained, “We have always believed that providing race directors with tools to market their events is more valuable to them than the antiquated practice of spamming runners with upcoming events they aren’t interested in. To empower those race directors, we’ve focused on innovations like integrated (or even automated) emails, referral rewards programs, Facebook sharing capabilities, fundraiser rewards, and integrations with 12 remarketing companies, including Google Adwords.  This is our next innovation: making curated advertising easier, more efficient, and available to all events – regardless of the size of their marketing team.” The new reports include three options for targeting specific groups of potential participants:

  • All Participants: A report of all participants currently or previously registered for the race; useful for creating a Lookalike audience for Facebook to find likely new registrants. The report also includes the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a participant to allow Facebook to prioritize their targeting based on those with the most value to your race.
  • Current Participants: A report to create a custom audience of participants currently registered; this is useful for targeting current participants to up-sell them on new add-ons or promotions, or encourage them to recruit their friends and participate in a referral rewards program.
  • Non-Registered Previous Participants: A list of participants who previously participated, but have not yet registered; this report allows for targeting of likely participants without including anyone who has already committed.

The reports can be used by races of all sizes and marketing budgets – for large events with that have already been using Custom Audiences it’s a time-saver; for smaller races that are less social media savvy, it offers access to modern advertising tools. RunSignUp customer Erik Young of Sour Fish Events commented, “This is a HUGE addition. While we use Facebook Custom Audiences on an almost daily basis, it’s time-consuming and tedious. This addition not only makes this rich feature easier for those not familiar with Custom Audiences, it makes it less burdensome for advanced users.”

Facebook Custom Audience support is paving the way for RunSignUp to provide increasing marketing automation and help customers to grow their events amid a challenging and saturated Endurance Event market.

More information on Facebook Custom Audience Support:

How-To Create and use Custom Audience Reports:


About RunSignUp

RunSignUp is the leading innovator of online tools for race registration, race day solutions, and running clubs. Services include RunSignUp for registration, fundraising, and race promotion, RunSignUp Go for RaceDay, RD Go for Timers, RunSignUp Clubs to enable membership management, and RaceJoy for mobile experiences. More than 10,000 race directors, timers, running club officers and running stores use these services today, including leading organizations like the Boilermaker Road Race, Crim Festival of Races, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., Fifth Third River Bank Run, Philadelphia Marathon, Komen Race for the Cure Philadelphia, Mercedes Marathon, Kentucky Derby Festival, Leone Timing, KC Running Company, Compuscore Timing, Knoxville Track Club, Pikes Peak Road Runners, Gulf Coast Runners, Columbus Running Company, Playmakers Running Store and many more. In 2016, over 14,000 races used the system to register more than 4.2 million participants. Services are free except for processing fees when conducting monetary transactions such as race registration or club membership renewal. RunSignUp is founded by runners for runners, using technical capabilities to bring the power of cloud computing to benefit the running community. For more information, visit



RunSignUp and Facebook Custom Audiences

RunSignUp has just released several reports that make the process of creating a Facebook Custom Audience from your participant lists a snap.

We all agree: Facebook Custom Audiences are one of – if not the most – essential tools for successful Facebook advertising campaigns.

From: Adespresso

In total, three reports have been made available for easy download: All Participants, Current Participants, and Non-Registered Previous Participants. These reports contain all the information RunSignUp has available that Facebook can use to create a Custom Audience, and have been pre-formatted for easy importing into Facebook.

Facebook Custom Audiences is a tool created by Facebook to allow advertisers to create lists of specific customers and target their advertisements to those customers. This can be a very powerful tool: instead of having to select your audience by their demographics, you can target specific customers. The tool allows events to execute targeted marketing campaigns using existing participant information, leading to an increased return on investment (ROI) as compared to simple demographic targeting. Facebook also offers the capability to create a Lookalike audience to reach new participants by targeting a set of Facebook users who share common traits with an existing custom audience.


The All Participants report contains any participant who is currently registered for the event or has registered for the event in the past. This report is especially useful for creating a Lookalike audience, as it gives Facebook data on all of your event’s participants. The report also includes the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a participant, which is computed by totaling the total amount of event fees the participant has paid to the race across all of their registrations. This LTV allows Facebook to prioritize targeting based on the customers with the most value to your race.

The Current Participant report will create a custom audience of all participants who are registered for any of your current events within RunSignUp. This list can be used to target current participants with the intention of up-selling them on new add-ons, VIP entries, and promotions. This custom audience can also be used to encourage current participants to invite their friends or participate in your event’s referral program.

The final report Non-Registered Previous Participants creates a list of participants who have participated previously but have not yet registered for this year’s race. This is a great segment of customers to target with price increase messages and discount offers since they already have a known interest in your race. By stripping out participants who have already registered, you are ensuring that your advertising dollars are not spent on runners who are already participating.

For an in-depth walkthrough of how to setup a Facebook Custom Audience using these new tools, check out the How-To Blog Post.

Stay tuned for the next installment of RunSignUp & Facebook Custom Audiences: how to create a Facebook Custom Audience based on the traffic to your RunSignUp Race website!

Why Races Use RunSignUp Email

email-imageWith such great, well established email vendors like Mailchimp and Constant Contact available, why are more and more races turning to the RunSignUp Email system?


Our email system is free. Constant Contact costs $500 per year for up to 2,500 contacts and MailChimp costs $300+ per year for up to 2,500 contacts. They include some nice features with many pre-made templates, a much better editor than RunSignUp, nice looking reports, and integration to enterprise CRM systems like Salesforce. The question is whether those features are worth it compared with a free system? And for many races (we send over 8 Million emails per month), the answer is no.

lifecycle0220Emails with Your Race Data – Simple

RunSignUp keeps all of your race data together in a single CRM database that is tuned specifically for races. Want to send an email that includes people’s bib numbers on an individual email basis – simple. Want to send email notifications of results when people finish a race – simple. Want to send different emails to last year’s participants depending on if they signed up already – simple. Want to have an email go out automatically after people do not complete a registration – simple. Want to send emails to everyone when there is a price increase – simple.

All those examples are made simple because of a tightly integrated database of participant information that is made for races.

Simple Automated Emails

With a simple click, race directors can turn on common automated emails to announce price increases or to remind people who did not complete their registrations.

Simple Race Specific Analytics

Since one of the most common things race directors send emails for is to get registrations, we now give you a simple way of viewing and tracking the effectiveness of your emails by showing Page Views and # of Registrations.

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Simple Branded Emails

While we do not have a zillion templates like the big email vendors, we do offer a simple way to take your website logo and banner, as well as default SignUp and Donate calls to actions and put them into a nice format – and we make that simple.


And if you have some HTML chops, you can do lots of customization, save it and then reuse it for future emails from the race, the charities and from fundraisers. Yes – you can put the power of our email system into your fundraiser and captain hands.

Simple Sponsor Promotion

There is an option to include sponsor logos and links on each email that is sent – simple. And there is a simple Sponsor Email option that sends out Sponsor Offers to all participants automatically before and after your race.

Simple (and Advanced) Domain Control

We give you great options to get high deliverability rates. By default all emails sent from RunSignUp are from our highly rated domain with advanced things like DKIM that assure receiving email domains do not block it as spam. We offer a very simple “Reply To” option, so when participants hit reply their email goes to the one you set. We also offer a full “White Label” option for more advanced users.

Why We Built Our Own Email System

Simple – we wanted to make life easier for Race Directors. Less time doing email, better results that increase participation in your events and make your participants happy, with analytics that track the information you care about.