Planning a Successful Virtual Race
Yes, we know. A virtual race is not the same as a "real" race. BUT, that doesn't mean that you can just slap one together and it will be successful or easy. Virtual races are becoming increasingly popular, which means more competition. Just like a physical race it's important to plan to streamline the process for your team, effectively communicate with your registrants, and set yourself up for success.
Know the answers to these questions BEFORE you launch your virtual race (you can thank us later):
- Standing Out - Virtual is everywhere. How are you going to entice people to sign up for your virtual race?
- Charitable Component: 95% of races on RunSignup are connected with a nonprofit. This applies to virtual races, too. If you have a charity partner, highlight them on the registration page and make it clear where the funds are going. People are more likely to sign up if they know it benefits a worthy cause.
- Cute Gear: Have super cute gear? Amazing! Make sure to showcase the gear on the race page. You can do this by adding a custom section under Race>>Race Page>>Custom Sections.
- All About that Bling: Virtual runners love that bling. If you are including a medal in your virtual run package, showcase the medal on the race page.
- Creative Theme: Use virtual events as an opportunity to "travel" by highlighting a unique destination or use a fun pop-culture tie-in to attract fans (just be careful about trademarks, or risk being shut down).
- Virtual Race Timeline - How long do runners have to complete the race?
- 49.6% of virtual races are 8-30 days in length, and less than 1% is just one day - flexibility is an asset in a virtual race.
- Race Wizard - when you set up your virtual race, make sure to set the event end date (Step 1 of the race wizard) to make it clear when your virtual event begins and ends. These dates will show on the race page and event tiles.
- Virtual Race Distance - Give everyone the chance to feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Give Your Runners Options - Set up different distances by creating multiple events in the race wizard.
- Splitting up the distance - let people split up the distance into multiple days and/or walk it. Flexibility and accommodations for newcomers are a strength of virtual races..
- Pricing, Pricing, Pricing: The average cost of a virtual race on RunSignup is between $30-$45. Be conscious of your pricing when you are setting up your virtual race. Just because a "real" half marathon might cost $125, doesn't necessarily mean someone will pay $125 to run a virtual half marathon (trust us, very few do).
- Promotion and Marketing: What are your plans for marketing your virtual race? Email Marketing, Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, Referral program, ambassadors? Put a plan, and a budget, in place to help make your virtual race successful. We recommend setting aside 10-15% of your budget for marketing the event.
- Runner Communication and Motivation:
- Before Registration: Some runners still haven't completed a virtual run and don't understand how it works. Use the race description and incomplete registration emails to explain the process of a virtual race and what to expect. Include instructions for reporting results in every communication.
- Leading Up To Race Day: Send motivational training tips and tricks to your runners. Virtual runners are usually signing up to celebrate an event or to stay motivated - you can help them stay motivated. Who knows? They might be so motivated that they refer lots of friends.
- Post Event: Send an email or post on social media to THANK YOUR RUNNERS for supporting your race and your cause. It's such an easy thing to do and really goes a long way.
- Shipping Timelines: If you are shipping in continuous multiple batches, make it clear when they should expect to receive their gear. If you are shipping everything in one large batch, make it clear when what the shipping date is. You should view virtual races as e-commerce - when you buy something, you want to know when you will receive it. Use the Giveaway Description to highlight your shipping timeline.
- Fulfillment Process: Shipping hundreds (or thousands) of packages is challenging and expensive. Learn more before you DIY, or secure a fulfillment partner.
- Race Day Experience & Results - It may be more than a day, but you still need a race day celebration.
- Race Day Experience for Virtual Events - If you want to create an interactive experience for your virtual runners and you work with a Race Day Certified timer, you can use RaceDay Experience for Virtual Events. Find a Certified Provider here.
- Facebook Live Kickoff - Kick off (or complete) your virtual race on Facebook Live or with a zoom gathering. People love a party - even a virtual one.
- Results Posting - Make sure you have Virtual Results setup to allow participants to self-report their results - and communicate the process with your participants (again, and again, and again).