Started as a community run in 2003, the Joplin Memorial Marathon changed names and switched gears after a fateful Sunday afternoon, May 22nd, 2011 - just 12 days before the race would take place. An EF-5 tornado tore through the center of Joplin, destroying 30% of the city and claiming 161 lives. Registrants instead began the race to help survivors, and runners became volunteers. The race was renamed the Joplin Memorial Run and returned the next year with a new focus to contributing proceeds to help rebuild Joplin, with special attention to efforts which promote healthy lifestyles in the community.
As the five year anniversary approached, officials agreed to an inaugural marathon. They wanted to take the race to another level to continue to attract larger sponsorships that would support the area without losing the community spirit. This 5 year anniversary would be an opportunity to show the race as an established, premier running event. The board also wanted to tackle other issues including:
- increasing local engagement or "ownership" of the race
- integrating sponsors on a deeper level
- increasing participation from outside the region (70+ miles away)
- innovating ways to build the email list with ideal clients
While we launched clever contests and were also creating all of the collateral (designing the medals, hats, t-shirts, etc.) we truly got to work on the quality of the CONTENT. We felt strongly that providing free guides (Freemiums) of tremendous value to their raving fans would be the best start to reaching their running buddies and turning them into raving fans as well.
We quickly created 5 unique Freemiums:
- 5 Eating Tips to be a Lean, Mean, Racing Machine - View
- Beginner Marathon Training - View
- Tempo Run - View
- Strength and Mechanics for Runners - View
- Inspirational Wallpapers - View
We started with a Freemium from the race director, Ruth Sawkins. As a respected member of the racing community, she has a unique story and a well-known pragmatic approach to nutrition for runners. The content she provided became the most viewed download entitled "5 Eating Tips to be a Lean, Mean, Running Machine". We then approached past runners, respected community members and sponsors' employees to develop the other content. Our last piece was an innovative offering which was a series of inspirational wallpapers delivered in an email workflow. These inspirational quotes and images also incorporated sponsors to further deliver value.
The Results Speak for Themselves
The results for all continuing downloads kept pace. The first test of the value of content is to see the reaction from the loyal fan base. As they immediately downloaded and shared it, that success never waned when it was pushed via blogs and other social media channels. The client experienced an instantaneous increase in their email list with new potential runners just waiting for the next nurturing step. Landing Pages were written to entice ideal clients to engage more deeply with the brand and Thank You Pages were created to delight and solidify the new found rapport. Opportunities to visit the website and register as a runner or volunteer were included.
The conversion stats were off the charts:
5 Eating Tips to be a Lean, Mean, Racing Machine - 938 views, 312 downloads = 33.26% conversion
Beginner Marathon Training - 630 views, 224 downloads = 35.56% conversion
Tempo Run - 171 views, 69 downloads = 40.35% conversion
Strength and Mechanics for Runners- 404 views, 174 downloads = 43.07% conversion
Inspirational Wallpapers - 812 views, 271 downloads = 33.37% conversion
Social Media Helps Keep the Pace
Social media publishing via HubSpot was focused on keeping the audience active and engaged. Encouraging graphics and "sneak peeks" of the running swag design were key in their social following. We also cohesively implemented a strong hashtag strategy to keep people connected. Social media alone accounted for almost 3,000 new fans and followers showing us that the local market was not remotely saturated with support for this event and in fact, still has room to grow.
The success of this inbound project was definitely tied to the epic blog content and relevant Freemiums. This client not only collaborated with the development of these Freemiums, but also gave us access to their contacts, sponsors and raving fans to help source the blog content. This ensured the content would be truly relevant to the demographic.
Hitting the ground running (pun intended) and delivering a steady schedule of blogs, coupled with frequent Freemium releases really made the difference for this client. The rapid growth of the fan base then fed into the increased traffic to the website. The Freemiums and landing page submissions accounted for 610 new contacts. This tells us that we both engaged current fans with these innovative ideas AND contributed to the overall contact growth.
Finally, we wrapped up the successful year with customized recap reports for all of the sponsors. We shared these statistics and many more with them so they could see the marketing value in their partnership with an amazing organization. This client not only finished first, but is poised for a big break next year.
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