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Guest Column - September 2017

Marketing

Boost Your Numbers
Nine Best Practices for Increasing Activity Registrations

By Landon Schenck


If you're like most local government recreation departments, then you have lofty goals. You're heavily focused on encouraging citizens to get out of the house and take advantage of all the community resources available to help them stay active, maintain their health and be engaged. To help you maximize the potential event, class, activity and league registrations in your community, here's a list of nine best practices for increasing your parks and recreation activity registrations:

1. Encourage continued participation: One of the best times to get citizens registered for an activity is when they've just finished a previous course. For example, capture the enthusiasm of citizens who have just finished your spring golf league by encouraging them to sign up for your summer league. They'll be more likely to want to continue their participation when they're still thinking about how much they've enjoyed their initial session.

2. Make sure your recreation management software is mobile-responsive: In 2015, mobile digital media time in the United States was significantly higher than desktop use, at 51 percent compared to 42 percent. That means citizens are researching community activities when using a smartphone. Make sure your system is capable of mobile recreation registrations.

3. Promote key activity registrations with paper bill stuffers: This traditional form of advertising is still highly successful in influencing decision-makers, because your citizens are definitely going to open their utility bill, highly increasing their opportunity to see your promotional message. Save this tactic for the events you want to promote the most heavily, like your brand-new archery class or your highly profitable youth basketball league.

4. Use photos and videos to increase interest: Adding photos and videos to your recreation advertisements is one of the most impactful strategies you can implement to increase engagement and encourage citizens to act. A simple text-based ad letting citizens know you've opened registrations for youth soccer may garner some attention, but a beautiful photo of kids celebrating at last year's league championship will make parents want to stop and learn more.

5. Offer discounts for early registration: Everyone loves knowing they got something at a discounted rate. Promote 10 percent off course registration fees for those citizens who register by a certain date. Such advanced registration tactics create a sense of urgency and help you meet registration goals in advance of the course start day.

6. Promote registrations on social media: It's estimated that there are 2.3 billion active social media users across the globe. Whether your community is urban or rural, with 1,000 or 1 million citizens, it's likely that most are utilizing social media to engage in their community, share content with friends and learn new information. Make sure you are promoting all available open registrations on social media. In addition to earning registrations from followers, when citizens share your posts with their followers, you'll amplify the reach of your message.

7. Encourage course instructors to share updates on social media: Your course instructors are powerful advocates for your community recreation events. Encourage them to share links to registrations via their social media networks as well.

8. Create a sense of urgency: With some creative copywriting, you can encourage last-minute activity registrations. Promoting activities with such language as, "Only four spots left!" or "Only three days left to register!" creates a sense of urgency and will encourage citizens who may not have committed yet to finally click to register.

9. Use data to drive your marketing strategy: Dig into the analytics associated with your parks and recreation registration web page to determine where most of your visitors are coming from. Search engines? Online advertisements? The banner ad on your local government homepage? Social media? Knowing the most effective advertising channels will help you maximize them in the future.

As you work to increase your parks and recreation engagement, remember to set goals, and chart your progress. Depending on the needs of your community, your goals may be as specific as increasing the participation in a single class, or in all classes year-over-year. No matter your needs, these best practices will ensure your citizens are learning about the activities you've worked hard to bring them, and that they are staying active all year long.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Landon Schenck is general manager of CivicRec. He has more than 20 years of software development experience, including developing the CivicRec software from the ground up. Landon manages the CivicRec product strategy and overall vision. He continues to personally engage with larger customers during their implementation process. For more information, visit www.civicplus.com.