If you’ve been in the race game for more than 5 minutes, you know all about race directories. They’re basically like the yellow pages for races.
Here are some things to consider.
Check Their Traffic
So the numero uno thing that you want to look into before adding your event to a race directory is traffic. Knowing a directory’s traffic number will tell you a lot about whether you want to list.
Because guess what? If no one’s actually visiting a directory, it's not going to be able to get anyone to visit your race registration website. #duh
If you’re thinking about listing your race with a directory, do yourself a favor and check their traffic. Sites like Compete.com and SimilarWeb.com will give you a crystal clear picture of how many athletes are checking a particular directory. And if the number is low, you can keep on running to the next directory.
There’s no magic number or cutoff for exactly how many visitors a directory needs to have to make it worth your while, but if you check their traffic and see that they get 100 visitors a month, I can pinky promise you you’re not getting any race registrations from them.
You’re also going to want to consider the audience. While some of the larger directories obviously have more traffic, they might not be the right audience for you; you might find more luck on a niche directory.
For example, some of the big guys have well over 500K visitors per month, which is awesome! But there are tons of races on those sites - everything from 5ks to ultramarathons, all over the country. Your race could easily get lost in the shuffle.
Your better bet would be to list with a niche directory that might have lower traffic, but is significantly more targeted to the athlete that you’re going after.
For example, let's say you’re throwing a half marathon in Los Angeles. A California directory will definitely have smaller traffic numbers than one of the nationwide big boys, but you can pretty much guarantee that all of their visitors are a) from California or b) willing to travel to California. By niching yourself, you eliminate all the other athletes looking for a sprint tri in Florida, an obstacle race in Kansas or an IronMan in Alaska (as if an IronMan isn't hard enough, they want to do it in Alaska?!).
What Are You Getting In Return?
If you’re on the fence about whether to list with a particular directory or not, the feather that tips the scales one way or the other could be taking a good, long look at what you’re putting in vs. what you’re getting back.
If a directory is free, the only investment that you’re really making is a time investment. If it takes 10 minutes or less, go for it. But if you have to jump through hoops to get race up and running on a directory, you’ve got to think “What am I getting in return?”
And if a directory costs you some hard earned budget, then you really want to look at what you’re getting back for those dollar dollar bills.
Are they featuring your race on their home page? Are they doing a write up and blasting in to their email list? Can they guarantee a certain amount of traffic and offer a refund/discount if they don’t hit those numbers? (Hint: If you use imATHLETE for your online race registration, Event Marketing Links will measure exactly how many registrations you are getting from a link in a particular directory.)
Nothing in life is free. And when you’re deciding whether or not you want to list with a directory, you want to make sure they get that concept, too.
So... Are Race Directories Worth It?
I hate to end on an ambiguous note, but, like any marketing effort, it depends. In the end, let the numbers speak for themselves to help you decide what’s right for you and your race. If you are getting registrations right and left (and you have concrete numbers to back that up), let your ROI decide.