View of a park and a pond at sunset.

How to Increase Participation in Parks & Recreation

Jessica Harp
July 12, 2021

Your community is the reason for everything your parks and recreation organization does, and when more citizens are involved, your community is healthier and stronger as a result. The goal is to hep enrich the lives of residents by providing quality recreation programs, facilities, natural open spaces and parks for your residents to use. To reach that goal, you need to increase participation in all activities and events you offer to your community. How do you do it? Effectively utilize what you have right at your fingertips—your parks and recreation organization’s website, social media channels and CRM platform—to get the word out about everything you offer in an effort to garner more participation than ever before.

Build Your Website With Your Customers in Mind

Your website is the center of all your marketing efforts. It’s where your community goes to learn about events, programs and classes, and then register for them with ease from their desktop or right from their smartphone. The goal is to guide all your marketing efforts to your website, especially to registration pages for all the events, programs and classes your organization is offering. From social posts and posters to program guides and emails, each and every one of your marketing efforts needs to lead to the appropriate registration page to increase participation. 

There are a few other suggestions to help build your website for your customers to gain more participation in all your organization’s activities: 

  • Avoid dated content by routinely reviewing your website and removing or updating content as needed. 
  • Add the most important links to other pages above the fold (the visible space on a website via mobile or desktop before scrolling down.
  • Include your most important call to action (register, donate, sign up).
  • Display a compelling graphic to make a personal connection.
  • Cut down menu options; there’s no need to overload your community with a myriad of menu options.
  • Avoid interruptions like external links, non-essential information, clutter and too much text— don’t overwhelm your community. 
  • Put your call to action at the top of the page, and replace links with text buttons, especially for CTAs.
  • Use action verbs rather than nouns, and repeat your CTA on each page.
  • Write benefit-focused copy; you generally have three to five seconds to persuade your community members to take action.
  • Cut down on clicks; the fewer clicks your community has to complete, the more likely they are to convert and register for your activities. 

Utilize Social Media Channels Effectively

One of the easiest ways to share information about your parks and recreation organization’s events, programs and activities is via social media. If your organization doesn’t have a business page on Facebook or an Instagram account, it’s time to make one. If your organization already has the aforementioned, you’re ahead of the game and likely have quite a few community members who follow your organization’s accounts. 

When it comes to your organization’s social media channels, it’s a good idea to implement the following to increase community participation:

  • Create content that engages users: Ask questions, share polls about desired activities, share relevant blogs or articles and post videos and photos.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them to engage: If your organization is hosting an event or putting on a class or program, ask interested members to share the post on their social media accounts. 
  • Post regularly: Daily or once every few days is a good start. If you’re feeling ambitious, it’s OK to post several times a day—just don’t overload and overwhelm your community, and makes sure your posts are relevant.
  • Include visual content like images and video: If the event or program you’re posting about has a relevant image or video, make sure to include it in your post as well—anything to catch the eyes of your members to get them to stop scrolling and read/watch what you post.
  • Interact and engage with your community: Respond to questions and comments. You may receive some negative feedback on posts, but see that as an opportunity to demonstrate your organization’s worth to the community and willingness to improve.

Don’t forget to add social sharing buttons to your website and emails. Frequently encourage your community to share content on their own social media accounts.

Get the Word Out via Email 

Email is never going to go out of fashion, and it’s likely you have quite a long list of emails from members of your community. While you might feel like posting your events, programs and activities on your website and sharing them via social media is a lot, sending out emails to your community members does nothing but help raise awareness and participation. 

Check out our tips below for creating effective emails to increase community participation.

Segmented Lists

  • Create segmented lists so you can send email content that is relevant, which helps increase open rates and click through rates.
  • Segmented lists can shorten lengthy emails and focus on fewer topics, which will help reduce unsubscribes as well.
  • Connect the right people with the right content, and you’ll find greater success in your email marketing initiatives. 

Engaging subject lines

  • Ensure the subject line is relevant to the email content.
  • Keep subject lines below 60 characters.
  • Include a call to action.
  • Add quantifiable measures in the subject line.

Email Content

  • Avoid multi-column formats.
  • Keep emails short and sweet: You don’t want to overwhelm your community with too much information to sift through; you want to keep their attention.
  • Never forget the topic at hand.
  • Your first paragraph should highlight the most important points of your email.
  • Try to include a text link CTA, as well as a button CTA in the top portion of your email.

Increase Awareness and Community Participation With ACTIVENet

Our easy-to-use online or in-person registration allows your community members to conveniently access your activities, events, programs and classes from anywhere and at any time. By using an intuitive website and program listings customized for your organization you will see an increase in participation and find filling activities easier than ever before. Contact us today to set your organization up for success!

Set yourself up for success.

See how ACTIVE can help your organization grow.
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