Blue Sombrero » Tips for Admins http://www.bluesombrero.com Free Online Registration and Sports Websites Wed, 13 Dec 2017 15:24:07 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.8 SEO for Youth Sports Organizationshttp://www.bluesombrero.com/seo-for-youth-organizations http://www.bluesombrero.com/seo-for-youth-organizations#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2016 13:40:28 +0000 http://www.bluesombrero.com/?p=6118 SEO for youth sports organizations has always been a hot topic for many of our customers. We’re in the business of helping you, our partners, create the best experience possible for your members and having a great website […]

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SEO for youth sports organizations has always been a hot topic for many of our customers. We’re in the business of helping you, our partners, create the best experience possible for your members and having a great website that can be easily found is a huge piece.

The Importance of SEO for Youth Sports Organizations

Is SEO important for my site? Yes! But, let’s put it into context for youth sports organization. For a lawyer or doctor, having a top position on Google can literally be worth tens of thousands of dollars and the competition is FIERCE.

Thankfully, SEO for youth sports organizations is far less competitive and manageable. Dedicating even minimal time to do some of the baseline recommendations we’ll make in this article can have a huge impact on your ability to be found in search, by your parents and potential customers. No matter your level of web-wizardry, these tips can help you achieve your goals and create a better user experience for your organization.

Before we get going, we wanted to share an important video clip from the search engine Goliath, Google. They quickly explain how search engines work and give you a glimpse of what they’re trying to accomplish.


Friendly Disclaimer

As much as we would love to offer a special set of to-dos that would rank everyone #1 in Google, unfortunately we don’t have that power. Every organization’s situation is different and a lot of it comes down to building a good site and being patient. The more put in to your site with respect to the tips below, the more you will get out of it. SEO is like a mutual fund investment. You shouldn’t expect huge gains up front, but if you contribute consistently, you’ll reap the benefits over time.

OK, Now to the Practical Steps!

This will focus on your Blue Sombrero website, but if you would like to build your SEO knowledge more generally, The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by MOZ is a fantastic resource.

The two main components of successfully being found in search engines are:

  • On-page Optimization – how well your site and page content adheres to Google’s guidelines
  • Inbound Links – how many other sites have links to your site (and how many)

On-page Optimization

This may sound scary but it simply comes down to making sure that you have some basic ‘boxes’ checked when the Google bots scan your page. This include a page title, description of the page’s content, page keywords, a picture (or a couple), a healthy amount of content (text), and possibly some links to other pages on your site. Often, doing the baseline minimum will result in a substantial improvement. Here is a great visualization of the ‘perfect page’:

seo for youth sports

Put yourself in a parent’s shoes. If they hop on their computer to look for registration information, what are they most likely to type? Do parents often use the full name and acronym of your organization interchangeably? These are important things to think about as we prepare the site title, page titles, and page descriptions.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask some parents! Your perception may be different than what people are actually using to lookup your organization.
  • A great tool is Google Autocomplete. You know when you type something into Google and it starts producing other related searches? Those are actual keywords people are using to search, take advantage of them by catering to what people are already searching for.

google autocomplete


UberSuggest
is a great (free) tool for employing this approach.

How Keywords Fit In

No matter your level of expertise with SEO, you’ve undoubtedly heard about keywords. The truth is that keywords, in the way a lot of folks think about them, aren’t as important as they used to be. When search engines first started organizing web content, they relied heavily on keywords as a way to classify and sort webpages. Savvy (and often unethical) web marketers knew this and figured out how to manipulate the system. They could push their pages to the top by doing things like adding a specific keyword 100 times in white to the background of the page, or paying to have links added to a high-traffic, foreign websites with target keywords that point back to their site. These tactics got results, but created a bad user experience for the average searcher who couldn’t find the best content available.

Google has actively tried to address this issue over the years and formulate their algorithms to better serve Internet users by ranking the best content. The good news is that real sites, with real users (like yours) are the big winners.

What This Means for You

Applying this to youth sports organizations, it’s still important to use keywords that describe your organization and what you do, you just don’t have to go overboard with it. In general, you want to pick one keyword per page that is your focus and use it no more than 4-6 times. It’s also just as important to add ‘supplemental’ keywords that relate to your main topic on that page. These provide Google (and users) with the context needed to classify your page and place in the search listing.

keyword tree visualization

Example of a keyword tree which demonstrates how Google’s classification system thinks.

 

Final Takeaway on Optimization

Identify one keyword per page, write a good, concise page description, and make sure to fill each page out with healthy amount of content. There are no magic guidelines like a specific word count for content, but, generally the longer the better. Think about it like this: Google’s mission is to make the Internet as user friendly as possible. They are in the business of rewarding the folks who put in time to build out their pages and deliver great user experiences. If you can dedicate even minimal time to ensuring each page has these basic elements, you’ll be far ahead of the rest.

How to Improve SEO on Your Blue Sombrero Website

1. Log in as Club Admin or Website Manager- Admin -> click ‘Website’ from the menu bar at the top

2. You’ll see all your Current Pages, choose one and -> click ‘Settings’ (gear icon on the right side)

3. Fill out the information (including a descriptive, concise page description!). When you do a Google search, this is what shows up under the name of page. It’s like your advertisement for the page.

Page Name = Menu Bar
Page Title = What is shown in the browser and search engine (you can be more descriptive here)

4. Make sure your Page Title keyword is included in your Description at some point!!


blue sombrero football

 

On to Inbound Links!

inbound links youth sportsThis may sound scary too, but do not fear! It is the more challenging side of the coin, because ultimately, you have less control than your content. However, it is a very important piece of the algorithm that will dictate where your site lands in search (especially if you are looking to make gains for a specific keyword).

In a nutshell, when another site has a link that directs a user to your site – this is an inbound link. Think of it like someone ‘vouching’ for you, at least that’s the way Google sees it. The more you have from other quality sites, the better off you’ll be. So where do you find these sites?

Here are some places to look:

  • Your Facebook and Twitter Pages
  • Sports Organizations or Leagues you Participate In
  • Newspaper ‘Local Sports Roundup’ Articles
  • Local Sports Blogs
  • Local Business Owned by Parents or Sponsors
  • Local Parks and Recreation Websites

For some of these, it’s as easy as adding the link to your Facebook page yourself. Log in, add it to the info section and you’re all set. You have a new link from a high-ranking website. For others like a local newspaper, this may take some extra work like emailing the local editor and making your case for inclusion. There is no real science to this, and a lot will depend on the resources your organization has available and the efforts you’re willing to make.

As we mentioned before, even small additions can be hugely beneficial so you don’t need to get carried away with this. But, if you are actively trying to improve the SEO of your site, this will be something you can continue to pursue month after month. From our own internal testing, we’ve seen one new inbound link from a reputable website have a dramatic impact on SEO for youth sports organizations. It’s all about being creative here!

Parting Message

Hopefully, you now have some clarity around SEO and the practical enhancements you can make to your own site. There is a wealth of information out there (The Moz Beginner’s Guide is a great place to start) and our trusty team of Support Ninjas is here to help as well. If there are other topics out there that you would like to hear about regarding SEO or marketing, we would love to share our knowledge! Thanks for reading!

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Hash what? Hashtag!http://www.bluesombrero.com/hash-what-hashtag http://www.bluesombrero.com/hash-what-hashtag#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:11:43 +0000 http://www.bluesombrero.com/?p=3243 What is a #? Pound. Number Sign. Sharp Symbol. Octothorpe. Hashtag! Hashtags are taking over, from Twitter to Instagram to late night TV. Why? Good question. It’s about time we all got a crash course on hashtags. They’ve recently […]

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What is a #? Pound. Number Sign. Sharp Symbol. Octothorpe. Hashtag!

Hashtags are taking over, from Twitter to Instagram to late night TV. Why? Good question.

It’s about time we all got a crash course on hashtags. They’ve recently become popular but were first used in the 90’s. They’ve been around longer than the kids playing on your teams! A hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ will turn the word(s) that follow into a searchable link. This is now true on Facebook as well, but is far less popular. Once these words have been turned into links, anyone can click on them to access other posts with that same hashtag.

Say you want to tweet a motivational quote on Monday. A simple search will show that “mondaymotivation” is a very trendy hashtag. So you decide to add #mondaymotivation to the end of your post. As we mentioned, on most Social Networks you’ve now turned the phrase into a link by adding the # symbol at the beginning. If you click that link you will see numerous posts with some motivation for your manic Monday. Take a look at this live search of #mondaymotivation on Twitter.

Other popular hashtags:

#sports, #football, #baseball, #soccer . . .

#sportsnews

#coaching

#family

#tbt = Throwback Thursday

 

Hashtags in your Social Posts

Unlike your Social Stream Hashtag, you want hashtags in your posts to be common. To reach people outside your organization you’ll need to use a hashtag that is known and being used in conversations.

  • Take out all spaces and punctuation. You want your hashtag to be #AllOneWord
  • Find a hashtag that’s already being used in similar online conversations
    • Check out the trends shown on your Twitter page
    • Look through recent posts and accounts that match your topic to see what keywords they are using
  • Hashtagify.me is a great resource to find keywords
    • Ex. Sports organizations may have a tagline they’ve turned into a hashtag. Such as the Atlanta Hawks using #TrueToAtlanta. This hashtag appears in their @ATLHawks Twitter profile, marketing campaigns, and tweets. It quickly grew to be included in tweets from fans across the country.
    • Ex. During the recent Women’s World Cup there were several trending hashtags: #WWC #WWC2015 #FIFAWWC #USWNT #shebelieves. Using one of those would have brought more attention to your post since people were interested in that topic. Anyone, around the world, who wanted to see posts about the #WWC2015 could click on that hashtag and find your post!
  • Try not to go #hashtag #cray
    • Tweets with 1-2 hashtags have 21% higher engagement than those without hashtags, while a post with 3 or more hashtags drops engagement an average of 17% (stat found by Quick Sprout)

Using Hashtags in your Team Social Stream

Your Social Stream lives within your Blue Sombrero Team Page. If you turn this feature on, a live feed will be created. This feed with show all posts with the hashtag of choice so you want that hashtag to be unique. It’s better to use #SombreroUnitedATL than #sports. That way your Team Page will be showing posts from your organization and not from EVERYONE who posted about sports.

  • Take out all spaces and punctuation. You want your hashtag to be #AllOneWord
  • Check Social Media platforms to see if your hashtag is already being used
  • Make your hashtag specific
    • You may want to include your city, state, sport etc.
    • Ex. Sombrero United could be #SombreroUnitedATL or #SombreroUnitedSoccerATL
  • Include that hashtag in your promotional materials. Spread the word!

 

Hashtags are a powerful tool. They bring communities together and gain visibility across Social Networks. #HappyHashtagging

 

For other tips on Social Media in Youth Sports check out our last blog!

 

 

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Social Media in Youth Sportshttp://www.bluesombrero.com/social-media-youth-sports http://www.bluesombrero.com/social-media-youth-sports#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 16:25:06 +0000 http://corp2.bsbtest.com/?p=3112 What goes online, stays online   Social Media is everywhere, including youth sports. It can work wonders growing your league but it can also endanger your players’ reputations with future employers and recruiters. We want to help you understand the […]

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What goes online, stays online

 

Social Media is everywhere, including youth sports. It can work wonders growing your league but it can also endanger your players’ reputations with future employers and recruiters. We want to help you understand the power of Social Media.

 

US Youth Soccer found nine out of 10 college coaches said their perception of a recruit

has been negatively affected by a social media post.

 

A growing number of children have their own mobile devices and document their lives through Social Media. Survey reports have shown almost 58% of kids 8-12 years old have their own smartphones. By 13-17 years old, 78% of kids have their own.

Pew Research Center  found that 92% of teens report going online daily and that 71% of those teens are using more than one social network site. While most children are innocent in their posting on those sites, they must remember that nothing is truly private once it’s posted online.

 

“Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship.”

– Brandon Chambers, Former Marymount University Men’s Basketball Coach. @ChambersPVI

 

Think twice about your social media posts!

 

PLAYERS

Instead of using Facebook to let out your frustration or Twitter to retweet trash talk, it’s more acceptable to share game updates and photos with your teammates. Remember, future coaches, managers, and family members could be seeing what you’re putting online.

What should players post?

  • A thank you to supporters
  • Words of encouragement to others
  • Topics they find interesting (as long as they are appropriate)
  • Updates on their personal and athletic progress

 

ORGANIZATIONS

Social Media is a way to keep everyone updated throughout the season and stay relevant during the off-season. You can remind your followers of additional summer camps or post pictures from the car wash you held to raise money for new equipment.

Tools like Buffer have figured out how you can be in two places at once! They allow you to queue future posts. This saves time and helps you plan ahead. With this tool, you can magically post a reminder about games when you’re already at the field getting set up or even pre-schedule tryout advertising weeks in advance.

Twitter: While emails and text messages are used to communicate with your parents and volunteers, Twitter can act as a live bulletin board. Here you can tweet about last minute changes, scores, or reminders about upcoming events. It’s a place to celebrate championships and promote fundraisers. These can be seen by anyone who follows you or, if you actively use hashtags, you could potentially get your message out to the world!

Facebook Fan Page: Your fan page is a large, public discussion board. It’s a great place to upload videos and pictures. Everyone is free to join in versus your team pages which can only be updated by those who are part of the team.

Since Facebook is a public forum, it is a direct representation of your organization. An angry coach, confused parent, or frustrated player could post comments on your wall or photos. You want to handle these conversations with care.

★ If a heated conversation erupts, bring it to a more private place like a ‘Direct Message’ or an email. You don’t want an accidental blow-up or misunderstanding to be posted on your wall.

★ Restrict the access given to your Social Media accounts. Anyone with access to post on behalf of your organization is representing your brand.

 

COACHES OR ADMINS

Volunteering with a youth sports organization can build great bonds between you and your players. They will become more comfortable with you throughout the season, that’s a good thing! You are becoming their mentor and their friend. Make sure there are boundaries to that friendship. Remember how many children have Social Media accounts? They’ll be quick to add you and tag you.

★ That’s why it’s a good idea to use a separate account from your personal one. Believe us, you’ll want the pictures from your spa weekend or son’s 5th birthday to be posting on a separate account from where you are connecting with your players and communicating with future registrants’ parents.

 

The fast paced nature of Social Media can be overwhelming but the benefits of a positive online reputation are numerous. Players benefit by sharing the growth of their athletic careers, while parents can gain trust in your organization by witnessing the professionalism displayed through their accounts. Organizations benefit by having a controlled presence visible by the community they serve, especially the families interested in registering their children. Social Media is here to stay so make sure you find the best way to reap the benefits!



Social Media Infographic

 

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Team Registration: Come one, come all!http://www.bluesombrero.com/team-registration http://www.bluesombrero.com/team-registration#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 18:49:05 +0000 http://www.bluesombrero.com/?p=3194 Team Registration is now available! Coaches can register their own teams and manage their own roster invites. This helps to eliminate your administrative task of team building. We know you like the sound of that! If a player […]

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Team Registration is now available! Coaches can register their own teams and manage their own roster invites. This helps to eliminate your administrative task of team building. We know you like the sound of that!

If a player has been invited to the roster by a coach, all they’ll need to enter is a team code (included in their invite email) and they’ll automatically be allocated to the team.

★ Step by step instructions for coaches and users can be found on our detailed Support Guide.

 

Advanced Features of Team Registration:

Free Agents: Free agents are individuals signing up for a team without a team code or direct invitation from the coach. Those players will need to be assigned to a team by an administrator.

★ The Free Agents option will be defaulted to enabled. You can disable this option in the advanced division settings.

Min/Max Players Per Team: Set a minimum and maximum number of players allowed on a roster to be considered a team. A coach will be able to see the min/max requirements while managing their roster invites.

Maximum Teams Per Division: Set a maximum number of teams that are allowed to register in a division. Additional teams will not be allowed to register for the division once the max has been reached.

 

Manage Rosters

 

★ Most preferences can be set during registration form creation on Step 6 under advanced division settings. For more details and step by step instructions please check out our Support Guide.

If you have any additional questions while setting up your Team Registration, give us a holler at 866-258-3303 or shoot us an email at adminhelp@bluesombrero.com

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Painless SEO and Analyticshttp://www.bluesombrero.com/seo-and-analytics http://www.bluesombrero.com/seo-and-analytics#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 18:11:11 +0000 http://www.bluesombrero.com/?p=3187 Have you heard the term SEO? It stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of gaining visibility in search engine unpaid results. If a parent heads online to search for a new organization where their son/daughter […]

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Have you heard the term SEO? It stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of gaining visibility in search engine unpaid results. If a parent heads online to search for a new organization where their son/daughter can play lacrosse..or street hockey…or go to summer camp; you’ll want them to get the right results. Hopefully that parent will see your site, let’s just say Sombrero United Sports, and sign up their son/daughter for one (or all three) of your programs!

A recent study by Mediative shows the eye tracking of Google search engine users. You’ll see that we are quick to look (and click) at the first few options available to us in the results. That’s why we’re all vying for the top spot!

 

 

organic google
 

Let the games being!

Here are 6 of our top SEO tips:

  1. Update your site regularly, especially your homepage. SEO is constantly changing as algorithms are altered and Googlebot continues crawling to find new and updated webpages.
  1. Use Keyword-rich content, including words and phrases a search engine user would likely enter to find your site. This could be your organization’s name, sport(s) offered, and location.
  1. Edit Page Titles in each page’s settings. Titling pages by the organization’s name followed by the individual page name works best.

★ If we were on the Programs page of Sombrero United Sports; the Page Name would be Programs and the Page Title would be Sombrero United Sports – Programs

  1. Keep your Social Media accounts fresh and include links back to your site. Moz’s guide to SEO explains; “There is much debate among search professionals as to how exactly search engines factor social link signals into their algorithms, but there is no denying the rising importance of social channels.”
  1. Contact one of our awesome Support Ninjas to have them add keywords to your overall portal. For example, Sombrero United Sports would use the keywords Sombrero, United, Multisport, Atlanta, Youth Sports, etc.
  1. Setup a Google Analytics account . . . which may sound scary to some, but we promise it doesn’t bite!

Google Analytics is a free service (thanks to Google) which gives a website owner, or admin, information about incoming traffic. This data helps you learn more about site visitors. All reporting is in real time. You’ll see how many folks are visiting your site, where they’re coming from, which pages they visit most, and how long they stick around on each page.

If you are new to Google Analytics, here is a helpful get started guide from Google.

 

Once your account is setup, find your Tracking ID.

★It will be something similar to UA-000000-01.

Then check out where to enter that ID on your Blue Sombrero site.

★This will get things started on your site.

To speak with one of our Support Ninjas call 866-258-3303 or send an email to adminhelp@bluesombrero.com.

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Copy Admins on Program Emailshttp://www.bluesombrero.com/copy-admins-program-emails http://www.bluesombrero.com/copy-admins-program-emails#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 21:37:19 +0000 http://corp2.bsbtest.com/?p=3050 No admins get left behind! You can now input additional admins or a board member’s email address to receive a copy of your program emails. This applies to: Division Registration Confirmation Emails Tryout Registration Confirmation Emails Participant Made […]

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No admins get left behind!

You can now input additional admins or a board member’s email address to receive a copy of your program emails.

This applies to:

  • Division Registration Confirmation Emails
  • Tryout Registration Confirmation Emails
  • Participant Made the Team Emails
  • Participant Did Not Make the Team Emails

Each email address added in the “Copy these emails” field will be blind copied on the email(s) to your users.


admins

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email our fabulous Support Ninjas at adminhelp@bluesombrero.com or reach out by phone at 866-258-3303. We’re here for you!

 

Check out some other useful posts

We offer 100% FREE club registration software for youth sports organizations in the U.S.
Whether you are a league, non-profit, church or community organization, we offer a great sports sign up solution
Take a look at some our excellent sports website templates available in over in 20 different styles
There are new export options for our lightning fast sports schedule maker

About Blue Sombrero and DICK’S SPORTING GOODS

Our mission is to give back to the youth sports community. We help sports organizations run more efficiently so they can spend more of their time and energy inspiring kids to love sports, rather than being buried in paperwork! We do this by providing 100% online registration, websites, and league management tools for youth sports organizations.

 

 

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New Tools for Parents & Volunteers!http://www.bluesombrero.com/new-tools-parents-volunteers http://www.bluesombrero.com/new-tools-parents-volunteers#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 22:48:06 +0000 http://corp2.bsbtest.com/?p=2491 Parents & Volunteers, you’re in the thick of it all! We want to be sure you get a look at the changes taking effect tomorrow, April 28th. You may not recognize a few screens the next time you […]

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Parents & Volunteers, you’re in the thick of it all! We want to be sure you get a look at the changes taking effect tomorrow, April 28th.

You may not recognize a few screens the next time you log into your account. We’ve given them a first class upgrade with new features! Here are some support documents to help you through this exciting time: User Registration and Account Dashboard Updates and Team Page Updates.

Some of the new capabilities of the system:

  • Upload Your Participant’s Birth certificate*: No more waiting in line to hand in your birth certificate. You can now upload your participant’s birth certificate during the registration process or by editing your participant’s info after the account has been created. *Your club administrator will need to enable this feature for you to use it.
  • Upload Account/Volunteer & Participant Pictures: Easily upload your 2X2 player and/or volunteer pictures during the registration process.
  • Send Direct Messages: Send a note to members on your teams straight from your account dashboard. No need to gather everyone’s email address to contact them.
  • Access a Master Calendar: View a list of events for all your participants on a single screen. Easily export the calendar to ical, google calendar, and outlook. AND it’s color coded!
  • Easily Find Volunteer Roles: We’ve made volunteering a whole lot easier. You can also now invite another user to your account to volunteer. They’ll be considered a secondary account holder and will be able to set up their own username and password to log in and view their team page and events on their own.
  • Extras: Payment plans at checkout are now easier to find. You can also view early bird discounts and late fee charges before you reach the checkout screen now. And there’s no need to reenter answers to questions that you’ve answered in the past. Your answers will carry over from season to season.

 

 

yellowicon Hover over the following screenshots to have the highlighted features explained in more detail blueicon

 

MY ACCOUNT SCREEN:

 


 

PLAYER/VOLUNTEER PROFILE:

 

 

 

TEAM & EVENT PAGES are looking fresh with their recent makeover too, check ‘em out!:

Features to celebrate:

  • RSVP for Events: You can now let your coaches and team managers know if your participants will be attending each event. Games and practices will default to Attending/Yes but you can update your RSVP for each event you maybe or definitely will miss.
  • Sign Up for Team Tasks: Your team coaches and managers need help sometimes. You can now sign up to bring snacks, refreshments, or anything really!
  • Comment & Post on Discussion Topics: Parents, need to find out if anyone can carpool to the next game? Just drop a post to the board and see if anyone is interested. Volunteers, need to start a thread about an upcoming fund raising event? Just post a discussion and allow your team members to reply with comments. You can add files here too.
  • Extras: Add team sponsors and view a team newsfeed to stay current with recent updates to your team’s page. All team members can add photos to the team’s gallery. Now everyone can help take pictures on game day! We’ve also added a hashtag feature so that any photos hashtagged on your social sites will be pulled into your team’s gallery. Your social profiles must be public and the feature must be enabled by your team volunteers for this to work.


yellowicon Hover over the highlighted features for more information blueicon

 

TEAM PAGE:

 


 

EVENT PAGE:

 

 

 

With all these fancy new tools for parents, don’t think for a second that we didn’t do the same for our admins! Check out all the changes made to your screens!

If you have any questions while using these new feature, our Support Ninjas are here to help! You can reach them by email at support@bluesombrero.com or dial 866-258-3303. They’re in the office from 8AM – 6PM EST, Monday – Friday.

 

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New Registration Fees & Tools for Adminshttp://www.bluesombrero.com/tools-admins http://www.bluesombrero.com/tools-admins#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 21:27:21 +0000 http://corp2.bsbtest.com/?p=3047 We could never forget about you, admins! You’re our pride and joy! Along with new parent tools, tomorrow (APRIL 28th) we will be releasing some super sweet feature updates for you throughout the system. These will make things […]

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We could never forget about you, admins! You’re our pride and joy!

Along with new parent tools, tomorrow (APRIL 28th) we will be releasing some super sweet feature updates for you throughout the system. These will make things easier for you in season and throughout the year. Some screens have a new look to accommodate all the upgrades. We encourage you to browse our blog and look through the system next time you log on.

New Cool Things:

  • New Non-Volunteer Fees: That’s right! You can now implement a volunteer buyout at the program or account level. These fees will not take into account past volunteer roles. Find out more here.
  • Enhanced Custom Fees/Discounts: These fees can now be added per player or per account. Just head on over to step 3 of the registration wizard or site settings (depending on where you want to ask the question) to configure it.
  • New Family Max: You can now set a limit to the total order cost for an account within a period of time set by…you, the admin! Learn more here.
  • Account Notes: Drop a note on an account for other administrators to view. Your users won’t be able to see these private notes. Check out the new feature here.
  • Secondary Account Holders: Your users can now invite an additional user to their account as a volunteer. They’ll be considered a secondary account holder and will be able to set up their own username and password to log in and view their team page and events on their own. Find out more info here.
  • Account/Volunteer & Participant Pictures: Users can now easily upload their 2X2 player and/or volunteer pictures during the registration process. Learn more here.
  • Participant Birth certificates*: Your users can now upload their participant’s birth certificate during the registration process or by editing your participant’s info after the account has been created. *You will need to enable this feature in site settings for them to use it.
  • Predefined Questions Carry Over: Your users won’t be on your case about long registration forms anymore! Any answers to predefined questions will carry over from season to season. Users of course will have the opportunity to edit the answers to these questions.

 

Hover over the screenshot to have the highlighted features explained in more detail

 

MY ACCOUNT of a user:

 



If you have any questions while using the new tools, please reach out to our marvelous Support Ninjas.

They’re available by email at adminhelp@bluesombrero.com or by phone 866-258-3303 from 8AM – 6PM EST, Monday – Friday.

Any newbies in the building? This video will clear up how to create your homepage! Welcome to the team!

 

 

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Email Best Practiceshttp://www.bluesombrero.com/email-best-practices http://www.bluesombrero.com/email-best-practices#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 21:54:21 +0000 http://corp2.bsbtest.com/?p=3053 Communication with your parents and players is crucial. Whether you need to let them know about the spaghetti dinner next week, newly released rosters, or a rogue gopher at the field, we’ve got you covered! For these mission-critical […]

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Communication with your parents and players is crucial. Whether you need to let them know about the spaghetti dinner next week, newly released rosters, or a rogue gopher at the field, we’ve got you covered! For these mission-critical messages, we always recommend using email as a way to get the word out.

Since Blue Sombrero was founded, we have sent hundreds of millions of emails on behalf of our customers and learned quite a bit along the way! Want to hear some of our best practices? Here we go!

A consistent challenge for anyone sending multiple emails is deliverability. David Friedman from SendGrid explains, “To increase email open rates, email of course first has to reach the inbox. This comes from knowing how to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time, with the right frequency.” This all starts with parents being properly set up to receive your emails.

 

 Reminders to share with coaches, parents, and players:

During online registration: Double-check your email address is correct in Account Info.

When you receive an organization’s first email: Add the incoming address to your contacts. This should cut down on future emails sneaking into a spam folder.

 

You’ve seen our email tools but here are our most valuable tips:

Want to send your message to All Users?

Some users may participate in more than one of your programs. Prevent them from receiving duplicate emails by selecting All Users in your bulk email tool. Once you have chosen All Users, you do not need to add any other groups, since every group will be a part of All Users. Additional groups will only repeat those users’ email addresses on the final send list.

Are you adding a large image or attachment?

Large attachments impact load time on different devices. With more and more parents checking emails on their mobile devices you want to keep your message mobile-friendly. An image should have a maximum width of 320px to fit most phone screens in portrait mode.

Customizing the color and format of your emails?

You guys and gals are so creative! Bear in mind that special formatting and colors may not translate to all platforms. Your email could look different on a mobile phone versus a desktop computer. The first rule of email is that it must be easy for your customer to read. Try to avoid excessive formatting, multiple colors, tables, or anything else that will slow the load time.

  • For a big, club-wide email, it’s a good idea to send a test email to yourself or a couple of friends to ensure the formatting is displaying correctly.
  • If you create a masterpiece you’ll want to use again, save it as a New Template! Or feel free to edit one of our existing templates.

Using a URL shortener?

They’re helpful, we know! Unfortunately spammers have abused URL shorteners which has led to some legitimate sites being temporarily blacklisted by industry watchdogs like Spamhaus. URL Shorteners may cause an email to be pushed into your recipient’s spam folder. Instead turn bits of your text into a link! If we can do it, you can do it! Learn how!

What’s in a name?

The title of your email, aka the subject line, makes a difference. Retention Science found a 2.6% increase in open rates of emails with a recipient’s name in the subject line. Sendgrid‘s VP of Delivery, Paul Kincaid Smith reiterates this fact as part of his predictions for the future of email: “Spam filtering is becoming more personalized, and so effective email campaigns must become more personalized too. Senders of commercial email must deliver more relevance and value if they expect their email to be seen and opened. Quality trumps quantity.”

  • With bulk email, adding other personalized information like game location will up the chance of a parent opening the message.

 

Before you click that big ol’ SEND button:

Have you sent someone 52 emails?

Are they still not responding? Unfortunately, the 53rd email might not do the trick. You have the ability to check email statistics. Triple check the address in question; is it invalid or has it bounced? If everything looks good, a phone call or face-to-face conversation may be your best bet.

Are you sending emails during lunch?

Unfortunately there isn’t a magic time to send your emails to guarantee it ends up being seen by all your players and parents. But plenty of companies have conducted studies to try to find one. MailChimp, an email marketing service provider, posted these graphs showing that 10 am is the optimal time to send messages:

 

ByAgeByHour

Just remember every group is different. This data was collected from MailChimp’s 7 million users. So, test the waters. Ask a few parents about their email preferences. Most of your recipients are adults who might be bogged down with work emails throughout the day.

 As an admin, you’re probably sending out standard messages like new season information or practice reminders. Here are other ways you can use email to grow your programs:

  • Cross-market another, upcoming program to current players
  • “Check-in” email to stay top of mind during the off-season
  • Once the season ends, request feedback about the player’s experience with the club and how it could improve
  • Reconnect with players who have previously participated in your programs


If you have any questions about email features, our Support Ninjas know the Blue Sombrero system like the back of their hand.

Reach them by email at adminhelp@bluesombrero.com or dial 866-258-3303. The Ninjas are in the office from 8AM – 6PM EST, Monday – Friday.

Any newbies in the building? This video will get you started on your homepage. Let’s learn to walk before we run!

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Setting Your Members Up For Successhttp://www.bluesombrero.com/setting-your-members-up-for-success http://www.bluesombrero.com/setting-your-members-up-for-success#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 22:31:03 +0000 http://corp2.bsbtest.com/?p=2482 We’re excited you’ve chosen Blue Sombrero, and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re set you up for success. With that being said, don’t forget about your members. With any new system comes an inevitable learning curve. […]

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We’re excited you’ve chosen Blue Sombrero, and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re set you up for success. With that being said, don’t forget about your members. With any new system comes an inevitable learning curve. In order to avoid some of the most common points of confusion, we’ve put together a list of best practices for communicating with your membership.

Make Sure Everyone Knows Your Web Address
Do you want to know the number one question/concern we receive here at Blue Sombrero?

Great, we would love to share it with you!

“I am having trouble logging into the site…it’s not recognizing my username and/or password!”

We often respond by apologizing for the inconvenience and asking what website URL the parent is attempting to use. More often than not, the parent is navigating to our corporate website (www.bluesombrero.com) and not the club’s individual website.
Our Suggestion: When informing your members of your new partnership with Blue Sombrero, include a direct link or URL for your club portal. This is a critical first step.
Identify a Club Contact for Registration Questions
Other questions we often receive include, but are not limited to: “My son was suppose to be on ‘X’ team, but somehow was put on ‘Y’ team,” or  “I signed up for ‘Z’ program, but my daughter isn’t going to be able to participate after all, so I want to make sure we can cancel her registration.”
While these are all great questions, these are not questions we can answer for you here at Blue Sombrero. Often our response is something along the lines of, “Thank you for contacting us, but unfortunately we are only the online registration provider for your club. You will have to reach out to an administrator at your club for an answer.  Have a great day!  Sincerely, The Blue Sombrero Team”
Our Suggestion: Offer a direct contact for all things “registration.” By giving your members a direct contact, they will be able to quickly identify who they need to speak with at the club for any registration questions and/or concerns. This will also decrease the lag time between reaching out to us and finding the answers they need. When offering this direct contact, It’s ideal to provide both a phone number and email address.  Try including that the next time you send out an email to your membership!
We hope these best practices will help you in setting your members up for success during the registration season.

As always, if you have any additional questions you can always reach out to one of our Customer Account Representatives by emailingadminhelp@bluesombrero.com or calling 1.866.981.2583.

That’s all folks!

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