ICYMI: Marketing Manager at Ripken Shares the Secrets to a Youth Sports Website That Converts
By Melissa Wickes
June 29, 2022
If you’re feeling lost when it comes to marketing your youth sports organization and getting new customers, you’re not alone. In fact, with the professionalization of youth sports, the competition for those paying customers is harder than ever before.
Jon Rowland has been a Senior Marketing Manager at Ripken Baseball for over six years. Ripken has four facilities that host clinics and tournaments, serving more than 120,000 participants and 350,000 guests from all 50 states and 12 countries annually. How do they do it? A huge part of what gets those guests in the door is their youth sports website—which was recently revamped with the help of the LeagueApps Design Shop. Spoiler alert: Ripken doesn’t have a web developer on their team.
During our recent webinar, 5 Best Practices to Create a Youth Sports Website That Converts, we sat down with Jon to discuss how youth sports leaders like you can easily create (or update existing) websites that will convert leads into paying customers.
ICYMI, here’s what we discussed.
Why did you (Jon) decide Ripken Baseball needed a new youth sports website?
“Over the last six years, I’ve seen many iterations of our website. When I started, we had no access to our Content Management System—any change we wanted had to be done through a developer. As a small business, we need to be nimble and make changes in real time, and with our previous website experience, we had handcuffs. That applies to the front end, but also the back end—like registrations, operations, finance, and reporting.
As a marketing person, I wanted to bring our story to life through our website and content. Over the last few years, we’ve invested in good photography, rebranded logos, and really showcasing our customers and new customers that we offer a premium experience.
We partnered with LeagueApps to build this website, but everything about the website is Ripken.”
When growing and updating your organization’s branding, says LeagueApps Senior Web Designer Isaiah Clarke, it’s really important to work with a professional designer that allows you to really freely do what you need to do.
Can you describe your Design Shop experience from beginning to launch?
“Planning has been the most important step of the process for us, and that has to come from both the client and the designer. A designer can’t design without direction, so we went into the process with a plan that included assets, video, photos, logos, our previous wireframe, etc. We made sure to introduce the Design Shop to our brand—who we are, what our website goals were, and what calls to action we wanted to include.
When planning our website, we also kept things in mind that would help set our website up for future success, including creating a wireframe that could easily be changed. For example, we just added a fourth facility since working with the Design Shop. We were able to easily change our website to include that facility without needing a developer because of the tools WordPress and Beaver Builder—the program the Design Shop uses—have in place.”
The design is the easy part, says Isaiah. What I need to focus more on is planning, user experience, functionality, outlining, and end goals. We outlined all of this with Ripken before we began building the website.
How would you describe your target audience and how were you looking to improve upon speaking to them with your new website?
“In the past, we were only focused on the coach on our website—the person raising finances or organizing the event. However, our brand has grown, and now we have families and parents visiting our facilities for week-long events. Those people need to be considered as well. We’ve included resources for parents visiting the area for a tournament and streaming links for family members who may not be able to attend. Our website has become more nimble and changes are much easier to make.”
How did partnering with the Design Shop help you tell your brand story and reach your goals?
“The Design Shop gave us the puzzle pieces we needed to make edits—like changing links, CTAs, text, colors. Content changes often, and we used to fear having to make those edits. Now, it’s easy and actually fun.”
Once we complete a project, says Isaiah, you wont need to reach out to us to change anything because you have the tools to do it easily yourself.
How has editing and updating your youth sports website been since creating it with Design Shop?
“It’s simple, the back end is just stacked blocks and modules. It’s all optimized for mobile, or whatever device you’re on. WordPress and Beaver Builder take technical expertises and simplifies them. We don’t have web designers on our team and we haven’t needed them.
How did LeagueApps help your SEO strategy?
“We are a small marketing team and small business —we don’t have an SEO dedicated person. Making seo approachable has been huge. WordPress and its plugins have let us break down SEO language into common language. We can see when pages are optimized. We can see page title recommendations. How are our Elizabethtown pages ranking? First result on Google in 48 hours. It’s proof of how simple and effective Beaver Builder and WordPress are. They give you hints and language that you can speak.”
If you missed the live webinar—5 Best Practices to Create a Youth Sports website—you can watch it back for free on demand here.