Marketon: The Design Strategy Behind a Knowledge-based Marathon for Marketers.

Ainara Sainz
7 min readFeb 2, 2018

Running a marathon is a long-term challenge that needs a sense of purpose, a significant commitment and a lot of hard work.

In the International Team at Unbounce we thought it would be interesting to turn this physical challenge into a knowledge-based one and create a campaign to increase the number of Brazilian agencies in our database.

What would it take to make our audience feel committed to becoming “marketing athletes?” And how could we encourage them to engage and participate throughout our entire digital campaign?

Designers embedded in Marketing teams can sometimes find themselves in awkward positions where they only have room to follow other people’s ideas and execute. But as most of you may know, designers don’t just make things look good; we’re problem-solvers and it’s on us to make our team understand it. Brazilian community manager, Andrea Amaral, knows and supports equal collaboration so she gave me total freedom to take our previous idea, build a brand around it and generate the entire design strategy.

In this blog post I’m going to share:

  • How we got 2755 new subscribers to our Brazilian account.
  • Ways to structure your project’s strategy to identify design opportunities.
  • How you can strengthen campaigns by involving designers since the beginning.
  • Tips to bring stakeholders and partners on board (even if they’re working remotely!)

First… defining the project

Why are we doing this project in the first place? What type of content and benefits are we going to offer to our audience? And, how do we engage with our audience and accomplish our goals? Before starting a project, these are the questions that we bring to the table to define the project’s mission, vision and primary strategy.

  • Mission: Create an online event for Brazilian digital marketers that targets digital agencies to create awareness about Unbounce as a company and product.
  • Vision: Offer a full day of continuously live sessions of presentations made by Brazilian guests speakers focused on three different topics: strategy, attraction, and conversion. Always with the goal of providing insights and tactics to help get better results at digital agencies.
  • Strategy: Translate the multifaceted experience of a marathon into an online event. Make information digestible, present three different content tracks and offer delightful surprises throughout the campaign to make people stay tuned.

Defining these three main points helps you describe the problem you’re setting out to solve, determine the project’s goals and expectations and also sets the foundation to start brainstorming and identify your project’s creative direction.

Pro-tip for designers: When you’re trying to sell a pitch to your stakeholders and team members but they’re not physically in the same place that you are, record yourself. I recorded a video presenting the brand’s concept and the project’s strategy to our Brazilian partners to get them onboard. They got motivated about the story, the details on every step of the road and the look and feel of the overall campaign.

Project Structure: Applying the marathon analogy in every step of the way

Outlining our objectives helped us conceptualize all the ground we needed to cover. We broke down every user touchpoint into a design deliverable, and we broke down each deliverable into smaller tasks.

Project’s outline

Pro tip for designers: Take into account the campaign’s primary goal and apply marketing concepts and milestones into your design strategy. E.g., Think of how you would increase the campaign’s lead gen, how you’re going to keep your audience engaged or even how you’ll implement a design in each step of the buyer journey. For people to listen, understand and follow your ideas, you need to learn how to speak their language.

1. Landing Page 1: Event Promotion

Every event campaign starts with a landing page that promotes it. We mention the value that this would bring to your day-to-day, when it’s happening, explain the format of the event and also indicate the companies that we’re partnering with.

When runners sign up for a race, they sometimes get a variety of online training tips. From nutrition tips to workout videos to even product promotion, all of these come together to help get the runner ready for the big day.

We took the same approach but with tactical content. Whenever an attendee registers for our event, they’re getting a compilation of articles focused on helping them get the most out of the 10-hour sessions with digital agencies.

As a quick win for us, we only included articles that were written by our partners. In case anyone wanted to read related articles, this would redirect traffic to our blog’s websites.

2. Email 1: Attendance Confirmation

Opening confirmation emails that follow up registrations is something we naturally do but that we barely put attention. But, what if we could use this first contact with our audience and send a delightful message that could set the voice and tone of the relationship that we’re about to begin?

Let’s think about marathoners again. What is one of the things that they’d expect to get after signing up for a race? Their personalized numbers. So, that’s we did. With the help of Cloudinary and the support of our customer marketing operations strategist, Luis Francisco, we created customized race numbers for every single attendee. We wanted to welcome them and start generating a bit of excitement for what was coming in the future with this event.

Personalized race number shown in confirmation email.

3. Landing page 2: Agenda

Publishing the agenda is the easiest way for your participants to know if this online event is relevant to them or not. And there are different ways to organize it.

Getting back to the marathon analogy, when you are planning on running a race there are times where you can pick different tracks. E.g., You can run 10k, 21k or do the full marathon.

We took the concept behind this offering and decided that all our keynotes were going to be based on three main content tracks: strategy, attraction and conversion.

Besides making information more digestible, it would also help us identify which areas are the ones that resonate more with our Brazilian audience. It’s essential not to lose the chance to understand our users better and identify what type of content they want to keep on learning about.

4. Event Day: Marathon

Ten speakers presented, one after another, from companies such as Resultados Digitais, Rockcontent, and Sprout Social. Our hostess was Andrea Amaral, our Brazilian community manager.

Pro tip for marketers: Pre-record your guests’ presentations to avoid delays or technical issues. The speakers can still be online on the day of the event to answer any question the audience might have. True story: we lost power on the entire floor while Marketon was happening and our hostess ran to our neighbor’s office in search of wifi.

Email 3: Leaderboard (Bonus)

After crossing the line and finally catching their breath, what’s the first thing that comes to every runner’s mind? Their times.

To give a reason for our audience to stay tuned until the end of our event, we planned to create a leaderboard. ON24, our webinar tool, allows us to extract the necessary data to identify the people who stayed connected the longest, who participated the most and by tracking the event hashtag, we could have identified who promoted our event the most in social channels.

Using this information we could have announced the winners via email and, in collaboration with our partners, we would have given away three main prizes. Due to time constraints, we weren’t able to pull this last step off. In my opinion, this would have been the campaign’s perfect ending, and it would have been a perfect example of how to use your tools at their fullest potential to generate unexpected and extra delightful experiences to your audience. We’ll make it work next time :)

Landing Page 3: Recordings

Even though the event only lasted one day we didn’t want to take away the opportunity to learn from Marketon’s speakers so we decided to put together a landing page where everyone who subscribes could receive an email with all the keynote recordings. Anyone can come back to the Marketon website to watch pictures and play videos to revive the race that they were part of.

Pro tip for marketers: Following-up on a webinar and gathering feedback from our audience is as important as the rest of the campaign. Listening to our users will make them feel seen and will help us make the next iteration of the campaign much better.


When designers become more involved in strategic decision-making, it can impact a business in a meaningful way. Empathy is the foundation of our profession and being able to collaborate and learn from others is what’s going to help us build stronger projects/campaigns.