Sprinting a marathon.

The Bellingham Bay Marathon wanted more attendance and more participation – 6 weeks before the race. Challenge accepted.

The Client

Belligham Bay Marathon


Bellingham, WA

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A little background...

The Bellingham Bay Marathon (BBM) offers organized races along Bellingham Bay including a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, full-marathon, and marathon relay – 100% of net proceeds benefit 8 youth-focused non-profits in Whatcom County. 

The Problem

Like many nonprofits, the organizers consist of PTEs and volunteers. The organization was picking up speed (so to speak) but their time to focus on digital marketing wasn’t pacing. Plus, they were partnering with website designer Highwaters Media to deliver a new, slick design up-to-speed with the times. 

The Solution

Another local nonprofit recommended Intellitonic to BBM. (Aww, you’re making us blush!) We got together, discussed the campaign’s strengths and what they were falling behind on. We proposed the following marketing mix:


Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This was especially important with the new website design – we not only wanted to grow their keyword rankings, but maintain their healthy keyword foundation through the transition. The introduction of the new website was the perfect opportunity to etch out new page titles, meta descriptions, and image alt text. We also made sure to include separate location targeting to downtown Bellingham, northwest Washington, Washington State, and the Pacific Northwest at large.


Google Ads: We made our keyword research do double time and fleshed out several ad campaigns. Our targeting included the different types of races offered, similar races in the Salish Sea Series, general races in WA state, and other keywords that could drive potential participants to the race.

Facebook MarketingThe organizers behind Bellingham Bay Marathon have a great understanding of how far ahead people tend to sign up for the different types of races. For example, it’s common for people to sign up for a 5K the day before the race, but marathon runners usually grab their spots at least a month in advance. We used their expert knowledge to customize our ad campaigns for each event, utilizing compelling images that aligned with each race.

Content Creation: Much like our Google Ad campaign, our web content is grounded in keyword research. We put together a list of topics people are searching for and then we delivered. Our ad campaigns fed to the blogs, and the blogs fed to the event. Everything clicked together like clockwork. 

The Results

Our exhaustive keyword research was the foundation for a massive success. Organic search led potential participants right to the website – where they spent longer and viewed more pages than the year before. Fueled by a few select keywords, we raised the Google Ad click-through rate to an impressive 17%, meaning almost one in five people who saw the ad used it to get to the website. We couldn’t be more proud. The data we compiled is now used to inform future campaigns. 




page views



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click-through rate

Increased to



Increased the number of top 3 ranking keywords from 11 to 31 in time for the marathon, resulting in a promising rise in sessions on the Bellingham Bay Marathon webpage. 

Google Ads

Made 17,866 impressions and achieved 195 conversions with a startling 17% CTR.

Paid Facebook

Methodically targeted potential participants by race type, demographic, and time frame to reach 41,860 potential participants.

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