Integrated Marketing Communications: A Weekly Journal
Updated: Mar 17
This journal is being kept to communicate what has been learned week-by-week in Integrated Marketing Communications; a MS Marketing course at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business. Additional insights will be shared from any curiosities that the class may ignite and uncover.
Week 1 Insights
At times, first day lectures do not garner a massive amount of marketing insight as we are slowly immersing ourselves into the structure and expectations of a grad-level course. However, I was pleasantly surprised on day one when we immediately launched in to lecture. I enjoyed the content shared about Content Marketing, especially the following.
Content Marketing should be from the SME's perspective.
The week prior to our first day of class, I started an internship in Global Marketing and had been asking myself the very same question about subject matter experts. For context, my direct supervisor is a PhD engineer and the Director of Strategic Global Marketing. I have found his education and career path extremely interesting seeing that he's gone from engineering (product creation) to marketing and wondered why/how that would happen.
Not even two weeks into this internship and, especially for the team I'm on that's quite new comparative to the overall corporation, I understand that there could not be any other choice for who would fill that seat. My boss is a top SME in his space. For the type of content that needs to be created at this point in the overall life and longevity of the business, he is the one to bridge the gap between R&D, product development, bus dev goals and marketing. From creating owners manuals and technical product content to hosting technical training webinars - there is no one else who could successfully market B2B in this space than a PhD engineer. I feel very lucky to have been chosen for this team.
While it may have been simply fortuitous that my question from a week before was answered during day one of class (we may never know), I'm very excited to see what fortunate information and insights will be taught throughout the remainder of the course!
Week 2 Insights
Campaign playbooks and marketing playbooks galore!
What an incredible week. I LOVED the campaign playbook which is broken down into four distinct parts:
Planning a campaign
Running a campaign
Measuring a campaign
Social media tools
At the start of my career I was one of the only people at my agency with a "classically trained" marketing background. I often felt like I was learning on my own and searching and researching every minute of every day to ensure that I was doing my job to the best of my ability. The campaign playbook that we received as part of this weeks content is exactly the type of resource that I'm absolutely obsessed with.
I particularly thought that, for me, the "measuring a campaign" portion of the campaign playbook was useful as in all of my workplaces, things have been rather fluid and change with the wind. Because I thought this content was so useful, I have outlined my favorite parts of the presentation below for this week's journal entry and future use.
Planning a Campaign
Why do timelines matter?
In order to run a successful campaign, the start date and end date must be set and include a detailed timeline. The timeline will need to include a comprehensive list of everything that's needed and when (who does what, by when)! A detailed timeline assists with a 360 view of the entire campaign, as well as ensures marketers have planned well in advance. Must-haves are:
Assets and formats
What assets will you need in order to create or commission the campaign? You must be aware of asset timing:
Before the campaign: teaser + promotional assets
During the campaign: documentation + amplification of events
After the campaign: retrospective assets + the afterlife of the project
Third party agreements
When working with third party agencies, artists, or freelancers/contractors, it's important not define expectations clearly in advance:
What logos and usernames need to be included in digital content
Who has the rights to reproduce assets post-campaign
Who gets access to analytics and social media platforms? Can access be shared with all parties or a portion? If working with a larger corporation, will legal be involved?
How many Tweets, posts, or IG stories are expected about the project/campaign?
How often should content relating to the campaign be shared?
Social media platforms
Not all social media platforms need to be, or should be, used in a campaign in order to distribute content. Depending on which platforms are currently being utilized, it may be imperative to set up new properties or denote which platforms will be used.
Running a campaign
An obvious must-have!
In order to tell the overarching story of the campaign, it's important to plan channel mix well. WIth the right mix, and the right messages pushed out at the right time, each channel can work to compliment the others. For example:
Facebook is great for longer form content, video and conversations
Twitter is great for short, shareable content and live Tweeting
IG is great for powerful visual assets and video, like Reels
Paid media is great for driving specific traffic to a specific destination
Email + PR is great for reaching journalists and influencers
Blogger partnerships and cross-posting/promotion is great in order to reach new audiences and networks
Measuring a Campaign
Why create a measurement framework?
Measurement frameworks, with KPIs assigned to objectives and an awareness of the type of metrics you're looking to measure is one of the most important parts of any campaign - digital or otherwise.
Measurement frameworks allow marketers to analyze the performance of campaigns against previously-defined KPIs. Plus, measuring the performance of your campaign gives marketers the opportunity to clone successes and avoid future failures.
Difference between metrics and KPIs
Metric: a measurement that's used to quantify a component of content performance. For example, visits, visitors, time on page, shares, likes, or email signups.
KPIs: key performance indicators show how well content is performing against a key strategic goal or objective. For example, growing consideration of installations or increased brand awareness.
Why is analyzing performance important? Easy. We need to be able to create more content that performs well, optimize content that's not performing to expectation, understand what a brands target market needs or wants, and last (but certainly not least) to refine the overall content strategy.
Thinking audience first
In order to think "audience first" we must consider the marketing funnel, which looks like this:
I also love Donald Miller's, Building a StoryBrand, which is all about how to craft your messaging with the audience in mind! Always remember, your customers and clients are the heroes - not you!
Week 2 Conclusion
All in all, another incredible week with extremely valuable marketing insights. Onward to week 3!
Week 3 Insights
I appreciated the "integrated" content that was covered this week, especially pertaining to events and sales promotions. A few resources that I'd like to keep handy are as follows:
Customer Journey Map Templates (private to me)
Ultimate Event Checklist (the link in Canvas went to the above event sponsors article, so I found this article from Eventbrite to link)
An Integrated Approach to Marketing
As someone with a history in digital marketing, I have balked at employers or organizations who have solely relied upon inbound marketing and neglected the outbound. I have found that without a large marketing budget for paid digital ads, it is next to impossible to create, launch and implement a highly successful inbound marketing strategy - something that has been a point of contention between me and agency CEOs in the past.
"Give me an ad budget and I can make anything happen, but force me to work with a bare-bones marketing budget and your success will never reach the heights you're hoping to achieve."
I specifically remember a time with one agency CEO where I was told that if I was "just better" at my job there would be "no need for a marketing budget at all" and that I should "be able to fill a pipeline digitally through creating content alone." That was a fun job.
Mapping the Customer Journey
The content in our week 2 module was actually one of the exact reasons I chose to come to DU. I've been looking forward to learning more about customer journey mapping and applying that knowledge!
Remember: taking too narrow of a view of the customer journey will make the effort less-than-successful. You must be focused on how prospects and current customers interact with your brand across five major touchpoint.
Brand Presence on Owned Channels
Helpful IMC Content This Week
In addition to the above material, the Sales Promotion Strategies for Marketers article and 10 Tips on How to Run a Virtual Event were helpful for our client project. I plan on using the scarcity principle that was mentioned in the sales promotion strategies article in our campaign suggestions. This is a concept that was nice to see again as we covered it in Consumer Behavior last quarter.
To conclude, and answer the last question asked in the weekly journal prompt under Week 3 - Class Schedule & Requirements, there is nothing thus far that I'm struggling with and we are not having any challenges. Looking forward to Week 4!
Week 4 Insights
General Thought #1: Week 4 brought some great progress on our final project with our client (who we'll call CWC for the purpose of this public blog). We had a great meeting with CWC, honed in on our general campaign strategy, and received go-ahead from the client regarding campaign direction and our target market. I'm really excited to see what our team will come up with as a final product when we deliver the end-project to CWC!
General Thought #2: I also thought that Tuesday's guest speakers were incredible. I connected with both Stacy and Lisa on LinkedIn, too! I've always wondered exactly what TV producers do so it was incredible to gain insights from the very person who's produced two of my favorite HGTV shows - House Hunters and House Hunters Renovation! I'm fairly certain I've seen every single episode (what a way to spend my life, huh?).
General Thought #3: It has been incredibly interesting watching all of the videos from Professor Meyers. I haven't had him yet during the program and when/if I do, I'm going to feel like I already know him, which feels like the grad school equivalent of creeping someone online before you meet them and then asking them how their third cousin once removed that lives in Montana is. ;)
"The average human being has an attention span that's less than a goldfish, so unless we're marketing to some goldfish, we're probably in trouble." - MM
What Was Useful This Week
I haven't been in Google Trends for quite a while, so seeing the video regarding Google Trends and Keywords again sparked an idea that I may be able to use in my internship. We're currently running AdWords and YouTube campaigns, with great success in Canada and California - but I've been looking for additional insights regarding the two markets and their performance. Utilizing Google Trends to drill down into which geographic locations are most interested in our products/topics may help with optimization when launching new campaigns with iProspect.
I also liked the idea of combining a CTA banner ad in the right-hand video menu display on YouTube while you're video ad plays on-screen. Especially if that CTA banner ad opens in a new tab, rather than directing the viewer away from the video they were wanting to watch, that would be an incredibly useful combination of ads to test.
I'm still wondering about consumer sentiment as it relates to skippable vs non-skippable ads. I wonder if there's any consumer behavior research testing this? Re: my friend has mentioned before that she hates ads and, even if the ad is a product/service/brand she loves, she feels mad for forcing her to watch an ad in the middle of a video. She also pays for YouTube Red, so that's not an issue for her anymore - but I'm curious about consumer sentiment as a whole. (This might be another reason for me to get my PhD so I can answer all of my questions myself. Hah! But in the meantime, I'll look through Mintel and Statista to see if I can find anything.)
Either way, great article once again from Hubspot: YouTube Ads for Beginners: How to Launch & Optimize a YouTube Video Advertising Campaign
As part of our homework this week we created:
Creating social ad for CWC
CRM Proposal for the client
All of these things will need to be officially formalized before handing them off to the client, of course, but it's a great start!
Looking forward to week 5!
Week 5 Insights
I absolutely LOVED the video interviews with Patrick Gaston and this week's journal entry will focus on capturing notes from those interviews. Corporate Social Responsibility is a huge area of interest for me as I move into my next career phase - and learning how to properly communicate the good my company is doing in the world. While some companies may focus on philanthropy, other companies may focus on inclusion and diversity what are the main points of CSR to consider?
According to Patrick Gaston, CSR has three main points:
People (Human Capital)
Probability (Bottom Line)
"If we don't get it right, there's a real exposure to companies reputations. If we do get it right there's an opportunity to be successful in many, many ways." - Patrick Gaston
I also loved Patrick's perspective on Black Lives Matter in saying that he's seen things change in 2020 that he never thought he would see in his lifetime and I completely agree with him that we need to figure out how this progress we've made (which is not enough and we have to keep pushing) keeps going.
"What is the boardroom doing to address this in a long-term, more consistent and holistic basis?" - Patrick Gaston
What is Ethical Leadership?
"Ethical leadership to me is to be informed, self-aware, to understand your stakeholders and respond to them, to do the right thing not only when people are looking but when people aren't looking, to make tough decisions when you need to, ensuring you're complying with local, state, national, and global laws and polities.
It also means that you have to understand your responsibility towards people who help you make money ie your customers. What are you doing in the communities that your customers come from? Are you helping in poverty situations?
How are you treating the very people who help your company succeed - your employees and investors?
All of these go back to strong values, purpose, and producing strong results for your people and for your communities.
You also have to know when you're wrong, learn from your mistakes, and make amends to move on." - Patrick Gaston
What are Purpose Driven Brands?
If you think of a company, like Google or Coca-Cola, what comes to mind when you think of those companies? If you think of a company that you really value - like Apple - what do you think that company stands for?
"It's all about improving lives, it's about education and economic development." - Patrick Gaston
What do you think about companies embracing social advocacy?
"It's a choice that a company has to make. I think it's critical and if you're not doing it you might be able to have short-term success in the short-run but you're missing opportunities in the long-run to connect with your shareholders. I think it's a key success factor for any company."
How important do you think it is that companies/brands promote their social good?
"80-90% of companies publish a Corporate Social Responsibility Report and that's really critical, but before you do it make sure you have your house in order. Make sure your brand really does stand for something - are you really purpose-driven? The goals and objectives that you set and communicate to the public, you have to be ready to meet and succeed those goals on a continuous basis and scale it so that it continues to grow in the future. In the end, ALL of these things must come together in order to have a truly purpose-driven brand that stands for Corporate Social Responsibility."
Both of these videos with Patrick Gaston were very insightful and will help me in the future! Thanks for inviting him to be part of our class!
Week 6 Insights
Once again this week, my favorite part of class was the guest speaker. We met Thomas Dahl from Bounteous and he gave us a look into what Bounteous is doing for their clients, like Dominos Pizza. I've been paying attention to Dominos Pizza marketing for over a decade, as one of my first clients and large projects out of undergrad was to launch Jet's Pizza in the St. Louis market.
I love the pizza tracker that Dominos created, so it was awesome to hear from someone that currently works with the company and that Bounteous had something to do with that technological development! Since Dominos Pizza launched that tracker I've noticed a lot of other apps and companies doing something a little similar. DoorDash, for example, now has their own tracker so you know where your food is at all the time, and I love Lyft/Uber and the cute little car that you can watch when waiting for your ride, or while in your Uber on the way to the destination.
I also liked the videos from Michael Meyers. A few notes from those videos:
People aren't searching for an amazing brand, they're searching for a specific product or service.
Robots.txt user agent* = gives permission to any bot that comes to this robots.txt page to crawl and return results for what's specified here
What to disallow: thank you pages, any pages you don't want to show up. If you do this wrong "your entire world will come crashing down" - Michael Meyers
Voice Search Stats
50% of all searches by 2020
1 billion voice searches per month
41% started in the last 6 months
30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020 (i.e. Alexa)
File name, link to the PDF internally, link from the PDF out (site, external sites), PDF -> File -> Properties + Additional Metadata, mobile (left justified, brief, compress image files), subheadings, use text
I found it pretty funny/coincidental that we covered Google and robots.txt this week as a flawed robots.txt page was actually my biggest issue to figure out and troubleshoot at work this week. Our website was being indexed but not showing in SERP so I had to spend a chunk of time troubleshooting the issue and figuring out that there was a problem with robots.txt and the entire site was being disallowed, with the exception of the blog. FUN times.
Note: I actually don't have much more to share from this week - my expertise is in Digital Marketing so there wasn't a ton for me to "learn" this week - I just enjoyed the speakers, videos and working with my team!
Week 7 Insights
Yayyy - my favorite week so far this week! I love content calendars, content creation and SEO! Call it a symptom of a very organized, Type A personality, and a red on the Insights quiz... but this stuff really makes me very happy!
A few resources from this week:
What I Enjoyed Most
I especially enjoyed the "What is Mobile Marketing & Why Does it Matter So Much" blog this week. Over the course of my career thus far, I unfortunately haven't had the opportunity to do much mobile app* marketing, but I am finally getting the chance to use Google Analytics 4 in my internship to track mobile app traffic and integrate it into Universal Analytics data (mobile + web) in order to create a clear view of how our users are utilizing our entire online presence.
When I was working at a web development & design agency in Detroit (where I ran the Digital Marketing side of the house), I remember when we first started telling clients that they had to think about making their websites responsive for all devices - especially mobile phones. Some of them didn't believe us, others thought we were just trying to get them to spend more money with us - but other clients who really trusted us jumped at the chance to be an early adopter and they truly saw the most bang for their buck!
This was also around the time that Instagram was taking off, and I was also advising clients that they needed to start advertising on that platform - not just Facebook. It's so funny to come across the different types of business owners - those who are skeptical and who won't take your advice and those who choose to heed the advice of professionals (I mean, our jobs are to be thought-leaders why wouldn't you!?)... and therefore make tons of money on their ROAS!
I loved the stats that were shared in this Mobile Marketing blog, including:
"80% of mobile device time is spent on apps, with game apps eating up the largest percent of app time
People browse 70% more web pages on tablets than on smartphones
Tablet conversion rate for retail: 2.2%
Smartphone conversion rate for retail: 0.7%
Traditional PC conversion rates for retail: 3.3%
This blog says that it was updated in 2020, however I'm still of the mind that as tablet and smartphone shopping UX increases with the adoption of easy-pay options like Apple Pay or one-click, that mobile conversion rates for retail will continue to rise and eventually overtake desktop. The biggest barrier to entry is still, in my opinion, the ease by which people can actually convert on mobile. If their payment information isn't already stored, it's so much harder to type your credit card information into a small form box on your phone than it is to purchase directly on desktop - it's easier to see what you're doing, easier to search, and ultimately still easier to type your payment information in using a keyboard and larger screen.
Google Ads - Cick-to-Call Mobile Ad Extensions
I love mobile extensions!!! When I first started running "AdWords" for clients in 2014, we were super excited about call extensions and CallRail - and the UX of Google Ads is ever changing. It's so fun to see the evolution of mobile ads and the UX of mobile marketing overall, over time.
Mobile Marketing Best Practices
The following are best practices for mobile marketing, as defined by the aforementioned blog.
Be Clear & Concise
Optimize for Local
Consider Your Audience
Experiment with Different Strategies
Benchmark Your Results
And... I believe that'll be all for this week! :)
Week 8 Insights
Again - CONTENT! My FAVORITE! I don't think I'll ever tire of reading about content creation tips and everything we did this week was extremely informative and interesting. However, before we dive into what I found most useful, there are two pieces of content to describe how I'm feeling overall:
Here's a GIF to explain how I felt about the content in week 8 and here's a photo of my very tired but comfy dog, who is channeling how I'm feeling about finally being at the end of the quarter (very soon). He is a great and helpful study pupper.
Okay now, let's get serious.
Helpful Marketing Resources
Guest Speaker Insights
Being well-versed in working with graphic designers, I genuinely enjoyed this speaker. It never gets old hearing about a graphic designer's creative process (holy incredible, am I right?). I've never taken a graphic design course or been to art school and I have so much respect for graphic designers. How they can make magic come out of their brains, visualize the final product, and make it come to fruition is beyond me.
Conclusion of the Week
Overall, I'm just absolutely obsessed with content marketing, so this week was very enjoyable. I think the best way to learn and truly understand content creation is to do it in your professional life - over and over and over.
Incredible week and very excited to complete our final presentations with our clients!
Week 9 Insights
We are officially in the last week of lecture and final week of class before presenting our Integrated Marketing Communications plan to our clients. My team, The Guild, was assigned the Colorado Wellness Center for Girls and we've decided on a multi-pronged strategy for our campaign that will push Summer Program sign-ups for the center.
This campaign is two-pronged for a very simple reason: we want the client to be able to easily understand and implement our recommendations, so we've broken down the overall campaign into Campaign A and Campaign B. Campaign A covers the month of April and will bring potential program participants down the marketing funnel from Awareness to Consideration. We have denoted this campaign in our content calendar and in our marketing paper with 'yellow' and have denoted Campaign B as 'pink'. This is so each campaign timeframe will be easy to see and sequence in our content calendar, and easy to follow along with in our paper. Campaign B, denoted with pink, contains tactics and messaging that will push people from the consideration portion of the marketing funnel into the conversion portion of the funnel.
We are recommending the following for our integrated marketing campaign:
Newsletter drip campaigns
Landing page creation
Social media content
Social media advertisements
Ads in school newsletters
Direct mail &
We have even included some extras like detailed Facebook & IG Ad Targeting, a full SEO Audit, Pipedrive and Google Forms recommendations.
Our team created a myriad of content examples and improvement recommendations that include:
Google Form for Initial Consultation automation
IG Posts & IG Stories for blog promotion
Testimonial posts for IG
Example email newsletter
& Supplemental items for content like gifs and memes
Week 9 Readings
As we enter into week 10, I'm excited to finally present all of our recommendations to Andrea and we hope that she's able to implement our campaign strategy for her upcoming Summer Program campaign.
Week 10 Insights
Tuesday, March 16th
Woohoo! We made it!
Well, it's Tuesday right now so we haven't made it just *yet* but we're so close I can see the finish line! My team, The Guild, just met for the final run-through of our final project and we're looking forward to seeing Andrea again tonight. Carley and I really worked well together this quarter and it's always a pleasure working with her. She's incredibly switched on, takes on a good amount of work and always delivers above expectations and before deadlines. She's the kind of group project partner you really want in your corner.
I think that we really tried our best to go above-and-beyond for Andrea with our campaign recommendations, how minutely we built out our content calendar, the extras that we did for CWCG, all of the content examples we created - an example blog! We branded everything according to CWCG's brand colors and fonts, as well, and can even invite CWCG to edit the originals because they're all created in Canva.
Tonight we will present and also finally see what the other team, the Three Marketeers, is suggesting for CWCG's other campaign option too!
Thursday, March 18th
Ah, client presentations went so well! I'm really happy that the Three Marketeers were able to find their targeting niche for Andrea and finish so strongly this quarter; I was feeling bad about their having to redirect their target audience.
Andrea was so happy with our presentation to her and I definitely expect to hear from her regarding implementation and any other questions she may have. It was especially great that she's a professor at DU! It's wonderful to meet other professors from other schools during COVID, when we otherwise can't network or co-mingle like we may have been able to in the past.
This past quarter has honestly been a whirlwind - and while I truly enjoyed each class (including this one ;)) - I'm happy that it's over and we're moving on. One step further to graduation!
Thanks for everything this quarter. If I can be a guest speaker in any portion of your classes moving forward - Digital Marketing is my specialty (SEO, Google Ads, Analytics, UTM Parameters, Social Ads, Content Strategy, Social Media Management, etc.) and I've accepted a position back in agency life at KPS3 in Reno, Nevada as Account Director - I would love to assist in any way!