How to Build Your Brand Through Customer Relationships
Metrics and Analytics 03.27.2024

How to Build Your Brand Through Customer Relationships

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This episode of the Sunny Side Up podcast features Carol Holly discussing building a brand through customer relationships. As CMO of Exclaimer, Carol shares her background and interest in marketing. She emphasizes prioritizing customer experiences and aligning business processes to meet customer needs. Carol also highlights the challenges of collaboration across departments and measuring the impact of brand-building efforts. Overall, she provides valuable insights on balancing brand awareness and demand generation investments for business growth.

Best Moments

05:01 –  Carol discusses her initial interest in marketing and what attracted her to her current role, providing valuable insight into her background and passions.
10:54 –  Carol shares a lengthy perspective on prioritizing customer centricity and the cultural shift required within a business, highlighting both challenges and opportunities.
15:42 –  Carol digs deeper into balancing investments in brand awareness vs demand generation, emphasizing the importance of both for business growth.
24:58 –  Carol outlines key metrics she finds most useful for measuring brand-building impact and value, including NPS, engagement, and sentiment.
28:39 –  Carol discusses exciting areas of focus for future marketing strategy, including leveraging AI, ABM, personalization, and video content.

About the guest

Carol is the CMO at Exclaimer, an email signature software platform. She is a senior leader backed by over 15 years in the digital and technology space for established businesses and start-ups. Coming from a background in product marketing, brand development, and demand generation. Carol is hugely passionate about building strategy, storytelling, bringing products to life for consumers, and driving growth.

From building the first intelligent customer journeys at a global hotel brand to scaling the business marketing function from zero to hero for a Skyscanner, managing global demand for a leading pre-IPO software giant, Carol has a proven track record in engaging with the business, developing key stakeholder relationships, managing budgets and leading teams to realize their potential.

Connect with Carol Howley

Key takeaways

  • Prioritize customer experiences and align business processes to meet customer needs
  • Cross-departmental alignment is key to achieving customer-centric growth
  • Balance investments in brand awareness and demand generation for business growth
  • Measure brand awareness impact through metrics like NPS, engagement, sentiment
  • Personalization, AI, ABM, and video are areas of focus for future marketing strategy
  • Building trust through the brand is important for long-term visibility and sales opportunities


“How do we focus on what’s in the market, tailor our message to those particular verticals, or those types of or groups of people, and start to be really intelligent about where we spend our money? Because if we did spend on every possible industry vertical and company size would be very, very poor very quickly. -Carol Howley

Highlights from this episode

Could you share how you initially got interested in marketing as a profession and what attracted you to your current role?

Carol shared that she’s always been fascinated by the psychology behind marketing and why people buy things. In university, her dissertation focused on the use of persuasion and tactics within marketing. This sparked her interest in wanting to understand how these techniques can and should be used. She enjoyed the blend of creativity, strategy, and data-driven decision-making that marketing offers. In her current role as CMO, she’s responsible for the overall growth of the business and gets involved in every stage of the customer journey, as well as employer branding and internal/external communications. This variety of responsibilities within marketing is very appealing to her.

What were some of the key challenges you experienced in transitioning to a more customer-centric approach? How have you been able to overcome these?

Some of the key challenges Carol experienced in transitioning to a more customer-centric approach included:

  • Making customer experience a core business belief that the whole company buys into, requires a significant cultural shift.
  • Breaking down silos between departments as customers don’t care which team handles their needs.
  • Prioritizing technical changes to better support customers over legacy systems.

To overcome these challenges, Carol emphasized the importance of aligning processes, systems, and mindsets and collaborating across departments. She also highlighted measuring customer sentiment through NPS scores and feedback to continually improve the experience. Launching an advisory board provided valuable insights directly from customers on how the company can better serve their needs.

How are you able to balance investing in brand awareness while also driving demand through your marketing funnel?

Carol explained that she aims to invest 60% of her budget and team’s time/focus on demand generation activities like content creation that create and capture demand by targeting specific personas and pain points. The remaining 30-40% goes towards brand awareness efforts to bring new potential customers into the top of the funnel for the future. This balanced approach allows them to operate in the current market while also building long-term brand recognition. She emphasized the importance of both brand and demand generation investments for business growth, especially as buyers do more research before engaging with brands.

From your perspective, what metrics are you finding most useful in measuring the impact of your brand-building efforts?

Carol shared that she looks at a “brand impact score” that incorporates various metrics:

  • Brand awareness metrics like share of voice and social channel traffic/engagement 
  • Sentiment analysis of what people say about the brand online and in reviews
  • NPS scores from customers and those who interact with the company
  • Web traffic and engagement with digital content
  • Employee satisfaction ratings as employees represent the brand
  • Trends in these metrics to see the impact of campaigns and make improvements

She finds tracking metrics across awareness, engagement, sentiment, and business results provides a holistic view of how brand-building efforts are translating to the bottom line over the long term.

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about in terms of expanding or improving your marketing strategy?

Carol shared a few areas she’s most excited about expanding in their marketing strategy:

  • Leveraging AI through tools like Jasper to scale operations while maintaining a human touch, such as generating content in her voice.  
  • Advancing their ABM efforts and personalizing the customer experience through tools that can pre-populate webpages.
  • Disseminating video content more effectively using their in-house video editing capabilities.

How do you plan to continue nurturing your customer relationships at scale?

Carol plans to continue nurturing customer relationships at scale by taking personalization further such as building web pages customers land on that are pre-populated with their specific brand and experience. She also aims to bring customers more into the journey by featuring them and their stories to help others understand how Exclaimer solves similar problems. This personalized approach across the customer experience will help nurture relationships at a larger scale.

Resource recommendations


Radical Candor for learning about effective communication within teams.
No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls for insights into how the buyer’s world is changing.


The Account-Based Revolution: From Origins to AI-Driven Futures by Jon Miller.


The Reeder


Marketing Against The Grain
Exit Five- B2B Marketing with Dave Gerhardt
The Diary Of A CEO


Alina Vandenberghe, Co-founder & Co-CEO at Chili Piper
Cathy McPhillips, Chief Growth Officer at Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute
Trinity Nguyen, VP of Marketing at UserGems

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