Become One with Your Customer

Does your team have a genuine and acute understanding of your customers’ needs, wants and behaviors? If you’re uncertain, optimizing personas will help ensure the success of your entire marketing program. Without personas, your messaging may not resonate with your target audience, or you might miss your audience entirely, resulting in inefficient marketing efforts.

Keep Personas Simple and Fluid

Creating personas is quick and easy, and we always prefer to keep the process simple. Marketers often become paralyzed when creating personas by overthinking them, trying to make too many or add too many details.

The number of customer personas your company needs depends on your target audience and the markets you are trying to reach. We typically recommend beginning by defining three or fewer distinct customer personas. Depending on the size and complexity of your customer base, you may find that 2 or 3 personas is sufficient for your needs. Additional personas may be defined and created as new customer segments are defined.

Remember that personas are working documents that will be updated and optimized over time. Personas may become too complex or cumbersome to use when they include too much information, or when a large quantity of customer segments are defined from the onset.

Include the Right Details

Customer personas provide a fictional representation of your ideal customer and should inspire genuine empathy for those you are trying to serve. You can gather and analyze customer data to identify patterns, interests and behaviors. This process will provide you with customer feelings, likes and dislikes, and help you imagine what it’s like to be in their shoes. Since customers make decisions emotionally, it’s important to understand how they feel and why they feel that way throughout the purchasing process.

When defining the personas for your target market, it is important to keep them focused rather than broad. Understanding specific details about your customer will help you trigger an emotional response and help you connect on a deeper level. Focusing on making stronger connections with fewer people will make your message more authentic, less generic and less boring.

Good personas should include the following details:

  • Demographic details (age, gender, income, occupation)
  • Geographic details (location)
  • Psychographic details (beliefs, politics, religion, etc.)

Determining psychographic details is especially important. Understanding your audience’s likes and motivations will allow you to target customers accurately on social media or other channels. Defining what motivates and frustrates customers is the key to eliciting an emotional response to your creative and content. Psychographic attributes also include buying habits (such as frequency of purchase and average spend), and personal information (such as hobbies, interests and values).

Wherever possible, gather data from multiple sources and use direct customer feedback to inform your personas. This may include surveys, focus groups, sales team and customer interviews, online analytics and customer databases. Surveys or questionnaires may ask customers direct questions about their emotions; however, this may lead respondents to answer in a specific way due to the inherent bias of the format. Other sources, such as social media channels, ratings and reviews, and online community forums, are rich sources for emotional data that are often overlooked.

Customer personas should be updated regularly, as customer needs and preferences can change over time. Companies should review and refine their customer personas at least once every 6-12 months to ensure they are up-to-date and relevant.

Persona documents may be created and maintained in standard Office applications, like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Specialized web applications – like UXPressia – may support collaboration and simplify creating customer personas.

If your company has a complex customer base and you would like some support – or a fresh, external perspective – Signal can help gather the necessary market research data and support you when creating accurate and detailed customer personas. For reference, here are some examples of a few personas Signal has created.

After you create accurate personas and share them with your team, you’ll find these foundational documents are critical to ensuring the success of your entire marketing program.

Expect the Unexpected in 2023

Legendary college football coach Bear Bryant always said to “expect the unexpected.” For Bear, this meant creating a plan but being ready to respond to whatever arose, and putting forth the best possible effort to take advantage of opportunities. Call it flexible preparation.

Marketers are facing a similar playing field this new year. While 2022 turned out to be a successful year for many businesses, 2023 begins with some uncertainty and concerns driven by high interest rates, inflation, talk of a recession, and changing international conditions. Even when faced with these kinds of disruptions and unknowns, marketers remain accountable for increasing opportunities and awareness to drive sales. Our efforts are even more critical for business in challenging environments.

We believe focusing on the core areas of planning, creativity and technology will ensure you’ll seize unexpected opportunities, and your marketing efforts will achieve the best outcomes.


Blueprint for success

By focusing on evaluating and refreshing your plan first, you’ll provide a solid foundation for your entire marketing program.

The following basic planning steps are often overlooked and take dedicated effort to complete before spending resources on marketing execution:

  • Clearly define your immediate, short-term, and long-term marketing goals and strategy to help prevent a shotgun approach throughout the year.
  • Audience precision is a must for personalization and hyper-targeting, so ensure you know your customer personas and journey.
  • Review all tools available and choose the right channels and tactics for each audience. The more you precisely target, the more relevant and effective your campaigns will be.

Balance and allocate adequate budget and time needed to maximize effectiveness. Don’t get spread too thin and make sure you have the right resources in the right places.

The framework you establish will provide a solid starting point for campaign execution. Realize your plan is only reflects a snapshot in time; however, it gives you a baseline upon which to analyze and pivot.

In 2023, marketers are increasing investments in these channels

  1. Social media
  2. Websites/blogs
  3. Email marketing
  4. Omni-channel marketing
  5. Video marketing

Marketers aren’t relying on single silver bullet channels such as organic SEO. Research shows that 92% of marketers leverage more than one channel, and 81% use more than three.


The X-factor

In 2023, marketers will see even more fragmentation of customer attention. Creativity can and should be your north star. Create relevant, authentic content to enhance your brand, not just for the sake of generating content. No one has time for throwaway content – your team can’t waste the energy to manufacture it, and your customers won’t expend the effort to read it.

Check off these must-haves

  • Design: image-driven, consistent, appropriate for audience and channel
  • Copy: authentic, using just the right words
  • Video: interactive, engaging and powerful

Continue embracing the short form

  • Messages must be short and sweet to grab attention on mobile devices. Take your key messages and boil them down to soundbites and sentence fragments for short forms such as social graphics and videos.
  • Check out the videos on TikTok and Instagram reels. These are the formats grabbing audiences. The time is now to plan for posting short videos and to think about what might be effective for your business.

So much video: 86% of businesses already use video marketing and 92% see it as an important part of strategy


Extending your capabilities

To remain agile, marketing teams need to be able to extend their capabilities and effectiveness with technology. Tech also helps you focus on the quality of communication, not the quantity. Having the right platforms in place will allow you to:

  • Fully leverage tools and features for web CMS functionality, email marketing automation, search, and social
  • Create targeted landing pages, which continue to be a powerful conversion tool
  • Develop interactive tools like dynamic calculators and selection tools to personalize results, prove the value of products/services and streamline the buying process

What does the sunset of third-party cookies mean for tracking and lead gen?

Cookies help to improve UX by remembering certain user information, making it easier to interact with your site and helping marketers to show personalized ads. Third-party cookies are tracked by a website other than the one someone is currently using.

Google will begin phasing out third-party cookies starting in 2024, primarily to appease consumers who are increasingly uncomfortable with tracking that feels like an invasion of privacy.

What should you do to prepare?

Evaluate the alternatives to third-party cookies, including first-party cookies, affiliate marketing and your own user data.


Although 2023 may be volatile, effective marketing can always play a part in increasing sales and offsetting the effects of any downturns. Use planning, creativity and technology to rise and make the most of opportunities.

New Creative Director Joins Signal

Kevin Pojman

Signal has recently named Kevin Pojman as creative director. Kevin joins Signal with 20+ years of experience in designing print and interactive experiences. His extensive portfolio includes corporate & consumer identity, print collateral design, packaging design, branded interiors & exteriors, motion graphics, website and social media development for a host of clients from Fortune 500 companies to non-profit organizations.

“We are excited to welcome Kevin to our team, focusing on creative excellence,” said Ricky Haynes, President of Signal. “I have personally known Kevin for many years and it’s great that we found this opportunity to work together. We are confident that his background and expertise will help Signal take our creative output to the next level.”

With a passion for unconventional thinking and visual problem-solving, Kevin has a keen understanding of all facets of design to create a completely integrated brand. Knowing how the components of print and interactive work together to create a client’s voice is a strength he brings to each project.

Kevin has led branding initiatives for clients such as Panera Bread, HanesBrands, VF Jeanswear, GlaxoSmithKline, as well as accomplished work for IBM, Kontoor Brands, HondaJet, Kohler, Sears, Nike/Jordan Brand, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Weyerhaeuser and Wake Forest University.

Kevin has received numerous awards for his print, interactive and video projects. His work has been featured in publications such as Communication Arts, How Magazine, Print Magazine, Step Inside Design, LogoLounge and Type Directors Club. In addition, Kevin’s work has been displayed at the NC Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, the Nasher Museum of Art and the Gregg Gallery of Art & Design. Most recently, the Library of Congress selected one of his designs to be part of their permanent collection. Kevin graduated from East Carolina University with a B.F.A. degree in Communication Arts.

Getting Started With the New Google Analytics

If you’re using Google Analytics to create better experiences for your customers or improve marketing decisions for better ROI, then you’re going to want to upgrade to the next generation of measurement. Google Analytics 4 is a new kind of property. It’s replacing Universal Analytics next year and has several advantages, including:

  • New data privacy features that make it durable for the future
  • Machine learning that automatically surfaces insights about the customer journey across platforms and devices
  • Enhanced integrations with Google Ads for improved campaign optimization

At Signal, we’re supporting clients with this migration. Here are a few standout upgrades to look forward to that have impacted our work.

  • New and improved data model – The previous model of page views, events, hits and sessions has been replaced with a system of events, parameters and user properties, making report creation and analysis much more intuitive.
  • User-ID – Associate your own identifiers with individuals, then stitch together the user’s behavior across different sessions, devices and platforms. This sets a foundation for new insights and opportunities, and improves user count accuracy.
  • Audiences – Enables user segmentation using any combination of attributes. Build these subsets of users in ways that are important to your business – and then push those audiences to your Google Ads campaign. Here’s a list of suggested audiences to get your wheels turning.
  • Enhanced data visualization – You’ll find standard reports similar to what you’re used to in Universal Analytics, but they’re much more user-focused in GA4. There’s also an entirely new toolset for custom reports, including starter templates based on technique (Funnel exploration, Path exploration, Segment overlap, User explorer, Free form, etc.), use case (by Acquisition, Conversion or User behavior) or industry (ecommerce, etc.).

Getting started

Universal Analytics properties will sunset in July 2023, so now is the time to start your migration. We recommend collecting data in both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 properties so your team has time to get comfortable with the differences and set expectations moving forward.

  • If you already have a Universal Analytics property, just go to the admin area of your analytics property and click GA4 Setup Assistant then follow the instructions.
  • If you use a website builder platform that requires you to provide a “UA-” ID (i.e. won’t accept a “G-” ID) you can still use Google Analytics 4. Here’s some further info for setting up GA4 for a CMS-hosted website.
  • If you’re brand new to Google Analytics, create an account and set up a Google Analytics 4 property

While some setups are straightforward, others can be complex and influence your analysis and reporting in unexpected ways. Signal understands how important your data is and we are glad to assist you in this process.

Welcome to Signal 3.0: The Intersection of Consistency & Change

30 is a big number. It’s a daunting age with a bad reputation. So, we decided we aren’t turning 30 this year. Instead, we’re transitioning and transforming into an even better version of ourselves – Signal Version 3.0.

What is Signal 3.0? It’s the consistency and stability of three decades of work alongside innovation, creativity and a willingness to just say “yes.” Signal 3.0 lives and thrives at the juxtaposition of consistency and change.

“As much as we are proud of our history and legacy, we are even more excited to look ahead to what’s next,” Partner and VP, Account Director Jim Ellis said.

Consistency is what helps us build trust with our clients and employees. We were founded on the core values of integrity, humility, grit and hard work, and that will never change.

“The 30 years represents stability,” Partner and VP, Client Services Phil Stephens said. “It represents security that we’ve been here and we’re going to continue to be here.”

On the other hand, change is what has allowed Signal to last this long. We have always been ready to dive headfirst into new technology, whether we knew what we were diving in for or not. It’s in our DNA to eagerly take on any new projects our clients ask for. That’s how Signal has evolved, by adding new skills ahead of the curve to provide the highest quality deliverables to our clients.

“We were always willing to jump into the latest technology and do whatever we can to be a step ahead and meet the demands of a customer problem,” Partner and VP, Creative Services John Gibson said.

Consistency keeps us grounded; change drives us into the future. Signal relies on both to keep going. Our clients trust us to tackle the hard stuff because we have both the proven experience and a willingness to try new things.

“Our clients are the ones that help nudge us into things. They’ll say, ‘Hey, have you ever done this before?’ And we’ll just jump into it,” President Ricky Haynes said.

Change is not easy, and Signal has seen lots of it. But for 30 years, our Signal family of clients, employees and friends has stood by and supported us through it all, and for that we are so grateful.

Signal 3.0 isn’t slowing down. We will continue to be the strong back our clients can trust. Sure, we turned 30 today, but Signal 3.0 is tomorrow.

Signal Case Study: GE Aviation Test Services Digital Marketing Awareness Program


With over 100 years of Aviation product design and testing experience, GE’s Test Services division has developed comprehensive and flexible testing processes and skills, including planning, design, instrumentation, test execution and beyond.

However, revenue was declining, and it needed to rebuild a sales pipeline. A root cause included a lack of external awareness of GE’s test service offerings.

After an extensive competitive analysis, GE Test Services determined which service offerings were most differentiated. A market assessment provided them the knowledge of which segments and target companies to approach, through what channels and with what offerings.

Our Solution

Signal worked with GE to design a 90-day awareness program on LinkedIn and Google Ads.

The goals included:

  • Increase awareness
  • Gain sales intelligence by reviewing reports of who was engaging with ads the most, and what offerings were in the highest demand.
  • Test the digital channels. GE Testing had never tried digital marketing, so this became their pilot program.

Signal created target audiences for the LinkedIn campaigns using an ABM model (knowing what companies to target and in what countries). We created ads using the highest potential service offerings.

For Google, Signal used persona data, a keyword starter list and competitive research to create the target key phrases and ad creative for search and remarketing ads.


We also updated the GE Aviation landing page to ensure content was engaging, digestible and tailored to the desired target audience.

Signal managed and optimized the program throughout the 90 days, meeting with GE every two weeks for lead feedback and campaign performance reporting.


The campaign exceeded all industry benchmark performance metrics. GE saw a 10x increase in unique visitors to the website. What’s more, because our campaign targeted a specific audience and specific key phrases, we know this traffic was coming from the right people.

GE also gained valuable sales intelligence. Our LinkedIn campaign reporting detailed what companies, geographic locations and job titles were most engaged. Google reporting detailed what offerings were in highest demand.

At the completion of the campaign, our GE Project Lead told us, “This campaign brought us one good opportunity, which in this business can mean a lot of revenue. Product development cycles are so long that it’s hard to expect prospects to be knocking our doors down, but this campaign absolutely exceeded my expectations for awareness.”

Signal and GE are currently continuing our partnership by working on similar campaigns.

A Digital Marketing Framework for Executing More Effectively


We often find that marketers are under such pressure to create and execute campaigns that they often don’t take a step back to clearly define and optimize their marketing strategy. Completing this fundamental step establishes a strong foundation for your entire program. Having this foundation allows you to build faster and more cohesive campaigns and to realize better results.

Signal developed a digital marketing framework to help our clients consistently showcase the value and benefits of products and services across key digital channels. This framework is designed to ensure campaigns are planned strategically and monitored consistently for maximum efficiency.

Completing this process will help your team:

  • Establish your marketing program goals and define priorities
  • Focus on the most effective use of your limited time and budget
  • And forecast and evaluate campaign performance and ROI.

Step 1: Define Campaign Goals, Objectives & Constraints

Tools used: Program Summary, Program Map, Content Outline

Start by creating a Program Summary to catalog current and future campaigns:

Name Purpose Budget Start End Channels
General Awareness Promote overall company awareness $50,000 Jan 1 Dec 31 Website, Email, LinkedIn, Search
Product X New product intro
Product Y Education Product Training


Establishing this bird’s eye view of your entire program clearly highlights your internal constraints (resources, budget, time) and can help your team prioritize campaigns and identify which dials to turn up and down. You’ll define the channels approach for each campaign, determining timing and assigning budgets.

Next, take inventory of what you’re doing and analyze any gaps.

Create a Program Map to give you a more granular and actionable view of your current marketing program. This flow chart will illustrate your marketing channels and how they are connected – how social, search, email and offline channels lead to landing pages and websites, and how those integrate with your marketing automation and CRM platforms, as well as other tools in your marketing technology stack.

Create your Content Outline, a simple catalog of your existing marketing assets – landing pages, print collateral, videos, case studies, and so on. This allows you to quickly see what content you can leverage and what gaps may exist, which is instrumental as you plan and build future campaigns.


Item Name Type Related Content Description URL
ABC General Landing Page Website/Landing Page Product X, Product Y Category homepage
Product X Landing Page Website/Landing Page Product Y Features and benefits
ABC Infographic Infographic Product X, Product Y Infographic
Product X Brochure Brochure Product Y Download from landing page
Product X Sales Presentation Presentation Product Y Links to all arterial sub-pages
Product X Solution Article Blog Product X, Product Y Product copy + features graphic
ABC Corporate Video Video Product X, Product Y Capabilities video

Step 2: Define Featured Offerings

Create a spreadsheet that lists your company’s products and/or services. Add positioning and categories for quick reference. This tool will allow your team to quickly prioritize campaigns with internal stakeholders.

Product Category Product Priority Related SKUs Description URL
Category X Product X 10 6 Insert positioning and benefits
Category Y Product Y 5 2 Insert positioning and benefits

Step 3: Identify Target Audience

Tools used: Personas and Customer Journey Maps


To be successful, you must thoroughly understand and connect with your audience. Creating customer personas and customer journey maps are critical to this process. These documents can be as formal as you want to make them, however, we recommend keeping it simple. Know that they are fluid, working documents and you can continue to refine them.

We suggest first talking with internal stakeholders to paint a picture of the target customers. If possible, also talk with actual current and potential customers to validate any internal assumptions.

Mapping the Customer Journey goes hand in hand with defining your sales funnel. A Journey Map typically includes stages and corresponding types of content:

  • Awareness Stage: blogs, infographics, social media posts, podcasts, short videos
  • Interest Stage: eBooks, white papers, explainer videos, conversion landing pages, paid/display ads
  • Consideration Stage: case studies, customer testimonials, sales emails
  • Purchase Stage: on-location and in-studio video testimonials, sales collateral

The Journey Map also captures the customer’s goals, process, problems and KPIs at each stage of the journey to ensure the customer’s needs are clear and highlight key opportunities.

UXPressia Persona and Journey Mapping Tool

Step 4: Identify the Competition

You won’t know how to stand out in the market until you have a clear picture of the competition you’re up against. Understand the landscape, including market share and activity. The first time you do this, you can focus on keeping it high level.

  • Positioning
  • Visual impact
  • Digital properties
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Calls to action

Doing this research will help you determine how you can compete and excel in branding, messaging, program offerings and content strategy. When you get into individual campaigns, you can begin to drill deeper into competition for that specific offering.

Step 5: Define How you will Measure Success

Tools used: Measurement Plan


How will you know if your marketing campaigns are successful? You need to define clear goals, determine KPIs and set specific targets to measure performance. Without a Measurement Plan, it will be difficult to monitor and optimize your campaigns to achieve the best possible results. Having a Measurement Plan also helps you set realistic expectations for the ROI of marketing efforts vs. simply focusing on increased sales revenue.

See Our Post on How to Create a Measurement Plan

What’s Next

Once you’ve completed these 5 steps, you have the necessary digital marketing planning framework and tools in place to chart your path forward. Now it’s time to confidently move into tactical campaign planning and execution.

Plan and execute each campaign by completing the following steps, referencing and continually refining the tools you’ve created:

  1. Select campaign channels
  2. Determine tactics and timing
  3. Prioritize budget across channels
  4. Set campaign goals and align measurement plan
  5. Develop campaign content and creative
  6. Launch
  7. Monitor and optimize


Ready to take your company’s digital marketing framework to the next level? The Signal team is here to help.

How Will You Meet Your Employee Experience (EX) Needs?

Employee Experience Graphic


Workplace 2021:

  • 300% increase in remote work versus pre-COVID levels
  • 47% of North American managers surveyed expect more full-time remote employees to remain so permanently
  • 53% of employees say they want to work from home even after the pandemic

Vaccinations are increasing, allowing the world to slowly begin opening up. Most companies have introduced a hybrid work model, with fewer people in the office and more full-time remote workers. As this is happening, workers have come to expect a work-from-anywhere strategy from their company, making remote work the rule, rather than the exception. According to Mercer, 56% of employees would even consider leaving inflexible employers.

Have you planned for these EX impacts?


Accelerated spending on cloud, security, networks and mobility


Many companies have invested in conversational AI, machine learning and hardware advances to help smooth workplace changes, and remote workers are seeing EX automation perform admin tasks that were previously done in the office (e.g. employee self-service, customer service support and document extraction).
Forrester predicts by the end of 2021, one in four remote workers will be supported by new forms of automation either directly or indirectly.
Savvy CIOs will make the needed investments to foster social collaboration, make information easier to find and use, and provide security that’s less distracting.


Urgent need for targeted Human Resources strategy and execution


To maintain a competitive advantage, HR executives will need to pay attention to EX across the entire employee lifecycle – from hiring/talent acquisition to engagement and training. Here are a few things the Signal team is seeing in core areas:
  • Leadership and organizational culture has always been critical to the employee experience, and it’s even more so in a hybrid work world where employees are not all co-located. If you don’t have a strategy for creating and maintaining a strong culture, this is your very first priority.
  • Retention is absolutely critical and greatly impacted by work culture in an environment where the most desirable knowledge workers are able to find location-agnostic / virtual work anywhere. It’s not unusual for companies to actively recruit key players from their competitors.
  • To that end, it’s important for the hiring function to have a buttoned-up employment value proposition and recruiting presence across the right channels.   
  • Training is needed to help your skilled employees stay nimble and ready to take on new responsibilities as you shift with the pandemic.


The big shift to a remote / hybrid work model has put the spotlight squarely on the employee experience. Proactive attention to technology and talent strategy can help your organization meet the moment. The Signal experts are here to answer your questions or assist in putting a plan into action.

How Apple’s New Software Update Impacts Advertising

Overview of the change

A new privacy feature was released on Monday 4/26/21 with the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 14.5. This includes a new feature called App Tracking Transparency, a significant step for user privacy, giving people more control over their mobile phone app data and how it’s used by companies, like Facebook and LinkedIn, for personalized ad targeting.

The first time users open an app on their iPhone or iPad after they update, they will be prompted with an option to opt out of tracking that monitors their behavior and shares that data with third parties. It’s generally believed that a small percentage of users will opt-in to allow tracking. Time will tell exactly how small, but early predictions have ranged from 2% to 20% opt-in. Recently, a mobile attribution firm AppsFlyer ran a study that showed a 39% opt-in rate.

While it’s an exciting development for users, this update is causing apprehension in business owners and marketers because it impacts data tracking permissions and therefore efficacy of some campaigns. This won’t necessarily mean an end to all tracking, but as more and more users opt out of tracking, we will experience some notable changes in how we’re able to measure performance and tactics/strategies we’ll be able to deploy.

Impact on Facebook / LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

The changes to the Apple iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework including the Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) will have a limited impact on these types of ad campaigns.

LinkedIn impact:

  • Shifts in delivery across LinkedIn Audience Network placements.
  • Smaller target audience sizes when using Matched Audiences data
  • Smaller audience sizes for website retargeting.
  • Potential decline in conversions, if dependent on IDFA.

Facebook impact:

  • Some campaign results will be counted differently
  • New limit on web events (limited to 8 conversion events)
  • A domain will need to be selected for each ad to measure conversions
  • Audience sizes may decrease

What we recommend for the short term

  • Enable or update to Facebook’s SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1
  • Verify your domain and enable the conversions API
  • Configure and prioritize your 8 conversion events or choose to rely on your website analytics tool to track conversions from your campaigns
  • Rethink the customer journey–review strategies and where you might need to pivot your approach

What we recommend for the long term

Consider developing “value exchange” strategies to collect first party data that you can use to build direct relationships with prospects and customers. First party data includes any data collected directly from your audience, such as the following:

  • Events/Webinars
  • Email subscriptions
  • Resource downloads
  • Form submissions
  • Data collected through web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics

Key takeaway

As digital platforms tighten up on privacy, knowing your customers, their pain points, resources and tools they need is more important than ever. Ask yourself, how current are your personas? Do you need additional customer research? How can you collect more first party data?

Sales Enablement Through Technology and Process


Technology and training are having a great impact on sales enablement for businesses in 2021. New sales tools in AI and automation will also enable businesses to capture consumer information and engagement activity automatically, freeing salespeople to focus more on deeper customer research, culling insights from data and creating more meaningful interactions with their buyers.

With this in mind, marketing leaders must have a direct pathway to sales management in order to stay ahead of the tools needed to continue the brand’s story and track accountability and conversions.

According to Forrester, 40% of B2B sales representatives plan to modify their tactics to better fit remote sales, looking for more dynamic ways to earn buyer’s attention than the traditional email, phone calls, and screen-sharing interactions. Additionally, since buyers are increasingly comfortable with e-commerce, marketers are adding more value and functionality to their platforms.

Three trends that will make all the difference:

Sales intelligence technology


Sales intelligence includes technology to identify, track, analyze and interact with existing and potential clients. Better targeting and communication will mean more relevance throughout the process. You need to know who your prospects are and how your campaigns are landing with them.
Not only must the sales function deliver timely insights, but those insights must be regular over time and evolve throughout the buying process from previous interactions. Success rests on the right systems.
You may have the urge to automate these systems, but keep in mind that they need close monitoring. Remember, using “sales intelligence” is not the same as “creative intelligence.” The lifecycle varies across demographics and very much depends on an understanding of your audience’s journey.



Consumers are now experts at finding information online about the products and services they want. Impersonal, generic sales scripts will no longer win them over.
Sales professionals (with the help of the right tech) are expected to learn, understand and anticipate the needs of their customers like personal consultants.
For inspiration, consider Netflix, a company whose algorithm is famous for highly personalized viewing recommendations. But the company goes far beyond that, using its real-time data to do things like attract viewers with artwork that changes with what someone’s just watched. The takeaway: an approach that changes moment by moment.

Sales coaching

Technology will only amplify any poor practices in your sales processes, and successful businesses are investing more in sales training and coaching to ensure that sales teams are in control.
When the world is happening (mostly) online, sales leaders have to figure out how to keep tabs on what team members are doing, and how they’re doing, both personally and professionally. This means going back to the foundation:
  • Daily communication with each rep
  • Coaching for all staff, even the top performers
  • A common sales huddle space to share wins and solve problems

In closing

There are big changes on the horizon as 2021 brings continued COVID challenges for marketers and the companies they serve. From a sharp increase in the work-from-home workforce, to a renewed commitment to “digital first” and an excellent customer experience, teams will be forced to be innovative and inventive with almost everything they do. Lean, agile, flexible and reliable partners who can complement internal teams are becoming a necessity, not a luxury.


Check out the first three installments of our CMO Intelligence series: