Marketers want to be heard. They want to deliver a message with maximum impact. Fat chance without a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of their audience. Do you even know you’re communicating what your audience wants to hear?
An ideal customer profile, a hypothetical description of a perfect-fit customer, can inform your entire sales and marketing strategies, ensuring you allocate your resources to those prospects who will provide the most value to your company. For marketers, this means understanding the audience that will hear their message.
In this article, we’ll go through the different ways an ideal customer profile can help your marketing campaigns.
Let’s get started. 👇
What is an ideal customer profile?
It is a description of a fictitious account that gets significant value from your product or service and provides substantial value to your company in return. That customer who pays to use your product or service, and also who continues to use the product, finding value in it, and is not likely to churn. Simply put, it’s your most perfect customer.
A deal is a deal, but acquiring the wrong customers—who are very likely to churn, is counterproductive in the long run. Suppose your customer base doesn't match the description of your ideal customer profile. In that case, you're likely to be speaking to the wrong prospects in the first place, or selling to people with different needs.For marketers, an ideal customer profile works as a trusted compass. Know your ideal customer profile, and you know whom to write content and whom to target your ads. As a result, you'll increase conversions and revenue at a lower cost.
Ideal customer profile vs. buyer persona
Marketers often speak about buyer personas, but not so much about ideal customer profile. Make no mistake. Both concepts are not the same, but you can consider them two sides of the same coin.
And, you need to have a deep understanding of both. An ideal customer profile will reveal the challenges, goals, and other characteristics of an account (a company). However, at the end of the day, you're selling to the humans within that account—the actual people in businesses who stand to benefit by using your product.
There are many ways different methods to create your ideal customer profile. Trusting your intuition isn't one of them.
How to get started with ideal customer profile: Do your research
There are many different methods to create your ideal customer profile. Trusting your intuition isn't one of them. Basing your ideal customer profile off of a gut feeling leaves a lot of room for error in judgment.
This is as obvious as it gets. A well-thought-out ideal customer profile requires that you know your best customers inside out. Find out which characteristics your happiest customers share.
In other words, do your research.
For that, you'll essentially combine qualitative and quantitative data gathering thanks to different methods. Remember: your goal is to identify similarities and patterns so you can carve out one single customer profile, the ideal one!
Historical data analysis
Go through your existing customers and keenly see who renewed their contracts or subscription. What type of customer asked for add-on services?
If you have a SaaS product, you can analyze a wealth of information to determine your most engaged customers. Who is logging in often? People who are getting value from your product already will form the outline of your ideal customer profile.
Don't underestimate the information you can dig out by looking at what your competitors are doing. What does their website say? Who are they targeting? Is there a possible ideal customer you have never even targeted?
Interviews and surveys
After looking into the historical data and competitor analysis, you'll have a few common characteristics that will start shaping your ideal customer profile. Let's say you've identified e-commerce sellers who need help with their inventory and have a minimum yearly revenue of x amount of euros.
Don't stop there. Arrange interviews with accounts that fit that profile to find out more about them. Ask them about their pain points, the solution they have implemented, and how they use your product.
Look into different data points
Using insights from data will minimize the risk of missing many of the less obvious indicators of accounts that you and your team should ideally target.
Once you have an idea of your ideal customer profile, a sales intelligence tool can quickly provide you with an overview of your key customers' shared characteristics. Technology can reveal less obvious characteristics like web technologies in use, geography, or the events and changes that occurred right before becoming your customers.
Test and test again
Creating an ideal customer profile is not a one-time project. You should come back to it regularly and refine it as necessary.
Marketers are in an excellent position to test an ideal customer profile. Take ads. Design ads targeting your first hypothesis and test. Ads allow you to gather clear-cut data fast. See if those ads deliver better results. Does the data reinforce what you just discovered through research? If yes, you have an ideal customer profile. If no, retrace, redo.
Practical ways of using an ideal customer profile in marketing
In a nutshell, the benefit of using an ideal customer profile is to sharpen your focus and help you develop a strategy aimed at attracting the most valuable customers to your business.
The shared company characteristics you've discovered creating your ideal customer profile should have an impact on your lead scoring mechanism. If you target large companies only, you want to set lead scoring parameters such as a high number of employees and a minimum revenue threshold. How can you identify these companies? A lead enrichment process will verify and enhance data on a lead or a target account.
Use your new knowledge on your ideal customers to target ads to the right people. Make custom affinity audiences and placement based audiences according to the interests of your ideal customer profile. Show your ads on sites they visit.
Ideal customer profiles and account-based marketing are made for each other. The first reveals perfect-fit characteristics of your target accounts (such as industry, revenue, geography, and technological maturity), and the latter provides highly targeted, personalized campaigns based on those particular attributes of an account.
Messaging across all collateral
You know the pain points, the needs, and the interests of your audience. Craft tailored messages across all collateral. Knowing your ideal customer profile clarifies the direction and angle your content needs to be relevant.
Your ideal customer profile may be comfortable with long-term pricing if they are from backgrounds where they like to close a contract for long and keep using the service. Or, they may be small business owners who want to pay monthly based on the ROI they are getting each month. Your ideal customer profile reveals how deep your customers' pockets are and helps you define pricing.
Increase the impact of your marketing activities by partnering with companies who have a similar ideal customer profile but are not your competitors. Organize webinars, events, or create content together. This way, you can ensure you (and your partners) reach the right people with less effort.
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How to prove the impact of your ideal customer profile
The impact of using an ideal customer profile will be evident in all areas of marketing. Let's about ads, for example.
Without an ideal customer profile, you would target a broad audience or varied audiences. Your cost per conversion was $X. Now, with an ideal customer profile informing whom to target your ads, your cost per conversion is smaller, at $Y. A/B test both audiences with the same messaging to draw reliable conclusions.
With improved ROI in all marketing areas, you should be able to show a lower cost per customer figure to your top management. Have good reporting in place to capture the before-after value of trusting your ideal customer profile.
Is it fun to create an ideal customer profile?
Yes! Creating an ideal customer profile is a journey of discovery. A fuzzy picture of your customer comes into focus. It leaves you with clarity and motivation about the marketing you can do.
At the end of an ideal customer profile project, you will no longer be speaking to someone who is mildly interested in your offering. Rather, you'd be talking to someone leaning forwards, looking at you, listening, and responding to you. And more importantly, you'll be relevant to them.
How long does it take to create an ideal customer profile?
3 weeks? 3 months? More?
The creation of an ideal customer profile is like a branding exercise. It can be as elaborate as you want or as lean as you want for your purpose. The idea is to get a narrow enough profile to be more targeted in your marketing strategy.
To get you started, we have created this template for building or refining your ideal customer profile.