When one hears the word “leads,” names and email addresses are the first things to come to mind. You might assume leads are mere contacts that visit your website or interact with your business on dedicated channels. That is where the problem lies.
Your leads are human beings and not simply a part of spreadsheets. Converting “leads” into paying customers requires a significant amount of nurturing, and that is not possible unless you have a clear understanding of who you are dealing with. Further, generating a high volume of leads does not guarantee a high conversion rate if you have not nailed your ideal customer profile.
Also, if the leads entering your sales pipeline aren’t qualified or high-quality, no marketing push would top them to become loyal customers. A customer profile helps you know which leads are “high-quality.”
What's an Ideal Customer Profile?
It is a research-based, detailed description of the target customer. Think of an ideal customer profile as the customer you would hate to lose, or as a type of client, you should target. It describes who your ideal customers are, their pain points, and how they make decisions apart from basics such as demographic details, behavioral traits, and interests.
The official definition of an ideal customer profile is, “An ideal customer profile tells you everything about the people you would want to bring as your customers.”
Customer profile also called user profile or buyer persona is a single document that includes:
- Job title
- Purchasing habits
- Goals and motivation
- Challenges and pain points
How does a B2B Ideal Customer Profile help?
Now that we know what an ideal customer profile is, you may be wondering if you actually need them. The answer is, yes you do. A survey by Tech Validate found that 99% of marketers cite the ability to create, store and leverage 360-degree customer profiles as important or extremely important.
Here is why marketers consider an ideal customer profile to be so important.
1. It is easier to find new leads with a user profile
With an ICP, you know the exact traits your target audience shares. This data serves as a gold mine for sales teams as they can actively generate new leads that fit the same criteria as your existing customers. For example, if you know your customer profile leads are in-house marketers participating in online communities, you would find that on sites like Hacker News.
Also, it comes easier than running generic and costly Facebook ads to people who might be your ideal user, right? Simply put, you are heading to websites where they engage at their own time, and not invading their space elsewhere on the internet or social media.
2. You can qualify new targets faster
How many of the leads that make way into your pipeline actually convert? Does it make sense to nurture them all, when you could identify the leads who are most likely to purchase? For every new lead that comes in, map them across the ideal customer profile and the data you have collected about them. Then on, you can prioritize nurturing those who are a match.
3. It helps in account-based marketing
Personalization is here to stay, undoubtedly. More than 50% of customers are willing to share their personal data in exchange for personalized discounts or offers. This is where you can take advantage of customer profiling. With account-based marketing, you would have to personalize the communication your sales team has with every lead. When you are doing it on a large scale, you would not have time to invest in learning about individual leads.
When the ideal customer profile comes into the mix, you can focus on segments with similar pain points and prove that your product or service can solve them.
4. Building customer loyalty
When a lead becomes a customer, it is the start of a relationship. The most successful businesses pay equal attention to customer retention. That involves keeping existing customers, encouraging them to become loyal to your brand, and persuading them to purchase regularly.
There is a strong reason for this. Retaining existing customers is 5 times cheaper than acquiring new ones. The ideal customer profile fits in here because you can use the lead’s interest to offer personalized post-purchase customer marketing campaigns.
Why wouldn’t they continue buying from your brand when you send them free and relevant content regularly once they are on-board?
5. You find opportunities for cross-selling and upselling
When you know potential customers’ likes and dislikes, you can also cross-sell and upsell your products or services. This activity not only delights your customers and makes them want to purchase from you again but also is an excellent revenue-generation tactic.
How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile Framework?
To experience these benefits, you will need to make ideal customer profiles as soon as possible. The trick here is to not fall into the trap of assuming the traits your customers share. The biggest challenge is accessing enough data to create an overview of your user.
In fact, one of the major challenges marketers face is missing important data points that are crucial to providing a comprehensive view of their customers. If you are looking to capture the right data points for creating an accurate and ideal customer profile, follow these X steps.
1. Gather data from online sources
Customer personas work efficiently when they are accurate. Some ways to find data you have already collected from the existing customers are:
- Data from Google Analytics – This tells how customers interact with your website. Focus on customer behavior on the pricing page.
- Data from CRM – A CRM would hold the most important information about customers who purchase your product.
- Data from lead generation forms – What do potential customers say about themselves while filling the lead gen forms?
- Data from a customer on-boarding software – This will tell you about how customers use your software, the features they frequently use, the ones they don’t use, and where they struggle.
2. Talk to your current customers
To gather data about real customers, go directly to the people who bought from you. That makes them the most targeted people to look at. Ask your sales team to tell you about your existing customers’ characteristics, demographics, and traits. The customer interview checklist includes:
- Deciding which customers to interview – The high-value and high-engagement users are the best places to start.
- Choosing the right questions – Include 7-10 questions in your ICP interview kit that have the most impact on your customers and your business. Spot the pattern in the answers.
- Record interviews so that you can refer to them – A CRM like EngageBay allows you to store customer interactions.
- Create an online survey for customers – Surely, not all your customers would be free for a call. Offer them the option to fill out a quick survey using online survey maker JotForm.
- Import the survey answers to a spreadsheet – Having a single source of documentation will help you analyze the data later.
- Keep interviewing – Until you see a pattern. You have enough data to work with when you can predict the customer’s response.
3. Talk to your potential customers
Businesses in the pre-launch stage or that are launching in new geography could survey and interview prospects. Get down to the basics such as:
- Deciding the market you would want to target – Have an idea about who you are targeting, Ask them about what they like and dislike about your product or service.
- Use referrals to gain entry to the right people – Cold outreach may not be effective at this stage, instead use referral marketing to get introductions to the right people.
- Pick 3 or 4 important questions to ask – Keep the interview brief, by asking barebone questions such as: What is stopping them from purchasing from you? What compelled them to come to you in the first place? Was is it through a referral? Was it a company blog post?
- Consider incentivizing – If you want to get more information from customers or leads, consider offering an incentive for doing a longer interview or filling a long survey.
4. Gather information from teams dealing with customers
Your sales, marketing, and customer service teams have direct interaction with customers and leads. Include their insights while building the ICP.
- Getting information about leads from the sales team – From the sales calls and demos, they would have ample information about the leads' pain points, buying process, the most used features, and their industry.
- Learning about the products from customer service – The customer success and service teams can tell you how customers use the product post-purchasing, their favorite features, and which customers have the most success with your product.
- Learning from customer complaints, reviews and feedback – This tells you the type of customers that tend to complain, the common complaints, and the customers who are not a good fit.
- Prioritizing and collaborative road-mapping – A product management software helps you collaborate and create product roadmaps to improve inter-departmental collaboration while gathering customer information from multiple teams.
5. Analyze the data in a meaningful way – After gathering the data, analyze it.
- Use the spreadsheets to determine the most popular answers – This pattern will give you the most important data about the successful customers and their common traits.
- Determine if common profiles are emerging – If you find two or more common patterns for the questions, it is time to create more than one ideal customer profile for your business.
6. Create your ideal customer persona
Once you have collected all the information, put it down together to form templates.
- Use an ICP template – A quick way to create ICP is by having a template where you can put the right data together.
- Only include relevant data – Instead of flooding your teams with irrelevant customer data, include only what makes an impact on customer interactions and business processes.
- Include an elevator pitch – When you know what makes your customers tick, the ICP should include a crisp elevator pitch.
- Highlight the pain points and motivation for each persona – Don’t miss out on these essential aspects of your customers.
- Create a non-ideal ICP – This customer persona includes the traits of customers that tend to churn or complain and aren’t a good fit for your business.
7. With the ICPs in place, use them to empower your teams to convince potential customers to purchase.
- Use ICPs to set up marketing segmentation – If you have created multiple profiles, use them to segment your marketing, email, and ad campaigns.
- Ensure that your website copy fits your ICP – Update your website to include the key pain points and motivations of your most successful users.
- Create landing pages to resonate with the ideal customer profile – Create landing pages that highlight what the customers need and why they need it.
- Speaking in the right tone – Use the ICP to speak the language of the customers both inside the software and on the website copy.
- Create sales scripts and email templates to fit the ICP – Ensure that your sales email templates and scripts include features that stand out to your best customers.
- Update the pricing page to highlight valued features – Reflect the features your customers care about the most, on the top of the list. An additional tip being, your pricing page should reflect the ROI customers receive from your product.
- LinkedIn outbound prospecting – Since LinkedIn is one of the best B2B sales and marketing channels, your sales teams can use the ICP when trying their hand at LinkedIn outbound sales generation. Compared to email, you get much better response rates when prospecting on LinkedIn.
- Marketing Campaigns – Using a tool like InVideo, you can create online videos to nurture your potential and existing customers.
8. Update the ideal customer profile regularly
Your work isn’t done with creating the ICP. For long-term value, you would need to keep them updated.
- Conduct customer surveys at regular intervals – While the frequency will vary industry-wise and how quickly it changes, make sure to conduct new interviews regularly.
- Review data from Google Analytics – Every few months, review the data from inside your software and in Google Search Console to see how people visit your website and use the product. Record this information in a spreadsheet and lookout for new patterns.
- Update the ICP when you see new patterns – Over a period of time, you would witness new patterns emerging when you continually update the customer data. The common traits of successful customers are bound to shift. When this happens, it is time to update your ideal customer profile.
Ideal customer profile examples
If you are ready to start finding targeted leads matching your user profile, here are 2 examples that you can draw inspiration from.
1. Regin and the CEO profile
Regin, CEO, Company size - 150 to 200
Background – Regin is constantly looking for ways to reduce cost, improve efficiency and streamline his business. His goal is to create a company that develops cutting-edge technology and methodologies.
- Looks at the bigger picture and does not get caught up in granular details
- Looks for new ways to innovate in his market
- Early technology adopter
- Increase revenues and profits for his business
- Use automation to create efficient processes
- Increase productivity of his staff while reducing costs
- Use innovative technology to maintain a competitive edge
- Clear plans of driving company goals
- ROI and data to support the business
- Quick results
- Improve processes by automation
- Have a team that can quickly adapt to technology changes
- Financial resources for innovation
- Getting the buy-in from investors and the executive board
- Minimum viable product or proof of concept
This profile covers Regin’s behaviors, challenges, needs, and motivators driving his business.
When you equip your sales teams with a customer profile such as Regin’s, they know exactly what Steve is looking for and can pitch the offerings accordingly.
2. Marketing Manager, Christina
If you run a digital marketing agency and your ideal customer is a marketing operations manager, the details you need for a B2B buyer persona are:
Christina, Marketing manager, company size – 35 to 50
Job role description – Acts as a bridge between marketing, sales, product, and IT teams. Involved in creating the project scope, technology evaluation, data analysis, implementation of marketing campaigns, and creation of reports.
- KPI focussed
- Either venture-backed or with revenue upwards of USD 1 million
- Sales and marketing operations
- Director of marketing
- Digital marketing manager
Tools and applications
- Uses marketing automation
- Uses data applications
- Uses predictive analysis tools
In addition to sticking to the standard data such as company size, turnover, or location, this ICP template lists the tools and applications the target customers use. Your sales team can mention
How to Create a Customer Persona?
Customer personas work efficiently when they are accurate. Updating them periodically should be a part of your marketing strategy. If you can continuously help your leads evaluate your offerings on their terms, you will win every time. Here are three ways to improve your personas:
1. Follow the customer’s journey
What is it taking you to convert your leads? What is the trigger or incentive which nudges them to move over the finish line? Take a look at your customer’s journey, and you may find some clues about how you can update the personas.
For instance, use the heat mapping technique to understand how a website visitor interacts with a landing page and navigation bars before filling the contact form. Or, which social media platform is most helpful in bringing customers to your website before they purchase something. Leverage built-in social media analytics to help with those numbers.
2. Dig deep into the psychology of your personas
Now that you have been prospecting your personas for a while, you will have a lot more data about the audience behaviors—which means your personas can be more narrowed down and your marketing activities become more targeted. This could include their heightened use of a social media platform or the sudden drop in interest in an otherwise popular product.
3. Study your statistics
Numbers never lie. As your business evolves and grows, your customers do too. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to re-analyze your transaction histories and customer data. If you have been running ads, check the data to see what kinds of ads are responsible for maximum conversions.
The information could be related to change in buying preferences, demographics, social media usage, pricing, and more. This can help you establish updated customer personas with greater accuracy—something you want to get right every time you progress in the business.
Wrapping it up
Most businesses make the mistake of having only one ideal customer profile. Do not limit yourself. If you offer a broad range of services or cater to multiple sectors, it is vital to create a persona for each of them. That will help you segment your marketing and sales efforts efficiently.
Update your customer personas periodically. Research states 65% of businesses exceeding their lead and revenue goals have updated their personas in the last six months. The reason is simple—the market is evolving rapidly, so are consumer tastes and preferences.
You have to have the most accurate and recent information about your leads if you want to convert them.
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