Mike Gospe, the founder of the KickStart Alliance and author of multiple marketing bestsellers, lives by a simple mantra:
“Whoever understands the customer best wins.”
Customer profiling is one of the most effective ways to build that understanding. With thorough customer profiles, you can build closer relationships with your current and target customers, increase customer loyalty, and improve your product-market fit.
In this article, we break down the best practices for creating customer profiles that work.
What is customer profiling?
Customer profiling is the practice of building a description of your ideal customer, in order to improve your marketing strategy.
Customer profiles can be incredibly helpful for refining your marketing messaging and connecting more deeply with your target market. When you create customer profiles, you end up with a clear description of the kind of person who buys your products.
Example of a customer profile
Let’s say you are a content marketing agency, and you sell content services to healthcare brands. Here’s what your a customer profile could look like:
Company Type: Healthcare providers and medical centers
Number of employees: 500-1500
Geography: Mid-Western United States
Job Title: Marketing Manager or Content Marketing Manager
- Handling all content needs in house
- Overworked and overwhelmed
- Juggling multiple competing priorities
- A well-ranking blog with at least 15,000 monthly visits
- Ranking for relevant keywords with high purchase intent
- Can’t keep up with demand for new content
- Have tried working with freelancers but they don’t work out–not enough industry-specific expertise
What they think the problem is
- Need to hire more people for the content team but it’s not in the budget
What the problem actually is
- Outsourcing content would help them out but only if they find expert industry knowledge
Customer profiling vs. customer segmentation
Customer profiling is sometimes confused with customer segmentation. The difference is in their focus.
Customer profiles differentiate customer groups based on:
Customer segmentation differentiates customers based on quantitative criteria, such as:
Customer profiling vs. customer personas
Garry West, the Director of award-winning marketing agency Imagefix, explains that customer profiles are not the same thing as customer personas:“[Personas are] a fictional characterisation of the kinds of people that would most benefit from what you’re selling, whilst customer profiling is based on available data and refers to the kind of business or person that is ideal target for you to sell to.”
How does customer profiling improve retention rates?
Done correctly, customer profiling can transform your relationship with your customers and radically improve your conversion rates, customer retention, and customer lifetime value metrics. Here are just a few of the benefits of customer profiling:
1. Improved relationship with customers
By building your understanding of your customers – their pain points, jobs to be done, and reasons for purchasing – you create a closer relationship. You can align your products and customer service more closely to their needs and wants, and create a far more personalized experience. As a result, you secure their long-term loyalty, reduce customer churn and create long-term fans of your products.
2. Targeted marketing communications
Customer profiles also let you improve your marketing messaging, by addressing your customers with far greater precision. This is critical for today’s consumers. Just consider the following findings from Salesforce:
- 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products;
- 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.
Customer profiling lets you demonstrate your empathy for your customers and set your brand apart from the competition.
3. Optimized budget spend
Customer profiling helps you to focus your marketing budget on the channels and strategies that are most likely to resonate with your ideal customers. For example, with precise profiles, you can maximize your return on ad spend with native advertising software, which can place your ads in front of only those prospects who are most likely to buy.
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Customer profiling best practices
Customer profiling will only generate great results if you put the effort in upfront. We asked a group of marketing experts for their top tips, and here’s what they told us:
1. Use quantitative and qualitative data
Many customer profiles focus exclusively on quantitative data, such as customer demographics. However, Kinsey Wolf, the CEO of Lane Collective, a strategy consultancy for startups, cautions that this can be a limiting approach. Instead, Wolf urges marketers to seek out greater insights into their profiles by conducting thorough customer interviews.
This also acts as a check against confirmation bias, Wolf explains.
“Good marketers tend to know their business, its value proposition, and the customer base inside and out. The trouble with conducting customer profiling from this vantage point is that it’s easy to only hear the data that validates your existing research. Instead, you need to leave room to be surprised by the insights you surface.”
2. Go into detail
For Brooklin Nash, founder and CEO of B2B content marketing agency Beam Content, the secret to a great customer profile is to “make it more detailed than you think!”
“It seems like a lot of marketers think “buyer persona” suffices as a “customer profile”—but then make a lot of assumptions about what that persona includes, without going several layers deeper into motivations, company type, and so on.”
Beam’s current customer profile includes the usual customer demographics, but also contains:
- The customer’s current day-to-day reality
- Their aspirations
- Their top pain points
- What they think the problem is versus what the problem actually is
By surfacing elements of their detailed customer profile on their website and social media channels, Nash says that Beam has “seen a big change in both the clients we attract and in the projects we’ve been able to work on. The specific result has been a ~40% increase in our Annual Contract Value (ACV) since relaunching with a new customer profile 7 months ago.”
3. Focus on networks, not demographics
Dr. Marcus Collins is the Head of Strategy at global creative company Wieden + Kennedy, and Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan. He explains that customer profiling often relies too heavily on customer demographics:
“Demographics don’t describe “real people.” While gender, race, age, household income, and other demography-based inputs are “truths,” they are static facts and do not accurately describe who people truly are.”
Even psychographics–people’s interests, preferences and attitudes–may not go far enough to create a truly useful customer profile. Instead, Collins recommends that we pay attention to our customer’s “networks”.
These networks are the groups of people with whom we exchange information, experiences, and behaviors, such as friends, family, classmates, co-workers, teammates, or fellow congregants.
“Within each of our networks are shared beliefs, unwritten rules, rituals, and social norms that guide the behaviors of the people in the network,” says Collins. If you pay attention to the networks that your target customers belong to, you will have a far greater understanding of their behavior and ways of thinking.
4. Keep profiles agile
At Planly, a software company, customer profiles are kept up to date and relevant by applying the Agile approach, explains Aygul Mehdiyeva, a Digital Communications Specialist at the firm. To be relevant, customer profiles must be regularly updated and refined based on new data and insights, and the marketing team should be “willing to pivot and adjust marketing strategies based on changing customer needs and preferences,” says Mehdiyeva.
Planly uses social media listening to gain insights into current customer needs and preferences, and then brings that information into their customer profiles:
“For example, we recently conducted a social media listening exercise to gather insights on customer sentiment around a new product launch. By analyzing the data we gathered, we identified the features and benefits that were most important to our customers and created more targeted messaging that resonated with them. As a result, we generated more positive buzz around the product launch and improved customer engagement.”
How to make customer profiling easier with monday sales CRM
If you want to get to know your customers better, monday sales CRM makes it easy:
Centralized customer communications
Our simple customer relationship management tools make it easy to centralize and track every communication with your customers, even calls and meeting notes.
Get visibility across all your customer data. monday sales CRM integrates with popular third-party apps like SurveyMonkey, JotForm, Data Studio, and more.
Use customizable boards to visualize your different customer profiles and store information for each of your segmented lists.Try monday sales CRM
1. What are customer profiles?
Customer profiles are detailed descriptions of a company’s ideal customer. They can vary from basic summaries to more detailed and specific information. Customer profiles can be used to refine marketing messaging and content, segment your market to create targeted strategies or adjust product-market fit.
2. What is customer profiling in marketing?
Customer profiling is a marketing technique that involves collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing data about existing customers to produce a unified description of the ideal target customer for your services or products.
3. How do I profile my customers?
To profile your customers, you’ll need to collect and analyze customer data. You can do this with a combination of onboarding questionnaires, surveys, and qualitative interviews. Use the information you gather to create a description of your ideal or best-fit customer. Aim to include demographic data (such as age, location, or company size), behavioral data (such as how they find you and their reasons for purchasing your products), network data (which groups they identify with, such as sports groups or fan clubs), and qualitative details (like their aspirations, day-to-day schedule and top pain points.)