Sales teams spend as much as 50% of their time on unproductive prospecting.
Without the right processes in place, they lose potential deals and customers and waste their marketing budget.
The key cause behind this huge waste is that these businesses market to anyone that even remotely looks like they might be interested in their solutions.
In other words, they haven’t defined their buyer personas and ideal customer profiles.
By defining ideal customer profiles and buyer personas, your business can get a clearer understanding of who your prospects are which allows you to create a startegy on how to reach them effectively.
Here's how to do it right, in the style of top digital marketing consultants.
Table of Contents
- What Is An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?
- What Is A Buyer Persona And How Is It Different From Ideal Customer Profile?
- Why Are Ideal Customer Profiles and Buyer Personas Important For Your eCommerce Business?
- How To Define Your Ideal Customer Profile In 5 Steps
- How To Define Your Buyer Persona In 5 Steps
- 5 Types Of Buyer Personas You Should Focus On
- Integrating Your Ideal Customer Profile(s) In Your eCommerce Strategy: 7 Areas Of Your e-Store To Optimize
- Takeaways On Ideal Customer Profiles & eCommerce Optimization
An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a description of a business’ fictitious client with the highest lifetime value.
An ideal customer profile is a document that explains who a business’s ideal customer is - that is, an account that gets the greatest value from the brand’s products or services and that also provides great value to the company.
For B2B brands, the ideal customer would be a user or a business that costs least to acquire, is loyal to your business and has a great lifetime value.
Finally, it’s a type of customer that is likely to become your brand’s advocate.
Businesses base their ideal customer profiles on two factors:
- Demographic info: Data that explains who your customers are, such as
- Psychographic info: Data that explains why your customers buy, such as
- Spending habits
- Methods of communication
Both sets of data explain who is buying your products and why.
What Is A Buyer Persona And How Is It Different From Ideal Customer Profile?
A buyer persona is also a representation of an ideal customer which is based on data and info about people who have made purchases from a business in the past.
A buyer persona is a detailed analysis and a description of the customers that buy from you. The ideal customer profile describes the type of company you should reach out and try to sell to.
Buyers personas are different from ICPs in the following ways:
- Sales teams that sell to consumers (B2C) use buyer personas while ideal customer profiles are for B2B sales and marketing teams.
- Buyer personas identify and define specific types of people on the market, while ICPs describe the target market itself.
- Buyer personas describe business leads and prospects while ideal customer profiles describe the existing customers.
Using buyer personas, businesses can allocate their time and efforts, align their resources across the company, map out their content and acquire context for their business.
Why Are Ideal Customer Profiles and Buyer Personas Important For Your eCommerce Business?
There are many benefits of defining your buyer personas.
These can improve various segments of your business, from marketing and sales strategies to customer service and revenue generation.
- They help you communicate with the right audience: Both customer profiles and buyer personas can help you locate the audience that provides the biggest value to your business. Knowing the exact demographics of your ideal customers will determine where and how you market your products and communicate your services.
- You gain deeper insight into your target audience: Target audience’s habits, shopping methods, tastes and pain points are within your reach when your business defines and uses buyer personas and ICPs. All of this you can use to connect with them in a way that is meaningful to them and beneficial to you.
- Your segmentation and target marketing improve: By creating buyer personas and ICPs, your business can personalize marketing messages and better segment your marketing campaigns. Knowing what your leads, prospects and customers like, you can create content that they will engage with. The accuracy of customer profile insight will make your marketing campaigns more effective. This strengthens customer relationships and leads to higher customer retention and conversion rates.
- You can fine-tune your customer service and production: Having deeply researched customer profiles can be hugely beneficial for developing new products or improving your customer service.
- You gain a better understanding of where your customers are online: By getting an insight into your buyers’ personas and profiles, you can gain an accurate insight into what online channels they use. With that knowledge, you can optimize your marketing expenditures and shift your marketing efforts to the right channel, instead of wasting budget on advertising on platforms your audience doesn’t necessarily use.
How To Define Your Ideal Customer Profile In 5 Steps
As a business marketing to B2B prospects, it is your mission to identify those companies that constitute the ideal customer profile for the benefits listed above.
This is a fairly complex procedure that can boil down to these five steps.
1. Analyze Your Customers’ Touchpoints And User Journey
A customer journey can tell you how your visitors are engaging and interacting with your brand.
It details all the touchpoints that prospective customers will pass on their way to converting and reveals their needs, challenges and pain points.
These needs, challenges and pain points are your first set of information about your prospects and existing customers that you can use to define your ideal customer profile.
Taking your time to analyze their journey map or simply visualize it will help you understand which customer profile you should reach and what they want from your business.
Consider interviewing your prospects on each touchpoint of your journey map and ask them about the customer experience they are having. Chart their responses on your map and analyze how their experience changes throughout the journey.
This will provide you with a valuable insight of what your prospects like and don’t like about your solutions and content. Then, you can categorize them according to their answers into different groups.
2. Identify Your Demographics And Analyze Their Contextual Details
To begin defining your ideal customer profile, look into your demographics’ broader traits to better establish their needs and how your offerings can respond to their needs.
Demographic attributes you should focus on when identifying your ideal B2B customers should include:
- Specific verticals your ideal customers operate in
- The market your product best serves
- Your prospect’s annual revenue
- The number of employees they have
- Their location
After defining the above, you should dive into their contextual factors that these questions can help define:
- What are their biggest challenges?
- What technology do they use?
- How do they estimate their issues?
- What are their business objectives?
- How are they trying to solve their problems?
Contextual details coupled with demographics factors will provide a good understanding of your ideal customers and their goals.
Complement the above analysis by looking internally into how you can help them by posing these questions to yourself:
- What value can I provide to these prospects?
- Can I solve their pain points?
- What are the differentiating features that make my business unique?
- How does our offering fit into their short-term and long-term goals?
3. Collect Their Feedback
So far, your ideal customer identification process relied on the data and info that prospects have given you indirectly.
But you can’t really get to know them and differentiate ideal customers from low-value prospects without talking to them directly.
Meeting them in person and having direct communication to collect worthy feedback is important to have a clear picture about what they are like.
Customer interviews are one of the best and most reliable sources of information in the ideal customer profile building process.
In-person interaction is the most engaging, but collecting data through a video call is also an effective method of identifying your ideal audience.
4. Identify Your Best Customers
When you look at your pool of customers in the search of an ideal one, focus on the very best ones and make a list consisting of them.
Of course, what constitutes the “best” customer can be all subjective, but your entire organization must agree on the criteria for the term.
This will vary from organization to organization. Some of the common points that describe the best customers are:
- Highest potential for growth
- Highest retention rate
- Longest time with your business
- Highest net promoter score
- Highest annual or total contract value
- Client accounts that have been the most profitable
Once you set your criteria, you should aggregate the data and look for traits patterns in the group you have selected.
Some other customer attributes that you may want to consider when defining your best customers are:
- Customers with the highest lifetime value: These are the clients that bring the highest total net profit a company earns from any customer. Customer lifetime value help determine how much to spend on customer acquisition.
- Product or service usage: Look for customers that use your products or services most frequently.
- Customers that are prominent brands: Big brands in your portfolio provide credibility and brand equity to your business image.
- Customer advocacy: You may consider companies that publicly advocate for your services as your best customers. They can be participating in case studies you make, as well as online reviews. This is important because 76% of buyers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. (BrightLocal)
5. Build Personas
All of the above brings us to building the actual buyer personas for your business.
Even though your search for an ideal customer is a search for other businesses and B2B companies, don’t forget that they are composed of people and their personalities.
After identifying their attributes in the previous steps, try your best to identify the individuals within the companies you are marketing to.
This will be very helpful when establishing a relationship with their team members and sales teams. It will also help you discern who their decision-makers are.
Some of the most important facts about the profiles of individuals in companies you are reaching out to are:
- Their titles
- Age range
- Level of education
- Level of income
- What marketing channels you can reach them on
- What their roles and responsibilities are
How To Define Your Buyer Persona In 5 Steps
The process of defining your customers’ buying personas differs somewhat from the customer profile identification in the steps you need to take to define them.
For best results in establishing your buyer personas, follow this five-step process.
1. Identify Your Categories Of Buyers
Every business has a very broad group of prospects and consumers - start by identifying these by rooting through your purchase and transaction data and history.
What you already know about your past customers is the best foundation and a starting point for defining your buyer personas.
This way, you can differentiate various groups of your buyers. These all depend on the type of business you run, but most often they consist of:
- Bulk buyers
- Frugalists: Buyers with a tendency to save their money as long as they can. Their characteristics are:
- Overly self-controlled
- They feel the buyer’s pain or remorse
- They are savers
- Spendthrifts: These are the buyers who do not hesitate to spend. They
- Don’t have spending self-control
- Are not savers
- Are likely to get in debts
- Average spenders: The most common type of buyer that spends on what they deep appropriate and affordable. They
- Weigh their options
- Rarely overspend
- Are influenced by facts, but need to be persuaded to complete the buy
When this part is complete, you can start looking at your products or services and think about who is buying them, why and when.
For instance, consider the possibility of certain dates or holidays being the trigger for some of the purchases.
Also, are some of your products most popular with certain demographics? Do some customers buy your products as gifts?
You can create buyer personas for people making the purchase and those who are getting the bought gift. That way, you can target those giving gifts and those receiving them through specific marketing campaigns.
2. Gather Key Information
The next step that comes after separating your broad group of customers into specific groups or categories is to find a very granular set of information to create their personas.
Here are the main questions you should ask your customers to move forward with your buyer persona plan:
- Where do they live, ie. their location?
- What is their age range?
- What is their gender?
- What is their education level?
- What are their interests?
- What is their relationship status?
- What is their job title?
- What is their income level?
- What are their buying motivation and concerns?
3. Understand Psychographics Through Interviews
Next, you should conduct one-on-one interviews, when possible, or create surveys for your prospects and existing groups of customers.
This will provide additional, more specific information and subjective data about their habits, motivations and pain points.
Interviews and surveys can help you understand your consumers on a fundamental level.
The customers who have already purchased your products or used your services are a great starting point for psychographic interviews. You can narrow down these groups of interviewees into:
- Repeat buyers who have bought products from you more than once
- Lapsed customers who have bought only once and possibly left bad reviews of your business
In order to motivate people for an interview, you can do the following:
- Explain to them that you are not making a sales pitch: People respond negatively to unwanted sale calls.
- Let them choose the time for an interview: This will make it easier for them to agree to an interview.
- Use incentives: Offer them store discounts and other perks.
During the interview, follow these best practices to get the most out of it:
- Send on outline consisting several questions from the interview to ease the interviewee before the meeting
- Understand that your role in the interview is to listen and understand your customers’ problems
- While listening actively, also make notes of what they are saying
- Focus on actual and current situations and avoid hypothetical questions
- Provide detailed feedback and a summary of the interview once you follow-up to them
4. Compile And Classify The Collected Data
The data you have gathered by looking into your customer categories, gathering their basic demographics information and collecting direct responses now needs to be classified.
This penultimate step is to boil down all the collected data into actionable insights that will frame your personas.
Divide the patterns you identified while getting customers’ feedback into various buyer personas.
If you created only one template in the beginning, you can create more depending on how many you need or how many personas you create.
You should populate each template with details gathered from the conversations for your buyer persona to take shape so they represent every customer category you have and wish to have.
The final product should be a collection of well-defined buyer personas for various groups and categories of customers.
This document will inform your marketing and sales strategies.
5. Test Out Your Buyer Personas
You have defined your buyer personas - congratulations! However, you cannot really consider them proper until you test them out with marketing.
This takes them from a fictional into a realm of reality and can either confirm or refute your findings and assumptions about them.
Test these personas out by creating digital marketing campaigns and target people from one or several of your buyer personas.
The most convenient way to do this is by creating ad campaigns on Facebook or Google that have a big database of demographics you can tailor to your own buyer personas and parameters when marketing to them.
Make sure you create different ads and campaigns for different buyer personas that will fit them according to the data you have gathered.
A successful buyer persona categorization will reflect in your ad campaigns’ results - you should see a noticeable difference in marketing effectiveness compared to previous campaigns where you haven’t had personas defined.
Fine-tune them as you go, and you’ll see the results once you’ve narrowed it down further and refined your buyer persona.
5 Types Of Buyer Personas You Should Focus On
In general, there can be as many types of buyer personas as there are habits and different modes of the buying experience. Your business may encounter some or all of the types of customers below:
- New subscribers
- Fashionable buyers
- Power buyers
- Inspiration seeker
- Last-minute buyers
- Impulsive buyers
- Not returning high value
- Marketing responders
- Repeat buyers
- Hesitant buyers
We will discuss five particular types of buyer personas that are the most frequent and potentially most lucrative for your business.
1. New Subscribers
New subscribers are the customer prospects that you have acquired through your marketing or subscription efforts.
However, interest in emails and newsletters and interest to buy are not the same thing and you will need to nurture these personas and their buying intent.
As a way of leaving a good first impression, resort to welcome email campaigns and introduce your brand with legible, easy to digest copy that explains what you do and provides your brand’s unique value proposition.
To lead them towards the first purchase, disclose to them coupons and discounts and create a sense of urgency with countdowns and expiry notifications.
When your business manages to attract new visitors to your online store, this marks the beginning of your efforts to encourage them to convert by making a purchase.
Most prospects don’t feel ready to buy something when they make the first contact with your business. So the way to make sure they don’t slip away is to capture their email info.
On your website, be sure to place subscription CTAs, popovers and sign-up forms that will appear whenever someone is browsing a website without taking any action.
Make sure your email growing techniques communicate your value propositions and the benefits of signing up for your email newsletters.
3. Hesitant Buyers
Cart abandonment rates are one of the key problems eCommerce stores struggle with because of as much as 69.57% of customers never complete their purchases.
Online buyers are quite indecisive and hesitant to finalize their buying process, so what can you do to motivate them to complete their conversion or a purchase?
You need to give them a good reason not to abandon their carts by using social proof that shows how many other buyers have already browsed, bought or placed the product in question on their wishlists.
You can also convert these hesitant personas by showing the ratings and reviews of the product, which is always a strong persuasive power.
You should also make the buying process as easy as possible, without possible distractions and too many sign-up steps.
Finally, you should use cart abandonment email marketing which has the highest conversion rate with such buyers.
In these emails, tailored to these users, you can remind them of the products they were viewing and those they already have in their cart.
Some other persuasive elements you can include to reach out to hesitant buyers are:
- Discount offers
- Similar alternative products
- Showing that the stock of the product they are looking at is limited
4. Repeat Buyers
Repeat buyers are truly the ideal buyer persona you need to know as much as possible about. These are the customers that will keep buying from you and your way to increase customer lifetime value.
Your goal with these buyers is to make it easy and convenient for them to purchase again. Therefore, you should send replenishment emails if they are running out of a product they already bought from you.
The key is being in front of them and their buying intentions at the right time. This will likely stop them from moving away from your business and buying elsewhere.
5. Impulsive Buyers
Certain buyers respond to marketing immediately and make quick, impulsive buying decisions. They have a strong emotional response to marketing and feel a great deal of fear of missing out.
Most often, their impulse leads them not to miss a sale or to use the discounts before missing out on them.
The way to reach out to this buyer persona is to drip-feed them opportunities of the above kind. Send them emails with countdowns to the end of the existing sale and to the beginning of the new one.
You can also send them stock counts alongside products they are viewing.
Also, when they make a purchase, make sure your cross-sell and upsell to them. Use their impulsive nature to push them towards completing the original purchase and send them recommendations as well.
Integrating Your Ideal Customer Profile(s) In Your eCommerce Strategy: 7 Areas Of Your e-Store To Optimize
Knowing your ideal customers and buyer personas is half the job.
The other half is putting that knowledge to your advantage by optimizing your eCommerce website in a way that will make most of these high-value customers and qualified leads.
You can do that by following the seven tips below.
1. Personalize Your Homepage
Your eCommerce website’s home page will often be the first place where your ideal customers land when they keep coming back to your eStore.
These high-value leads and recurring customers will have high expectations of your offers, so the best thing to do in order to leave a good first impression is to appeal directly to their needs with personalized content.
You can optimize your home page to display products and offers based on every visitor’s shopping history or significant personal dates.
Your eStore platform can generate this dynamic content using the data and information you have acquired about your customers during the creation of buyer personas.
For the new, first-time visitors, you may gain this valuable insight through the personalized email you sent or a specific social media campaign.
These avenues can provide you with data that can help you optimize personal shopping experience on your home page.
A good way to keep your ideal customers engaged with your eStore, even when they are not browsing it, is to ask them to turn on desktop push notifications.
When they enable these, they will receive automatic alerts about any new product arrival, discount, special offer or any news at all you choose to share.
Also, cookies are a great way of keeping in touch with these valued customers because thanks to them, you can retarget your leads and existing customers with retargeting ads.
Remarketing ad campaigns are very effective as a lead generation method or a way of getting your existing customers to return to their abandoned carts.
For prospective buyers who have already visited your website, retargeting ads will show them the products they’ve looked at on Goodle, Facebook, Instagram and other digital channels.
This can successfully acquire these leads, boost your eStore’s traffic and increase your brand awareness.
3. Optimize Your Product Pages For Search Engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the number one best practice for any website that wants to rank well and attract relevant audiences.
eCommerce websites, likewise, need to optimize their content on product pages in order for quality leads to find them.
It is highly beneficial to add meta description and a very descriptive title tag of a product on its respective web page. Also, use well-researched, targeted keywords that your prospects will use to look for this particular item.
Optimized sales copy such as product description and best SEO practices applied to product images, such as alt tag and image name are also a part of this particular optimization strategy. You can also consult with an SEO agency to help you with all this.
4. Offer Purchase Incentives
When a prospect that may be your ideal customer is in your eStore, you don’t want to lose them. You should give them a reason to stay and keep coming back.
This is where various purchase incentives come into play. These could be discounts, gifts, free shipping, a list of products that are on sale or coupons, to name a few.
Using these methods, you will lure in new buyers and improve customer retention and loyalty.
Incentivization works: when offered discounts and coupons, shoppers often proceed to buy more products at their full price, while also being more likely to spend more when eStores offer free shipping.
5. Simplify Your Checkout Process
One very effective way of getting your ideal customers to convert more frequently is to optimize the eCommerce website’s checkout process. And by “optimize” we mainly mean “simplify”.
The checkout process should be as straightforward as possible. The checkout page itself should contain only the essential info and content needed for the user to finalize the purchase, without any other distractions.
There should be a few steps as possible in this process.
In addition, provide users with an option to buy a product without registration if they prefer to and continue as guests.
You may also consider offering as many payment options as possible and disclosing your shipping and other terms before the checkout process, and in as little words as possible.
Showing the progress bar during the multi-page checkout process is a good way of keeping your customer informed about the length of the process.
6. Grow Email Lists And Use Email Marketing Campaigns
By enticing visitors to subscribe to your newsletters and special email offers, you will grow your email list that you can use for strategic email marketing.
Your email marketing campaigns can take on many forms:
- Explainer email for a new product
- Video reviews of your products
- In-depth guides to specific products or changes in the eStore
- Emails with coupon codes or free shipping offers
- Product upsells
- Cart abandonment recovery
- Product updates
- And more
In terms of email collection, consider offering a monetary incentive instead of a traditional lead magnet. Maybe you can give every new customer 20 percent off their first orders if they sign up for your email list.
7. Employ User-Generated Content
A loyal base of customers can provide another very effective marketing strategy for your eCommerce business: user-generated content.
User-generated content provides an unbiased, third-party insight into your products and offers, which is exactly what prospective buyers are looking for. This content can come in many forms:
- Their images of your products they’ve bought
- Product reviews
- Guest blog articles
User-generated content nurtures and boosts customer’s trust in you because it tells them that you encourage users to share their honest feedback on your goods.
It’s also a great way to generate more useful and valuable content for your business, which can affect your SEO rankings.
The simplest way to encourage user-generated content is to use branded hashtags, which allows users to tag your brand in the content they create.
Another way is to encourage users who have bought an item from you to leave a review on your website and even attach the image of a product as visual proof of its quality.
Takeaways On Ideal Customer Profiles & eCommerce Optimization
Working to define your brand’s ideal customers is meticulous work, but the one that pays off as it will:
- Identify your target audience that will provide the biggest ROI
- Help you communicate in a way that is meaningful to them
- Improve your target marketing
- Fine-tune your customer service
Your process of identifying buyer personas should consist of:
- Analyzing your customers’ journey map
- Identifying broader demographics and collecting contextual details
- Establishing their buyer categories
- Collecting their feedback through interviews
- Compiling and classifying the gathered data
- Testing out the buyer personas through marketing campaigns
Finally, once you know who your ideal customers are, you should work on optimizing your eStore to attract and retain these valued buyers by:
- Giving them personalized offers
- Enabling push notifications about eStore alerts
- Retarget them with ads
- Offer purchase incentives
- Simplify the checkout process
- Use various email marketing campaigns
- Invite them to provide user-generated content that builds trust and credibility