Do you still base your marketing, sales, and product strategies on a fictional buyer persona?
If so, buckle up: in less than five minutes, we’ll introduce you to a new, better approach. An approach that’s more accurate and generates more revenue in the long term.
Introducing the Ideal Customer Profile: the approach in eCommerce that allows you to focus and allocate your valuable resources toward people who are actually listening to you.
No more shouting your pitch to the masses. It’s time to narrow your focus and learn how to find, convert, and keep customers who need your products and are more than willing to pay for them.
What is an Ideal Customer?
An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) represents a detailed representation of your organization’s s ideal target customer.
The ICP defines the customer’s characteristics, behavior patterns, and demographics of consumers who will be the best fit for your brand.
But why ICP and no buyer persona?
Think of finding your ideal customer profile as finding your soulmate. Things just click.
More importantly, the ICP is real. It consists of customers already in your customer base who love your products, buy frequently, bring their friends along, and spend considerable money on your brand.
On the other side, you have the buyer persona (also known as the customer persona). If the ICP is confirmed, the buyer persona is imaginary and based on suppositions. You’re focusing your efforts on attracting someone who doesn’t necessarily exist.
It’s the difference between walking down the aisle to meet your forever after, a real person you can touch, hug, and kiss, and chasing down an imaginary person you think should be one you end up with.
One is dependable, while the other is an illusion.
Moreover, one ICP brings more value than 300+ bad-fit customers. No wonder companies applying the Customer Value Optimization methodology quickly gravitate towards ideal customer profiles.
Benefits of Having Ideal Customers
When deployed as a tool for finding your target audience and enhancing your acquisition and retention efforts, the ICP empowers you to optimize your resources and increase your business’s chances of long-term success.
Yet, the benefits of identifying your ideal customers continue beyond here. The ICP brings a focused and high-level view while also allowing you to drill down on the details and particularities of your customer base.
The ICP helps you focus.
Ideal Customer Profiles help you orchestrate granular marketing campaigns while steering you away from walking on dead-end paths.
Even if your pool of potential clients might be significant, and your products might be suited for the general public, a focused approach will yield better results.
When trying to catch them all, you risk wasting time and money on people who don’t really need or want your products.
They might order once or twice to take advantage of a discount. Still, they won’t return for repeat purchases, and the monetary value won’t be anything to write about.
Instead, with the ICP, you can understand your customers intimately, identify their struggles, and see how you can help them progress in their lives.
Focusing on helping valuable customers make visible progress instead of promising the moon to everyone willing to listen will get you better customers.
The ICP helps with acquisition and retention.
Nowadays, it’s harder than ever to reach and persuade educated customers.
You can’t promise the same things as your competitors, as consumers do even more research than before – and can smell false marketing from a mile away.
At the same time, even if you get critical buyers to purchase your products, it doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them.
So not only is acquisition expensive and difficult, but retention can also become a challenge.
By determining your ideal client, you can find the people with the highest chance of benefiting from your products, making it easier for you to target the right people with your ads.
Targetable people are those who need you in their lives. The rest are just noise and bad-fit customers, clogging up your customer base and eating away at your resources.
With the ICP, you’re improving Customer Satisfaction.
(and the overall Customer Lifetime Value)
Your best customers deserve special treatment.
However, when you’re swamped, your customer service teams are drowning in tickets, or there aren’t enough hours in the working day to focus on all customers, important customers might be neglected.
If they feel unappreciated, they leave.
You must identify your ideal customers and prioritize solving their problems quickly and efficiently.
By prioritizing the ICP, you’re improving customer satisfaction and reducing customer churn.
Like what you're reading?
Join the informed eCommerce crowd!
Stay connected to what’s hot in eCommerce.
We will never bug you with irrelevant info.
The ICP is how you set yourself apart.
You know your brand is similar to other brands – selling similar products, solving similar needs, and providing similar results.
Why should people pick you from your competition?
Because your USP is stronger and you’re better at communicating it.
Your uniqueness derives from your ideal customers’ particularities. You can address their unique issues and provide customized solutions by understanding what the ICP needs in the context of the buying decision and their inner motivations.
It all comes down to understanding what the ICP is trying to achieve, then doing everything in your power to help him achieve the desired results.
It might look like an ideological approach, but it’s the only one that works. Care about customers, help them make progress, and be fair with your prices – and you’ll retain them longer.
How Do You Find Your Ideal Customer?
Now that you understand WHY you need a clear ICP and how it helps you grow your business, let’s look at the HOW.
How do you determine your ideal customer profile?
Finding the ICP means analyzing your customer base.
Remember, your Ideal Customer Profile is a compilation of your best customers’ traits and behaviors. There are five steps to identifying the ICP from your ocean of data.
Step 1 – Conduct RFM analysis on your Customer Base
RFM is a way of segmenting your existing customer base based on three variables:
- Recency (how recently the customer bought something from you)
- Frequency (how frequent are his purchases)
- Monetary Value (how much money he’s regularly spending)
Each variable ranks from 1-5, and customers get a score accordingly.
After the scoring, customers are classified into different sub-groups: power customers, active customers, at-risk customers, and inactive (lost) customers.
Want to read more about RFM and different types of customers? Check out the CVO Academy and get the complete playbook on advanced segmentation and how to use it to grow your business!
Your Ideal Customer Profile shares the traits and characteristics of the power customers. We call them Soulmates, Lovers, and New Passions.
Step 2 – Gather Info about your Best Customers
Step one is all about looking at the quantitative data and understanding who your best customers are.
The next step to define your ideal customer is conducting qualitative research to uncover the motivations behind your best customers.
Survey and interview your power customers to understand:
- Why do they love your brand?
- What would make them stop buying?
- What other alternatives have they considered?
- Are there any frictions in your relationship?
- What do they expect from you?
- Which are their demographics?
These questions will highlight ICP’s interests, goals, preferences, motivations, expectations, and reasons for buying from you.
This helps you understand who these people are, why they like you, which are their buying patterns. Armed with all these insights, you can move to the next step.
Step 3 – Look for Patterns inside the Customer Data
Now it’s the time to narrow down all the info you’ve gathered from the quantitative and qualitative market research and identify common characteristics and behaviors among your best customers.
It’s all a matter of visualizing your data and finding the common links between your best customers.
Look at this step as you would at creating a Venn diagram – each circle represents customers’ particularities, and the ICP is found in the middle, where the circles overlap.
Step 4 – Define the ICP based on Previous Steps
In step 4, you simply need to sit down and write the profile. You can use the following template to create an accurate profile:
Demographic Information: Age, gender, location, income, education level, etc.
Pain Points: Specific challenges this customer faces and how you solve them.
Buying Habits: Data on this customer’s purchasing behavior. Include the RFM variables and the channels used to research and buy products.
Behavioral Characteristics: Describe how the customer behaves and makes decisions. Include details such as the decision-making style, purchasing reasons, and product usage.
Step 5 – Validate the ICP
Now that you’ve written the profile, it’s time to use your data to validate the ICP and ensure he accurately represents your best customers.
Use customer feedback, sales data, and inputs from the customer service teams to verify the profile.
Bonus Step – Continuously Refine & Update the ICP
Even if you identified your ideal client, the work still needs to be completed. The ICP is “alive.” It’s a fluid tool that evolves simultaneously with your business.
Regularly review and update your ICP to ensure it remains relevant and accurate.
How to Attract More Customers similar to the ICP
So, you’ve identified your ideal client. What now?
Let’s move on to more actionable (and revenue-centric) content and see how you can leverage the ICP into your sales and marketing strategy.
It’s time to divide and conquer your market. Break all your potential clients into sub-groups, and identify segments that are likely to be the most profitable or that have the most significant growth potential.
This means selecting sub-groups that share the most customer characteristics with your ICP and prioritizing them in your acquisition campaigns.
For example, suppose your products come to serve all mothers of infants. However, your ICP is a single, working mother.
In this case, you will only talk to single mothers inside your target audience and stop pushing products on prospects who don’t share these traits.
Following the previous example, you can infer that single mothers face specific challenges that don’t appear so predominantly in the happily married sub-group.
In this case, you would address their specific pain points and motivations, steering away from general promises that aren’t strong enough to trigger a purchase.
Go where the ICP is
You might be tempted to go omnichannel and be everywhere: from Linkein to Tik Tok, from flyers to street banners.
However, the more thoughtful approach is to focus your resources on the few channels where the ICP is most active and engaged.
Whether it’s social media, email, or events, using the channels your ICP uses empowers you to reach prospects more personally and effectively. Moreover, you will save your budget from overspending on non-lucrative channels.
Offer Specific and Relevant Content
And by “content,” we mean free content that helps the ICP progress in their lives without asking for anything in return. Think of blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, and webinars.
With free, high-quality content, you can establish trust and credibility with your ICP while providing them with information that solves their problems or addresses their needs.
If your content is effective, you can generate more leads, increase sales, or drive better engagement. However, these results take time to come; be patient and consistent.
Personalize your approach for your ICP across all touchpoints of the customer journey.
Write specific email subject lines, create unique landing pages, develop relevant social media posts, and tailor product recommendations to communicate effectively and engage with your prospects better.
Make it so that the prospect feels you’re speaking directly to them. As if you’d read their minds, understand their needs, and deliver a solution tailored to their unique needs and wants.
Referrals and WoM advertising
Remember to leverage your current customers and incentivize them to recommend you to their communities.
Offer rewards for referrals, encourage your satisfied customers to recommend you and use customers’ reviews to earn more trust with your prospects.
It all comes down to this: when you become less focused on sales and more focused on your customers’ needs, you find greater rewards than you have ever imagined.
You create objectively good products, your customers are happy, and your brand grows organically.
And at the center of it all, you’ll find the Ideal Customer Profile, the people who will benefit most from your products.
So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to get to know your ICP and start seeing the benefits for yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions about the ICP
To identify your Ideal Customer Profile, conduct RFM segmentation on your customer base. Find the customers who are spending the most, buying the most frequently, and most recently. Look for similarities in their traits (demographic, behaviour, pain points, purchasing patterns). With all these findings, you can paint the picture of your ICP.
To create an Ideal Customer Profile, look at your existing customers and identify your best customers (they buy frequently, bought something recently, and spend a lot of money on your store). Then survey these customers to understand what they love about you and what they value about your brand. Once you have all this information, you can write the profile of your ICP.
Finding your customers involves conducting market research and analysing data about your target audience. Include demographic information, purchasing habits, motivations, and pain points. To define your ICP, combine this data to create a detailed representation of your target customer.
Personalized Marketing. Create targeted, personalised marketing messages and experiences that resonate with your ICP.
Partner with Influencers. Reach your best customers in an organic and credible way, by partnering with influencers your target audience follows.
Referral Marketing. Encourage current customers to refer their friends and family to your business.