A guide to customer profiling

A guide to customer profiling

Zoe Brown

Zoe Brown
28th February 2017

Creating a customer profile for your business is a vital part of marketing; it essentially defines the characteristics of your ideal customer and creates a portrait of who is buying your product or service. When thrown within the growing ‘To Do’ list of new businesses it can be an area that is overlooked, when in fact it should be one of the first things start-ups do. Customer profiling doesn’t have to be daunting, here’s your introductory guide:

Why Do I Need to Create a Customer Profile?

Because customer profiling will give you a valuable understanding of who your customers are, you’re going to need this insight when you make business decisions. For example; how can you know who to target in your Facebook advertising? And how can you make campaign decisions if you’re not sure if you should be pitching to customers aged 18-25 or 40-60? Not to mention customers are now expecting a more personalised experience than ever before from brands.

Your customer profile(s) will become a staple asset that your business will use on a daily basis to help you create tailored marketing campaigns, new product launches and great customer service to name a few. And thanks to the depth and detail online analytical tools can now go to, it’s easier than ever to create and update your customer profiles.

What Needs to be Included in my Customer Profile?

One of the most popular ways to create a customer profile is to partake in a brainstorming session with everyone involved in the business. You can use any existing data you have on your customers (if your website is already up and running) or any research you have found through reports in your industry to think about the following areas:

Demographics: This area features the fundamental/basic information of who engages with your business and buys your product or service. Including:

• Age
• Gender
• Income/Employment Status (industry, salary band)
• Location
• Education
• Living Arrangement (who they live with, size of house, family)

Of course not every customer will fall directly into your profile, so if needs be you can create a range for the profiling factors or even create more than one profile.

For example: A business designing trainers using fluorescent colours may think their customers are mainly 18-25 year olds, both male and female living in the UK, who earn between £20-£25k a year and either live with their parents or in 1-2 bed houses.

Psychographics/Behaviour: This area features the characteristics and behaviour of your customers, keeping in mind why your customers buy from your business. Including:

• Hobbies/activities enjoyed in spare time
• Interests
• Lifestyle choices (could be related to exercise etc.)
• Likes and dislikes

For example: Along with the above, the business designing trainers may think their customers enjoy exercising in their spare time, visiting the cinema and reading fashion magazines.

It’s also important to consider the places your customers are attracted too and where they frequently visit, both online and offline, for example the cinema or Instagram. Consider what your customers are looking at online and what search terms they use, a key area as the internet continues to evolve. For example, the business designing trainers may know their customers are likely to use search terms such as ‘unique trainers UK’ or ‘fluorescent trainers cheap’.

Purchasing Process: Understanding your customer’s purchasing process is also an important part of profiling. You know how customers can purchase your product or service as it is a fundamental part of your business, for example through an e-commerce shop or visiting in store. But how do they get to that stage? Consider how potential customers might find your business based on some of the profiling factors above, for example is a younger audience more likely to use Google to find you? Online reviews and testimonials are now a popular tool in the consumer journey so think about whether your customers would like to be able to read reviews on your product or service before purchasing.

If you’re a B2B business customer profiling is still important, you’ll need to brainstorm the areas above and adapt them to your business model. For example, you can profile your customers by location of their offices, how many people they employ, their decision-making processes, revenue and budget.

I’ve Created My Customer Profile, Now What?

As mentioned before, your customer profile will be a valuable asset to your business decision making. You can use your profile(s) to help you make tailored marketing decisions to offer relevant and engaging content, advertising and products to your customers. By focusing on the right keywords in SEO to targeting the right audience in advertising campaigns you’ll be putting your business in front of an interested audience who are more likely to convert to paying customers. For example, the business specialising in designing and selling fluorescent trainers may decide to advertise on Instagram and with fashion magazines to reach 18-25 year olds.

Expect your customer profile to change as your business evolves and grows and remember to review and update your customer profile regularly, including when you gain some new insight. Once you have a website you can take advantage of some great analytical tools to find insights into your online customers, for example Google Analytics can tell you the age, gender and demographics of your online visitors. It is also a good idea to connect with your current customers, not only to gain feedback on your products and business, but to gain some insight into them and use this to spot any trends. For example, how did they find you? What attracted them to purchase from you?

As you can see, customer profiling is an exercise worth making an effort for. You’ll gain a better understanding of your customers and be able to make more informed decisions when it comes to marketing or product growth. If you’re employing staff for your business this can also be a valuable part of their induction to the business and can be implemented to get the most out of your efforts to grow and increase visibility and profits.