Ideal Customer Profile: Unlocking Its Power to Boost Your Marketing Strategy

Last updated on by Ted Vrountas in Marketing Personalization

From product development to marketing, the guiding light for your long-term strategy should be your “ideal customer.” But that term means something different to everyone.

Let’s walk through how to create an ideal customer profile.

What is an ideal customer profile?

Ideal customer profiles (ICPs) are used to help businesses narrow their targeting from a broad audience to a single account. An ideal customer profile is a hypothetical representation of your target audience based on a combination of real data that considers your business size, budget, sales cycle, and industry, as well as key details about your customer such as title, industry, budget, age, location, and purchasing behavior.

The criteria you use to define your ICP will be unique to your product, service, business goals, etc. For example, B2C business may use location, age, income, and marital status to identify their ideal customer profile, while a B2B business may favor firmographic data like size, industry, and budget.

Ideal customer profile vs. buyer persona vs. target audience

If you think ideal customer profiles sound a lot like buyer personas and target audiences, you’re right. They all share the same foundational purpose: to help businesses identify their ideal customer.

While there’s some overlap between the three, it’s important to understand how they differ:

All of these identifiers are valuable for determining who to sell your product to and how. It’s often helpful to start broad and identify your target audiences—who are they and what do they value?

From there, narrow in on the specific traits, firmographics, and behaviors of the people most likely to purchase your product—your ICP.

For example, your ideal customer may be e-commerce digital advertising managers with over $1 million annual budget. This definition includes data about the decision-maker and the business itself.

Once you have your ICP and target audience, creating buyer personas will help you “get inside the heads” of your potential customers. Target audience data and ICP parameters are measurable, while buyer personas help determine why your product or service is a good fit for a particular customer. What are their pain points? What will your product help them do? What are their goals?

How to create an ICP

Identifying your ideal customer sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You likely already have a process for determining whether a customer is worth working with—so let’s refine it.

Here’s how you need to think about it: Most sales processes start with a single point of contact. This person is potentially a good fit for your business, and you determine whether they’re a good fit using certain criteria, right? That list of criteria is what will help you build an ICP.

Start by working backward from the goal you’re trying to achieve. In this case, that means determining who your best customers already are. These aren’t merely people who buy your product but those who rave about it, recommend it to their friends, and purchase upgrades and add-ons.

Consider the following seven customer categories when creating your ICP.

Using these categories alongside current data makes, identifying your ideal customers an organized and effective process.

Let’s look at your current customers. When do you know a customer is “ready?” What does that look like to your business now? Is it a signup for a demo request on your website? A call to the sales team?

Defining these markers based on your current customers enables you to effectively define and target your ICPs using personalization.

Once you’ve identified your ICP, you can target your ads to people who are ready, willing, and able to convert. Then, you can match those ads to landing pages with UTM parameters and continually learn more about your ideal customer’s behavior with heatmaps and A/B testing.

Create your ideal customer profile for better growth

Ideal customer profiles are a must-have in order to align marketing and sales around a clear audience definition and keep messaging consistent from the ad to the landing page.

As you collect customer feedback over time, your ICP will evolve, informing product and service improvements.
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