A customer profile is a depiction of your company’s ideal customer, created with information you’ve collected or sourced. A customer profile goes into detail about your customers’ likes, dislikes, personality traits, behaviours, purchasing habits and more.
Through creating a customer profile you want to find out as much information as is appropriately and reasonably possible about your market, so that you can provide your ideal customer with the most optimised product or service for their needs.
Depending on the type and breadth of product or service your business offers, you might want to create several customer profiles, each based on a particular segment of your consumer base.
A customer profile also gives you great insight into the wants and needs of any potential future audiences you might want to target. You can then use this to inform your future marketing and sales strategies.
A customer profile is often presented as a fictionalised character meant to encapsulate your ideal customer, and is sometimes called a buyer persona.
What are the questions my customer profile should answer?
Your consumer profiling will likely need to answer some basic questions to help your marketing and sales team best understand who you’re targeting. When you’re working on your customer profile, these are some of the questions to bear in mind that might need to be answered by your data:
What are the characteristics of my target audience?
What motivates my audience?
Where does my target audience live?
What type of messaging does my ideal customer engage with?
How does my target audience interact with a business like mine?
What products and services does my target audience buy?
What kind of purchasing journey matters to my audience?
What types of advertising does my audience consume?
What type of content does my ideal customer want?
What types of customer profile are there?
There are a few ways to approach customer profiling, and each can give you valuable insight and information into your target users, their needs and their characteristics. Here are the main types of customer profiling:
This is what a lot of people imagine when they think about customer profiling tools. Demographic profiling is a way to build a picture of clear characteristics of your audience. It’s often where you’ll find some of the standard profiling categories, such as gender, age, income and job title.
This is one of the more straightforward types of customer profiling. Gaining an understanding of your customers’ location, whether it’s based on large areas like continent and country or down to detailed city and town analysis, can help you offer the most relevant and helpful products.
When painting a picture of your target market and their likelihood to purchase or churn, it helps to know more about their things like their habits, hobbies, interests, life goals. You’ll cover this in your psychographic profiling. This can be an emotive form of profiling, allowing you to offer a really meaningful and memorable customer experience. Psychographic profiling can be super helpful when working on your sales and marketing strategy and to find out the types of content that resonate with your audience.
Understanding your customers’ behaviour throughout their buying and usage journeys is crucial to giving them the services they really need. Through behavioural profiling you can analyse things like customers’ purchasing journey, engagement and usage patterns, and loyalty to what you offer. Behavioural profiling is particularly useful for informing you about customers’ potential to churn, or even to expand their usage.
Can startups do customer profiling?
Some marketers might think that customer profiling can only be done by big companies with a lot of cash to burn. But customer profiling is arguably just as important, maybe even more important, for startups than for established companies.
One of the key things startups need to do is find out who to target and how best to target them, and that’s where customer profiling and buyer personas can be a lifeline. Through customer profiling companies can create customer segmentation to help them paint a true picture of their different audiences, and to inform their overall decision making process.
You’ll first need to make sure the people you’re surveying will be relevant to your research with a qualifying question such as:
Which of these products have you purchased in the last 3 months?
This will give you an understanding of your customers’ recent activity within your area, and with that you can also gain insight on how informed and experienced they should be with your type of product.
You can then start to get into some specifics about your sector:
How often do you use >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY<?
Finding out whether your target group has purchased your products or service recently only gives you part of the picture. With this type of question you’ll get a good sense of how prolifically they actually use it.
Which of these brands are you aware of?
Here’s where you can find out how well-known your company is compared to your competitors. For this you should compile a comprehensive list of your competitors, placing your business in an inconspicuous spot, or randomise the list. The key thing is that participants in your survey shouldn’t know it’s your company that’s asking them questions, otherwise they might claim to be aware of your business when they actually aren’t.
Which of these brands have you purchased in the last 3 months?
Using the same list as the previous question, or an updated version based on your own intention, asking this question will help you understand your company’s competitive standing in your sector. This’ll also give you an idea of customer loyalty.
How much would you say you spend on >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY< per month?
With this question you’ll find out the current appetite for your product among your target market, by gaining an understanding of the amount of money customers are willing to pay. This question can also give you insight into whether your pricing strategy aligns with potential customers’ spending habits.
What is stopping you from buying more of >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY<?
Here you’ll get a sense of any potential hurdles your business might need to overcome to reach this audience successfully.
On which occasions do you purchase >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY<?
Asking about specifically when a customer is in the market for your products or service can really help you optimise your offering, as well as opening up potential new marketing angles.
How important is each of these areas when you decide which >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY< to buy?
Finding out what aspects of your products or service are most and least important to your target customers can be key to establishing the ideal product or service strategy.
Moving on, it’ll help to get an understanding of how your target customers shop, with a question such as:
Which describes how you best like to shop?
More general questions like this give you a really good sense of consumers’ habits and attitudes when they’re in the market for products or services like yours.
And finally some questions about the customers themselves:
Thinking about the following, how often do you use/listen/watch any of these media?
Different consumer and market segments have different media consumption habits, so questions like these are great for helping your business understand how and when to best target your consumers.
From the following, which areas do you give most focus to at the moment?
Using a list of key life moments, for example, can help you understand the context of your target consumers’ purchasing and usage habits, and how their usage may need to interact around other aspects of their lives.
What do you like to do when you have free time?
Here you’ll be able to put together a picture of some of the leisure activities your target customers like to do. You can use that to inform your marketing and targeting strategy.
We’ve compiled 50 of the most powerful questions you can use for your customer profile template to make sure you get the most out of your audience profiling research.
6 steps to create a consumer profile
Whenever you’re looking to create a customer profile or buyer persona using data you’ve collected, there are some tried and tested steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the most out of your research.
Ask yourself: what outcomes am I looking for from this buyer persona? Because customer data and profiling have so many uses, making sure you have a clear goal in mind for your customer profiling will really help you focus the scope and scripting of your research.
Step 2: Focus on two variables
These are two variables you should expect to polarise your sector. They could be based around price, brand recognition or something else. Your variables just need to encapsulate an idea that might split your consumers’ opinion.
Here’s an example of two variables: If you were creating customer profiles for your gym, you might test ‘how frequently do you go to the gym?’ against ‘how do you like to feel when you go there?’.
That way you can see who goes every day but only likes to break into a little sweat, and who goes twice a week but likes to work so hard they can barely walk away afterwards.
Step 3: Make sure your variables are mutually exclusive
Using the gym example above, you don’t want respondents telling you they go to the gym once a month, and also tell you that they go every day. You can make sure your variables are mutually exclusive by avoiding multiple-choice questions.
Ensuring your variables are mutually exclusive will mean that you’ll get a good sense of the true differences between different customers
Step 4: Bring your consumer profiles to life with demographic filters
Coupled with your own behavioural and psychographic questions, demographics like age, gender or location will make the overall picture of your customer profile massively clearer.
Step 5: Analyse your data compared with your original outcomes
Cross-tab the key polarising questions in Attest’s interactive results dashboard, to see the groupings of answers within other variables. This will give you the basic makeup of each of the profiles.
Make sure to emphasise to your team all stand-out answers to the questions asked, especially focusing on the consumer responses that differed substantially from the average response of the population.
Step 6: Repeat
The beauty of customer profiling is that it’s an easily repeatable process. In fact, repeating your consumer profiling research is always a good thing, as it means you’ll always be on top of any emerging trends and changes in attitudes among your customers or potential customers.
Once you’ve created your working customer profiles, repeat – budget and time allowing – every year or so. With new competitors, new influencers and brand new customers all entering the market, the perceptions and status quos will shift with time.
Get started with customer profiling
Knowing who your existing and future customers are helps drive company direction and unlock new sources of growth.
From your customer profiling work you’ll ideally end up with complete profiles or information on customer type that you can use to inform your marketing messages, new product development and much more.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re creating a B2C customer profile or a B2B customer profile – customer personas and information will always be relevant to your company.
Here are 5 examples of customer profiles to give you an idea of what you might create at the end of the process:
20 years old
College or university student
In a relationship but not married
In part-time employment
Income – <$10,000/annum
Lives and studies in Chicago, US
Grew up in Seattle, US
Plays the guitar
Spends spare time going to concerts
Spends >4 hours per day online
Mostly uses laptop for online activity
37 years old
Works full-time in IT senior management
Mother of two sons
Income – $400,000/annum
Lives and London, UK
Grew up in Barnsley, UK
Spends spare time gardening and DIY
Enjoys progressive rock music from the mid 70s
Heavy consumer of information
Spends >10 hours per day online
Mostly uses laptop for online work activity and a smartphone for personal activity
Father of three children
Income – <$5,000/annum
Lives and grew up in the US midwest
Spends spare time cooking and socialising
Spends >3 hours per day online
Mostly uses smartphone for online activity
25 years old
Works full-time in sales
Income – $40,000/annum
Lives and works in Leeds, UK
Competes in triathlons
Spends <11 hours per day online
Mostly uses laptop for online work activity and a smartphone for personal activity
Retired school teacher
67 years old
Retired 5 years ago
Income – $20,000/annum
Lives New Orleans, US
Paints in spare time
Travels around North America in their RV
Spends <2 hours per day online
Mostly uses tablet for personal activity
Reads news from newspapers
Customer profile is an essential part of planning brand activities. By finding commonalities between profiles and grouping together key customer types you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of your target customers and about their habits and preferences.
And customer profiling can be used across your business – from helping you develop new products to informing marketing messaging and beyond.
Sam joined Attest in 2019 and leads the Customer Research Team. Sam and her team support brands through their market research journey, helping them carry out effective research and uncover insights to unlock new areas for growth.