Customer profiling is essential to serve your customers and meet their needs effectively.
And it's clear why: To market, sell, and offer customer support properly, you must understand buyers and get to know them.
But, what is a customer profile? How can you create one? In this post, we've compiled tips to get you started.
Continue reading or jump ahead:
- What is a customer profile?
- Why is customer profiling important?
- Customer Profiling Benefits
- Customer Profile Data
- How to Create a Customer Profile (10 Easy Steps)
- Customer Profile Templates
- Customer Profile Examples
A customer profile is a data-driven document that describes your current customers. Profiles are based on surveys that gather purchasing behaviors, pain points, psychographic data, and demographics. A customer profile can help you find segments of customers with commonality so you can target them in your sales and marketing campaigns.
If you don't create customer profiles, you risk marketing to a nondescript audience, leading to wasted time and closed-lost deals.
Defining your ideal customers will help you identify the attributes and purchasing behaviors of the customers whose business you've already won.
What can it actually look like? Let's take a look at a sample below.
Customer Profile Sample
Download the Free Customer Profile Templates
Creating a customer profile can be simple. You can create a customer profile just like this one using our free customer profile templates.
With our templates, you don't have to start from scratch. Just fill in the blanks and use the data from your service software or surveys to create a complete consumer profile.
8 Free Customer Profile Templates
Fill out the form to download your templates.
Before creating a customer profile, consider your target audience.
If your company is in the B2B space, you'll need to include more detailed information about your customers, such as industry size, regional location, etc.
If you're in the B2C space, you'll want to create a customer profile focused on the individual.
Let's take a quick look at each element of the above template.
This section of the customer profile template describes which of your services your customers rely on and how they use them. You can also include other products or services customers use with your service.
If your product can be integrated with another service and customers are successfully meshing your service with another, add that to this section. This will help you better market to other companies or individuals later.
Your customers' demographics are an essential piece of your customer profile. When writing this section, include your customer's career, industry, location, and gender identity.
Sure, not every customer will fit your demographic mold, but having a general idea of basic customer information is extremely helpful for your company's bottom line.
Understanding your customers' demographics will help you reach your goals and level up your marketing game.
Your customer profile should also include a list of benefits customers receive by using your product or service. How does your product or service provide value to your customers?
Think about how your product or service adds value for your customers and describe it in this section. The best way to answer this question is to ask your customer base. Compile and compare their answers and add a summary here.
Customer Pain Points
While you're surveying your customers, use the survey as an opportunity to ask about their pain points. Ideally, your customers' pain points will be solved by your product or service.
Be sure to list pain points that you can actually solve for your customers. You'll want to focus on these pain points in your customer profile.
Finding the Ideal Customer Profile For Your Business
The best part about customer profiles is that you create them from the already existing pool of customers.
Rather than coming up with ideal, imaginary attributes like you would for a buyer persona, you would survey your current customers and find out the consumers more likely to buy from you.
While a buyer persona provides a fictionalized individual who represents your customers, a customer profile is rooted in the data and factual information of your customer base.
Everything you need to know about a group of customers is captured within this one description. For this reason, a customer profile comes first, and then you build a buyer persona from it.
Once you've defined these qualities of your target audience, you can segment your customer base into different customer profiles.
Customer profiling is the act of describing a customer or set of customers using demographics, psychographics, buying patterns, and other factors. In other words, it's identifying the characteristics of the people most likely to purchase your product or service and derive a lot of value from it.
Why is customer profiling important?
When building a business, developing a go-to-market strategy, or giving your sales team direction, it's important to clearly describe your current customers.
That way, you know who's more likely to buy your product in the future based on who has bought it in the past.
It also helps you identify the buyer who'll purchase a product from you, which is more valuable than targeting everyone everywhere.
Trying to build something that solves 100% of the problems for 100% of the market is called "boiling the ocean." You're "boiling the ocean" when your customer profile is too broad.
The irony is that targeting a broad audience solves only a few problems for only a few people. You end up spreading your product offering too thin and diluting your value across many customers.
Customer profiles act like guard rails for product managers as they develop a new product, marketers as they craft positioning strategies, and salespeople as they search for potential customers.
Customer profiling is incredibly beneficial for all teams and your business members — let's look at the benefits in more detail below.
Customer Profiling Benefits
Creating customer profiles is critical if you want to grow your business.
Customer profiling helps you do the following.
It helps all departments become more efficient.
Its benefits are impactful across your entire company, starting from your sales team all the way to your service organization. Each department in your company will use a customer profile differently.
Understanding the client is key to creating engaging advertisements or emails for potential prospects and current clients. Marketers use a customer profile to determine how to customize a message for potential prospects and existing customers.
With a customer profile in hand, your sales team will be able to highlight a customer's pain points and help better sell your product or service as the solution to their problems. Your sales team may even use the customer profile to find ways to create connections with current and future clients.
The customer profile contains all the necessary information your customer service team will need to assist clients in need. It can act as a record of queries, complaints, and previously tried solutions. This will help save time for your customer service team and keep everyone involved from becoming frustrated.
It allows you to identify better-fit prospects.
By knowing who benefits from your products the most, your organization can find better prospects and increase close rates.
If you're part of the service team, this might not mean much to you but remember: A better-fit prospect is a happier customer down the line.
A customer who doesn't benefit from your product is likelier to submit an unhappy ticket to your service desk.
It lowers customer acquisition cost.
Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the amount of money you spend on marketing and sales campaigns to attract a single customer.
By knowing your customer, you can better target your campaigns and increase click-through rates and form submissions.
To summarize: The more specific your customer profile, the less you spend and the more successful your campaign will be.
It empowers you to serve customers better.
Knowing your customers is key to serving them better.
By documenting their pain points, attributes, and characteristics, you can deliver a superior customer service experience before they ever request help.
You can predict issues before they arise, provide effective self-help resources, and better align with their needs if they reach out to your service team.
It reduces customer churn.
Customer churn happens when you lose customers over a predefined period.
By creating strong customer profiles from the start, you can attract and serve customers who actually want to use your product or service — reducing customer churn in both the short and long term.
Now that you know the benefits of customer profiling, which data should you gather for your customer profiles?
Let's take a look.
Customer Profile Data
A refined customer profile can help your company build more impactful features.
It can also help you find and attract more people that are likely to buy your product, develop a stronger relationship with your customers, and put you on a better trajectory for market dominance.
For these reasons, it's a good idea to include different types of data in your customer profiles.
Here's the data you should gather for your profiling process.
Demographics are the concrete characteristics of a customer and can be used to understand consumer behavior, albeit broadly.
Demographics include the following traits (and more):
- Job title
- Education level
- Family status
If you're in the B2B space, consider attributes such as company size, industry, and other characteristics of the organization.
Demographics alone aren't enough to understand how, when, and why people make purchasing decisions, and that's where psychographics come in.
These factors relate to the attitudes and psychological makeup of a customer and may include:
Psychographics are helpful to understanding the buying journey and even the customer journey after they've already purchased from you.
Whether it's for understanding the triggering events that lead them to purchase or crafting value-based messaging to attract prospects, psychographics are extremely useful to consider.
While psychographics relate to psychological attributes, behavioral segments look at how that's manifested in action.
You may consider segmenting by:
- Readiness to buy
- Purchasing history
- Product usage
- Loyalty or account age
- Attention required
Segments based on behavioral traits are some of the most valuable in customer support. It can help service teams find insights about customer interaction and how these trends manifest into recurring revenue and satisfaction rates.
And once those things are measured, they can be improved.
Geographical factors are relevant when location affects how customers interact with a brand or receive their products.
Here are popular ways to segment based on geography:
Gaining insights based on geography can help your organization think through logistics, support implementation, and marketing.
Once you have this data, you can profile customers based on specific types, or "segments."
Segments help you unearth trends in satisfaction, churn, and lifetime value that help you understand more about your ideal customer profiles.
How to Create a Customer Profile
- Use customer profile templates.
- Choose your customer profiling software.
- Dig into demographics.
- Collect customer feedback.
- Review your customer journey map.
- Focus on the problem that your business is trying to solve.
- Examine contextual details.
- Understand your industry.
- Build personas.
- Analyze and iterate on customer personas.
1. Use customer profile templates.
You can shorten the customer profiling process by downloading and using pre-made templates.
You won't have to come up with different sections for your customer profiles. Instead, you'll have them pre-written for you. The only thing you have to do is fill in the blanks.
We go into more detail about what you'll find in these templates later in the post. But if you can't wait (we don't blame you), download them now and follow along as we cover the rest of the steps.
Featured Resource: Customer Profile Templates
Download Your Free Templates Here
2. Choose your customer profiling software.
Once you start creating customer profiles, you'll need several types of software.
Remember, you need to collect data from your current customer base to create effective and accurate profiles.
Let's go over the tools you'll need.
If you don't have one already, you should start using a CRM to keep track of contact data.
This software will give you all the basic information you need about your customers, such as their name, business name, location, business type, and more.
This type of basic information is foundational for customer profiling.
Hot tip: Get started with the HubSpot CRM platform for free and track contact data now.
Customer Feedback Software
The next most important piece of software you need is a survey tool that will help you collect additional data about your customers — data you won't necessarily have stored in your CRM.
After choosing a survey tool, you should get familiar with running questionnaires and designing questions that get you the answers you need.
Hot tip: HubSpot's customer feedback software can help you set up effective surveys, and the results will be stored right within the CRM.
While analytics software may seem like something only a marketing team needs, it's critical for your customer profiling efforts.
It will help you understand the content your prospects most respond to, and it will unearth the types of customers who are visiting certain product pages on your website.
These are just two examples of the important data points you can get from an analytics tool.
Hot tip: HubSpot's analytics software keeps all of your customer interaction and engagement data in one convenient interface. And it's connected to your CRM, too.
3. Dig into demographics.
You've got the customer profile templates and the software you need to start account profiling.
To define your customer profile, start by examining external demographics. Then, dive deeper into needs and look at your company's offering.
Here are some external attributes you can use to define your customer profile:
- What market does your product best serve?
- What specific vertical do they operate in?
- What is their annual revenue?
- How many employees do they have?
- Where are these companies located?
4. Collect customer feedback.
After laying out the demographics, it's time to dive deeper. That's where gathering customer feedback comes in.
When building your profile, it's easy to rely on the basic demographic data you get from your CRM. But getting to know your customers is hard if you don't spend time with them.
You need to meet your customers to clearly understand what they're like. This makes customer surveys and interviews one of the best resources for building a customer profile.
Customer interviews allow your team to speak with users face-to-face. They can read their reactions to questions in real time and foster human relationships with your customers.
This helps them uncover valuable information that raw data simply can't show.
If you can't reach a specific group of customers, consider setting up a phone or video call. While it's less engaging than an in-person interaction, it's still an effective way of reaching your target audience.
If your customers are willing to schedule a call with you, you know they're loyal users and are worth the time investment. The more attention you pay to these customers, the more you'll have in the future.
5. Review your customer journey map.
As you begin examining your customer profile data, you should contextualize it using your customer journey map.
A customer journey map is a document that outlines every touchpoint a customer must pass through to achieve a goal with your company.
While these take time to complete, they paint a detailed picture of who's buying your products and interacting with your brand.
However, you don't need to complete a customer journey map to create a customer profile. Simply thinking about the customer's journey will help you understand who you're trying to reach.
By understanding their needs, challenges, and goals, you'll develop a stronger sense of what your customers want from your business. You can even take this one step further by interviewing customers about each stop on your map.
When creating HubSpot's customer journey map, we asked users how they felt about specific points in the customer experience. Then, we charted these stories on the map to see how customer perceptions changed.
This gave us a good idea of what our customers liked and didn't like about our products.
6. Focus on the problem that your business is trying to solve.
With so much data in hand, it's easy to get lost. If you find yourself overwhelmed, bring back the focus to the problem your business is trying to solve.
Identify the type of people who face this challenge. Take a close look at your current users and their behavior.
The common denominator between these approaches is people. It doesn't matter if you only have a few customers or are well on your way to 10,000. You need to understand who your
7. Examine contextual details.
Once you've defined the external factors that describe your customer profile, digging deeper into the contextual details is critical.
For example, if I'm running a SaaS company, I'd want to understand the following things about my customer:
- How big is their team?
- What are the biggest challenges they face?
- What technology are they using?
- What are their goals for the next three months?
- What are their goals for the year?
- How do they assess problems?
- What does a perfect world look like for them?
- What impact does the specific problem have on their team?
- How are they trying to solve the problem today?
Based on these external factors and contextual details, you should now have a strong grasp of your potential customers' general makeup and goals.
The final step is to look internally to see how you can help them based on all this information.
Below are some key questions to answer when completing your customer profile:
- What value can you provide these customers? (Save them money or time, grow revenue, etc.)
- Can you solve their key pain points?
- What are the features that differentiate you from competitors or a homegrown process?
- How does your solution fit into their short- and long-term goals?
8. Understand your industry.
One major contextual detail you should consider is where your brand falls compared to others in the industry.
You should know how your customers perceive your brand and which companies you're competing with for their attention. This should give you a good idea of the type of customer you want to attract and retain.
Understanding your industry also helps you define your brand identity. If you're going to stand out, you need to find a way to differentiate your product and services.
But, you also don't want to advertise changes that your customers will react negatively to.
If you know which marketing strategies your customers already respond to, you can mirror your competitor's successful techniques for introducing and educating customers about a new product or feature.
9. Build personas.
Remember that you're serving people with actual personalities, feelings, and needs.
Once you've identified the attributes for your customer profile, the next step is to identify the individuals within the company that you want to reach.
This will be helpful when trying to establish a relationship with the account, as well as understand who the decision-makers and influencers are.
Here are some key things to uncover about the people in your customer profile:
- Age range
- Education level
- Income level
- How will they use your product/service?
- On what marketing channels can you reach them?
- What are the key responsibilities of their role?
- What role do they play in the decision-making process?
If you need a tool to help you build, visualize, and share your personas, try HubSpot's Make My Persona tool.
10. Analyze and iterate on customer personas.
A customer profile is a key lever for growing your business.
This definition will act as a guide when informing what products or features to build, what channels to use in a marketing campaign, and much more.
Without it, you risk offering a product or service that doesn't meet any potential customers' specific needs. Or you end up marketing to prospects in a way that doesn't resonate with their understanding of the problem.
Your goal should be to operate in step with your customer profile to inform everything from feature development all the way to go-to market strategy.
As you build your customer profile, gather the external factors, qualify the contextual details, and develop a deep understanding of how your business adds value to each customer type.
But remember: You don't have to start from scratch. You can use templates to compile your consumer profiles.
B2B Versus B2C Customer Profiles
While both types of companies can benefit from customer profiles, B2B and B2C brands will need to survey different audiences.
B2C customers are looking at shoppers from a vast range of demographics. Let's consider Kellogg, for example.
Both parents and college students will add cereal to their shopping carts (albeit different brands). Customer profiles will need to segment these vast buyers.
B2C companies also need to consider geography and how people shop. In-store shoppers will be different from those who get their products online.
Meanwhile, B2B businesses need to think about two categories. Firstly, they'll need to consider the types of organizations they target.
Is the B2B offering crafted for a certain industry? A certain company size? You'll need to look at buyers at an organizational level.
Additionally, B2B businesses need to think about individuals. These teams should make customer profiles for both users and decision-makers at their target organizations.
Having an in-depth understanding of these customers can help you target marketing and sales efforts.
Customer Profile Templates
We've created customer profile templates you can use to walk you through these steps. You can download them here.
Download your free templates now.
Inside this kit, you'll find:
- Short Customer Profile Template (Word / Google Docs): This one-page template helps you lay out all the basic information about your customer in a convenient bullet-point format. It gives you space to list your customer's demographics, pain points, talking points, retention tactics, and preferred products and services.
- Long Customer Profile Template (Word / Google Docs): This two-page template gives you more space to define your customer profile. It's ideal for B2B account profiles. You can list external attributes, such as the customer's industry and internal attributes.
- Colorful Customer Profile Template (PowerPoint / Google Slides): This template is ideal for B2C industries where customers interact face-to-face with your staff members. You have space to list user behaviors, joyful interactions, frustrating interactions, and customer communication notes.
- Corporate Customer Profile Template (PowerPoint / Google Slides): This template allows you to list a professional overview of your ideal customer, as well as challenges, benefits, and restraints. We recommend this template for more corporate environments due to its color palette.
- Simple Customer Profile Template (PowerPoint / Google Slides): This template lets you list your ideal customer's background, decision-making process, product preferences, wants, goals, and behaviors in easy-to-scan boxes.
- Modern Customer Profile Template (PowerPoint / Google Slides): In this template, you have space to list your target customer's company goals, team challenges, points of satisfaction, and retention tips. We recommend this template for B2B companies, because you'll be profiling an entire organization.
- Buyer's Journey Customer Profile Template (PowerPoint / Google Slides): This template is unique because it gives you space to outline your ideal customer's discovery story — that is, how they found you and what their research process was like. You can also list their goals and pain points.
- Segmented Customer Profile Template (PowerPoint / Google Slides): If you'd like to create different segments as you profile your customers, this is the template for you. It lets you list critical information such as goals, benefits, and product constraints in a chart with different customer groups.
At a loss for what your customer profile can look like?
Below, we list alternative consumer profile examples with methods that you can use to list your ideal consumer's attributes.
Customer Profile Examples
If you're not sure where to get started, take a look at these top customer profile examples for getting both a granular and overarching overview of your customers.
Customer profiles can vary depending on your company's needs and preferences. Some customer profiles use a scoring system to determine whether a prospect fits the business.
The above example uses the BANT framework. Using the BANT framework helps salespeople assess prospects and gives them a score for each criterion ranging from zero to two.
If the total score meets a preset benchmark, the company will reach out to this potential customer with a sales pitch.
A segmented customer profile recognizes not every prospect is the same. What one customer needs from your business may differ from the next. In a segmented customer profile, each customer type is broken down by demographics, core values, and preferred communication channels.
It includes a short summary describing how the marketing team should advertise to these individuals.
With this information readily available, your marketing team can work alongside customer service to create effective campaigns that resonate with each segment of your customer base.
3. Basic Information
A basic information customer profile is just that — basic. This customer profile, available in our free customer profile templates, cuts right to the point.
It lists the fundamental information we need to know about each customer type. This includes background data, demographics, and pain points.
This is a great format to use if you want to build a basic customer profile. While the information is surface-level, it's enough to give you an accurate description of your target audience.
Download a free, editable copy of this customer profile example.
4. Buyer Persona
To construct a buyer persona customer profile, you will need to survey your current clients to get an idea of their general buying personality.
It's important to note that the buyer persona usually comes after you have some idea of your customer profile.
Nonetheless, many buyer persona builders can get you thinking critically about your ideal customer by asking valuable qualitative questions.
Use HubSpot's Make My Persona tool as a starting point for mapping and profiling your customers.
5. Demographics, Psychographics, and Behaviors
A customer profile can be as detailed as you need it to be.
Many marketers find the more they know about their audience, the better chance they have at engaging with a prospect and making a sale.
Gathering demographics, psychographics, and behaviors in one document gives you an overview of your most profitable customers.
Write your answers in bullet points or paragraph format, and you'll be able to better understand your customers' purchasing behaviors.
Customer Profiling Will Improve Your Service Experience
By creating thorough customer profiles, you can target better customers in your sales and marketing campaigns, reducing customer churn and resulting in happier customers later down the line.
The more detailed your profile, the more value you can extract from it, making your marketing, sales, and service experiences more effective and valuable for your customers.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.