Finding Your Ideal Customer

While attending the SiriusDecisions Summit a couple weeks ago I was struck by how many technology vendors and speakers were now out there to help marketers find their ideal customers. The methods for finding buyers has definitely changed now that we have tools to help us track every behavior and every preference. We’ve gone from an if we build it they will come mentality, to something far more sophisticated. Instead of guessing at how to target, renting lists based on criteria we think describe our target audience, and blasting out emails in hopes someone will respond we now have inbound channels and the tools to track them that tell us everything from who finds our products interesting to where they shop for them and how they get there.

shutterstock_157248584But in addition to asking ourselves the question, “how or where do I find my ideal customers?” we still need to be asking ourselves “who are our ideal customers?” We must take a two-pronged approach to ensure our content which is driving much of the inbound traffic is appealing to the right prospects in the first place.

If you have a healthy customer database, it’s the perfect place to start. Use it to identify who your best customers are today based on their volume of revenue, frequency of purchase and willingness to refer you to someone else. Identify your top 10 or 20 percent of your customer list and then determine what criteria they have in common. The results may surprise you.

In a USA Today article just last month I was reminded that the idea of persona development was created way back in the 1980s by software developer Alan Cooper, who very wisely recognized that companies needed to be looking externally to answer all of those questions. What’s amazing to me is the number of companies today who still don’t follow that process when process can really be so simple… to your customers. Ask them what motivated them to search for a solution. Ask them what process they followed when searching and who or what influenced them along the way. And ask them where they shopped for a solution.

If you already have personas created, make sure they’re in alignment with who is actually responding and purchasing. If they are not, then your content needs to be revised ASAP and it’s a pretty good indicator as to why your conversion rates are low.

Hard to believe that just ten years ago, or even five, we couldn’t do much of the customer profiling we can do today. We now have the tools available and should be using them. These tools in conjunction with some traditional methods are a sure-fire way to ensure you’re following the old adage of targeting the right people at the right time and in the right place.

Author: Jennifer Harmel @JenniferHarmel2 is Executive Vice President, Demand Process Strategy Practice and Principal, ANNUITAS

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