You’ve heard it here, you’ve heard it there, you’ve heard it everywhere: knowing your customer is key to effective, revenue-driving ecommerce marketing. But what does that really mean and how do you do it? 
Creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is the place to start. Your ICP is a fictional customer profile and narrative that helps you get inside the lives of your customers so you can understand their challenges, needs, and wants. 

ICP your way to repeat sales.

What’s more, an ICP will help you make informed decisions that deepen and strengthen your customer relationships and you’ll see it in an ever-expanding list of repeat buyers and VIP customers. 
You’ll have better content, more motivation promotions, well-utilized loyalty programs, and email and SMS sends with metrics that make you sing. 
By focusing your efforts on the people who are YOUR people, you are setting your business up for success. 

Okay, so what’s the problem?  

The thing is, your product needs to solve a problem. It’s even better when it solves a problem no one else is addressing or does so in a way that is more effective and delightful than anyone else (the problem itself might be a lack of delight in your market niche). 
So, knowing your customer starts with knowing which of their problems are solved by your product. This is product-market fit and it’s essential to building customer growth momentum.
When you focus on solving customer problems as a guiding principle, it makes it easy for your customers to say an unequivocal yes to your products. 

Know your peeps to find them.  

So you know what your product solves, now where do you find your people? Brainstorming is the first step in creating your ICP. Answer the following questions to get started:

What do they care about?

First off, know what your customers do and don’t care about. Do they care about the environment, politics, getting more free time, their health, building a career, or caring for their family? Knowing the variety of things they do and don’t care about will create a lot of clarity in how and what you are talking to your customers about. 

How do they spend their time?

Hobbies, interests, lifestyle choices, and free time use helps you infer deep insights about your customers’ motivations and priorities.

What channels do they use?

This is pretty simple, you have to know where your customers are (and are not) in order to talk to them. Consider social media, print, ads, email, audio, and any other place they are engaging with media.

What’s their income?

If your product is made for college kids on a budget, then you better make sure your pricing reflects that. Alternatively, if you make a luxury good then you already know that your ideal customer has an income that can support luxury purchases.

What are their challenges?

Your product solves one problem, but what else are your customers dealing with? This gives insight into their lives and how the factors that influence their purchasing decisions. 

What else do they buy?

What other ecomm brands do your customers love and buy? This is a really helpful point of reference, both for audience targeting as well as inspiration and keeping a pulse on the market. 

What are their demographics? 

This is where your customer data comes in, and it will take your ICP to the next level. Check out the data of your VIP and repeat customers, you want more of these types of customers so the data you can glean from them is gold. Look at location, age, gender, purchase rate, and how they found you, and where they are most engaged (email, SMS, social, or somewhere else?). 

An ICP that’s just like me. 

The goal of an ICP is to humanize your customers. When you are looking at email addresses or open rates it can be easy to forget that they represent real people with real lives.  Your ICP can help you remember you are talking to people, YOUR people, and your marketing initiatives are in service to their needs. 

First up, how many ICP’s do you need? 

That’s right, it’s ok (and often good) to have more than one ICP. Determine the number of ICP’s you need by figuring out who your product perfectly solves a challenge for; if there are marked differences in demographics then you need multiple ICP’s. If your product is really solving for one type of person, just focus on building a robust narrative for that customer. Either way, four is a good maximum ICP count so aim for less than that.

Now, write the story and paint the picture. 

Now you’ll group characteristics into synthesized personas, which is what makes an ICP such a helpful quick reference tool. For each ICP you create, fill in their profile with the following info:

Name: 

This helps personalize and humanize the ICP, which is the entire point of this exercise. Always remember your marketing is speaking to real people, and a name ensures you are thinking about customers from this perspective. 

Age, location, gender, marital status, and family status: 

Essential information to understand who your customer is in the world and what their life is like. 

Employment & income:

A specific job and salary to show how their days are spent, their interests, and their purchasing power. 

Personality, interests, and hobbies:

How someone spends their free time (or lack of it) will inform their shopping habits, values, and priorities. 

What channels are they on?

The channels that they like best, how often they are there, and what content they engage with most. 

How do they shop?

Is your customer a leisurely, pleasure shopper that likes to browse and discover? Or are they focused purely on functionality, want only essentials, and shop by searching for a specific item? Knowing your customers’ online shopping habits (and comfort) helps you market to them effectively. 

What are their favorite brands? 

Favored brands they’re loyal to and love will help you know what resonates with them. 

Add some flair:

Go the extra mile and include visual elements in your ICP. This brings the ICP to life and can be a digital collage, illustration, or a symbol that represents the personality of each profile. 

Now, start talking to (only) them. 

Your ICP’s represent the people who will become your most loyal customers and biggest brand enthusiasts. Be customer-obsessed and focus on marketing to them in a way that is helpful and engaging. 
Review your current marketing efforts and make adjustments. That can mean updating your website and product pages to highlight what is most important to your customer, building your presence in the channels your customers love, updating your Welcome Series and other automations, and creating content that speaks directly to your customer’s challenges. 
Most importantly, make sure you are building your direct relationship and connection with your customers through email and SMS marketing that is ICP informed. Not only do you own your customer data which can give your insights for your ICP, but you also control access to your community without any middlemen. 
We’ve got your back on that one, you can try Drip for free to test out our many customizable, automated solutions that make your life easier and help you connect better with your customers. Get started today and see the results!