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What is customer profiling?

Discover the usage and attitude of your customers with help from SurveyMonkey.

How do you make sure your marketing is reaching your ideal customer? In the past, companies would send out their marketing and advertising messages and hope for good results. With today’s technology, we no longer have to risk our messages getting lost among the clutter of our customers’ lives with blanket messaging. Market research gives us everything we need for customer profiling so we understand who our customers are—and how best to reach them.

SurveyMonkey Audience can easily help you find your respondents—and in minutes.

Customer profiling is a marketing strategy that uses data to create a picture of the perfect customer who will interact with your product or service. Done correctly, a useful customer profile will act as a guide for your marketing and advertising to reach your ideal customers.

Customer segmentation is grouping your customers based on common characteristics, such as marital status, age, location, and other factors. This information is used to guide targeted campaigns. Sometimes, segmentation offers a focus that is too narrow to actually reach the audience you want. It just doesn’t address the whole customer.

Customer profiling is centered on the customers’ habits and experiences. It looks at pain points and touchpoints. In other words, customer profiling is about your customers’ personalities. Its purpose is to understand your customers so you can offer a better experience, product, or service to the people who actually use your product.

By now, some of you may be saying, “But we’ve created a buyer persona. Isn’t that the same thing?” Customer profile and buyer persona are actually 2 distinct strategies that have 2 different purposes. 

Your customer profile filters out the types of people who will buy your product. This is used at the beginning of the sales funnel in lead generation. 

Your buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of a customer you want to reach. It’s used throughout the funnel to describe the buying patterns of existing customers within your customer profiles.

Both buyer personas and customer profiles represent customers you want to serve, but customer profiles dig deeper into their attributes so that you can tailor your marketing to appeal to them directly.

Your ideal customer profiles start with clear descriptions of your current customers. With that knowledge in hand, you have an understanding of who buys your products now and who is likely to buy your product in the future.

With your customer profile, you know who will reap the most benefit from your products. By targeting these better-fit prospects, you’ll end up with more happy customers, fewer poor reviews, and less frequent unhappy customer service calls.

CAC is the amount of money spent on marketing and advertising campaigns to attract one new customer. Your specific customer profile will help you create better-targeted campaigns that will increase click-through rates. You’ll spend less and gain more from each campaign.

Customer churn refers to the percentage of customers you lose over a particular period of time. If you begin by building strong customer profiles and using them in your marketing, you’ll attract specific customers who want to use your product or service and reduce churn. You’ll increase customer loyalty by choosing the right customers to target in the beginning.

Customer profiling provides you with the ability to engage with customers on a more personal level. This will improve their overall experience with your product and company. Collecting customer feedback about their customer service experience will further your goal of creating the ideal profile and providing optimal customer service.

Take the guesswork out of product decisions. Use customer profiling to guide product development instead of team opinions and popular trends to provide the most appealing product to your customers.

There are various ways to do customer profiling. Psychographic, consumer typology, and consumer characteristics are three useful strategies. There are other approaches that use affinities, heavy emphasis on demographics, and other characteristics.

This customer profiling strategy focuses on lifestyles—the how, when, and why people make purchases. This information is useful in understanding buying behavior and customer journey.

The psychographic strategy may include these factors:

  • Interests
  • Lifestyle
  • Goals
  • Pain points
  • Habits
  • Values

In this method, customers are analyzed by motivation, mindset, and how they engage. 

Consumer typology distinguishes between: 

  • Loyal consumers
  • Discount consumers
  • Impulse consumers
  • Need-based consumers

This strategy looks at traits that influence a customer’s buying decisions. Are they driven by convenience—easy and fast? Or reviews—what their connections say? Or is it all about their experience—do they crave a personalized experience?

In other words, it identifies the following characteristics

  • Convenience-driven
  • Connectivity-driven
  • Personalization-driven

Now that you know what customer profiling is and how it will benefit your business, let’s talk about creating a customer profile. Rely on data about existing customers to take the guesswork out of profiling.

Market research will help you figure this out. Who are your customers? How are they using your product? And why are they using it? This understanding of the problem that you’re solving with your product is a critical first step.

Start by reviewing your customer journey map. You don’t need to identify every touchpoint on the way to a goal for this purpose. Just keep the customer journey in mind to help you understand the needs, challenges, and goals of your customers.

Now it’s time to put together demographic information, which may include age, race, gender, marital status, education level, employment, income, and location. You’re looking to determine what market your product serves. 

While you could rely on data alone to create your customer profile, it helps to know who your customers really are. We understand that it can be time-consuming, but we recommend conducting some customer interviews. Face-to-face interaction between your team and your customers can reveal valuable information that data just can’t show. 

Of course, with the current pandemic conditions, face-to-face interviews may not be an option for you. Video or telephone interviews aren’t as engaging as meeting in person, but they are still a way of meeting your customers. If they’re willing to take the time to talk with you, they are probably loyal customers and worth the time. 

Find out more about what motivates your customers to make a purchase. Determining motivation will help you plan sales, make informed product feature decisions, and consider what new products you may develop in the future.

Discover customer habits by:

  • Using a loyalty program to collect data in exchange for discounts or coupons
  • Rewards-based surveys about purchasing patterns
  • Examine updated inventory numbers to see what customers are buying frequently
  • Create sales directed at specific types of customers, such as convenience-driven customers, to see what merchandise sells most to this specific group

As tempting as it is to ignore them, your competition is out there. Look at their reputation and products in comparison to your own. Ensure that your brand is distinctive and stands out from the crowd. Not sure where to start? Our customizable competitor research survey template will help you find out how customers view your business in comparison to your competitors.

This is not a “one and done” marketing strategy. As your company grows and product lines expand, you’ll need to update your customer profiles with new information, such as how your customers use your new product or service, the frequency with which they use your product, and whether the end-user is the customer or someone else.

Ready to begin? Well, we’ve put together a few tips for helping you create the most effective and accurate customer profile.

  1. Use a market segmentation survey. Learn what the members of your target market have in common and how they differ. This is a good way to segment by demographics, location, psychographics, and behaviors.
  2. Rely on consumer segmentation research to find out what drives consumer demand.
  3. Use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
  4. Use more behaviors than demographics to understand and improve customer experience.
  5. Examine your web analytics to determine how your customers are finding you, what they are doing on your site, and what pages they are spending time on.
  6. Social media analytics will also offer insights into what social channels your customers use and whether they interact with brands online.
  7. Gather information from your customer-facing employees. What feedback do they receive from customers that will add to the profile?
  8. Customer profile example

Ultimately, you get to choose how to present your customer profile. There are online templates, spreadsheets, and tools for you to organize your information. Or do it your own way—just be consistent.

This example is a customer profile for a company that offers healthy, frozen meal options for families.

Products services usedDemographicsCustomer benefitsCustomer pain pointsCustomer social media habits
Customer uses frozen vegetables to complement a larger meal

They use frozen meals to save time on food prep
Profession: Administrator


Location: Denver, CO

Gender: Other

Ethnicity: Latinx

Age group: 30-45

Married 1 child under 18 living in household
Saves time on meal prep

Provides healthier options

Family enjoys eating new things


Save trips to the grocery store
Prepared foods can cost more

Lack of variety in menu items

Items don't accommodate food allergies
No time to follow complicated instructions

Prefers organic ingredients
Customer is active on Facebook and Instagram

Does not actively engage with our brand on social channels

Now that you understand the basics of customer profiling, the benefits, and how to create your ideal customer profile, you can get started with your market research. If you can’t access enough people to survey for actionable results, SurveyMonkey Audience will find the ideal respondents for your research surveys.

Run your most successful marketing campaign yet by creating customer profiles for your products. And, as always, contact SurveyMonkey, a company by Momentive,  for all of your company’s marketing solutions.