Why Defining Your ICP Is a Critical Prerequisite Step to ABM

Written by Alon Waks on November 3, 2020

Why Defining Your ICP Is a Critical Prerequisite Step to ABM

Have you always dreamed about a world where you could reach your highest-value prospects with the perfect message — at just the right time — that will convince them to make a purchase? This might feel like a pipe dream for many B2B companies, but there are ways that you can identify and target these buyers, but it all starts with defining your ideal customer profile.

No more wasting time, money and effort on marketing that doesn’t hit the target. Your prospects and customers deserve to work with a company that is focused on their needs, and that requires marketers that are willing to invest the energy to create strategies that deliver relevant messaging over time. Defining and implementing a detailed ideal customer profile (ICP) doesn’t happen overnight, but you will find that the exercise will continue to bear fruit in the future.

Creating Customer Strategies That Deliver True ROI

An ideal customer profile is a concept that goes far beyond a simple marketing message and resonates throughout the operations of your organization. Sales, marketing, business — all of these teams must come together around a detailed strategy that defines the ROI for the entire system. Some companies estimate that up to 40% of your marketing spend is wasted on strategies and tactics that are not directly tied to revenue or measurable goals. Without adequate information on the return for their marketing dollars, it’s nearly impossible for these professionals to make good decisions about which tactics to pursue in the future — and which should be discontinued immediately.

With an ideal customer profile in place, you can be confident that you are focused on true growth for the organization.

What is Your Ideal Customer Profile?

Understanding your ideal customer means looking far beyond the standard buying metrics and into the problems that your product or service is solving for the world. It’s important to consider:

  • What problem are we solving?
  • How does our audience define this problem?
  • Are there others in the space that are addressing this problem?
  • How do we provide unique value?

Simply identifying this information is not enough. It’s vital that you work across the organization to rigorously translate your defined profiles into the business logic used to drive marketing messages, sales strategies and targeting activities. Unfortunately, without access to the clear, consistent customer data, your ICP efforts are destined to fall short.

Translating ICP Strategies Across Business Units

When your sales team is focused on outbound and your marketing team on inbound, there’s a strong possibility of disconnect in your messaging — especially if you’re hitting the same audience members with your messages. This can be extremely confusing and frustrating for customers who are simply looking for clear, strong and consistent reasons to choose your product over that of your competitors. When you are taking one action in marketing and your sales team heads off in a different direction, instead of amplifying your message you end up muddying the water. Aligning around an ideal customer profile allows you to synchronize the efforts of these critical teams and create a more cohesive customer experience.

Defining the Right Message for Your Target Audience

In the B2C world, you might have an extremely simple widget that solves a specific problem — making your messaging tactics relatively straightforward and allowing you to quickly grow sales. In the more complex B2B environment, you may need to leap some hurdles to get past gatekeepers and ensure that your messages are reaching senior staff members who can make a buying decision. When you create marketing and sales messages that resonate with this audience, you are more likely to improve conversion rates — and reduce the finger-pointing that often occurs between sales and marketing teams.

Examples of ICP in Action for B2B

One point of differentiation with ICP includes the very metrics-driven conversations that should be happening within your organization. Each shift in your ideal customer profile requires measurement to determine the efficacy of the strategy. Defining your ICP may start with basic demographics and psychographics of your current audience:

  • Active in a specific vertical
  • Between 50-250 employees
  • Annual Revenue over $15 million but no more than $50 million
  • A current reliance on cloud-based technology solutions
  • Number of individuals in specific roles (e.g. marketing managers)
  • Active presence on social media and in content marketing

While this might be the ideal customer profile for a SaaS CRM platform, it’s easy to see how you can translate these basics into unique customer requirements for your business. Once you solidify your ICP, you’re then able to align messaging that will appeal to these customers. It’s not unusual to see conversion rates increase significantly while also increasing the average deal size because you are appealing to a very specific segment of prospective customers.

Defining Success in an ICP World

The most important measure of success when you’re implementing ICP is not the number of leads, the number of views on your videos or any other low-level marketing metric. You should focus your attention on the payback — or ROI — that you’re seeing due to implementing ICP messaging and operational strategies. Revenue, cost of customer acquisition and conversions are all important values that should be built into your ongoing ICP measurements. Rarely is calculating the ROI of your campaign as simple as taking the sales growth, subtracting the marketing costs and then dividing by the marketing costs, but there are ways to create a meaningful relationship between marketing costs and revenue growth.

Capturing Data Points to Power Your Ideal Customer Profile

“Garbage in = garbage out” is a theme that you will hear from data scientists and practitioners everywhere. Your ICP strategies will only be as successful as the data that you are able to glean from your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software — and sometimes, that data can be quite messy. Duplicate records, old information and an abundance of blanks in your database can derail even the best data-centric marketing strategies before they start. Once you’ve defined the most important information to capture from new prospects, that information must be stored somewhere in a way that it can be efficiently retrieved in the future.

Complex marketing software can provide great value for your business, but it can also cause a real problem in terms of your customer experience. Datto recently discovered this issue after finding pervasive duplicates, and challenges matching leads to accounts. With account-based marketing, having individuals tied directly to the correct organization is crucial for developing a true picture of your audience. Non-standard data is also a challenge, particularly when you’ve combined multiple marketing, sales or customer support systems or are sharing information across these systems. Datto discovered more efficient handling of their data by integrating their customer and prospect data through RingLead, reducing duplicates, improving their marketing insights and reporting.

Create a Data-Driven ABM Powerhouse for Your Business

There’s no need to struggle to put together strategies that will appeal to a targeted audience in the hopes of gaining conversions. When you are systematic in your approach to identifying your ideal customers, along with the content and channels that will appeal to these buyers, you stand a dramatically better chance of growing your sales. For the ABM world, this means ensuring that your data structures are clear, consistent and accessible from all your primary marketing platforms.

When you work with the professionals at RingLead Platform to cleanse, consolidate and optimize your data, you are optimizing your business outcomes across your sales and marketing teams. We start by assessing the current quality and locations of your data before seeing how the RingLead Platform can help keep CRM data quality standards in sync across various platforms. Request a demo online anytime to see how RingLead can improve your customer targeting, boost revenue and help align sales, marketing and operations to provide a superior experience for your customers.