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What is Progressive Profiling and How to Use it?

    Progressive profiling

    How to use progressive profiling to gradually capture lead data – and keep your forms short

    When it comes to online lead generation and form conversions, the question « how long should my form be » is often a subject of debate, and there’s no magic answer. Yes, the length of your form does affect your landing page conversion rates, as well as the quality of your leads.

    Usually, the fewer fields in the form, the more likely the visitors will convert. And the more fields, the fewer conversions, but the likelihood of high quality leads. In other words, shorter forms generally result in more leads, and longer forms will result in fewer, but more relevant and qualified leads.

    First things first, what is Progressive profiling?

    Progressive profiling is a smart feature of marketing automation that allows you to collect lead information over time by displaying new form fields to prospects based on the information you have previously collected on them. For progressive profiling to work, cookies have to be enabled on the visitor’s browser.

    Basically, progressive profiling automatically updates form fields to gradually gather prospect’s information over time.

    With progressive profiling, when a visitor fills out a form on a website or landing page for the first time they are required to only answer a few form fields. Then each time they re-visit your site and interact with a form, they’ll be asked new questions.

    Using conditional fields (also called smart fields), allows to show a small number of fields on one form, ensuing that the contact is only asked to complete limited information every time they fill out a form.

    Example of progressive profiling over several website visits

    Example of a typical sequence of progressive profiling, in a business to business case

    On the very first interaction with a form on your website/landing page, the form can ask the following information:

    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • Email

    On the second interaction, the form will contain new fields:

    • Company
    • Job title

    On the third visit, more detailed information will help qualify leads:

    • Role/responsibility
    • Current solution

    On the fourth visit, the form will ask:

    • Phone number
    • Additional question like Timeframe frame for purchase

    Why should you use progressive profiling?

    There are many benefits of using progressive profiling in your marketing:

    1. Boost conversion rates while still capturing new information and gaining deeper insights

    Keeping your forms short and sweet improves your lead’s experience and help reduce form abandonment risks.

    2. Avoid repetition

    With progressive profiling you only ask the questions once and it’s recorded in your marketing automation system. You don’t have to repeatedly ask for the same information and don’t take the risk of annoying your prospects in asking the same questions that you already know the answers to.

    3. Gradually build a deeper, more comprehensive profile of each lead

    Progressive profiling allows you to ask more detailed questions over time that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to ask in a single, short form.

    5. Deliver more relevant and qualified leads to sales

    Your sales teams will be armed with deeper insight into prospect needs, and will stop wasting time interacting with unqualified leads. Imagine if your sales team would know the job title, budget, needs and authority level of a lead even before the first sales call.

    How use progressive profiling: Tips and best Practices

    Here are some progressive profiling best practices:

    Identify the most important information to collect first in order to follow up effectively

    Before starting with progressive profiling, talk to your sales teams and look at the current data points you capture. What are the must-haves vs nice-to-haves? Define the most critical data you need to capture and use in order to:

    • Segment leads,and personalise email content and lead nurturing campaigns
    • Allow your sales team to qualify and follow up leads

    Align your progressive profiling questions to your buyer personas and their lifecycle stage

    Think about the customer journey, and the information that your leads are willing to give in exchange of your offer. Determine what type of information to capture at the different stages of your customer lifecycle, and rank your questions in terms of the awareness, consideration and decision stages to ensure you ask the right questions at the right time. Keep broad, general questions for the top of the funnel and more detailed questions as your leads further along their research process and become more familiar with your company.

    Define the user experience and interactions with the form

    Clarify what happens if:

    • Pre-populated field information is not theirs
    • All fields have values (all information requested has been completed)

    Employ strong calls-to-action on your form buttons

    Avoid the default word “Submit” on your form buttons and use calls-to-action like “Download the free ebook”, “Talk to an expert now”, “Start your free trial”, and match your the call-to-action button to the action of the visitor.

    Optimise your thank you pages

    Your Thank You pages offer great potential for further re-conversions and qualification. Guide your prospects to view relevant content (ebook, webinar, free consultation) related to the topic of the offer they just downloaded, to keep them engaged and gradually obtain additional lead data if they submit a form again.

    Test your forms

    Do your own A/B testing to see what works best for you. Should your form have 3 or 4 fields? Should the field label be aligned on the left or on-top of the field? As with most marketing tactics, the best way to determine which form fields and form length work best for your business is to do some A/B testing and continually optimise based on the results.

    Ready to get started with progressive profiling? Already using? What are your preferred progressive profiling tactics?