How do you utilize progressive profiling, anyway?


We’ve touched a little on progressive profiling in the past—mainly highlighting how it can help you segment and qualify your leads and create efficiencies for both your marketing and sales teams.

But we haven’t really expanded on the nature of progressive profiling and how to implement it effectively.

Until now.

Progressive Profiling: What Is It, Again?

To rehash what we’ve already learned about progressive profiling, let’s look back at one of our recent posts, entitled “Using Lead Scoring and Progressive Profiling to Yield Better Leads”:

Progressive profiling is the act of collecting particular information from leads based on what you already know about them. Meaning that, if someone has already provided you with their information in the past, each subsequent time they visit your site, they will be prompted with new questions instead.”

Progressive profiling is often compared to a careful approach to a first date. You don’t want to intimidate or annoy your prospects the first time out by asking invasive questions. So instead, you ask the most basic ones: What’s your name? What’s your phone number? What’s your email? You keep it short and simple, allowing your prospect to warm up to you on their own time.

When you’ve gathered this basic information, you’ve created an avenue of opportunity to reach out to the prospect again, building on the initial contact, and encouraging them (skillfully) to return to your site and check out more of what you have to offer.

Once they come back, you can present them with opportunities to provide more in-depth information about themselves: What industry are you in? What’s your position or job title? How many employees do you oversee? What is your company’s annual revenue? Could you benefit from our products or services? What are some common troubles you face in the day-to-day?

As your prospect continues to visit your site and engage with the different content you’ve made available to them, you can progressively gain valuable information, until you’ve built a detailed profile of them. This profile is invaluable in helping you shorten the sales cycle and gives your sales team a huge leg up when it’s time to approach a particularly qualified, progressively-profiled lead.

How to Implement

So you know that you need to have content available to pull your prospect in and get them to initially convert. Maybe it’s an eBook or white paper providing information about your industry or services. Maybe it’s a problem-solving PDF. Whatever you choose to offer, it needs to be attractive and valuable enough to gain that initial conversion.

Once you have a prospect’s email, name and phone number, how do you keep track of their journey? How do you ensure that their next visit to your website will present them with the opportunity to provide you with more information?

Not to worry: there is a variety of tools available that streamline and simplify the process of creating progressive forms for your prospects.

Hubspot, for instance, offers a particularly robust tool for smart fields in all editions of their product. If you opt for the Professional or Enterprise versions of their software, you can also take advantage of progressive profiling capabilities.

Within this tool you can do a number of things:

  • Replace previously captured fields with different, more in-depth fields, which are activated according to Hubspot’s recognition of the prospect’s cookie.
  • Add fields to queued questions, allowing you to control the point at which a prospect is asked a new set of questions
  • Control the number of queued fields
  • Control form length, encouraging more conversions
  • Utilize the same forms on different landing pages

Hubspot allows users to choose whether or not to eliminate the email field from their progressive forms, meaning once a user has submitted an email address, they won’t be asked to provide it again when they return to a site.

However, because email addresses are constantly changing, it is generally advised to always include the email field, to ensure that a user can provide you with a new or more relevant address if they wish.

Salesforce Pardot is another great tool for implementing progressive profiling, albeit a little differently than Hubspot. For example, the email field is displayed in all of Salesforce Pardot’s progressive profiling forms, no matter where a prospect is in the buying cycle.

Jumplead is yet another tool for creating custom fields for progressive profiling. It offers a number of capabilities, including customization of your forms’ styles, giving you complete control over how your prospects see your forms.

Progressive is the Important Word

Once you’ve acquired your software and have the capability, it can be tempting to flood your prospects with tons of questions at once. After all, once you get the information, you can move forward in the sales process and start converting those prospects to customers!

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as asking a lot of questions.

The key word in “progressive profiling” is progressive. The implication is that it’s a process that takes some time to be effective. And don’t forget: people hate filling out forms. Asking too many questions and being greedy for information is annoying (and even suspicious) to prospects that are in the beginning stages of engagement. You simply haven’t built the trust or authority required to ask more personal or in-depth questions of them just yet.

Be thoughtful about the questions you ask, and most importantly, the stage at which you ask them. Keep your forms short, sincere and relevant.

It’s important to see progressive profiling as another valuable opportunity to build trust with your prospects. When you’ve given them the space and the opportunity to interact with you on their terms, you’ve established a camaraderie that can’t be duplicated through quick-fire methods.