guesswhoLooking for a surefire way to reduce form conversions and scare away your prospects? My guess is probably not; however, when you repeatedly ask prospects for the same information or present them with long conversion forms, that is exactly what you are doing.  Fortunately, marketing automation services, such as HubSpot, Eloqua, and Marketo, offer progressive profiling. While this is not a new technology, it is certainly one that is underutilized.

In a nutshell, progressive profiling uses dynamic forms to gradually gather demographic data and preferences overtime. Rather than asking a prospect to fill out a form with 10 required fields, you may only ask three to four questions initially and use subsequent forms to gather the additional data you need. If you are not currently using progressive profiling, here are three reasons why you should.

Why Use Progressive Profiling?

Higher Conversion Rates: Because progressive profiling captures demographic data and preferences overtime, you can keep your forms relatively short—three to five fields. Shorter forms tend to have higher conversion rates because the barrier to consumption is minimal. When developing the sequence of your forms, ask the most relevant questions first.

Better Experience for the Visitor: With progressive profiling, there is no need to ask the same question twice. Not only is this annoying to your prospect, but you also lose out on the opportunity to gain insight to their buyer persona. Getting to know your prospects overtime allows you to deliver a more personalized experience through relevant and timely content.

Your Sales Team will Love You: Providing your sales team with insight to a potential buyer’s budget, concerns, interests and priorities is sure to make you the office superstar. As you know, marketers cannot possibly gather all of this lead intelligence overnight. Despite the sales team’s push to increase form length, remember progressive profiling is like dating: Asking too many questions or something too personal on the first date can be a bit awkward. Work with your sales team to prioritize the information needed to qualify a lead and build your forms accordingly.

Examples of Form Fields for Progressive Profiling

Form 1: First Name, Last Name, Email

Form 2: Industry, Company Name, Job Title, Number of Employees

Form 3: Primary Challenge, Buying Authority, Phone Number

Form 4: Budget, Timeframe to Buy, Use of Competitive Products

The Takeaway

Progressive profiling takes patience. As tempting as it may be to ask 15 questions upfront to speed up the process, chances are you will scare your potential customers away. Be strategic when developing your forms. Make sure your questions are relevant to buyer’s lifecycle stage within the sales funnel. For examples of relevant questions, I encourage you to read John McTigue’s blog post, 20 Questions to Ask Your B2B Leads, Prospects and Customers.

What’s been your experience with progressive profiling? Let us know in the comments below.

photo credit: unloveablesteve