Progressive Profiling is a Must

Somewhere in the content marketing world, there’s a prospect abandoning a form as you read these words. Is it…could it be…yours? There are two main reasons a prospect who is genuinely interested in a gated asset abandons a form:

  1. The form is too long.
  2. The form requests information they are not ready to give up.

progressive profilingHere’s a common scenario: Busy important business guy takes a quick break between finalizing presentations while talking on the phone and answering emails while sitting in a meeting. Bagel in one hand, keyboard in the other, he peruses Forbes to get caught up on important business happenings. A well-nested display ad for a free report catches his eye because it just so happens to cover a topic discussed in that earlier meeting. He clicks and is taken to an intimidatingly long form, long enough to require releasing his bagel. “What?! They want to know what my budget is?! I don’t even know who these people are!” Busy important business guy quickly returns to the Forbes website to engage with non-bagel-dropping content.

Serving people with questions they don’t have time to answer or aren’t ready to answer will result in lower conversions and a greater number of people providing false data (yes, I’m looking at you, jackiechan@kungfupanda.org). If you want to invite someone to interact with your business, you need to make it look as easy and feel as unobtrusive as possible – especially in the first few interactions.

Progressive profiling allows businesses to gradually acquire the information needed from prospects at a rate that aligns with the level of interest they demonstrate. The first form an inbound prospect completes might ask three to five general questions. When the prospect comes back for more, they have established a bit more familiarity with your company and will be more inclined to answer another set of more specific questions. This progression continues until the prospect acquires enough points to be routed over to sales based on pre-determined lead management rules.

Aside from increasing conversion rates and improving data integrity, progressive profiling offers the benefit of making it easier to collect a greater amount of data than what would be possible with a single form repeated for every interaction. Progressive profiling also improves your users’ experience and that is hugely important today. Once you have progressive profiling set up, you will need to decide which questions to ask and when to ask them.

Take a look at the following approach:

  1. Map out your buyers’ journey from early stage engaged prospect to converted opportunity. Identify key stages between these two endpoints that describe the steps your buyers are taking to move toward the finish line.
  2. Identify the critical pieces of information you need to collect in each stage, thinking in terms of your lead management goals from a technology and segmenting perspective. For example, email is typically an immediate requirement in order to store the prospect in lead capture tools, but what about role? If you’re planning to enroll the prospect in a nurture program based on their persona, role may have to be on that first form as well. Start with the most general questions in the first form (while keeping the number to a minimum) and then progress to more detailed qualifying questions. Before finishing, consider what a sales rep needs to know before any engaged prospect is routed to them and make sure all that data is captured prior to routing.
  3. Vet your list with the sales team, ensuring your vision aligns with the information that’s actually useful to them. Sales and marketing alignment is important here as both organizations need to be in sync for this to work.

Progressive profiling is an important component in a truly buyer-centric Demand Generation Strategy. Implementing progressive profiling is likely to not only increase your conversions, but improve user experience by building trust before the first conversation even takes place. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes the next time you peruse your company’s website and determine if progressive profiling will support your demand generation goals. The more we know about our buyers the better, but make sure your buyer is willing to share that information with you first, before you ask.

Author: Kayla Hrynyk @KaylaHrynyk Consultant Strategy, ANNUITAS