Access to accurate and reliable customer data is essential for virtually any business. Customer data provides companies with crucial intelligence and valuable suggestions on identifying, approaching, and engaging leads to pique their interest in a product or content.

It seems like this will become increasingly important in the future. Modern consumers are demanding personalised experiences, and they’re certainly getting them. Business and website owners have realized how important personalization is, so if you don’t offer your visitors the same, you’ll inevitably lose your competitive edge.

Without top-quality customer data, it’s impossible to personalise your content, messages, and user interactions. Progressive profiling can help you overcome many obstacles to gathering useful customer information. So, what are the most common issues with collecting user data, and how can progressive profiling help?

Troubles with collecting user data

It’s not easy to obtain trustworthy, actionable customer data. The best and most straightforward approach is to let people tell you who they are, why they’re browsing your website, and what they’re interested in.

It sounds great in theory but is not so easy in practice. There’s probably no person in the world who thinks, “Oh, I can’t wait to fill in this 17-field form asking for a ton of my info”. People don’t have the time for that, often don’t see value in it, and it feels intrusive and unsafe – for a good reason. So they’ll usually skip this part, leave the website, or even fill out the form with fake info.

Progressive profiling can help you avoid these issues and make sharing personal info easier, smoother, and less annoying for the users. It also allows you to build trust first and ask users to fill out the forms afterwards, substantially increasing your chances of obtaining authentic, detailed customer info.

What is progressive profiling?

Progressive profiling is the method of gathering data that involves gradually collecting data using dynamic web forms. You don’t collect all the customer data immediately, but you divide this process into multiple chunks.

For instance, the first time a user visits your website or chooses to download a piece of content, you ask only for their name and email address. Then, the next time you have the chance, you ask for their location and job position, and then the next time, you try to get their company name and phone number.

In theory, you can repeat this as many times as you want, but after 3-4 sets of questions, you’ll probably have most of the info you need. Your marketing team will be able to customize their messaging accordingly, while your sales team will know how to approach best a specific lead and which product to offer.

By dividing this procedure into multiple steps and spreading it over time, you’ll get more users to fill in these extra-short forms and avoid chasing them away.

It’s also crucial that no fields appear repeatedly, over and over, since this irritates users and looks quite unprofessional. Every piece of data inputted is stored in your CRM or other marketing automation tool, so there’s no need to ask the same question again.

Before discussing the benefits of progressive profiling, let’s first examine how this feature should be implemented and what you should pay special attention to.

How to use progressive profiling?

To successfully implement progressive profiling, you first need to ask yourself these 4 questions:

  1. How do we initiate the interaction? Which questions should you ask the user first?
  2. How will the user’s answers to your initial questions affect the choice of questions you’ll ask them next?
  3. Which exact moments will you choose to ask them (more) questions?
  4. How will the user’s answers affect your further actions?

Choosing the right opening questions

The first questions should be the most generic ones. Don’t ask too many of them, as that would ruin the whole point of progressive profiling. Use no more than 3-4 fields to get people to sign up or initiate some interaction with your company.

Asking for their name and email is more than enough at this stage. This way, the user makes a small, unconscious investment and commitment to your business, which might motivate them to answer more questions.

A consumer who fills these fields also shows at least a pinch of interest in your product or company. They’re far from being qualified leads yet, but it’s still something you can work with, and you can start nurturing your relationship with this new prospect.

Asking and personalising further questions

The questions you’ll be asking next will depend on how a user answers the first ones. And the way they answer the second batch of questions should also affect your further inquiries.

For instance, an email domain might tell you something about the user’s workplace. In this case, there’s no need to ask him or her about their company name, but you could ask questions about their role. If you ask about their job position, sometimes you can easily deduce which product they might be interested in, so you don’t have to ask about that.

Moreover, once you find out their name and email, you (or your CRM tool) can pull more of their personal and business info from different social channels. This makes your job even easier, and you can now focus on some really specific questions – for instance, whether they already use services from your competitor, what they don’t like about it, or how much they’d be ready to invest in a new solution.

Also, you should avoid confusing and open-ended questions and try to make the process as smooth as possible. Whenever possible, try offering users multiple options from which they can choose. This will make them eager to fill in forms and equip you with more definite and accurate customer data.

Getting your timing right

We now come to the third problem—choosing the exact moments to ask visitors new questions. This decision should be informed by additional customer behaviour information. Any decent CRM software that you integrate with your website should be able to provide you with some very useful data about users’ online behaviour.

For instance, it’s very important which pages the user has visited on your website, how much time they spent on each page, which products they have looked into, and when. Then, you can set triggers that’ll ask them the right questions at the exact moment based on their activity on your website or how they react to your email campaigns.

Of course, there are numerous factors and moving parts here, so it’s impossible to lay out a one-size-fits-all strategy. You’ll have to devise your approach and specific rules and workflows. Consider the user’s interests, needs, intentions, and exact place in the customer journey. All these parameters are crucial for determining the best time to ask more questions and successfully proceed with progressive profiling.

Determining your further actions based on the user’s answers

This gradual collection of user data now identifies leads, qualifies them, and engages them with the right offers and messages.

Hence, you need to know what you will do with this data. Your marketing and sales automation tool will let you set triggers for different personalised actions based on your obtained information. If you miss the right moment to suggest content that can propel them further down the sales funnel or suggest a product they may be interested in, that moment might never return.

So, it’s crucial to devise a detailed plan outlining the steps you’ll take once you have the desired data and combine it with the user’s online behaviour information. This is the final and most important step in getting the user to convert, and without it, you’ve just wasted your time.

Benefits of progressive profiling

By far, the most important benefit of progressive profiling is that it makes the process of collecting customer info easier, more efficient, and more streamlined. There are multiple reasons why that is so:

Convincing people to share their data is much easier with shorter forms and fewer fields. Conversion rates speak for themselves. Reducing the number of fields from 11 to 4 increases conversions by 120%. Moreover, another research showed that conversion rates with 3 fields stand at 25%, but with 6+ fields, this rate drops to only 15%.

Progressive profiling makes perfect sense to improve conversions and sales. Namely, some users who decide to leave may have been truly interested in your product but were put off by the huge forms they had to fill in to learn more about it.

Progressive profiling substantially improves user and customer experience. Thanks to this strategy, fewer people will leave your website and never return, and your bounce rate will surely decrease.

Your company will seem more professional and trustworthy. First, you’ll avoid looking intrusive and overly nosy. Second, you’ll get points if you offer your users valuable content and useful info before asking for something in return. Visitors will respect that you waited for them to show genuine interest in your website or your product before trying to get their detailed information.

Final thoughts

Progressive profiling is a great tool for obtaining customer data and getting more out of it. The utility of customer data is massive and diverse. It helps you qualify leads, deliver personalized content and messages, familiarize yourself with your customers’ needs and interests, and substantially accelerate the buyer’s journey.

Of course, to collect this crucial data and use it to your advantage, you’ll need more than progressive profiling. You also need a broader data collection strategy, reliable CRM software to help you execute it, a website that offers top-quality UX, and a truly good product that can attract consumers in the first place.

Progressive profiling is a neat little trick that can help you succeed in these attempts. Don’t miss the opportunity to use it.