February 11, 2021

What is Progressive Profiling and How to Use It

Forms are a major part of your marketing strategy. They are how you learn about prospects, qualify them and help assist them during their experience with your company. But, you can’t just ask every single visitor to fill out 30 form fields every time they are on your site. On top of that, you don’t want visitors answering the same questions every time they come to your site.

So how do you find that balance between asking everything you need to know and still capturing leads from your guides, videos and other downloadable content? 

Progressive profiling allows you to tactically build out your form strategy in a way that feels natural for visitors and also allows your company to receive information and insights about the individuals on your site and their habits. 

What is Progressive Profiling? 

The more information you know about a prospect, the better. But, you have to be methodical about the way you ask for that information or you risk prospects feeling bombarded by questions and not converting or even worse — never returning to your site at all. 

Progressive profiling is asking additional questions on subsequent form submissions to gain more information about a prospect.

What is progressive profiling infographic

The purpose of progressive profiling is to become more educated about a prospect’s needs or characteristics in a natural way that doesn't pose too much friction. 

“You can’t ask someone everything you want to know about them the first time that they fill out a form or come to your site,” says New Breed’s Head of Product, Guido Bartolacci. “Progressive profiling enables you to ask visitors or prospects follow-up questions in a natural way as they revisit your site.”  

Progressive profiling lends itself to a better user experience for website visitors because it focuses on removing friction and keeping lead generation forms short and intentional. It also enables you to build trust and provide value before you ask too much from a visitor, which is a good business practice in general. 

The main benefit for companies is that progressive profiling offers a systematic way for you to get the most information about prospects so that you can give them a top-notch customized experience. 

As you learn more about your prospects, you can enroll them into automated email workflows to serve up content or resources in order to help them become educated about your company or your product or service. The information you gather on forms is also extremely useful for your sales team to use during those first few calls when a prospect moves into the sales-ready stage. 

Download the Essential Guide to Demand Generation

How to Do Progressive Profiling

Asking for information from any visitor isn’t something to take lightly. Although it takes just a second for a marketer to add a field to a form, each additional field on a form can create friction and result in the user leaving the page without converting. So, first and foremost you need to ensure you are only asking for information that you truly need. 

“Don’t just ask for information for the sake of asking for it,” says Guido. “Ask for information that will truly enable your team in some way or another.” 

As far as setting up progressive profiling, the more places you have forms on your site generally the easier it is to accomplish, and you need to align progressive profiling with your master form strategy. 

A common strategy to use among all forms on your site is a ToFu, MoFu and BoFu one, which is based on aligning the offer or asset being gated by a form with the amount of information you ask for from a user. A ToFu, MoFu and BoFu strategy focuses on building trust with users over time as they download deeper and more in-depth content on your site. 

For instance, if you are offering a checklist to your visitor that is only one page and is more general information, you wouldn't ask users to fill out a huge form with lots of fields. On the other hand, if you’re offering a detailed 30-page e-book to users, it makes sense to require a bit more information from them on the form in order to access that content.

Requiring too much information from a lead to access a resource can make your offer seem less impressive once the user finally gets to it feeling like they gave up a lot of information in order to receive a very small resource. That can lead to prospects feeling negative about the offer they receive which may result in them not returning to your site.

A ToFu, MoFu and BoFu strategy will offer direction on which forms you place on each offer while progressive profiling takes it step further and helps you decide what actual questions to ask on each of those forms in terms of what was already collected from a prospect and what you should prioritize asking next.  

Your marketing automation platform will use your existing CRM system and contact record to decide what questions to show to the user on your site. You will set up that system to ask questions that are dependent on others being completed first. 

“Once info has been added to the contact record for a visitor they won’t be asked repeat questions, which is another benefit to progressive profiling that eliminates friction for the user,” says Guido.

Your marketing automation platform will connect to your CRM and allow you to prefill information that those contacts have already answered as well as ensure you aren’t asking those repeat questions.  

Download the Essential Guide to Demand Generation

In terms of what questions you should be asking, it's all about prioritizing the right things at the right time. 

“There are two main things that you want to be able to accomplish with your form. You want to be able to get in touch with someone, and you want to be able to qualify someone,” says Guido. 

There are typically a few pieces of basic information that you will require for every form fill, like name, contact information and company name. Deciding what to include in addition to that will stem from what your company’s qualification process looks like. 

What are the things that your sales reps or marketers use to decide if a lead is a good fit or not for your product or solution? Those pieces of information will directly translate to what you include in your form strategy and how you prioritize them.  

“Some common fields to consider if they fit your needs are website URL, company size, industry, software used, current challenges, annual revenue and role at the company,” says Gudio. 

Remember to not just ask for information that is good for marketing, but also get information that helps your sales team.

The Takeaway

Your form strategy will directly impact the experience users have on your site as well as your marketing and sales teams’ ability to work with those individuals. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding that balance between getting the information you need and not being invasive for users by asking for too much information too soon — progressive profiling is a great way to accomplish that balance.

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Weslee Clyde

Weslee Clyde is an inbound marketing strategist at New Breed. She is focused on generating results using inbound methods and is driven by the customer experience. When not at the office, you can find her binging a docu-series on true crime or perfecting her gluten-free baking skills.


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