What is progressive profiling?
Last updated: January 26, 2023
Customer data is the key to unlocking your audience’s needs – and how your company can best meet them with your product.
To achieve this, companies need their customer profiles to be as complete as possible.
But forcing customers to fill out overly long and invasive forms can turn them away, rather than engaging them and moving them closer to a sale.
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Enter progressive profiling. Rather than asking customers to provide all their data right away, progressive profiling allows marketers to gradually collect more information about customers at strategically timed intervals throughout the buyer journey. With the help of a good customer profile software, companies can use that data to round out their audience profiles over time, rather than asking for too much data at once and losing the lead for good,
What are the benefits of progressive profiling?
Through progressive profiling, you can:
- Generate higher-quality leads
- Collect more audience data with less friction for users
- Improve audience insights and customer experience
- Provide more personalized offers
- Increase conversions, revenue and sponsorship ROI
How to implement a progressive profiling campaign
1. Lead with transparency
People have become increasingly selective about providing their personal data to companies – and for good reason.
In the last decade, we’ve seen companies leverage user data for creepy and/or nefarious purposes – and spark mass outrage as a result.
Some key lowlights: A 2012 New York Times investigation revealed that Target used pricing data and customer purchase history to figure out which shoppers were pregnant and target them with relevant ads. And more recently, state agencies have banned the use of TikTok on government phones due to escalating data privacy and surveillance concerns.
Amid those headlines, it’s easy to forget how companies harness user data to benefit the user experience, whether by providing more personalized offers and promotions, targeting content and events to their location, having their profile information on hand during customer support calls, etc.
Companies definitely benefit from customer data, but so do the customers themselves. Look for opportunities to remind your audience of this as you begin your progressive profiling campaigns.
Assuage your audience’s privacy concerns by clearly stating how you’ll use their data to help them. Stress that your primary purpose is to improve and personalize your customers’ experience – then back it up with your actions. Here are some easy ways to reinforce this message:
- Tell your audience that the offers they receive are based on their previous interactions with your content and ads.
- On your email subscription forms, explain the purpose of your emails and tell users how often they can expect to get them. And in your email footers, tell recipients why they’re getting your emails (i.e., they consented to receive emails when they downloaded your eBook, they manually subscribed to your list, etc.).
- On every gated content form, tell readers that they are opting in to receive email communications from you in exchange for your content, then tell what type and frequency of emails they can expect to receive.
2. Collect first-party data through quizzes
Besides being more interactive, quizzes also allow companies to gradually round out customer profiles in specific areas.
They’re especially useful for qualifying leads or assessing their readiness to buy.
Say that you’re managing a group of related B2B publications and you want to increase first-time readership. You might create a quiz that matches new website visitors to each one of your publications, based on their job title, content preferences, etc.
This helps your audience find the subscription that’s best for their needs while giving your marketing team the information they need to effectively target each person.
But lead generation quizzes require a little more strategy than something like, “What Gossip Girl Character Are You?”. Here’s how to create quizzes that please your audience and yield actionable data about them:
- Offer an incentive to leads who complete the quiz. For instance, you might offer a discounted subscription bundle in exchange for a quiz completion – or provide exclusive access to gated content, discounts or perks for your in-person event, etc.
- Match each quiz question to the most actionable data points. Quizzes might be more entertaining than your standard 7-question form, but your readers will still click out if your quiz runs too long. So keep your quiz to 10 questions or less and ensure that each question provides you with the most relevant, predictive customer data. (Ask your sales team for this information if you’re not sure.) Say that customers from mid-level media companies have a 20% higher lifetime customer value than customers from bigger organizations/other industries. In your quiz, you’d want to isolate those leads by asking them for their company size and industry.
- Match each quiz “result” to a specific customer segment. The purpose of lead generation quizzes is to create distinct groups, each of which you’ll target with a distinct offer or message. So as you create your quiz, make sure that your scoring criteria and questions effectively segregate your audience into the categories you want to create. And if you have a customer data platform? Every answer is automatically added to the person’s profile. From there, you can create more precise segments and serve each one with content personalized for their needs.
- Link to your product page and/or demo scheduler: While quizzes can generate useful pre-sales data about your users, some of them might be ready to talk to sales as soon as they’ve finished your quiz, Capitalize on that interest by linking to a relevant product page and/or a demo scheduler on your quiz’s final “results” page.
3. Get richer engagement data via virtual events and webinars
Events are one of the best ways to engage leads and drive new business. However, it’s traditionally been difficult to produce actionable data about event attendees.
Sure, you know what sessions they signed up for and maybe even scanned their QR code upon entry. But if you’re hosting a 1000-person event, it’s almost impossible to distinguish your most engaged attendees from the rest of the crowd, much less target them with marketing specific to their needs.
The rise of virtual events and webinars has made this much easier. That’s because virtual event platforms are designed specifically to produce a full engagement profile for each attendee (which would be just about impossible at an in-person gathering). In a half-hour webinar, you can measure:
- The amount of time each person spends in the webinar room with the browser tab open
- Each poll response, submitted question, and downloaded handout
- Each response written in the public or private chat
- Each interaction your audience has with sponsored content, like handouts, banner ads, polls, etc.
Taken together, this paints a picture of how each person is interacting to your content over a full 30 minutes – and adds important context to each of your customer profiles. Export it to your sales team to make your post-event outreach more personalized and successful.
(Note: We integrate with ON24 for this purpose. Event data flows directly to your Omeda customer database, where it can be used to segment, activate and convert your attendees into customers.)
4. Create interest-based segments via gated content
Gating content is an incredibly effective way to enhance customer profiles over time while giving your audience value in return. Gated content forms typically require only a few fields, so you can gradually ask for data without adding friction to your users’ experience.
Since each piece of content is aligned to a specific topic/interest, this is a great way to isolate each audience member’s interests, buyer stage and needs.
That said, gated content only attracts data when it attracts audiences. But as we’ve seen recently, badly executed gated content can turn audiences away rather than pull them in. Your premium content might annoy audiences if it:
- Requires too many form responses: To maximize responses, only include 3-4 required fields on each form
- Doesn’t provide the promised value: If you’re “charging” your audience to consume your content, you need to provide unique value that they can’t find via a Google search or a genuinely free article. Set your content apart with proprietary research, analysis from industry leaders, exclusive interviews, etc.
- Pressures people into signing up for a demo: On your form, ask readers whether they’d like to demo your product. Besides helping you identify your hottest leads, this prevents you from spamming readers who aren’t ready to commit to a demo yet. (Learn even more about gated content – and how to get it right – here)
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