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What is progressive profiling? How it works and best practice

Friday February 19th 2016

Commentary by Matt Dunn, Experian Marketing Services UK

Progressive profiling is an excellent way to collect complete data sets without damaging the customer experience.
Email marketing has changed – no longer is it acceptable to ‘spray and pray’. Your marketing has to be tailored and personalised to be relevant and interesting to the recipient. To make your marketing as tailored and relevant to your customers as possible you need to have detailed data on those customers. 

However, as all digital marketers will appreciate, asking for 10-15 pieces of information on a web form will put a lot of people off and it becomes a balancing act between asking for highly valuable data and not discouraging people from signing up. One method of combating this is progressive profiling - a marketing technique that boosts lead generation and qualification significantly by gradually gathering demographic and preference data over a longer period of time and customer touch-points. 

Rather than asking a prospect to fill out a form featuring a large number of required fields, you may only ask three to four questions initially and use subsequent forms to gather the additional data you need.

How Progressive Profiling works Progressive profiling allows digital marketers to gather information incrementally instead of all in one go. As you have more interactions with a customer you ask for more information – while justifying the requests by providing those customers with value. This could be through the use of discounts, offers or freebies.

What does Progressive Profiling provide? Better conversion – Because progressive profiling captures data over a longer period of time your forms stay relatively short. Shorter forms with fewer required fields normally have higher conversion rates.

Improved user experience With progressive profiling you don’t have to ask the same question twice. Likewise there are fewer questions individuals have to answer at any one time to access the material or offers they are interested in.

Improves your customer interactions – Progressive profiling provides greater insight without overloading a form and putting off potential subscribers. In this way you don’t lose hesitant customers yet you do receive more information about people who are approaching the end of their path to purchase.

Profiling Prioritise the information needed to build complete profiles of your customers and create your forms accordingly. When developing forms ask the most relevant questions first (work with your customer facing teams)
nclude the contact’s name or address in each request so that they know you already know who they are and providing them the opportunity to correct any mistakes. Reconfirm your privacy policy each time a subscriber converts on a form to reassure them that you’re not selling their details on Monitor your progressive profiling – if there is a stage that sees a large number of drop offs then go back and reassess that stage.
What are you asking for that people are unwilling to provide? If you’re asking a couple of questions try splitting them up.

Progressive profiling is an excellent method of slowly building relevant and valuable profiles of your customers in order to be able to tailor your communications to them. Progressive profiling makes the customer experience smoother and means you’re not putting customers off by asking for too much information in the first interaction.
Having a more thorough level of customer data provides the ability to personalise your marketing in order to increase its effectiveness by improving the customer experience. As everyone knows, customer experience is the cornerstone of modern marketing with customers today demanding more and more relevant experiences.

It is almost a chicken and egg situation: Marketers need greater levels of customer data to personalise their marketing in order to improve the customer experience. However, they need to be wary of ruining that customer experience by asking for too much information early on. Progressive profiling is a possible solution to this enigma.

Take a moment to check out Experian Marketing Services, they help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers and can help deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.