User Onboarding

Progressive Profiling: The Key to Better Customer Relationships

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    Home / User Onboarding / Progressive Profiling: The Key to Better Customer Relationships

    Personalization plays a key role in marketing. You need to understand who your customers are before you decide how to approach them. 

    Right, you know who your buyer personas are (do you?) and what pain points they’re likely to have.  

    But it’s not enough anymore. 

    With the abundance of similar products and services on the market, you need to show exceptional value for every specific prospect – which is only possible when you base your decisions on reliable data on each person or company reaching out to you.

    It’s likely that you aren’t new to the topic and know the problem is easily solved with the help of lead generation forms. Instead of simply asking for a lead’s email address, you’ll require filling in at least 10 fields and specify your role, company website, annual profits, etc.

    Even though this approach allows you to gather all the necessary information and qualify prospects (almost) effortlessly, it also scares away quite a few potential leads. Unless… you use progressive profiling.

    Now, let’s define the game-changing technique and explain how it can improve your lead qualification and onboarding processes.

    What is progressive profiling?

    Progressive profiling is a method of gradually collecting data on leads with the help of dynamic web forms. Each time a user interacts with a new form on the website, they are asked to fill in different pieces of information.

    With progressive profiling, you can build up customer profiles with data about prospects’ demographics, needs, interests, and pain points without making people feel uncomfortable about filling in a long list of fields in one shot.

    How does progressive profiling work?

    what is progressive profiling

    Say, a person visitors your website for the first time and wants to download an eBook. To access it, they’ll need to share their contact details in the form. If progressive profiling is set up, next time they request some downloadable resource from your site, they won’t need to type in their name and email address but share more specific information. Finally, when registering for a product demo, a person will be asked to specify their role in the company and a budget range.

    The benefits of progressive profiling

    The approach is advantageous for multiple reasons:

    • It increases conversion rates. The fewer fields you include in your lead generation forms, the more people make it to the ‘Submit’ button. After implementing progressive profiling, Arctic PinPoint has discovered a 20% increase in conversion rates
    • It helps you to qualify leads effectively. To prioritize leads and develop personalized marketing campaigns, you need to answer a set of questions about every contact on your list. When you use progressive profiling forms, you avoid asking for the same information twice or thrice and build more detailed customer profiles.
    • It allows you to craft personalized messages. By using the information you’ve collected with progressive profiling forms, you can create lead nurturing campaigns that appeal to specific lead segments.
    • It improves your sales process. Sales teams spend less time on unqualified prospects and focus on hot leads, thus, converting more leads into paying customers.
    • It facilitates the onboarding process. The better you know your customers the better you can onboard them, focusing on the aspects that matter the most for every specific customer. In its turn, a solid onboarding experience results in higher customer retention and profitability.

    How can you set up progressive profiling forms?

    To set up progressive profiling, you need to turn to your CRM platform’s functionality or pick a dedicated tool.

    What tools allow you to enable progressive profiling?

    • ConvertFlow. An all-in-one conversion marketing platform, ConvertFlow enables you to create custom forms, pop-ups, surveys, and landing pages and guide your prospects through a dynamic funnel with personalized messages. Its progressive profiling feature can either pre-fill fields that have already been captured or hide these fields entirely.
    • HubSpot. The well-known platform needs no introduction. When building a new lead generation form, you can select queued progressive profiling fields and specify any fields you want to be shown in place of the ones that have previously been captured.
    • Jumplead. Jumplead is a tool specializing in online lead generation and nurturing. To progressively profile your prospective customers, you need to set up custom contact fields. This way, you specify all the questions you want to learn answers to and then choose how many fields should be displayed per form in every stage.
    • JotForm. Another tool on the list is a form builder that allows you to set up dynamic forms by using conditions. With the tool, you can change the visibility of form fields, allow users to jump to different parts of your form, and show alternative versions of the ‘thank you’ page depending on whether the specified criteria are met or not.
    progressive profiling hubspot
    Progressive profiling with HubSpot

    These are just a few tools from a large variety of options available on the market.

    Whatever tool you choose, make sure to align your forms with the buyer’s journey.

    Make sure that the questions and their order are aligned with the stage a visitor is in when interacting with the form.

    You might also want to do A/B testing to learn which version of your web form delivers better results within particular content campaigns. 

    Are people more prone to share their personal contact information in their second interaction with your brand? Test it.

    Is it a good idea to add more form fields when offering gated content of higher value? Test it.

    What if a user completes only one web form?

    Well, progressive profiling isn’t a silver bullet. You’re likely to face certain challenges when collecting the data on your leads by using this method. The most serious one is – only a small portion of leads will make it through all the forms necessary to complete the customer profile.

    In this scenario, most leads will remain unqualified.

    How do you address the problem? Just don’t apply progressive profiling across all your marketing resources.

    Progressive profiling forms help a lot to attract people in the awareness and (rarer) consideration stages of the buyer’s journey. Set a low barrier to entry for people showing interest in top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) content. They can’t be defined as sales-qualified leads yet, but by simply knowing their email address, you can drive them to the next stage with targeted email marketing campaigns.

    If leads are interested in bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) assets, they have most likely reached the decision stage – even though they might have never interacted directly with your company before. In this case, you’d better require all the data you’ll need to consider to create an effective sales follow-up email.

    But however extensive forms used with BoFu content are, consider using progressive profiling at this point to avoid asking the same questions twice.

    How to use progressive profiling to perfect your onboarding process

    Here’s what we have so far: progressive profiling is a powerful technique for increasing conversion rates of your ToFu content, but you’ll need to be careful with using it when capturing BoFu leads.

    What about the user onboarding process?

    As has been said above, progressive profiling facilitates onboarding flows.

    First of all, it allows you to shorten the signup process. If a potential user has already shared their contact information during one of the previous sessions on your site, you can choose to request data you haven’t collected yet.

    If you have no information about a new user yet, progressive profiling allows you to limit the signup form to 1-2 fields and get more detailed information as a person gets more invested in your product.

    "The only place I would use progressive profiling is in the account creation or demo request processes."

    Nicholas Menelaou, Campaign Lead @ SEMrush

    Take for example your Get Started Sign up form. You could use enrichment to gather all the firmographic data you need (e.g. job title, company, etc.) and use a progressive form to get answers for the rest that enrichment didn't cover. After a user creates a new account and fills in some key data, you can take it a step further and display one more form on the next screen. 

    Alternatively, you can use customer surveys or email nurturing to collect additional information and see which ICP/persona your customer belongs to.’

    Use progressive profiling to shorten the signup process and fire triggered questions as users get more familiar with your product. The questions should be built in a way that the answers help you understand how you can deliver a better customer experience. 

    Below, we’ll share a few use cases of progressive profiling that can perfect the onboarding process (e.g. fire relevant hints, launch personalized email campaigns, etc.).

    Progressive profiling use cases

    There are tons of flows you can follow to build up your customer profiles gradually. Here are a few of them.

    Enable a popup form

    When a user signs up and logs in, an extra form will pop up overlapping the interface. It’s best to include one or a maximum of two questions in your popup. 

    Most often, SaaS companies want to learn answers to the following questions:

    • What product feature are you most interested in?
    • What will you be using the tool for?
    • How often are you planning to use the tool?
    • Which industry best describes your business?
    • Which type of customers do you want to serve?
    • What are your top concerns?

    To make the process as frictionless as possible, avoid open-ended questions and provide multiple options a user will need to choose from.

    progressive profiling zendesk

    Use a live chat for progressive profiling

    A less intrusive way to complete customer profiles would be to display a survey within a live chat. However, while not interfering with users’ intentions, this method also delivers lower response rates.

    progressive profiling live chat

    Allow users to complete their profile

    Like a survey displayed within a live chat, this approach reduces friction but converts at a lower level than a popup would do. 

    To encourage people to fill in the necessary information, you can redirect them to the account settings page right from the welcome email. 

    Progressive Profiling at Airbnb

    Add a form to your email campaign

    Welcome emails typically have a 91.43% open rate. If you don’t want to disturb users while they’re navigating through your tool, you can add a form to one of your welcome emails. 

    Just embed an interactive form right in the email to enable users to respond without leaving their inboxes.


    Progressive profiling allows you to focus on a seamless experience in the early stages of the customer lifecycle without bombarding your potential or existing users with multiple questions. When implemented correctly, it increases conversion rates and improves customer experience.

    Does it mean you should apply progressive profiling across all content assets? No. 

    It’s an effective way to reduce the psychological barriers of sharing too much information with a company. However, you’ll need to apply a hybrid approach and use extensive forms when the data is needed for a successful follow-up or sales call.

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