Using Progressive Profiling for a Frictionless Customer Experience

Avatar Act-On
Demand and Lead Generation
Lead Management

How do you convert qualified leads on your website? 

The whole process used to be relatively straightforward:

  1. Create a landing page with a compelling offer and a form
  2. Ask site visitors to complete the form to receive the offer
  3. Follow-up with them immediately

So what changed?

Everything.

For starters, the sheer number of choices has exploded. If you were evaluating MarTech companies in 2015, you would have had to sift through about 2000 different solutions. Five years later, there are more than 7000 options — and the list keeps growing.

 /></p>
<p><span style=In addition, it’s easier than ever to find answers without speaking with a sales rep. Research by Gartner has shown that B2B buyers only spend 17% of their time meeting with potential vendors. 

And finally, the rise of the subscription economy has shifted the balance of power from companies to prospects and customers. 

What does this mean for your lead gen strategy? You can’t add any forms to your site with a “set-it-and-forget-it” attitude. Your visitors are looking for a highly-personalized, low-friction experience. And if they can’t find it on your site, they’ll bounce and look somewhere else.

So, how do you give them what they want?

Progressive profiling with the use of adaptive forms.  

What Is Progressive Profiling?

Simply put, progressive profiling is the practice of asking your site visitors for a little bit more information every time they complete one of your dynamic forms. 

The whole point is to meet prospects where they are in their journey. In a world of thousands of alternatives, you need to make it as easy as possible for prospects to find the information they’re looking for. This is where the drawbacks of long forms can outweigh any potential benefits.

Pretend you just heard about a company. It’s going to be a while before you’re ready to speak with a sales rep. You’re visiting their site for the first time and looking for something to download so you can do some research on your own.

Which form would you rather complete during your first visit?

Examples of landing page forms

 

These two examples illustrate the genius of progressive profiling. The first time someone comes to your site, you might only ask them for their email. But every time they return to your site and complete a new form, you can ask them for more information about themselves and their business. You don’t have to sacrifice landing page conversion rates to gain valuable information. With each new form your visitors complete, you can be more confident that they value your content. And every time they come back, you can learn more about them.

Adaptive (Dynamic) Forms: How to Make Progressive Profiling Work for You

Progressive profiling and dynamic forms go hand in hand. Marketing automation platforms like Act-On allow you to create a single adaptive form that displays different fields depending on how many times someone has come to your site and which pages they’ve visited.

Which form fields should you ask visitors to complete on their first visit? On their second and third visits? Here are some examples:

Form 1, Version 1:

  1. Email

… that’s it! There are plenty of marketing tools out there that can spit out first name and last name if you know someone’s email, especially their work email. But if you don’t have one of those tools, then you can probably guess what comes next:

Form 1, Version 2:

  1. First Name
  2. Last Name
  3. Email

What happens the second time this person visits your site? Because you cookied their previous session, this time you can ask them a bit more:

Form 2, Version 1:

  • Company
  • Job Title
  • Industry (Drop-Down Menu)

On their second visit, potential prospects only need to complete these new fields. Their previous information is already stored in the marketing automation platform (and potentially already passed to your sales team’s customer relationship management (CRM) tool).

When someone completes a form during their third visit, you can be pretty sure they’re interested in your solution:

Form 3, Version 1

  • Which use case are you most interested in? (Multi-picklist)
  • When are you looking to make a purchase? (Drop-Down Menu)

Or…

Form 3, Version 2

    1. First Name
    2. Last Name
    3. Email
  • What is your role at your company (Drop-Down; I oversee projects, I manage the team, I lead strategy, etc)
  • Which of our partner solutions interests you the most? (Optional, Free text field)

There you have it! With adaptive forms, there’s no need to keep asking for the same information! Instead, you can deliver more value with each form submission while reducing friction and frustration.

How to Adapt Progressive Profiling to Your Buyer’s Journey

Let’s say your company provides video conferencing solutions for technology companies with at least 200 employees. Someone visits your site for the first time and submits a form embedded in one of your landing pages.

You might send them nurture emails with subject lines like:

  • “Why Video Conferencing Matters”
  • “How to improve productivity with real-time collaboration.”
  • “Easy ways to lead better sales discovery calls.”

Each of these emails is designed to educate your potential prospects and invite them back to your site where they can learn more. At this point, you only know their First Name, Last Name, Email, and maybe their company name if you have the right software in your tech stack. You know they’re interested, but you don’t know why they’re interested. 

But everything changes once they return to your site and complete the second version of one of your adaptive forms. Now you can unenroll them from the first set of emails and add them to a campaign with more targeted content. This new series of emails can reference the information they shared in the second dynamic form as well as the pages they visited on their return visit: 

  • Why {{ Industry }} leaders trust video conferencing solutions
  • 5 reasons companies like {{ Company Name }} prefer real-time collaboration
  • Tips for deploying video conferencing solutions in large teams

These new emails would draw on information from their second form submission: Industry, Company Name, and the size of their team. This is the real power of progressive profiling. As you get more and more information from potential prospects, you can tailor your messaging based on details they’ve already shared with you. 

And every time they submit a new form, you’ll be able to recommend even more valuable content based on where they are in the buyer’s journey. By the time they complete the third version of one of your dynamic forms, you’ll have a much better understanding of their willingness to purchase.

So, how does this strategy result in more qualified leads? 

Let’s say you opt for a long, complex form instead of an adaptive form with progressive profiling. With a longer form, your conversion rate will be lower due to greater friction. But that’s okay because you have way more information, right?

So you send them emails like the ones above that reference Industry, Company Name, and Team Size… and nothing happens. Your click-through and open rates remain stagnant because most of the people who have completed these long forms are not ready for this kind of targeted content.

All they wanted was education. Treating everyone who completes one of these forms like they’re at the same stage of the buyer’s journey is misguided. If you ignore progressive profiling, you risk derailing the conversation before it even begins.

By aligning your messaging with each person’s stage on the buyer’s journey, you can show potential leads you’re willing to meet them on their terms. 

But this leads to an even bigger question. Let’s say you build out your content plan to address every stage of the buyer’s journey. Then you build landing pages with dynamic forms using a platform like Act-On. Finally, you design Google and LinkedIn Retargeting ads to re-engage people who have already visited your site.

What if they still don’t engage? 

Then they’re not ready! 

Many companies interpret a form submission as an indication of intention, or even attraction. But when someone completes one of your forms for the first time, all you’ve gained is their attention. That’s it.  

Don’t treat everyone at the top of the funnel like they’re ready to buy. For every person who completes one of your dynamic forms but never engages with any of your content again, that’s one less poorly-qualified lead you don’t need to send to your sales team. That’s a win-win for everyone. 

Use Progressive Profiling for Your Ideal Customer Profile

Progressive profiling can help you provide the right content to the right people at the right time. Anytime someone returns to your site and completes a new variation of a dynamic form, they’re moving from attention to intention

But what happens when someone visits your site from one of your target accounts? What about someone who works for one of your existing customers?

This is where progressive profiling can give you a big advantage:

  1. An individual from one of your target accounts visits your site for the first time. Once they complete a form on one of your pages, this can trigger a notification in your CRM for their account manager to engage with them on social media.
  2. Now, let’s say they return to your site and complete a new version of one of your adaptive forms. This can automatically trigger a live chat session with their account manager, who can learn more about their business and schedule a demo on the spot.

Remember, the whole point of progressive profiling is to meet potential leads on their terms. No one likes to be called 2 minutes after downloading a whitepaper. Give individuals everything they need to research your solution, including time. This way, when you invite them to a chat or call them the next time they download one of your forms, they’ll be more ready to talk to you. 

How Do I Add Progresive Profiling to the Forms on My Site?

You have a great story to share with everyone who comes to your site. So the last thing you want is to create obstacles for them.

With an automated marketing solution like Act-On, you can design everything from adaptive forms to landing pages and nurture emails in one central location. This all-in-one approach means syncing your data is easy and straightforward. And that makes it simple to launch your progressive profiling strategy across your entire site.

The right marketing tools will definitely make your job easier, but that’s just the beginning. When you implement progresive profiling within a comprehensive marketing automation platform like Act-On, you’ll create a better experience for everyone who visits your site.

Interested in learning more? We’d love the chance to discuss your strategy and how Act-On can help you take your marketing to the next level! Just click here to speak with one of our marketing automation experts.