“If you’re not paying for something, then you’re the product.” How many times do you hear this when you’re shopping? How about when thinking about how possible personas could perceive your business? Regardless of the warning, when people think something is free, they want it all the more.

You offer great products and services and you’re willing to give them away for nothing more than a little information. Even though your offer is free, people will refuse to convert if your landing page has too many form fills.

As a matter of fact, MarketingSherpa performed a two day study at their Lead Gen Summit in 2013. They learned two key points:

  • It doesn’t matter if you let your customer choose the offer as long as what you’re offering already has value
  • After 5, each additional form fill decreases conversions by 11%.

You want to know everything about your clientele, but as you can see, if you ask too much at once they will not respond. The trick of the matter is asking the right questions.

By using progressive profiling you can increase conversion rates and push customers through the sales funnel from any point.

What Is Progressive Profiling?

Before getting into the “how” of progressive profiling, you should know what it is. Progressive profiling is a marketing technique that lessens the need for a multiple question form. You get all of your desired information, just over a longer period of time. However, you receive this knowledge at more appropriate times for the customer. What this means: you know where in the sales funnel your client is depending on which questions they answer.

Progressive profiling reduces the number of form fills to the recommended 3-5. Each time users return to your site, they receive different questions to answer for their desired download/service. You start by asking for basic information then more specific as time goes on until you have built an accurate profile/persona. By utilizing smart forms, some questions change automatically when that particular lead has already answered the previous ones. That way, you are always getting useful descriptions when people take your offers.

With these changing categories, they ask the leads questions to which they are more likely to respond. The closer they are to purchasing a service, you can ask for details pertinent to it, like a budget. You wouldn’t be asking that from someone at the top of the funnel who only wants the information from an eBook.

How Progressive Profiling Increases Conversions

The most obvious reason progressive profiling increases conversions is the fewer perceived hurdles. Leads have to type fewer answers, give less information, all making the product seem easily attainable. No time is wasted in between their discovering and obtaining the service you offer making them far more likely to convert, thus giving you the information you desire.

Not only does this help the initial conversion for users new to your site. this active generation of few new form fills improves rates because it helps you build a relationship with your leads. You do not scare them away after their first experience and they see that obtaining your content is simple and straightforward. They see you as a thought leader and return to you for quality knowledge and offers. You continue to build on their trust until they come to you at the bottom of the funnel when they will be purchasing your products and services.

A good way to build relationships with your leads through progressive profiling is with auto-filling forms. You will be asking for duplicate information each time (if only to confirm what they’ve told you), so why not supply it for the lead? It shows that you remember who they are which they may notice and appreciate. On top of that they have fewer text boxes to fill which they will definitely notice and appreciate.

Progressive profiling is about getting the appropriate information from leads as easily and quickly for them as possible.

Going Beyond Progressive Profiling

Progressive profiling can be a wealth of information for your business about your customer base. What matters is what you do with that knowledge. Having it is useless if not utilized effectively. But how do you use the persona gleaned from progressive profiling?

In short: use these personas to change and test your website. Having a successful marketing strategy involves regular experimentation (as MarketingSherpa shows) and flexibility on your company’s behalf. Allow for different call-to-actions to see what works best for conversion rates. Find out which one most successfully attracts your personas.

Knowing what type of people visit your site, teaches you what they want, why they come to you. Now you are aware of what content you should be distributing. With that, you can include links to converting content on different points in the sales funnel on your webpages to keep your users longer and push them further down the funnel.

Monitor Your Site

What you learn or assume may be proven false. What you need to do with this information is to monitor and confirm it consistently. Tools like Google Analytics are crucial at this step. You can use its Behavior Flow to see where users enter your site and where they drop off. You can use this to confirm your assumptions, learn where to shore up your content, and find out what users actually do once on your site. One caveat: if the actuality is different than your assumptions, be flexible and change. It is fruitless to remain stubborn when leads are converting from different means than you expected. Change and deliver what they want.

All leads and companies are different so the approaches need to vary as well. So what works for you? How do you keep your users coming back for more and get what you need from them?