Progressive Profiling Blog

It isn't just about technology

It is a common belief that a progressive profiling strategy is driven by the technology platform on which it is deployed. Whilst true to an extent (you don’t want to over configure a technical solution that adds complication to your marketing automation platform and web integration), the technology absolutely should NOT be the strategic driver.

It should not be a case of Eloqua does this or Marketo does that, but be a conscious decision about how you want to bring value to your audience and the most appropriate way to enable a value exchange (eg. A prospect’s contact details for a marketing asset).

Different deployment techniques

When planning your progressive profiling strategy, there are three ways in which you can progressively acquire data on a contact:

  • Content value – perceived value of the content
  • Number of engagements – volume of previous engagements of the user
  • Dynamic profiling – different fields based on contact data

All of these methods have benefits and potential drawbacks for you as a business; there is no one size fits all. In many instances it is also desirable to have a strategy with a combination of these methods.

Before breaking each of these down individually, it is also worth pointing out that this often sits outside of the ‘Contact Us’ standard form structure where you would normally have a clear minimum data requirement to be able to effectively follow-up a prospect.

Deployment method 1: Content value

A common misconception of this deployment type is that it is in fact not progressive profiling. Deployment is through creating form ‘levels’ (eg. Low, Medium and High) and whenever you gate an asset you assign a form level to this.

Examples may be: A high gate on an analyst whitepaper or a low gate for a subject matter expert interview video. The high gate may ask for full contact details (name, phone, email, company, address, sector etc.) where the low gate will only have basic details for a subsequent future communication (name and email).

Overall, this is a great place to start progressive profiling as implementation is often straight-forward and the method allows a high level of control over the fields required for high value assets.

Deployment method 2: Number of engagements

This method works by presenting the user with additional/different fields based on the number of times they have submitted forms. In effect, you have a series of pre-defined sequential forms for the user to submit each time they wish to access content. The fields can be presented incrementally (usually at the end of the previous form fields) or replace fields to keep the length of the form shorter for the user.

An example may be that the user provides an email and name at first visit to download a guide. At the second visit they are then asked for company and phone number. The third visit may be industry and company size and the fourth visit may be job title and product ownership.

Fundamentally for platforms such Eloqua, Marketo and Hubspot this is commonly how progressive profiling works. This is a great method for building up user data in a way that is encouraging to the user over time.

Deployment method 3: Dynamic profiling

Dynamic profiling is the process of refining questions (and data fields) based on a previous user response in the form. It could also be used in conjunction with a contact data record lookup in MAP or in combination with previous user engagements.

Examples of dynamic profiling could be that a user sees a form for the first time and it asks if they are an existing customer, partner or interested in finding out more. Subsequent questions could then be tailored to each audience type. An alternative use case could be that on the first visit you ask a user for their job function, on the return visit you may ask a HR person how many people are on the payroll whereas alternatively ask someone in IT about the number of devices they manage.

Currently, marketing automation platforms do not natively have this functionality so any deployment will require development and integration.

Being the most complex method for deployment, not just technically but in gaining business alignment on the approach, this represents the hardest method to deploy.

To find out how you could deploy progressive profiling in your business download The Ultimate Guide to Progressive Profiling.

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