Building a Progressive Profiling Strategy

March 2nd, 2017 | by

As a Marketing team, you spend countless hours strategizing who your target audience is and how to nurture them through the buyer journey, ultimately to make a purchase. Then you spend even more time creating content that provides your targets with some introductory information with the intention of driving them to your website to learn more about your company and its offerings. Once you’ve successfully gotten them this far through the buyer journey, you’ll have reached the next obstacle—as it pertains to inbound marketing—converting them to qualified leads.

Once prospects visit your website, navigate through various pages, and read about your offerings, rarely have they learned enough to be ready to buy. Others may have some degree of interest but need to speak to a sales representative to learn more.  Most, however, need to receive nurturing content from Marketing to learn more and truly have their interest piqued.

Enter the progressive form on your lead generation landing page: the bridge that connects the gap between Marketing and Sales. The landing page form fields are an often underutilized, yet integral part of a business’ website. Everyone knows they need to gather information from clients—or potential clients—in order to reach out, but not a lot of time is put into planning and developing the elements that go into a progressive profiling strategy.

Utilizing progressive forms will allow you to gather more and more information over time as a prospect fills out a form to download content. This will make it easier for Sales and Marketing to build personas and craft nurture campaigns with targeted messaging and content based on job role, industry, company size, etc.

Progressive Profiling

First off, what is progressive profiling? Marketers use many different names for progressive profiling. You might have heard it referred to as a contact form, smart fields, form fills, and countless others. What do all of these terms have in common? They are the form that collects information from prospects every time they download a piece of content. These  forms typically include basic information like name and email address at minimum. Progressive profiling utilizes technology to create ‘progressive form fields’ or, different information fields depending on the number of forms they’ve already filled out.  For the prospect’s convenience, they also auto-populate information they’ve already filled in on a previous forms or that you had already from a different source (e.g. trade show). Ultimately, the marketer benefits by acquiring more useful information each time and the prospect spends less time filling out those sometimes tedious forms, causing less friction and higher conversion rates. Everybody wins!

Here is an example of progressive form fields:

The first contact form should prompt for basic information such as:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email
  • Company

The second time someone fills out a progressive contact form, it could contain fields for more details like:

  • First name (Auto-populated)
  • Email (Auto-populated)
  • Job Title
  • Company Size

Starting to see a pattern here? A third progressive form submission would ask for different details:

  • First name (Auto-populated)
  • Email (Auto-populated)
  • Company (Auto-populated)
  • Revenue Band
  • Industry

And so on and so forth…The idea is to gain as much information as possible over time providing greater insight into what they’re looking for, what companies they work for, what industry, etc. Think about your ideal buyer persona. What information do you need to determine if a prospect is a good fit for your product or solution? What information is absolutely needed (e.g. name, email, job title, industry), and what information would be nice to have (e.g. company size, current CRM, company revenue)? This will determine which fields are asked upon a prospect’s first download versus their third or fourth.

Something we touched on in our recent blog: Target Marketing by Persona: Shed Light on Your Shot in the Dark, is the idea of aligning the “value” of your content with the value of the information you’ll be gathering. The amount of information gathered for a one pager should be much less than for an e-book. Requiring too much information in exchange for your content can quickly scare off potential leads. You have to strike a good balance—try looking at your content through the eyes of your prospects.

Once the information is collected, it can then be used to develop more targeted emails and campaigns, which is when lead nurturing really begins.

Nurture Your Contacts

As we touched on earlier, most people who visit your site are nowhere near ready to purchase your product or solution. Many aren’t even ready to speak to anyone in Sales. This is where Marketing comes in. Using the information gathered through the progressive form fills, sort prospects by buyer persona then drop the interested parties into the appropriate multi-touch campaign. Remember, each persona is unique and thus, you need to adjust your messaging accordingly. You will speak to sales execs much differently than a CMO. They have different needs and pain points. Point them toward the appropriate blog post and content pieces that will speak directly to their needs.

The same can be said for those in different stages of the sales funnel. Those in the ‘Awareness’ stage may not even be able to articulate their problem and will need general information about your solution, while others in the ‘Consideration’ stage have identified their pain point and are trying to find a solution. With each article and download, they will learn more and more about your solution and how to alleviate their individual pain point. Using more targeted or customized messaging will warm up the prospects to the point of passing them along to Sales who can then fully vet and qualify them as an opportunity.

The form fields on your landing pages are a crucial part of your business website because they establish that connection between Sales, Marketing, and the interested prospect. The information collected gives valuable insight into how to nurture each lead by persona and within various stages of the sales funnel. No matter how much time and money is spent on inbound marketing efforts, your strategy can all fall apart if you don’t collect this vital information when they visit your website. The “right” progressive profiling strategy will look different for every business, but it will contain fields appropriate for your objectives. Utilizing progressive profiling technology and gathering more and more useful information over time allows you the opportunity to effectively warm the leads which are more likely to become a sale in the end.

For more information on the in’s and out’s of creating a successful marketing plan, check out our comprehensive kit which includes a helpful guide and interactive workbook pages.


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