It’s no secret that ours has become a society that is driven by, and dare we say dependent upon, data. We want to use data and have it be used in a way that is targeted and useful whether we are gathering sales leads or shopping online. If you are in a position to collect information, provide it, or both, it’s good to know more about progressive profiling as an approach to your website and other digital communication channels, how it works, and its benefits to both parties.

The benefit to businesses having granular data about their leads and customers is that it generates more revenue. The more information a business has, the easier it is to offer additional products and services that customers are interested in as part of your company’s upsell. Even for nonprofits, associations, and organizations that aren’t profit-driven, having detailed information about members helps determine anticipated donations and outreach success, all of which fund the mission.

One way digital marketers grow their prospective and current customer databases is with frequent messages over multiple touch-points. By offering personalized experiences and providing value, consumers are more willing to share their information with your business. One way to do this is by using progressive profiling as part of your website’s personalized content experience and via lead nurturing within your email marketing campaigns.

What is Progressive Profiling?

Progressive profiling is a form of data collection that helps businesses learn more about their users so that they can provide relevant content and move their users further down the sales funnel. Progressive profiling techniques can typically be used after the first form submission and on repeat visitors.

Progressive profiling allows your organization to gather additional information about the lead or customer over a period of time. The key concept behind progressive profiling is that users are willing to share smaller chunks of information like their job title and company size when they are receiving value in return.

For information regarding data security and data privacy, including how to gather and share information with your clients and customers transparently, we recommend you read our two-part series on GDPR.

Solution to Avoiding Long Forms

Often times we see forms on a website that are too long and have too many required fields, which deters people from filling them out. When asking for initial lead information, it’s best to start with the necessities like name and email address. A recent Salesforce’s blog post recommends having no more than “four to six fields in each form.” It’s best to start with collecting minimal user information and using progressive profiling for additional details later, rather than receiving no information at the start because the user didn’t submit the form.

Pre-Populating Form Fields

After a visitor returns to your website for another gated resource, you can automate your form fields to pre-populate with the information they have already provided so that they don’t have to fill out the form twice. Or, you can choose not to include that basic information altogether. This allows you to ask other questions that are important to your business that the visitor has not answered yet. 


Progressive profiling is all about asking the right questions at the right time. If you’re asking visitors for very personal information on their first visit, they probably won’t fill out the form. It’s important to start off at a high level and then move toward more insightful questions that will help your marketing efforts and lead nurturing.

Staging is a great way to keep your progressive profiling relevant to the products or services that visitors are interacting with on your website. For example, if someone submits their information to download a digital resource on “How to Drive More Website Leads,” you can send a follow-up email with an additional offer that’s complementary to the original resource. At that point, you can take the opportunity to ask a couple more targeted questions based on what you already know about the user. 

Other Ways You Can Implement Progressive Profiling

Newsletter Sign-Ups – When someone signs up for your newsletter, typically only a quick email address is required. If someone is interested in subscribing to your blog, you can add an extra field in the sign-up pop-up or form. Instead of phrasing it as a question, you can phrase it as a statement and give them options to choose from. The statement could be something like, “I’m interested in…” and provide a few options to choose like “industry reports” or “company news.” It’s an extra something added to the subscription process and takes less than a second to answer. It also connects users with information that is more personalized and relevant to their interests. It’s a win-win for both businesses and users.

Service Platforms – If your business relies on curated content and personalization, then you want to make sure you’re providing users with relevant information that is based on their interests. This is where you can include progressive profiling the moment someone signs up for a service. 

A good example of this is Netflix. As soon as you sign up as a new user, they hit you with questions to find out what kind of TV shows and movies you enjoy. Based on your responses, they make recommendations for content that you may like. To keep feeding users content they like, they have ratings, which is a quick collection of information that utilizes the thumbs up/thumbs down system. Depending on what you’ve watched, Netflix will make additional recommendations based on genres you enjoy.

Quizzes – Some websites include quizzes that users can take to find out about themselves. For example, many skincare companies provide quizzes to help users determine what kind of skin type they have so that they can find products that work best for them. You can make the results gated, requiring only an email address to access. This information not only helps the user find great products but also helps you collect additional information that can be used for advertising efforts as well as for suggesting add-ons. 


Progressive profiling is a great method for gaining additional data from users in order to serve more relevant and personalized content to them. It’s important to keep in mind that you only need to collect information that is useful for your organization’s efforts. The goal is to ask only a few questions while getting the essential information you desire for your marketing efforts and that will provide the best experiences for your customers. 

Always make sure that the customer is getting value for answering your questions in the form of digital or more personalized content. If there’s no value behind the motivation, then you won’t be collecting much of anything. Having a strategy in place and defining a way to measure success will help you evaluate the most effective tactics.

New Target Inc. can help your organization determine if progressive profiling is the right solution for your lead generation needs. We’ll identify the key data to collect and help structure your lead generation cycle to convert your most qualified leads.  Contact us to find out how. 

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.
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