Progressive Profiling and Insightful Segmentation

Dec 8, 2020   |   3 minutes  

Let's say that you run an online business.

You have a funnel that looks something like:

  1. Write blog posts
  2. Get traffic to your site
  3. Offer visitors some kind of lead magnet (e.g. an e-book) in exchange for their email
  4. Send them "nurturing" emails so that they get to know you
  5. Eventually offer them some kind of product or service

This simple funnel is where many online businesses start.

One problem with this model is that you don't really know much about your email subscribers beyond their email address.

💡A well-segmented audience is a valuable audience.

We'd like to gather more information about our web visitors so that we can segment them and send them more targeted content and offers. This would help us significantly boost engagement, trust, and eventually conversions and revenue.

However, as a Hubspot study of 40,000 opt-in forms points out, going from 3 to 4 form fields caused conversions rates to drop by over 20%. So just adding form fields might not have the effect that we want.

There are a number of tactics to learn more about your audience, but here I want to discuss one called progressive profiling.

What is progressive profiling?


Progressive profiling is the process of collecting small amounts of data from a web visitor over time instead of all at once.

Here's an example.

Looking back at our simple funnel, what typically happens after someone downloads an e-book? 

👉They get sent to a "Thank you" page.

Why not ask some follow-up questions instead?

Using tools like Leadjetty, you can keep the conversation going. You can ask anything you want, and you can spread it out across several steps. Some examples might be:

  • What industry are you in?
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • How many people are on your team?
  • Which of the following topics interests you the most? [followed by a list of topics]

Each of these questions (and infinitely more) would allow you to do things like tag the subscriber in your favorite email marketing tool like ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign. Then you could send more targeted content.

Technically this line of questioning can happen in any order, so you can even pre-segment before offering a visitor a lead magnet or giving them a CTA. Here's an example.

Opt-In Momentum


We've already discussed how progressive profiling allows you to reduce the initial number of form fields that you use and therefore increase the initial conversion rate.

But you might be wondering what happens after. Take a look at this real screenshot from one of our recent campaigns. This is just one variant of a multi-variate test, so the data isn't huge, but the conversion rates are pretty impressive.
As you can see, step 1 gets a 43% opt-in rate, and the subsequent steps get very high continuation rates with a few drop-offs at each step.

In this particular case, step 1 was actually a landing page for an e-book, so this is very relevant to the example we discussed above.

Just think, instead of just saying "Thank you", you could be gathering several more data points about over 80% of your opt-ins.

We've done some tests with up to 7 steps, and this pattern holds. Eventually we'll do more aggressive testing and find out where the drop-off really starts, but for just gathering a few extra data points, this is a no-brainer.

Neil Patel referred to this phenomenon as "Hoop Theory" in his 2019 talk at Affiliate Summit. The essential idea is that if you get a lion to jump through a really big hoop (easy), and progressively get smaller and smaller, eventually you can get a lion to jump through a small hoop that's on fire.

We refer to this as "Opt-in Momentum" or "Lead Momentum". Once you get someone to take one action, it's much easier to get them to take the next.