Is Progressive Profiling a Good Thing?

Progressive profiling is not a new concept. Unfortunately, the theory behind it hasn't been put into practice as much as it should be. This is evident to anyone wishing to join one of the various websites that offer numerous would-be subscribers with registration forms with 15 or more fields to fill in-all to receive a simple newsletter or free download. Long registration forms can, and often do, hinder new sign ups and conversion rates.

Registration for any website should be quick and painless. Potential users should not be required to hand over long lists of private information. Why are visitors experiencing so many personal questions at every website they visit? Visitors are highly likely to abandon registration permanently if it takes an act of congress just to sign up.

Yes, it is good for business to get to know subscribers. However, tact should be utilized. This is the primary reason progressive profiling is as effective as it is. Progressive profiling allows for information requests to be asked in incremental steps, instead of bombarding visitors with a game of 20 questions. Progressive profiling makes engaging subscribers possible, at a slow but steady pace.

Essentially, progressive profiling works like this:

  1. Visitors sign up using their name and email to build a basic profile.
  2. Visitors return, and are asked a few more questions.
  3. Visitors return yet again, and answer a few more specific questions.

It's easier to ask a few key questions here and there, visitors are less likely to abandon the process. Additionally, by reminding visitors of the privacy policy every step of the way, reassurance is provided that any information obtained is utilized to make visits to the site more relevant and engaging.

Progressive profiling is an effective method for obtaining information. A visitor doesn't have to be intimidated by the sign-up forms because the process is divided into multiple stages. Progressive profiling is a win-win situation. All the necessary information is obtained , and the user obtains the desired information, newsletter or download.

The initial setup phase for progressive profiling requires more effort; however, progressive profiling allows for stronger online relationship development between customers and businesses.