Getting the right information to guide your content strategy is essential for an effective customer journey. Progressive profiling can simplify that process, allowing you to craft the exact messages you need to reach customers wherever they are in their journey.
At DivvyHQ, we’ve always depended on customer journey maps to guide our content marketing. Because they work so well for us, we encourage our customers to do likewise.
A customer journey map traces all the possible paths a potential customer might take from the moment he or she discovers your brand to their first purchase and beyond. But here’s the thing: How do you know what kinds of messages can reach these customers at each step along their journey?
Creating customer personas, of course, helps. Looking at their demographics, likes, and pain points can help you identify what kinds of content will drive them toward a purchase.
Progressive profiling is a tool that can help you refine your customer journey map. When you add it to your virtual toolbox, it’s like having the secret sauce to content marketing success.
What Is Progressive Profiling?
Progressive profiling allows your team to collect data from potential customers at specific points along the customer journey. To motivate them to provide that information, you provide them with something, such as a white paper, an ebook, or another valuable resource.
For B2B Customers
In B2B content marketing, this process provides the perfect way to break down the traditional silos between sales and marketing. As Kuno Creative’s Karen Taylor points out, content marketing teams can work hand in hand with the sales teams to paint a better picture of their leads. And, because the content team has nurtured those leads with valuable gated content, potential customers will likely have a positive opinion about the brand from the get-go.
Progressive profiling makes account-based marketing a breeze. As you build a relationship with each decision-maker in your prospects’ companies, you can get the kinds of data that make a personalized approach possible.
Working together with your sales team, you can obtain the kinds of data that tell you where each decision-maker is along the buyer’s journey. Sharing this data with them, as well as the content you’ll create for each stage of their journeys, allows both teams to align and personalize their messages, creating a seamless experience for everyone involved.
For B2C Customers
Even though most of the emphasis on progressive profiling across the content marketing community is on how it can drive B2B sales, it works its magic equally as well on B2C customers. In fact, we’d argue that it’s been around for years in that market.
A generation or two ago, marketers placed forms on the back of cereal boxes, enticed kids to mail requests to candy and gum makers (Remember Bazooka Joe?), and encouraged homemakers to send in their contact information in exchange for a free recipe book.
Even today, if you’re ever asked to fill out any sort of rebate form to get a discount on something, that’s a B2C company’s way of filling up their prospect and customer database.
Enter Automation Technology
Today’s content automation technology allows you to put the whole process – practically – on autopilot. In more practical terms, you won’t need an on-site team of clerks to get people to fill out rebate forms or mail stuff out to customers.
Digital campaigns can be deployed to hundreds of customers at once. And, with the beauty of localization and online behavior data, you can present or send an offer at just the right time – when your prospects are online.
If you use retargeting for your ecommerce platform, you can use the information from progressive profiling to create more accurate product suggestions. This way, your suggestions will more likely be for products they have a keen interest in, want, or need to solve a problem.
How to Use Progressive Profiling to Boost Conversions
As SmartBugMedia’s Amber Kemmis puts it, “progressive profiling is a lot like dating.” Just as you wouldn’t want to ask probing questions or ask for a commitment on the first date, you should limit your ask to only the bare minimum of data on your first interactions with your prospects.
The numbers bear that observation out. A HubSpot study found that conversions dropped dramatically when the number of the fields included in a form was increased from three to four. In fact, three data fields are, it appears, the sweet spot when it comes to customer data requests.
Image source: HubSpot
As you build your relationship with your prospective customers, you can ask for more detailed data. With progressive profiling, you don’t need to ask for a ton of information all at once, or even further down the road in the prospect’s customer journey. With today’s data capture and automation capabilities, you can begin to build a picture of each customer’s needs with only a few pieces of data at a time.
As your information grows, it can fill in some of those missing links in your customer personas. Conversely, your customer personas can suggest some of the data you need to move the customer on to the next step on their journey.
Furthermore, you can use your website and content analytics to gain a better picture of each potential customer. Combine data that the customers provide on the forms with their online behavior, demographics, and their engagement with your social media posts.
Progressive Profiling Streamlines the Customer Journey
Prospective customers don’t like marketing campaigns that waste their time. While researching an article that dealt with content marketing for healthcare companies, a colleague of mine needed a piece of gated content – a white paper – to complete her research. So, she sent in her email address to get the information she needed.
That healthcare equipment company whose white paper she needed hasn’t stopped hounding her to this day, mistaking her for a nurse. If they had used progressive profiling, they could have identified her as a non-prospect. On the other hand, if she had actually been a nurse, they could have sent her information she could use to inform her equipment purchasing team about their products.
Using all the tools and strategies you can to simplify and streamline your content strategy and your prospects’ customer journeys makes more sense than ever today. With a comprehensive content marketing platform into which you can integrate every aspect of your content marketing, you can do just that.