When a user is browsing through a website and they are prompted to complete a lengthy form, we can be pretty sure they will opt out. More than often the user will source an alternative site where the same information is available without the pesky alerts popping up. Anonymous users are prone to jump ship to another site if they are welcomed with a form on their first visit. The only exception would be for indispensable or specialist content sites. Bottom line, we don't enjoy filling out long forms when we don't have a longstanding relationship with the website!  So how do we alleviate the pain of forms and continue to drive and engage users to our sites?

The answer is Incremental Profiling. Through short and one click instructions, user experience is less interrupted and hence allowing the user to engage for much longer. An option to subscribe to a newsletter or provide an email address initially is much less risky compared to a multiple field questionnaire.

There are different methods for profiling data, in this case we will discuss both Implicit and Explicit.  Implicit Data is gathered without asking the user for any information and data is collected based on the users activity and behaviour on the site.  Examples of behaviours include; users area of interest, frequency of visit, pages clicked, what devices were used to access the website.  Implicit data allows the website owner to define a journey for the user in order to profile and target them accordingly in response.  Explicit data is information that the user provides and is known to the website, often gathered through registrations, short forms and alerts completed by users progressively on subsequent visits.


Benefits of using incremental profiling


So lets look at the key benefits of implicit and explicit profiling:

  • From simple data, brands are able to track and profile who their users are as well as being able to personalise content better.
  • Profiling allows the website to create segments for the user and understand what calls to action are required to convert.
  • This process allows the website to better understand the needs and interests of their audience allowing deeper targeting and segmentation.
  • Understanding the customer journey and behaviours will paint a picture about what products or services users like/dislike.
  • Short bursts of data requests will reduce the rate of lost users from the homepage and the unsubscribe levels..


How to engage with users through incremental profiling


When you know your audience, you can target them with personalised content.  As basic data is aggregated for users there are a number of ways to engage with them.

  • Reward users with a discount,
  • Offer extra articles or some premium content for each piece of information they provide.
  • For properties with subscription models additional articles can be offered when the paywall meter limit has been reached in exchange for more personal data.
  • Competitions or sweepstakes are a clever method for exchange of data with the user, we all love the idea of winning something!


As Ben Grossman, Strategy Director at Jack Morton puts it "Using incremental profiling provides the correct data, and can represent a 70% increase in revenue than organisations that suffer from poor data integrity".  Organisations need to consider the impact of poor data and how it is impacting revenues in a volatile and competitive market, knowing your users and being able to interact with them is the key to a successful business model.  Segmentation is closely associated with incremental profiling, allowing rooted engagement with users to build longstanding relationships and growing revenues.  But that's a discussion for next time.