Best Practices

What is progressive profiling?

Progressive profiling is a method for building a robust and complete customer database. You may want to know lots of different bits of info about user, customer, donor, or volunteer. Examples are email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, interests, open schedule times, and more.

Imagine the first touch point you have with an organization. You like their message and would like to stay in touch. So you click to join their mailing list. Only, before you can click “submit” you have to fill out 2 pages of information about yourself. What’s the most likely outcome of that scenario? Your users will give up halfway through the process and you’ll miss out on a new email recipient. This could be considered friction in the process. Asking for too much data up front will result in you getting no data at all.

The only thing you need to know in order to add someone to your mailing list is their email address. If they are willing to give it, then take it and move on. You can then progressively profile them for the remaining information.

  • In order to sign up for an open volunteer position they need to provide their first and last name associated with their email address.
  • The first time they log into your Volunteer Management software, a pop up asks them for their cell phone number.
  • Send an email 3 weeks after they’ve signed up asking them to populate their physical address to receive snail mail.

The basic idea is to take what you can get. Require only what is absolutely necessary. And never miss an opportunity to ask for more while making it easy to add just one additional piece of data at each touch point. What you’ll find by asking for less is … you get more!