Power Ballads That Inspire... Progressive Profiling

Questions about progressive profiling have been cropping up repeatedly in my recent meetings with brands. Some brands are currently leveraging the tactic and are looking for ideas on how to optimize it, while others are just dipping their toe into the pool and looking for tips on how best to get started. In my last post, we discussed the power of email as a relationship channel -- so now let’s extend that analogy a bit to the act of learning progressively more about a customer or subscriber.

Data collection at the point of subscription is typically done one of two ways: either very little data is collected (think email address only), or a plethora of information is gathered (everything from blood type to the DNA swabs from your first-born). Both scenarios provide unsatisfactory subscriber experiences and and fail to further the marketer’s goals. With little to no information, the experience cannot be relevant. And with too much information, chances are the data is not being effectively leveraged by the marketer, forcing  subscribers to question why they provided so much information in the first place.



Think of this process as courting your customer. Let’s put this in dating terms, as reflected in some of the best power ballads ever penned!

Making Love Out of Nothing At All, Air Supply
In dating terms, the point of subscription often is like the first date. And on the first date, you are not likely to share your entire life story -- that is, unless you don’t want a second date. Too often, marketers see this opportunity as the “one” moment they have to learn everything they could ever need to know, and are truly trying to make “Love Out of Nothing At All.” Unfortunately, no real trust has been established yet. Consider, instead, viewing each communication, each exchange with your subscriber, as an opportunity to learn a little more about him/her.

(Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Bryan Adams
Now that you are easing into this relationship, be sure to reciprocate. Email is a two-way communication channel. You speak, the customer responds, and a dialogue begins. As you are learning about the customer, you have to be prepared to take what you are learning and with each new data point, apply it to your next communication. It’s that give-and-take, demonstrating that you’ve actually heard what they said and applied it, that keeps the relationship evolving. If you are not going to use the data point immediately, don’t bother asking.

Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler
As with every good relationship, you will have earned the love and respect of your customer over time. It is at this point that your subscribers are more engaged and involved in the relationship -- and you, as the marketer, have learned enough about them to demonstrate you care. This is accomplished by providing a consistent and relevant experience to your newfound love. The best part is that if you occasionally make a mistake -- like send them too much email, share something that doesn’t work or send content that isn’t totally relevant – they’re far more forgiving. And by now, you’ve earned that forgiveness.

The most important takeaway is that, “You Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone),” so nurture the relationship effectively from the beginning. Otherwise, you may just find yourself at the “End of the Road.”

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