Actionable Optimisation

Actionable Optimisation #4 – Using Progress to Improve Customer Engagement

 May 26, 2020

By  Will

Using Progress to Improve Customer Engagement

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Using progress bars is a well known tactic that games use to motivate players to get to the next level, complete an upgrade, or simply give an indication of how long something will take.

Almost any business can make use of this tactic to motivate their customers to fill in a form, complete a purchase or sign up, or fill in a profile properly. LinkedIn use it on sales navigator to help you see the value in the tool (although I don't think they do it particularly well to be honest).  

There are two main ways to use progress bars.

  1. A purchase flow - either signing up for a subscription, or an ecommerce purchase.

With both of the above, you will have to take several steps towards completing your goal, and most of the steps are the same. You need to add your personal (or company) details, your address, payment details, and maybe one other step, shipping for example.

By showing the progress a customer is making through the flow, you’re giving a clear indication of how long this will take them. If a customer has filled in 2 small forms and is 66% of on Step 2 of 3, they know they’re close to finishing and can take that last step. If they’ve filled in several steps and don’t feel like they’re close to completing the process, it’s more likely they’ll give up.

  1. Profile Completion & Setup

This is where you use progress bars to fully activate a customer, and show them the value in your service. It normally applies to subscriptions, and services that you create an account for.

A great example of this would be something like a dating app, where the business knows that your profile has to be set up properly and completely, in order for you to see the benefit properly.

So as the business you would want someone to add at least a profile picture, maybe 3. You’d want them to write a quick bio and you might even provide options for this (like Hinge does). You’ll probably want them to add their height, maybe education, job, all these pieces of information which help show off the user, and make their profile more valuable to themselves.

A social media scheduling tool could do it by saying 'great your account is setup, why dont you connect a social media platform, now add your first posts, now why don’t you setup your custom shortlink'. All these little actions that really show the value in the product.

You still need to make sure the process is actually quick and easy though, do remember that, and give people a headstart. As soon as they’ve clicked the call to action, they’ve taken the first step, so let them know that. They don’t start the signup process at 0%, they start at 10 or 15%. They’ve already completed part of it quickly and easily, so the rest must be the same.


Will is a Customer Journey Marketing consultant, specialising in CRO, CRM and Customer Experience. Will has over 7 years experience working across a range of consumer facing businesses and has worked for huge brands such as MyVoucherCodes, Europcar, JackpotJoy, Virgin Games and Virgin Bet.


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