Strategy Centre

Your ‘About Us’ Page – It’s Not About You

 
  
15 June 2015 15:21
  

Your ‘About Us’ Page – It’s Not About You

Why do visitors go to your ‘About Us’ page?

Sometimes it’s the first link that visitors will click on your website. Often, visitors will move away from their checkout to read your About Us page, before deciding to proceed with their order — or not.

As far as closing a sale is concerned, your ‘About Us’ page might be one of the most important pages on your website. It might even be the number one page involved in closing.

If a potential customer is undecided about which website to use for making a purchase, it might not always be down to price. Their decision could have a lot to do with the impression of your business — that they glean from your About Us page.

Emotional factors are likely to be involved — do they trust you? Do they recognise themselves as the target audience? Does your content draw them in, or push them away?

Do they think, “I like this company. I’m going to buy here even though I might have to pay a little more”?

It’s all about trust and confidence. The visitor needs to be assured that you are a reputable company and that they can trust you to handle their payment and deliver on your commitment to get their order to them.

Your About Us page is a conversion tool. It’s not about you, it’s about them.


General approach to creating your About Us page


How can you increase a visitor’s trust and motivate them to proceed to make a purchase? The following principles are important to keep in mind as you think about creating — or updating — your About Us page.

1. The sequence of information is important

You should aim to put the most salient information ‘above the fold’ — the part of your About Us page that is visible without having to scroll. This is the well-known ‘inverted pyramid’ approach to content structure.

You need to do this because online shoppers are generally time-poor and don’t want to wade through non-essential information before they get to the details they are looking for. You risk losing a potential customer if you bury the essential details further down the page.

What’s the most salient information for the visitor? They are primarily interested in:

  • Your authenticity — they need to know that you are a ‘real business’ with a good reputation.
  • Security and privacy — they need to know that their payments and personal details are secure and private.
  • Shipping and returns — they need to know that you will deliver to them fast and reliably and that they can easily return items without any difficulties.
  • Customer support — they need to know that they can easily contact you by any means, for whatever reasons.

You need to think in terms of overcoming objections. This is important. With every piece of content you need to be thinking in terms of countering any potential objections that the visitor might have.

In other words, you should aim to answer any questions before they are asked. Given that your site visitor will have concerns around the salient areas described previously, you should endeavour to head-off such concerns with positive, trust-inducing content.

Make it clear that your payment and checkout processes are secure and that customer details are safe. Advertise your click and collect option or your next-day delivery service to make things convenient for the customer. State your no-quibble returns policy. Show off that award for great customer service.

This is where third-party affirmations (such as Trustpilot reviews) can play an important role.

2. It’s all about conversion

The whole focus of your About Us page should be on the visitor — you want to convert them into a customer.

When you think about it, it’s highly unlikely that the visitor is reading your About Us page purely out of an abstract interest in your business, unconnected with any desire to buy something.

They are much more likely to be assessing your business as a prelude to purchasing (or not). They are not just reading to pass the time.

So everything you write needs to be directed at meeting the needs of your visitor. They are your entire concern.

Keep this in mind as you construct your page — you will be producing information about your business but your intention is to demonstrate how that information serves the needs of your customers.

3. It’s all about the customer

As with all web writing, it’s a good idea to address your reader directly. It might help to imagine them sitting in a chair opposite you as you read your content aloud.

Think about the best way to elicit trust in your reader. The messaging and presentation that will be most effective will depend on your target audience and the nature of your business.

If you are selling skateboards and BMX bikes, you are likely targeting a young, ‘hip’ audience and so you can use appropriate language and rich media.

On the other hand, if you are selling mobility aids you are likely to want to present a more conservative, traditional image.


Information to include on your About Us page


Each type of information on your About Us page plays a part in the overriding aim of converting visitors into customers.

1. Provide the salient information

Provide the information that is most salient to the visitor:

  • Introduce your business in an authentic manner and with appropriate language and imagery. This would be a good place to include a mission statement, your goals and objectives.
  • Highlight how transactions on your site are secure and how data is private — provide links to your Privacy and Cookie Policy.
  • Indicate your customer-friendly delivery options. Link to your Deliveries page and your Postage page.
  • Outline how straightforward it is to return unwanted or damaged purchases. Link to your Returns Policy page.
  • Make your commitment to customer support clear.

There are different ways you can display the security, privacy, delivery, returns and customer service information. For example, you could provide the details in paragraphs or bullet points, you could use image links right under the top navigation or you could have high-visibility links in the top-left or top-right corners of the page.

2. Show that other people trust you

Let your visitors know that other people have bought from you and have great things to say about you. It’s called social proof.

Success breeds success: if plenty of other people are pleased with your business, it’s highly likely that a wavering visitor will be swayed by their positive evaluation and buy from you also.

Provide links to customer reviews, including Trustpilot and other third parties. It’s well known at this point that you should not feel the need to remove negative reviews so long as you can show that you have tried everything in your power to address the issues involved.

Provide customer testimonials. Quote positive feedback that you have had.

3. Tell your story

Write down the story of your business. Don’t get carried away — keep it short. Remember, your intention is to create trust, remove objections and motivate the customer to buy from you. The details should inspire your reader, not bore them.

State why you are unique. You have a lot of competition so you need to make your content convincing.

Craft this section carefully. Take your time over it. Get someone to review it and edit it.

If you have rather a lot of history and — importantly — you think it will help the conversion process, you might be better providing a timeline with links to further information.

4. Personalise your business

Yes you are a business, but businesses are made up of people. Let your visitors know who is behind your business. Goliaths of ecommerce may not need to do this but if you are in the SME sector, you should.

Show the human side of the business. This creates an emotional link with the reader. This is another trust issue.

5. Add images and photographs

As part of personalising your business you should consider adding photographs of your staff (and premises if you think images — or a video ‘tour’ — of your premises would add value).

You could accompany the photographs with brief ‘biographies’. If appropriate, you could make them light-hearted. Otherwise, you probably just want to reveal details such as the person’s position, time with the company, job description and so forth.

If privacy is an issue (as it often is these days) you could consider using part-photographs or caricature drawings. Possibly use images associated with a person (glasses, moustache, high heels, a suitcase, a bandana and so forth) instead of photographs. If staff don’t want their names publicised you could use first names only.

6. Consider adding videos

Videos can be a game changer. Some brands have ‘gone viral’ because of an attention-grabbing video that a company has created and published on their website. Videos can also induce an emotional response in a way that text alone cannot.

If you use videos, make sure that you make them as professional and compelling as possible — you need to look after your image. This applies to both the visual and auditory aspects of the video.

7. Show off your achievements

If you’ve won anything, this is the place to shout about it. Of course, you may want to reference it elsewhere on your site but you need to make sure that you also include it on your About Us page.

List the awards and recognition you have achieved. Use clear images if you have them and provide relevant links.

Maybe you donate to charities or support popular causes. In this case, you may want to reference these things on your About Us page. Such details may be meaningful to segments of your visitors, sometimes extremely meaningful. As ever, it largely depends on your business and your target audience.

8. Boast about good press

If you’ve been featured in reputable media — offline or online — the radio, television and so forth, mention it on your About Us page.

This is another element of the trust process. When visitors have somewhere else to read about you other than on your own site, they are more likely to find you believable and to make a purchase.

9. Include your ‘mission statement’

It doesn’t have to be long, in fact it’s a lot better if you can make it succinct. State the aims and objectives of your business.

Once again, keep in mind that the context behind the words is one of converting the visitor into a customer. Your mission statement should show that you are serious about your business and that you have high ideals. It should show that you want to deal professionally with your customers and that their needs are your priority.

10. Include contact details

You should have a separate ‘Contact Us’ page — and you need to view your ‘Contact Us’ page itself as another conversion tool with its own set of best practices (that’s an article for another day) — but you can (and probably should) also include your address, telephone number and email address on your About Us page.

Again, this is a trust issue. By including your contact details you are demonstrating that you are willing to be accountable and to engage in multiple paths of communication with your customer. By placing your details on your About Us page (and on the Contact Us page, bottom navigation and elsewhere) you are making it easy for your visitors to discover essential information that they are looking for.

Yet again, you are removing an objection. In this case, you are dealing with the potential objection “I don’t believe you are a reputable, accountable company or that you will respond to any questions or complaints that I may have.”

So, it’s a good idea to include this basic information on your About Us page.

11. Allow readers to submit feedback

You could provide a specific form for customers to submit comments, questions and so forth. This needs to contain nothing more complex than a field for visitors to enter their email address and a field for entering comments. You could also provide a drop-down menu of possible subject headings.

This is simply another mechanism of showing that you are willing to receive and respond to your visitors and customers. Often the feedback that visitors leave is illuminating and could result in you making your site more effective, removing out-of-date information, correcting errors and other such improvements.

12. Include a call to action

Your whole business is about acquiring customers who buy things from you, so don’t pass up an opportunity to include a call to action on your About Us page.

You could ask the visitor to join your email list, sign up for your newsletter, register for a catalogue or enter a competition.

13. Provide links to your social media pages

You should have links to your social media pages elsewhere on your site, including your bottom navigation, however it’s a good idea to also provide them on your About Us page. This provides another means for readers to read about you, to see what others are saying about you and to add their own comments.

14. Make it sparkle

We’ve established that this is an important page on your web site, so make sure that the overall design is arresting for the reader. Make it sparkle to grab your visitors’ attention.

At the same time, you need to ensure that the design does not interfere with the content. The text must be easy to read. The navigation needs to be straightforward and intuitive.

Beyond this, depending on the nature of your business and target audience, you could consider adding an element of surprise, an ‘Easter egg’, something to delight the visitor and make them smile. So that they respond with “Nice touch. I like that”.

This might be a (gently) humorous hover-over effect on photographs. Maybe an element that slides in from the side. See the example of the Happy Socks About Us page in a later section of this article.

A word of warning here: if you go for one of these techniques make sure that it will not irritate your reader either by being inappropriate or by being un-removable. This probably needs to be something subtle and temporary.

15. Get the content basics right (before you publish)

Spell check. Grammar check. Make sure any links work. Cite your sources. Don’t copy from others. Get your facts right. These things should all go without saying, of course.

16. Keep it up to date

You cannot simply write your About Us page, publish it and forget it. You will need to revisit the page and update it. Every six months is a good time frame to aim for.

Add your latest achievements and awards (hopefully). Keep it fresh by incorporating new images. Staff may change, so, if you use photographs, keep them and the biographies up to date. Of course, if your address or other contact information changes, make sure you update it here and on your Contact Us page.

It’s really not a good idea to have old, incorrect information on your About Us page. If you want to help visitors to trust and buy from you — keep it fresh.


What not to do


There are some things you shouldn’t do with your About Us page:

1. Not have one

If you are an ecommerce business and you want people to buy things from you, then you need to have an About Us page.

2. Don’t write an autobiography

You have an online retail business; people probably don’t want to read about your ancestors, your childhood or your pets — unless this information is in some way germane to the products you sell or is part of your brand. If you want to include a detailed history, link off to a separate page where anyone can read the fine details about your business if they want to. Use a timeline if it would help.

3. Don’t offend

You need to reach an international audience; what you consider to be humour may not translate so well for someone on the other side of the world, from a different culture and with a different concept of ‘funny’. This is also relevant to any videos you upload.

4. Don’t use slang

Or jargon. Largely for the same reason as the previous point — you need to look after your global customers, not just your domestic ones.

5. Don’t be boring

But don’t exaggerate either. Don’t use overblown rhetoric or make unbelievable claims.

6. Don’t lie

Even white lies are not allowed. You are trying to create 100% trust on the part of the customer. Don’t say you’ve won the ‘Best Small Business of the Year’ award if you haven’t. Don’t make up excellent reviews that people haven’t given you. You will be found out.


Five examples of good About Us pages


There are lots of great examples of About Us pages out there; here are just five to illustrate some points described previously.

Holland & Barret

Holland & Barret is a leading retailer of health supplements. Their ‘Who We Are’ About Us page is informative:

Holland & Barret About Us page

The page contains several points of interest:

  • They provide links to the salient information at the top of the page, including their 145 years of experience, commitment to customer care, quality assurance, environmental responsibility and so forth. This shows they are reputable and trustworthy.
  • The layout of the page is simple but effective and they include imagery.
  • The tone and language is conservative and suitable for their audience; health is a very serious business so a trivial approach would be inappropriate.
  • They include a call to action in the top-right corner (and again at the bottom of their page) — sign up to receive offers by email.
  • They provide prominent links to their social media pages.
  • Further on down the page they allow readers to submit feedback.
  • They provide comprehensive contact information at the bottom of the page.

What could be improved? Perhaps more personalised information and imagery, maybe featuring a different store each month. Also more reference to online security and privacy (linking to their Privacy Policy page). Videos and a surprise ‘Easter egg’ would also be suitable and nice to have on this page.

Happy Socks

Happy Socks has a quirky image and this is evident on their About Us page:

Happy Socks About Us page

The page contains quite a lot of information, most of which you can’t see in the screen capture above. So visit the web site and scroll down. There are some key points to note:

  • They have nicely tailored their voice to an audience that appreciates good quality, original and unusual socks.
  • The tone is conversational and friendly.
  • The design is fresh, crisp and inviting. There is a good use of colour. The page is easy to read and navigate (including a menu button in the top-left corner).
  • As you move down the page you can see how they handle objections: there’s a section on the quality of their products, the materials they are made of, how durable they are, how to care for them and so forth.
  • They reference their goals in several places (“Our goal is to provide you with the best and happiest socks around”).
  • They maximise social proof by providing an impressive list of collaborations.
  • They offer visitors the chance to ‘Leave us a message’.
  • They include information about their founders.
  • They include a very nice little element at the end of the page: when you use a scroll wheel over the biographical details of the founders, a photograph of them is displayed. It mimics the effect of pulling up a pair of socks — completely fitting for this business.

What could be improved? More reference to online security and privacy would be helpful and possibly more imagery.

Cartridge People

Cartridge People provide ink cartridges for all major printers and other related items such as stationary:

Cartridge People About Us page
Their About Us page includes many of the elements discussed earlier:

  • They provide the salient information right at the top: under the top navigation they state ‘100% no quibble guarantee’, ‘4.8 stars out of 5 customer reviews’ and their call centre number. Following this they list the key information that visitors will want to know about: delivery, customer service, online security, and returns.
  • They make it clear that the quality of their products is important and assured; for example they reference ISO accreditation.
  • They include their primary aim: to deliver the very best in all they do.
  • They provide comprehensive contact information (email, phone, physical address, call centre).
  • They provide social proof by stating that they supply high-status customers such as educational establishments, local authorities and government departments.
  • They provide registered company information. This adds to the overall trustworthiness and reputation of their business.
  • Lower down the page they offer a live chat facility and further assurances: they are a Google certified shop, VeriSign and McAfee verified secure and have several awards.

What could be improved? Personalised information in the ‘Company Information’ section, more imagery and a more appealing page design would all help this page.

Screwfix

Screwfix has been in business for over 30 years selling items such as trade tools, kitchens, electrical and plumbing supplies and so forth.

Screwfix About Us page

Their About Us page includes many of the aspects described previously:

  • They start with information that shows authority and trustworthiness. They are “the UK’s largest multi channel supplier” with a long history and that dispatch huge quantities of parcels every week.
  • They handle objections: they are “safe and secure”. They make it clear that transactions are secure and that privacy is important. They state that items can be returned if you change your mind.
  • They show off their achievements, including “Speciality Retailer of the Year”. This helps to engender trust — this is a reputable company.
  • They further increase trust by showing off their award for great customer service.
  • They appeal to social sensibilities by showing off their “Great Workplace” award.
  • They provide their contact details including their company registration and VAT numbers.
  • They include a call to action for their catalogue.
  • As is fitting for their business, the tone of the language is simple, direct and non-colloquial.

What could be improved? Personalised information about the company and more imagery would be helpful. A video might be useful also.

Plumbworld

Plumbworld supplies everything to do with plumbing. They have a great About Us page:

Plumbworld About Us page

It’s easy to pick out the good points about this page:

  • They start with handling objections: they refer to the quality of their products and their time in business (16 years). They also show that they have “1,066,165 Happy Customers” and offer free 365 day returns.
  • They make excellent use of videos, including their TV advert.
  • They strongly indicate that they are trusted and recommended — Trustpilot reviews, ShopSafe Trusted Shop, Shopzilla Certified Retailer, SafeBuy, Honest Online and so forth.
  • They include a video showing that they are endorsed by a TV celebrity handyman. This in itself adds significantly to their image as a reputable and recommended business.
  • They handle security objections well: they illustrate that they are secured by thawte, McAfee secure and others.
  • They make an excellent job of personalising their business by showing images of their staff and premises in their ‘Meet the Team’ section.
  • They include a call to action — when you first arrive on the page you are greeted with a pop-up offer (you can win discount vouchers by entering your email address).

What could be improved? Maybe they could include contact details on this page.


Conclusion


Don’t waste this great conversion opportunity. Don’t create a half-hearted page; put effort and energy into making your About Us page one of the finest on your site.

Check the messaging and imagery on your About Us page often. Make it a key part of your content curation strategy.

Monitor your conversion rate after making improvements and keep fine tuning your content.

What’s a good simile for an About Us page?

A good About Us page is like a good job reference (that you’ve written for yourself).

It goes something like this:

  1. The interview stage: the visitor “interviews” your business by looking at what you have to offer on the rest of your site — your products, prices, site design and all the rest;
  2. The references stage: the visitor is interested in what you have to offer them but, before they purchase, they want to seek out “references” — by scouring your About Us page for evidence that you are trustworthy;
  3. The offer stage: the visitor is convinced that you are an authentic, trustworthy and secure business and so they “offer you the job” — they make a purchase.

It’s not about you, it’s about them. Your About Us page is your reference. Make it excellent.

Comments?

What do you think about ‘About Us’ pages on retail sites? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

Comments

Anonymous - Very inciteful. Different About Us pages for each key country can be worthwhile, using the same principles.
15 Jun 2015 21:34
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