Potential customers, members of the media and others visit your business website’s “About Us” page to find out what makes you special and why they should work with you. If they find big blocks of impersonal jargon or a boring play-by-play of your company history, they’re apt to go elsewhere.
“If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you’ll see the highest bounce rate on that page,” says Marian Schembari, founder of Oh Hai Copy and expert on About pages. However, it doesn’t have to end that way. If you can make it engaging enough as Schembari says, then your About page can be a powerful promotional tool, attracting more customers and getting them excited about your business.
Here’s a look at the elements of a standout ‘About Us’ page and how to improve each one.
Craft an Impactful Headline
Even though the header or headline of your ‘About Us’ page will be the first thing visitors see, Schembari suggests you leave writing this for last and spend half your writing time entirely on this section. Once you’ve nailed the bulk of your about page, then go back and craft a single, impactful line that will makes your business really shine.
So rather than using a generic headline, choose something that reflects why you do what you do. “The main purpose of a headline is to make people want to read the second line,” she says. “The headline is the most important part. It’s what you do and why people should care, all rolled into one.”
Focus on Your Customers’ Needs
The meaty section of your ‘About Us’ page (or the body copy) focuses on the needs of your readers and doesn’t only trumpet your accomplishments. “What does the reader want? What have they come here to get?” Schembari asks. “Give them an emotional hook that’s going to draw them in. [For instance] they don’t want to know the details of the material in the raincoat or what software you use. Start off with the why.”
Start with the “Why?” of Your Business
When writing your body copy, explain why you started the business and why people will benefit from working with you over anyone else. Don’t just list features like “we use the latest tools to redesign your home.” Instead, focus on benefits like “your home will feel like a calming sanctuary and you’ll look forward to it after a long day at work.”
“People care about what their house is going to feel like when they’re done, the smell of the house when you walk in the door,” Schembari explains. “You need to pull the emotional piece of why those are so important in order for laypeople to understand the importance of what you do.”
And, as an incentive: “If you can explain the why, you can charge more than your competitors,” Schembari says.
Explain How You’re Different
One way to draw attention is to explain what makes you mad about your industry and how you’re different. Schembari uses interior designers as an example. In your body copy, you can mention that while other designers focus on high-end furniture and finishes, you source items from flea markets so your customers are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind purchase. “There’s always something special about your company,” Schembari says.
Cut Out the Jargon
Avoid stiff, overly professional language. You may sound smart, but it’s possible that people won’t be able to understand nor relate to it. “People clam up when they start talking about themselves,” Schembari says. “Talk as yourself. Write a letter from the CEO. Get personal. People connect with personal stories and tend to relate it back to their own lives.”
Schembari says most ‘About Us’ pages have 1,000-word word counts, covering the important messages and making customers excited and motivated. Considering this hefty length, you’ll want to use bullet points, subheadings, testimonials or photos to break up the text and make it more of an enjoyable read.
“Formatting is a really important piece,” Schembari says. “Don’t have more than three sentences in a paragraph. I’m a big proponent of one-sentence paragraphs.” The white space around a one-line paragraph draws attention to that sentence, so use single-sentence paragraphs to create emphasis as appropriate.
Include Customer Testimonials
Rather than having a separate page devoted to testimonials, Schembari recommends including two-to-three strong testimonials on your ‘About Us’ page to break up the other sections. When asked for testimonials, people tend to list superlatives rather than tell stories—the latter is almost always more effective.
Schembari likes to ask questions like, “How were you feeling emotionally when you hired X? What prompted you to hire somebody? What were the benefits of working with that person?” she explains. “‘Bob fixed X’ is a much more powerful testimonial than ‘Bob was professional.’”
Don’t Forget a Call-to-Action
Schembari compares an ‘About Us’ page to a Table of Contents, which leads visitors to other pages such as a list of services or the blog. You’ll likely have many calls-to-action scattered throughout the page, but Schembari recommends having a single strong one, showing more prominence than the others.
The action you ask visitors to take could vary depending on the nature of your business. If you’re a landscaping or an interior design business, you might include a link where prospects can request a free in-home consultation.
One of Schembari’s favorite calls-to-action is an email list subscriber prompt. “Your list is your most important asset,” she says. Once you have customers’ email address and their permission, you can market to them periodically with special promotions or news about your industry, so consider providing an incentive like a free guide or ebook upon sign up.
It’s worth spending the time on a customer-focused ‘About Us’ page explaining why your business does what it does and concludes with a clear call-to-action. This can be a huge asset to your online reputation and keep customers on your site instead of bouncing over to the competition.
About the Author: Freelance journalist Susan Johnston Taylor covers entrepreneurship, small business and lifestyle for publications including The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and FastCompany.com. Follow her on Twitter @UrbanMuseWriter.