Since I wrote my column about "The Power of the About Us Page" (remember 2006 when MySpace was really popular?), not a week goes by that I don't receive a comment about it. Every website needs an "About Us" page; it's one of the most important but undervalued elements of a company's website. This is especially true in a world where social media profiles allow us to connect content to people. The "About Us" page needs to show and tell about a company's human side.
"About Us" is often the most neglected page on any website - if the page exists at all. It can put a human face on an otherwise technical, dry, and impersonal website. Properly written, it can provide some serious buying resolve to certain customer segments.
Humans want to connect with other humans. That's easy to forget in an overly-transaction-focused business world. This critically important page allows visitors to connect if done well. However, this page seems to be the most difficult for so many to write about themselves.
As brands, we should want people to like us, to share our values, to feel validated by doing business with us. How are we supposed to get them to do this if we don't connect with them on a human level in a "human voice"?
What Your "About Us" Page Should Be About
This is where you get to tell your story, why you exist, what problems you solve.
The purpose of the "About Us" page is to break down the facade of the confidence-destroying anonymity of the web and of corporations. The visitor who clicks on that page is giving you her permission to share with her all about your company, in the spirit of transparency and with an authentic voice that allows you to share all that makes you the organization that you are.
Most companies are never shy about talking about themselves until it comes to this page. However, when a visitor clicks on your "About Us" page it doesn't mean you shouldn't focus on why she is there and what problems she needs solved. Please try to remember your visitors want to know about you but from their perspective.
7 Questions to Start Writing Your "About Us" Page
Your company exists as it is for several reasons other than to make money. You could sell one of a million different products or services, but you chose (or created) your products for a reason. That reason is the story your company has to tell and the value it has to offer. Your "About Us" page is the perfect place to tell that story. If you tell that story with integrity and passion and speak to your customer personas' needs, you'll have a powerful piece that will increase conversion.
Please answer for your visitor:
Why do you do what you do? Really!
Who are the people behind the company? Even huge companies can do this well.
What kind of people are you? Who will I be working with or buying from?
What are you most proud of as an organization?
Why should your customers care about you or getting to know you better?
What does your company stand for?
What does your company stand against? Read through AimClear's "Our Philosophies" (bottom of the page) and you can see who its "enemy" is.
Quick tip: it may help if you query your customer/fan base to share three to five words that describe what they think about when they think about "your brand."
7 Things Your "About Us" Page Should Do
Let customers see a more human side of your company. This is where you get to become more likable by including "individual information and personal interests." E-Trade's advertising makes it seem like a fun company, but the E-Trade "About Us" page displays none of that human personality. See how Dropbox shows and tells about the people in its company. As you navigate the page, hover over the picture of anyone on the team and you get a fun blurb about the person. Or check out the bios and little known facts about the Raven Tools team.
How do you choose the voice of your "About Us" page? Here are some more ideas:
What is the overall emotional stance that your company has toward its industry/market?
If your company were an actual person, who would it be?
Is there a favorite quote you or the people in your company have?
Is there one particular moment in the life of your company that would capture its essence in a nutshell?
Do certain words or phrases keep popping up in your daily conversations, your salespeople's sales calls, your blog posts, etc.?
Use the verbiage your customers use. Mine your live chat logs, emails, customer service calls, in-site search, and especially customer product reviews if you have them.
As an exercise, do a "25 Random Things About Our Company." Then pull out the nuggets and insert them into your "About Us" page. Or leave the whole list as a link or tab from your "About Us" page.
Make sure your voice on the "About Us" page is consistent with the rest of the site. Yes, you can afford to be a little more conversational and personal/passionate, but the overall writing style should be relatively consistent.
Tell your company's story. Check out how creative PPC ad optimization company DataPop begins to tell the story of why it exists and who the people behind this startup are. SEOmoz does a nice job at sharing what it is, why it exists, and sharing its company history. It goes over the top in a good way at letting visitors get to know its Mozzers team members, such as Joanna Lord, SeoMoz' director of acquisition and retention. My only wish is that the page provided links to the social profiles of its team members.
One way to do this is to use a company history timeline, such as this one from 37signals. It's a great way to highlight achievements without braggadocio.
Connect people to your leadership. See how Evernote includes links to its Twitter, LinkedIn, or other relevant websites next to its executives' names. Check out Marc Poirier's profile page from the Acquisio management team to see how it connects its founders to its social profiles.
Humans are attracted to humans, so why do so few sites include photos of company employees? This is a social networking nirvana. Let's check out how social the social media platforms are: LinkedIn, which is all about connecting people, shoots off bullet point after bullet point about the company with just five links to its founder. Facebook takes you to this cold profile page (it had a real hard time here - notice the copy under "About" and "Mission" are the same). Twitter at least does a good job explaining what it is but not who they are. Instagram's "About Us" includes a quick paragraph about the two founders and that's it. It doesn't show any pictures or link off to any profiles. However, Pinterest does a great job explaining why it exists, what problem it solves, and sharing pictures of numerous people from the company.
Reflect your company's passion. OK, when you think of hiring a plumber, passion is not what you naturally think about. But watch this video from the founders of Austin's Radiant Plumbing and tell me you wouldn't think about calling this company if you needed a plumber.
Make sure to take it easy on the sales pitch and give us you and your company's story. Show us your passion.
Reflect your company's personality. If you're a fun company, your "About Us" page should be fun. Do you think MailChimp would be a fun company to work with? Behind its wonderful mascot, it even highlights its customers so you can try to relate to their stories as well.
Many "About Us" pages seem like a copy-and-paste job from AboutUs.com. Thinking any old creative will do, will not do. The vast majority of "About Us" pages are simply boring, stiff, and tightly clenched pages.
Let the customer inside your company. Everything about how BodyBuilding.com has had the success it has had is about profiling people. Did you begin to watch its core values video?
I highly recommend the use of video to show off your human side. Of course, it's important to tell us what you do, but put that content on another page. When visitors click on "About Us," they want to know about you.
Reiterate your company's competence to serve the customers by using all the above tools. Take a few minutes and see how Zappos runs you through the A to Z of its company, team, and culture. Google also walks you through from its mission, why it's passionate about the 10 things it believes to be true, who its management team is, why it values its corporate culture, and what it does for you.
Google has more pages dedicated to this area than many overall company pages on its website.
Tell me why should your customers care about you? Also, please feel free to share your favorite "About Us" page in the comments below.
Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.