By: Matt Flowers –
Since the inception of Ethos Copywriting, our About Page has been among the most frequently visited pages on our site each month. Aesthetically and contextually, it’s as simple as it gets; it tells our story, details our mission, outlines our core values, and includes a call to action (CTA) as well as a few basic visuals. Despite its simplicity, its traffic is substantial.
Yet, as I browse the web, I find hundreds of websites that skimp on—or straight up skip—their About Page. With such high traffic potential, we can reasonably ask: why aren’t more businesses taking advantage of this opportunity to tell their story?
Enough about Me… Let’s Talk About You
There are two likely reasons why the About Page gets put off. One reason is that we’re seeking validation from an unknown reader, which is a strange situation. From this single page of text and (maybe?) pictures, people start forming strong opinions about your company without actually meeting you or anyone else associated with your organization, maybe without even experiencing your product or service.
Interestingly, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in the 1970s actually examined a similar social interaction dynamic, but instead of an about page, this study revolved around a picture of a woman. In the study (brace yourself for some good ol’ 70’s sexism), 51 men were given a photograph of an “attractive” or “unattractive” female, ranked on a one to ten scale (one being the “least attractive,” ten being the “most attractive”).
After ranking the women, the men had to blindly engage in a conversation with the woman who they thought was in the photo. Observers then had to analyze the recordings of these chats without knowing which photograph the men had seen. As it turned out, the women who tended to come across as more sociable, likeable, and friendly were the ones who had spoken to men who had seen the “attractive” photograph.
What researchers concluded was that judgements are communicated in the subtleties of language, and others will adjust their tone accordingly. Simply put: humans act and react by conforming to their expectations. So, your About Page can make or break a client’s decision to work with you and how they’ll choose to interact with you.
The second reason it’s so damn hard to write an About Page is that it actually makes us feel dishonest about our personal motives. In a 2014 study published in Administrative Science Quarterly, findings suggested that forging relationships for professional gain rather than to merely socialize “can impinge on an individual’s moral purity—a psychological state that results from viewing the self as clean from a moral standpoint—and thus makes an individual feel dirty.”
In fact, when participants were provided with word fragments, such as “W _ _ H, S H _ _ E R, and S _ _ P,” the test group that recently recalled an instrumental networking experience were nearly 25% more likely to fill in blanks to spell out cleansing-related words such as wash, shower, and soap instead of unrelated, neutral words like wish, shaker, and step.
Consumers Want to Know Your Core Values
So, while there are some people that live to brag, for most of us it’s just uncomfortable to publicly sing our own praises. Plus, if you touch down on core values in your About Page, it’s hard not to feel like you’re mixing your personal beliefs with business. But the truth is, humanizing your brand is critical to building a better business, better in the sense of product and profit, but also in the moral sense.
This be because consumers want to know what’s important to your business’s culture. In fact, CONE, a public relations company, found that 87% of consumers purchased a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about. Furthermore, a whopping 88% are more loyal to companies that support social and environmental issues. Finally, CONE found that a staggering 89% of consumers would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause.
How to Write an Awesome About Page
When you’re writing about your services, the formula is simple: here is what we do, this is how we do it, and this is what it does for you. However, when you’re talking about your mission, core values, and your company’s culture, it’s a much deeper level of writing. With that in mind, here are the critical elements of a great about page:
1. Tell a Story: You’re not writing a novel here, but you do want to set the scene. Start with why you started the company, what purpose it serves, and how long you’ve been in business. Highlight achievements, growth milestones, important credentials, and how your products and services are making an impact on society. Perhaps most importantly, tell a story that separates you from your competition.
2. Use Your Voice: Everyone wants to sound like the next Apple, but the truth is, nothing is as cool as the business you’re building right now, so tell its story and use an authentic voice. Show your personality! Whether it’s through humor and wit or sophistication and elegance, use the tone of the culture you’re trying to cultivate to guide your voice and vernacular. This is not to say, however, to keyword stuff your page with industry jargon.
3. Prioritize People: People want to work with a company who treats people well. Yes, you’re telling your story, but you’re also talking to potential customers. Don’t be afraid to showcase your philanthropic efforts, charitable causes, business culture, and community engagement.
4. Discuss Your Process: Whether it’s a product or service, outline your process from inception to fulfillment. While it may be your daily grind, each phase may be fascinating to potential customers. This is also a great place to reiterate what sets you apart from other businesses.
5. Keep it Positive: Although it may be tempting, never bash a competitor. Remember, this is a page about what your business is, not what your business is not. If you’re drawing attention to problems, be sure you’re tying in a solution, not just leaving your readers with a list of issues.
6. Include Testimonials: Client testimonials are huge! In fact, in a Nielsen survey, 83% of respondents said they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family, and two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online. As a side note, you should ask clients to review your company on Google, as Moz found that review signals could account for up to 7% of your organic ranking!
7. Have A Mission: This is generally optional for businesses, but I think we can take a note from nonprofits. A mission statement is arguably going to be the strongest element of your About Page. It solidifies what you do, why you’re doing it, who it helps, and what your company values are.
8. Introduce The Team: If you’re a small business, highlighting your employees can show you’re a team player. If you want to take it a step further, ask a few of your employees to write a testimonial about how great it is to work for your company. Include names, positions, job titles, and some professional headshots. Depending on how you’re hoping to attract business, you should also include contact information for each member of your team along with their social media links.
9. Dig to The Core: Core values show your readers what your priorities are. Whether you list your core values or use them as touch points throughout your company’s philosophy, this is perhaps the most powerful section of your About Page aside from the mission statement. Ben & Jerry’s, Google, and Warby Parker are all great examples of cove value statements without any frills.
10. Represent Your Home: This one is also optional. But, if your mission is to impact the community in which your business is headquartered, you should absolutely let your visitors know where you call home. On the other hand, if you’re completely remote, clearly stating your location isn’t going to hold much water. Interestingly, in a 2016 survey, Nielsen found that nearly 75% of global respondents said brand origin is as important as or more important than nine other purchasing drivers, including selection/choice, price, function, and quality.
11. Call to Action: Finally, whether it’s a contact button, RFQ form, or a few links to landing pages with products and services listed, you need a call to action. With the high rate of traffic your About Page can receive, it behooves you to tell your readers what to do next. You don’t have to make a hard sell here, but give them the option to take action.
Let’s Learn About You
Writing isn’t for everybody, that’s why it can be helpful to reach out to a content marketing agency to help you discover what sets your business apart from your competition. If you want to learn more about me and Ethos Copywriting, drop by our website to find out exactly what we do, why we do it, and how we can help you. We’re looking forward to learning about you.