Boilerplate “About Us” Website Pages Sabotage Conversion Rates. Time to Tell Your Story
“About Us” website pages
Storytelling is not something I ordinarily recommend for business website content, but a growing trend has organizations utilizing their “About Us” pages to share a more customer-centric story of their entrepreneurial and personal journeys, and what makes them special.
An “About Us” page that weaves an interesting and distinctive story about you, your company and your staff can be effective in several ways. I’m not talking about creating a fairy tale or spinning a yarn, which wouldn’t be appropriate for most websites. True stories and anecdotes make the best sources for organic corporate storytelling. Today a growing number of organizations are hiring skilled web content writers to deliver “About Us’ content that captivates readers and boosts conversion rates.
This approach can be modified to suit both businesses, start-ups, creative entrepreneurs, artists, authors. and professionals (financial advisors, attorneys, physicians, etc.). For professionals, I take a slightly different tack (that blog is forthcoming) to meet compliance and industry standards, while still letting readers know what sets this professional apart.
Another great example, and the undisputed poster child for great “About Us” page design and content is Moz, an inbound marketing and SEO firm that presents its corporate story on a graphic timeline of milestones. If you read Moz’s milestones on the graphic, you’re be charmed. For example, “November 2012: All of the males in the MozPlex spontaneously sprout mustaches.”—now that’s a company I’d love to hang out with. (Click on image below to view live).
Storytelling, as it applies to business content writing, isn’t about spinning a yarn or fairy tale. It’s about telling how your company’s journey began and how your products or services exist in the world. It’s who you are and what you do for your customers, it’s how you add value to people’s lives and meet their needs. A compelling brand story gives website visitors a way to connect with you on a real-world level. People respond positively to a company that presents itself as a living, breathing entity run by real people offering worthwhile products and services.
I approach writing this type of creative content for a client’s website not as storytelling in the fictional sense, but rather to arrange the facts in a way that tells their story organically. Most of the time the history of a company and the people who own and operate it is unique and engaging. By creating an “About Us” page that offers a distinctive, informal, behind-the-scenes biographical narrative of the organization, potential customers are more likely to be drawn in.
Periscope, a video streaming social networking service, developed a brilliantly simple “About Us” page that manages to cover the most significant elements of their company story in the first sentence. The goal was to create a strategic conversion funnel by enticing visitors to take a simple action. In a mere 100 words, Periscope manages to tell readers why the company’s app offers them value, even if they’ve never heard of it before: (click on image below to view live).
Another favorite example of an inventive approach to the “About Us” page content comes from a video production company’s website that is no longer active, which is a shame because it was gutsy and unique, not to mention effective. Luckily, I have a photo of the page (see below).
Florida-based LessFilms held nothing back in its attention-grabbing content and image combination, featuring a heavily-tattooed, masked wrestler and some engaging and high-performing copy that tells the company’s story quite distinctively. It also includes a playful plug for a children’s summer camp that leaves readers wanting more, and therefore more likely to stick around and browse the rest of the site! (click on image below to enlarge):
I write a substantial amount of website content for a variety of clients, and I can only wonder why this reader-centric approach to storytelling isn’t already the norm. In my experience, website visitors prefer to do business with organizations whose web content speaks to them on a more relatable level. When the content is particularly appealing, they share the pages with family and friends on social media, and in turn, their family and friends share it.
More and more business owners are abandoning the old school, dry and stale “About Us” formula in lieu of a more charismatic corporate profile that converts. By asking my clients a few key questions, and arming myself with the organization’s history, including anecdotes involving their road to success, “Ah Ha!” moments and personal business philosophies (as well as acknowledging their comfort zones), I’m able to develop appealing, effective “About Us” page narratives that generate traffic and bolster conversions. I make sure the “About Us” page is informative and that the client’s story distinguishes them from the sea of boilerplates out there.
Rent the Runway, a designer clothing rental company, crafted an “About Us” page that nails every element. Awesome design, large images, a fierce headline—there’s much to admire and learn from this page. (Click on image below to view live).
The most notable element I found on this page is a section that features employee testimonials which, when done right, can be quite powerful. These can’t be fabricated. Rent the Runway’s employee affirmations are genuine, and reviewing them leaves readers wishing they worked there. A company this internally connected is probably going to be a pleasure to do business with.
Qualities of the anti-boilerplate “About Us” page
Four qualities set this storytelling approach apart from traditional “About Us” content:
It’s personal and human. Even B2B organizations can benefit by focusing on the pride they take in providing products and services that enhance the lives of real people. This kind of message goes a long way in promoting your brand. For B2B content, I home in on the client’s individual approach to selling their brand and make the content specific enough to be credible, and universal enough to be relatable.
It’s a true story. This is content that features real people in real situations, with interesting stories to tell about their companies’ brands and businesses. Drawing on real-life stories, emotions, and facts can make it very effective at winning customer approval. I make sure the content explains the value each individual company offers in terms readers can identify with.
It’s completely original. Another focus in every successful “About Us” website page is offering a fresh perspective; there are a million ways to convey why your company is interesting, but differentiating the how’s and why’s from your competition is pivotal to making the most of your website’s branding opportunity.
It’s relatable. Some brand stories I’ve seen on “About Us” web pages are so poorly constructed or downright boring, they came across as either inept and unprofessional, or corporate-centric and self-indulgent. Readers are easily turned off by content that seems to be written to please the business owner rather than customers, and such mistakes can be a liability.
One final example of a great “About Us” page comes from a company called focuslabllc.com, whose customer-centric web page is aptly named “The Story of Us”. What makes this content work is the brief, informative and friendly intro that welcomes readers, and sends a clear message about what the business does for its customers and why they do it. Focuslabllc.com’s content gets all the fine details in without burdening the reader with paragraph after paragraph of banal, regurgitated copy that no one will remember anyway because it doesn’t speak to them. Readers want a human connection.
Telling your brand’s story in an engaging way can go a long way in leveraging the value of your company’s website. Your “About Us” page is one of the most critical elements of your website when it comes to drawing customers in (or turning them off). Make sure your web content writer has the skills and marketing expertise to deliver winning copy that draws readers in and generates conversion, while still maintaining a professional image.