The About Us page is only an afterthought for the majority of business websites. And that’s a shame, since it’s often one of their most frequently visited pages. Thomas Harpointner, CEO of AIS Media, says that the About Us page is “among the first three pages consumers go to when they visit a site”—and yet “companies are so focused on the design of their site, their products, and how they’re going to market them that they simply overlook it.”
So we’re here to help you stop undervaluing your About Us page, and start treating it like the top-three page it is. Some of the material covered here can serve as a beginner’s guide to writing a good About Us page; some of it will help you explore the deeper strategy behind the story you want to tell about your business. The point is, whether you’re a newcomer or an old pro, your About page could probably be doing more to improve your business.
Admittedly, writing an About Us page requires you to put yourself in a somewhat awkward position. It can be embarrassing to feel like you’re bragging about yourself or your business. It can be uncomfortable to forget about your product for a minute and talk, instead, about your people. It can feel clumsy to walk that fine line between giving your prospects a company history and boring them, or between promoting yourself and driving your prospects away through apparent self-absorption.
Or maybe you’re simply thinking: Who cares “about us”?
We’re glad you asked! Because we’ve got a few answers to that question:
Your first-time visitors care.
They’ve just stumbled onto your site through a search engine query, and they like what they see so far… but they’re still trying to determine if it’s worth their while to stick around, or to go back to those search engine results to see what else is out there.
Your About page gives these first-time visitors the opportunity to determine whether your products and values align with what they’re looking for.
Your regular visitors care.
Maybe they’ve recently discovered a competitor’s product or service, and now they’re trying to decide between you and your competitor. Or maybe they’ve been talking up your product to a friend, and they’ve come to your About page to answer the questions that came up in that conversation—in essence, to help sell your company better.
Your About page gives these regular visitors the opportunity to justify why they buy from you—and why they’ll decide to stick with you.
The people who’d like to work with you care.
Job-seekers want to know the company they’re thinking about applying to. Content contributors want to know the company they’re thinking about writing for. Reporters want to know the company they’re thinking about writing about.
Your About page gives these potential partners the opportunity to verify that working with you will be fruitful for everyone involved.
About pages are about trust
The most fundamental objective of your About Us page is to inspire trust. In the age of anonymous eCommerce, genuine trust is a resource that’s in short supply.
Consider how business transactions occurred prior to the internet:
They began with a face-to-face conversation between a business owner and a prospect. Over the course of this conversation, prospects gathered a sense of the owner’s character, observed how he interacted with his employees, got a feeling for the company culture, learned why both owner and employees were so passionate about their product… and then determined from these things whether or not they felt comfortable doing business with that particular company.
Importantly, regardless of the prospect’s final decision, they knew all along that they were on the threshold of doing business with a person, not with a company.
Those in-person meetings are mostly impractical now. And while ecommerce has some remarkable benefits for the customer (the undeniable convenience, for example, of clicking a few buttons and waiting comfortably at home for your purchase to arrive), the majority of business transactions now occur under a cloak of anonymity, which often carries some suspicion with it.
The purpose of the About Us page is to break down that trust-dissolving anonymity by standing in for the face-to-face meeting that simply isn’t possible anymore. It’s a way of injecting warmth and intimacy into an otherwise “cold” set of transactions.
You’ve probably heard about that “know, like, trust” funnel that marketers are so fond of discussing.
Prospects come to know a business through things like referrals and ads: This is the visibility stage. They come to like that business through its website or the content the prospect regularly receives once they’ve subscribed to its newsletter. This bleeds into the trust phase: Prospects come to trust that business through things like its expert content and case studies.
Although the traditional “know, like, trust” funnel is usually a long-term strategy, it can operate in a more immediate way on an About Us page.
Because the truth is, regardless of the technological strides we’ve made, we’re still wired to want to do business with actual humans. If your About Us page can tell your visitors about the humans on the other side of their screens, you’ve begun to realize the “know” stage. If it can offer them core company values that they resonate with, or reveal a passion for your product that delights them, you’ve begun to realize the “like” stage.
In completing these first two stages, you’ve already begun to earn their trust.
And that “trust” stage is where the conversions happen.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at what you need to clarify before you even begin writing your About page: your positioning. This involves identifying who, exactly, your site visitors are; what their pain points are; and how to phrase your value proposition so that your prospects (perhaps your most important visitor segment) will trust you to relieve those pain points.