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Copywriting tips series: 3
A more effective about page.

So far in my copywriting tips series, I covered how to write a more effective home page, the hub of your marketing in this new media era. Following that post, I did a sequel on writing a more effective landing page, your key to conversion.

Next up in this series: how to write a more effective about page. It’s sure to be one of the most visited pages on your website, but commonly, it’s a serious snoozer. If your analytics show your about page is a leading exit page, you’re going to want to heed the advice I have for you here.

The about page is a challenge.

About pages scare even veteran website copywriters. The thing that makes the “about” page the trickiest of them all is the confusing—contradictory, actually—subject of the page itself. You’re tempted to write about yourself or your company. And that’s fair. But if that’s all you do, you’ll risk losing your reader.

Remember the purpose of the visit. What the reader really cares about is him or herself. Your about page needs to be about how you can help him or her.

Sonia Simone, of Copyblogger, offers these suggestions:

  • Talk about why they should bother reading your site.
  • Talk about the problems you solve.
  • Talk about what they’re interested in.

A good first step is strike “us” or “me.” That is, don’t call your page “about us” or “about me,” or at least don’t think of the page this way. It shouldn’t be a biography, resume or company backgrounder.

Yes, you can include biographical and background information, but your story needs to be presented in the context of how you can serve the customer.

Be interesting—Write a tight, well paced about page without droning on with needless detail. While a storytelling style can be very appropriate for your about page, you don’t want to test your reader’s patience.

Every line on the page should add something significant and heighten the reader’s interest. You want the reader to want to know more about you—not less.

Careful with the video—Sure, many will welcome a chance to see and hear you speak. So go ahead and make a short and sweet video to demonstrate your mastery of your field. But don’t rely only a video and please, don’t have it begin playing automatically. That’s not a convenient play. It’s annoying.

Write conversationally—The nature of an about page invites writers to adapt a stiff and stilted voice, which is poison for any web page. Be you. Be warm and approachable. Go ahead and use your sense of humor. Avoid jargon.

Proof plays well—While no one wants to find an egomaniac lurking in your about page, some of the credentials hanging on your office wall might help enhance the experience and comfort level. Badges indicating your professional memberships, accolades, publications, speaking experience, and so forth make nice additions to the page. A small dose of testimonials could be useful too.

Lose the BS—About pages tend to be home to overblown bullshit. Be wary of superlatives and hyperbole. Face it, words like visionary, outstanding, world-class, and cutting-edge don’t do anything other than feed your ego. And please, please, please avoid the dreaded, cliché, and grandiose “thought leader” claim.

Don’t write fiction on your about us page. Your aspirations and your accomplishments are not the same thing. Nothing but the truth will do.

If you’ve accomplished great things, simply tell your readers about them and why they should care. Let the reader be the judge of your awesome sauce.

Take some chances—A lot of company “about” pages sound “about” the same as other companies. Don’t let it happen. Make it your goal to write an “about” page no one else could write.

Think different. Apple didn’t just preach it. They embodied it. Of course, their landmark campaign highlighted MLK, John Lennon, Jim Hanson, Albert Einstein—world changers.

What did these big thinkers that thought so differently have in common? They took risks. Take risks with your about page. Don’t just recite the company mantra. Make the reader feel they have to do business with you because yours is a company of real people who will change its customers lives.

Bring bios to life—I always discourage biographies of any length to be 100% academic and professional. Why? It’s boring. I expect to learn you’re educated, qualified, and bring relevant experience to the company. Tell me something I don’t expect. You tap dance? Breed dogs? Make beer? You love Springsteen? Me too. Give your reader something conversation worthy.

Suggest social— Think of the about page as an opportunity to begin building relationships. The page is a logical place to publish links to social media profiles and encourage online networking. If you’re featuring profiles of the directors and staff, you might showcase social accounts with anyone who’s representing the company on your social networks or active on your blog. Consider publishing email addresses there too (but you’ll probably want to spell out “at” or “dot com” so as to not allow bots to capture, then spam, employees).

Make it a quick read—Michelle Slater offered some interesting ideas in her post, “Spice Up Your About Us Page and Intrigue Prospects.” Her suggestions included (1) making your page skimmer friendly by bulleting company facts, (2) presenting information in an interview format, and (3) using a video Q&A.

Update it—Things change. People may join or leave the company. Don’t allow your about us page to present outdated information. Be it personnel, new services, locations, or any item that changes the company story, make sure your page reflects the company you are today.

Remember who your about us page is really about.

If you’re stuck for getting started with your about page, there’s no harm in tackling the five W’s to get the facts down, but remind yourself, a “who/what/when/where/why” is likely to be a press release-like snore. Pepper it up with some of these tips.

And remember, of the five W’s, your ace card is “why.” The salesy and overly self-congratulatory about page won’t establish the credibility and trust you seek.

Put the reader first, use plain language and communicate what customers really want to know (and what you need them to leave with)—a reason to believe you put them first.