How do you hack your way to success?
Increase traffic? Improve conversion rates? Boost average profit per customer?
In this age of pixels, we can measure and test almost everything. We crunch numbers.
But when we’re looking at all the data, the numbers and percentages, it can be easy to forget we like buying from companies we know, like, and trust.
Before doing business with a new company, do you check who they are?
Do you care what they stand for?
Likeability is not a fluffy concept for hippies
In his book Influence, Cialdini dedicates a whole chapter to likeability. He explains, for instance, how friends at a Tupperware party feel obliged to buy containers because they know and like the party host (even when they don’t need those bloody containers).
Cialdini also tells us how car salesmen are trained to look for similarities:
If there is camping gear in the trunk, the salesman might mention, later on, how he loves to get away from the city whenever he can.
Even trivial similarities can increase likeability and produce positive responses. That’s also why salesmen are taught to mirror a customer’s body posture and verbal style.
We like people who are like us, and we like buying from people we like.
In an article for usability experts Nielsen Norman Group, Jennifer Cardello suggests three instances where improving likeability on websites can be useful:
- Reduce customer service confrontations. Seeing real pictures of real people in customer service may make us less harsh when we complain.
- Create a stronger, more personal bond with brand advocates and early adopters.
- Create loyalty by establishing trust. Understanding your company history and getting a glimpse of your company’s culture can increase familiarity.
Of course, your whole website can exude how nice you are. But your About page is a prime location for showing you’re a good egg, and thereby increasing sales.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve looked at well over one hundred About pages from a variety of industries. Start-ups. E-commerce sites. Solo service providers.
Sometimes it’s difficult to find an About page. Sometimes an About page doesn’t exist. Sometimes the About page is the least engaging page of the whole site. Isn’t that weird?
Why are many About pages so crappy?
Let’s look at the most common mistakes that slaughter your likeability and may chase away customers. Avoid these 7 mistakes and your chances of being liked increase. Your sales will go up. And your business will flourish.
Stinky mistake #1: Ego puffery
An About page is about you, your products, your company, your history.
Potential clients aren’t interested in you. They want to hear what’s in it for them.
Helpscout doesn’t start their About page by bragging about their company successes. They tell you first how they can help you:
Our mission is to help you build a company people love
And this is what MailChimp does for us:
We create products and features that empower our customers to grow
Bragging about your company doesn’t make you more likeable. Demonstrating you care about your customers wins you more business.
Your About Us page is not a monologue, it’s a conversation with your customer. Don’t forget to explain how you can make him more productive, richer, or happier.
Stinky mistake #2: Blabbering on
When writing a home page, we chop and polish until our value proposition is crystal clear.
We chisel away unnecessary words, so new web visitors can instantly get what we offer.
But our About page?
We ramble on, and on, and on.
Each event in our history seems critical. Each point of our CEO’s resume seems important.
The vast majority of About pages is yawn-inducingly long. Do you think your web visitors are interested?
Select only the essential details in your story. Think about your potential clients … what do they find really really interesting? Write a draft page and aim to reduce its word count by 50%. At least.
You want to sound interesting, don’t you?
So cut all the crap. Stop chasing your readers away.
Stinky mistake #3: Marketing mumbo-jumbo
We like to tell our clients we’re passionate about our business.
We like to explain our customer service is second-to-none.
But these phrases make potential clients think yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it before. These phrases are mumbo-jumbo because they don’t present specific details. They’re not believable. They don’t sound sincere.
Instead of telling readers your company is nice, demonstrate it:
We wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re tree huggers, but we do think it’s nice to be, well… nice. As well as capturing carbon, we give as much as we can to charidee – £1 million in the last couple of years. But, of course, we don’t like to talk about it. (Sofa.com)
And instead of bullshitting about market leadership, give us the facts:
95 million transactions tracked
$50+ billion in income and expenses
2.5 million users in 200+ countries (Wave )
Wishy-washy statements sound like marketing-speak. They’re easy to ignore.
But specific statements increase your credibility.
Stinky mistake #4: Mission drivel
The worst type of drivel is often reserved for a company statement.
Our mission is to deliver quality IT solutions through customer service excellence
Getting excited about hiring that company for your IT?
Mission statements are often full of gobbledygook—filler words devoid of meaning. Instead, try making your mission real and human. Explain why you’re in business. What’s driving you?
Evernote’s mission is totally gobbledygook-free:
As one workspace that lives across your phone, tablet, and computer, Evernote is the place you write free from distraction, collect information, find what you need, and present your ideas to the world.
Whatever you’re working toward, Evernote’s job is to make sure you get there.
Notice how human this mission from Abel and Cole sounds:
(…) we deliver ethically sourced veg, milk, eggs, meat, fish and all sorts to happy homes all over the country.
And our principles are still the same. We speak to our farmers every day, we know how to have a giggle, and we’re still enormously grateful to our customers for keeping the whole venture alive.
And what about showing your dedication and passion like Fiftythree does:
(…) over the years, we noticed that somehow, along the way, software designed to help us be creative actually made us less creative. We believe the best ideas often emerge from the simplest tools: pencil and paper.
We set out to build tools that work the way we do.
Tools for the creative space — that live in the 53 centimeters that magically link head, heart, and hand. Tools as simple as pencil and paper. Tools so essential, we really can’t imagine work without them.
Don’t chase readers away with a soulless mission statement.
A good mission motivates your team and energizes customers.
Stinky mistake #5: No personality
Nobody gossips with a faceless company.
Nobody looks forward to phoning a call center. Nobody chats with a robot.
To be likeable, you have to show personality. Mancrates do a great job letting their personality shine:
We say ‘no’ to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets. We don’t save wrapping paper, we don’t do ribbons.
We ship bragworthy gifts for guys. Gifts that you can’t wait to arrive because you know the recipient will love opening them.
Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.
We are Man Crates, and we deliver awesome gifts for men.
And this is how leather bag manufacturers Waterfield describe their company culture:
You won’t find corporate intrigue, shareholder revolt, or venture capital drama at our modest headquarters. Instead you will find pot-luck lunches, group outings, and the occasional employee celebration.
Gary Waterfield started the company in 1998 with these principles which still guide us today:
- Make products you can be proud of
- Treat people with respect
- Exercise kindness—we’re all human
Aside from leading the design process, Gary often jumps in to answer customer e-mails, sharpen the leather splitter, or fix the copy machine.
Feeling stuck describing who you are and what your company is like? Start with what you’re absolutely not. It’s often easier. (Read the two examples above again. Notice how they both start with explaining what they are NOT.)
Stinky mistake #6: No pictures
I’m a copywriter, so I’d love to tell you words are the most important part of a web page (and usually they are!).
But the best words won’t make up for a lack of pictures on your About page.
Photos instantly set the scene and show your company’s personality. Copyblogger shows their team picture on their About page:
Sugru shares a visual story:
You know people do business with people, don’t you?
It might be a cliché, but it’s true.
Pictures instantly make your company more approachable. Show web visitors you’re human, and you lower the threshold for contacting you.
Stinky mistake #7: No call to action
Let me whisper this …
But have you thought about the call-to-action on your About page? Well?
It’s probably one of the biggest missed opportunities on the web. Your web visitors are so interested in you that they’ve clicked to read your About page. You’ve engaged them with your story. Now what? Nada? Nichts? Nothing?
Consider the most appropriate next action:
- Join your email list
- Fill in a form for a quote
- Download a report
- Have a look at your product offer
- Apply for a job
- Call or email you
- Read case studies
- Sign up for a free trial
When people have read your About page, they’re ready for a first date. Don’t leave it up to the customer to decide what’s next because they might decide to leave. Instead, smile and seduce readers to take your relationship a step further.
Here’s how Sofa.com invites us for a ‘date’:
convinced yet? – phew!
Just give us a call on 0345 400 2222 or order online and leave the rest to us.
not convinced yet? – oh dear!
You’re a tough nut to crack. Why not come and see us at our showroom in Chelsea or Bath and try one for size?
Stop turning clients away
When you write your About page, don’t get shy, and don’t become a windbag.
Think about meeting a potential customer in real life, perhaps at a trade exhibition or a local café.
What would they ask you?
What would they want to know about you?
And what impression would you like to leave?
Don’t treat web visitors like faceless pixels. Write as if you’re having a conversation with a real human being. Because nobody is interested in bland companies spewing gobbledygook.
Be engaging. Be a good egg.
PS After you’ve left a comment about the mistake most irritating to you, grab my free 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for Busy People here.
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