About Us pages.
They’re often the first place people look when they start to consider your organisation seriously. Here are some tips to make them that bit more meaningful.
What should you say?
You: Like it or not, we are all creatures of emotion and intuition. Too often, businesses only try and absorb people on a rational level, but that isn’t enough to actually change how others behave. Engage your reader by telling a short story about yourself and start with why you do what you do. Since earliest times, different cultures, peoples and creeds have all connected and communicated using the power of stories. The internet is simply the latest means of communication. As such, an authentic tale will bring your brand alive, building early trust and loyalty.
Them: How does this story effect your readers? Think about a first date; you soon get bored if the other person disregards you and talks about themselves. The most compelling stories are often simple accounts that everyone can relate to directly. So make the reader part of your story and create a dialogue.
Consider this line from the e-mail campaign service, Mail Chimp.
“But enough about us – let’s talk about you. Whether you own a business or manage email newsletters for clients, you need an email-marketing service that takes care of the complicated stuff so you can focus on your job.”
The underlying narrative in this statement is universal: being too busy, stressing out and loosing focus. Mail Chimp refers to this, and offers a solution with you at its core.
How much should you say?
So now you have a good idea about what to say, but how much should you write? There’s no perfect word count for an About Us page, but consider shaping around these two factors: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the attention span of your reader.
SEO: If you want your site to be found and served by search engines, Google recommends a minimum of 250-300 words per page. However, lengthy pieces of text crammed with redundant buzz words will alienate your audience and send your site tumbling down the rankings. In reality, the issue isn’t about quantity but quality. Think about creating meaningful content with a good mix of your own words and phrases that your readers can absorb, relate to and want to share. For more information check out this handy guide.
Attention span: A recent Microsoft study revealed that average human attention span has fallen to just eight seconds; less than a goldfish. This is reflected in our browsing habits – so much so that in our world of instant gratification, we are more inclined to click away than to commit.
More than ever we have little patience to read protracted copy; we scan rather than read. Write with this in mind. Make the scanning experience easy by using formatting to your advantage. Use pithy paragraphs and short sentences and try to keep line length between 40 and 55 characters (around 8-10 words) to maximise comprehension. This is especially relevant when you consider that more than half of your page views will be made on mobile devices.
So … to engage an audience on your About Us page, tell a story, create a dialogue and keep your copy short – but not thin.
Sam Knowles is a master data storyteller and the Founder & MD of the consultancy Insight Agents. His purpose is to help organisations talk Human and sound like people. An established and sought-after trainer, speaker, and podcaster, he is the co-founder and co-host of the Small Data Forum podcast and chair of I-COM’s Data Storytelling Council.
Sam is the author of the best-selling book Narrative by Numbers: How to Tell Powerful & Purposeful Stories with Data (Routledge, 2018, with more at www.narrativebynumbers.com). This was followed by the critically-acclaimed sequel, How To Be Insightful: Unlocking the Superpower that Drives Innovation (also Routledge, May 2020, and more at www.HowToBeInsightful.com). Sam’s ‘using data smarter’ trilogy will be completed in Summer 2022 with the publication of Asking Smarter Questions.