Copywriting

Do These 7 Tragic Mistakes on Your ‘About’ Page Chase Customers Away?

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.

Sound good?

Stinky mistake #1: Ego puffery

An About page is about you, your products, your company, your history.

Right?

Nope.

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?

Oh boy.

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.

Like this:

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:

copyblogger_1821-1024x682

Sugru shares a visual story:

Sugru About page

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

Shhht …

Let me whisper this …

As a Copyhacker reader, you know about click-boosting calls-to-action. About the importance of button copy.

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.

Have fun.

~ Henneke

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.

About the author

henneke

Henneke is the founder of Enchanting Marketing. She's an irreverent copywriter and business writing coach on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook.

  • Nirvana Crush

    Henneke, I’m a die hard fan for your Enchanting marketing. You Nailed it so well. Just One word on This Post… Awesome! Thanks!

  • Wow thats amazing post! Writing, like everything else, need to be trained and through this, I know what I’ve missed for so long, thanks!

  • Well said Henneke! Each and every point was drilling directly into my head! I am emailing this post to my clients….Thanks.

  • Thanks Henneke for the shared this interesting and helpful post with us. but I have a question for you. if we don’t need any about page so? because my website has no page of about us/my profile like these type of. so what I should I do?

    web design source

  • What an awesome post, thanks Henneke! You touch on some truly vital points and I love how the notion of being human and approachable comes up over and over again. I find that many of my clients forget to put relationships first and sales second, so I thank you for putting this important point forward in your writing.
    Camilla Carboni

  • Thanks for sharing such a great piece of information. I am an digital marketing specialist. I used to seek out such interesting topics that can help me produce great result in digital marketing.

  • Henneke this was a truly excellent post. I would not be surprised if you opened a business tomorrow solely dedicated to crafting epic About pages.

    In fact I would probably be your first customer. 🙂 My About page kinda sucks (I will share the link only with your permission) but give me another few days–your ideas are golden.

  • Can I just say I liked the first “stinky mistakes” headline better? It made me open the article right after I saw it in my feedreader!

  • Yuvrajsinh Vaghela

    Your “About-us” page should not be only about you !!

    Measureless take-away ! Thanks Henneke

  • sansmagicc

    > 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.

    If I had to take away only one sentence from this article, that would be it.

    As you have pointed out, the about page, as well as the whole website has to go through the “What’s in it for them?” filter.

    Why do people read about pages at all?

    Because they are excited to learn more about your company/product. NOT.

    People, me, you who are reading this, dare I say everyone, are self-centered. They only care about themselves, their own issues and desires.

    A major reason why they read about pages is because they are looking for signs of credibility:

    * Is this company/website/store legit?
    * Is it a safe place to shop?
    * What have they done before? Can I trust them?
    * Have other people like me been working with them? Were they happy?

    So, I think the way to look at your about page is as:

    * an opportunity to convince people why they should trust you
    * an opportunity to get them to do something (like sign up to your newsletter)
    * an opportunity to get them to like you by repeating their worldviews

    In this line of thought, I’d say that the about page is a good place to add some testimonials and definitely a call to action.

  • I think if anyone provide a valid and Genuine services to customer which exactly explained in your web page . then its no need to think about anything

  • Jonathan DeVore

    I’ve actually been told that a potential customer won’t be using us because of our “About” page. That’s tough to hear.

    The reason was because we weren’t polished enough – we sounded (and looked) like we were a small company and they were afraid we would go out of business. That’s a concern I hear quite often during sales calls – “What do we do if you close shop?”

    I’m not entirely sure which number addresses that issue (#3 might work), but I know that when we were trying to win some bigger enterprise contracts, we weren’t inspiring confidence that we were legit, profitable (a big deal since most startups aren’t), and planned on sticking around to fulfill our “why” purpose. Other customers of ours (consisting of a lot of startups) don’t really care about that stuff – but our new target market did. And we didn’t give it to them.

    • Josh Garofalo

      That’s an interesting one. Our company is still only focused on the small to medium-sized company so being more casual and personable works. They generally want to feel like they are dealing with people. I’ve found it can even be a plus when you bond over small business challenges you have in common.

      But, I can see how things could change when you’re dealing with an enterprise. I’d take a look at Box.com. They started out with a simple storage solution and have since focused on the enterprise customer. You can see it in their website/message. I get the feeling that their product is secure, stable, serious business.

      Contrast that with Dropbox.com, which also started with a simple online storage solution. They’ve moved into serving businesses as well, but I’d guess they aren’t locking up as many enterprise level customers as Box. It’s worth looking at their website and message too. They have a little more fun. I get the feeling their product is an easy-to-use product backed by a friendly and creative team. They also mention security so I’m sure it’s secure enough.

      Anyway, depending on the market you operate in, it might be worth looking at two companies that offer similar things but target slightly different markets.

  • Yep, that’s a great way to avoid a dead end.

  • I see #7 time and again. Some clients even reject the notion of having a CTA as they think it’s too ‘salesy’. Gah! Those same clients don’t want to sound braggy either.

    It takes ages to bring them round to the idea that every page of their site’s there to sell – whether they like it or not.

    • I agree with you. A call-to-action doesn’t need to be sales-y at all. Just think about what the next most logical step is – often it’s not an immediate “sale” but signing up to a list or downloading a white paper. Why leave a visitor wondering what to do next, when we can nudge him to take action?

  • Steven Q. Tran

    If you read nothing else read this— #7 Add a clear call-to-action on your about page. Such an overlooked place to add an opt-in box, yet one of the most effective.

  • Darcy

    When I get my mail each day, I quickly go through and first happily open the envelopes with the checks in them, and toss the junk mail.. This advice is like putting checks in the About Us “envelopes” – giving visitors real value instead of junk mail. All visitors need to do is cash the check with the call to action. Great post. I’ll be sharing this at my business meeting in the morning.

    • Yep! It’s about putting the visitor first – even on the About page. I like your analogy 🙂

  • I wonder: Is it better to use a dedicated page to tell your tale or put that info front and center on your sales pages? Do we gain anything by having deeper navigation?

    • I’d say it depends on the site. Sometimes the home page doubles up as an About page.

  • Angie Colee

    I think it’s truly difficult because of the wealth of conflicting information. It’s kinda like resumes – everyone has an opinion. No Objective section. OMG YES Objective section. Keyword optimized? Crap. How do I do that?!

    People (and the companies they work for/represent) are flat out paranoid to talk about themselves in a way that stands out. That tendency to kneejerk themselves into the “what if they don’t like me?” corner really shows itself when it comes to talking ABOUT oneself.

    But the great thing about it is we can find AMAZING perspective and selling features when we talk to people around us. I’ve found some of my best selling stuff came from talking to my best friend (biggest cheerleader) and best clients (yay, money!) and finding out what they loved most about me and my work.

    I was then able to take those best things about me, as told through the eyes of others with nothing to gain from those statements, and used them to sell the Helsinki out of myself (as Joanna would say).

    That strategy worked so great, I use it with companies that contract with me to develop website copy and about pages.

    It doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be tired.

    To work, it has to be YOU.

    Well done, Henneke 🙂

    • Yep, that’s a great point. Customers and clients can really help us write better content. As Joanna would say, we can steal our marketing messages – also for our About page!

  • Jason Quey

    I’ve seen this disease proliferate on LinkedIn profiles as well.

    There are two things that I believe cause this:

    1. We as humans are naturally self-centered.

    2. “About Us” is the perfect prompt to brag.

    So we do. And suffer the consequences.

    Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com/about) does a brilliant job of letting the #s speak for their promise. “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything.” 227.6 million blogs, 106.3 billion posts.

    Tim Ferriss (http://fourhourworkweek.com/about/) takes another great approach by allowing others to speak on his behalf.

    That said, it would make things a little more challenging for someone new to do this. I’d be interested hearing other’s thoughts on the best approach here.

    My initial reaction would be to simply share the journey of what inspired them to provide great service for others.

    • Josh Garofalo

      IMO, your initial reaction is correct. The worst About Us pages are a result of someone small trying to puff up their chest to look big.

      If you’re small, don’t try to hide it. Use it as an advantage. You might be able to connect with your visitor on a level the big boys/gals can’t due to being so ginormous.

      The big shots are propping up their image of: “We do all the things for all the people.” The small guy can say, “Hey, Jason. I can do this one thing you need, really well. Here’s how I got to this place. Let’s chat.”

  • Becky Zamora

    I love this! Show, don’t tell, with personality and pictures, how the services will benefit the customers! About pages are definitely overlooked and I’m going to comb through mine to see what adjustments can be made. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Becky!

  • Rob Page

    You haven’t seen Mission Drivel until you’ve been in Washington, DC. Here’s an example from a Government Contractor:

    We help our customers achieve specific practical and great outcomes through our holistic approach to their knotty problems—considering all issues…

    Anyone guess what they do? Specifically of course 🙂

    Has anyone won the conference ticket yet?! :^)

    • Josh Garofalo

      That is atrocious! 😛 Good find.

    • No idea what the contractor does. But I do like the word “knotty” 😉

      I came across this page with Fortune 500 mission statements recently: http://www.missionstatements.com/fortune_500_mission_statements.html
      This might be the most drivel-y page you’ll ever read (I didn’t check out whether these are accurate). This made me cry, then laugh. If anyone had heard me they’d think I was going crazy.

  • Kurtimus

    I offer up to this Murder Board my own About Page. Do with me as you will, you’ll work no hardship on me.

    Cargo Bike King

    Electric bikes are not a novel idea, but our approach and philosophy are. Many of our components are new to the market, because we constantly search for innovative products and materials to enhance your riding experience, which of course adds value to your purchase.

    As a result our business model seeks to engages public awareness and acceptance for a product as yet undefined in the minds of most consumers. Breaking from the traditional retail model currently employed by the bicycle industry, we propose an affordable, vibrant, yet sustainable solution for alternative modes of transportation.

    Vision Statement

    Our vision for the future is to share our knowledge to enable others the opportunity to enjoy energy-efficient, environmentally low-impact solutions for personal mobility.

    Organization Mission Statement

    We are in business to challenge the traditional business models. We provide innovative electric E-Bikes and motor kits. We constantly strive to find ways to “do what the others don’t”, and we want to make the world aware of the incredible health, economic, social and environmental advantages possible through electric bike conversions. Our core marketing objective is to maintain the philosophy that profit is good, but greed is not; rewards are good, but avarice is not; our environment is important, but exploitation is not.

    Price is no longer king, value no longer rules, and product is not the deciding factor. What does matter is whether a business’ philosophical compass points true north. Certainly price, value and product are important, but the perception must be that from the bottom to the top; through every dimension of this organization we will always strive to make the right decisions about humanity, care, compassion and what is good and fair. This above all guides our company’s decisions on each and every aspect related to the promotion of our products and services.

    Operational Excellence

    Operational excellence is not only desirable, but constantly sought after in any responsible organization, and our aim is that the implicit benefit must go to the customer.

    Customer Connectedness

    The presented mission statement is centered on the customer – delivery, personalization, dependability, cost-effectiveness, purpose, needs and requirements, service, support, in order to meet or exceed customer expectations, which naturally means our organization is inherently customer-centered.

    Product Knowledge

    With the above in mind, the customer expects nothing less than expert knowledge with any technology-based product. Therefore product value is essential for this organization. Assembling electric bikes, servicing electric bikes, and selecting electric bikes for retail sales requires up-to-the-minute knowledge of technologies that contribute to the customer-centered product.

    • Josh Garofalo

      Hey,

      I’m not Anneke or Joanna, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

      I think a good test is to read what you’ve written and imagine someone saying it while standing on top of a pedestal. If the message fits that scenario, you might be alienating people.

      IMO, it sounds very corporate-y. Which is too bad because I think you’re doing really important work that any child, 30-year-old, and grandma could appreciate.

      For example, your vision statement:

      Why not say, “Our vision is to help people enjoy getting around in their world in environmentally responsible ways. We’ll do this by sharing everything we know about environmentally friendly transportation with anyone who will listen.”

      Or, above that, Cargo Bike King:

      “At Cargo Bike King, we give you the best riding experience, in a way that respects your environment, and within your budget. We do this by sourcing the most innovative e-bike parts and by breaking from a bicycle retail tradition that is expensive and wasteful (I’d need more info to add detail here). So, whether you want to navigate gnarly trails or zip around town in style–we have the e-bike for you.”

      Or something like that. A little more human. More on what they get out of it and less about you.

      Just my opinion though. Love what you guys are doing. 🙂

      • Kurtimus

        Josh,
        It was written several years ago to satisfy the requirements of college. It’s time for a review and rewrite. Thanks for your honesty.
        Cheers, Kurt

      • Josh Garofalo

        Got it. I bet you did well on that assignment as well since it does sound like so many About Us pages. Especially when you think back to before it was totally acceptable for your business to have a personality.

    • A point like “because we constantly search for innovative products and materials to
      enhance your riding experience, which of course adds value to your
      purchase” screams for a specific example. What material do you use that’s innovative? And how does that contribute to my cycling experience? Without a specific example such a statement lacks credibility (and therefore sounds a little like corporate gobbledygook).

  • Joe Kizlauskas

    I largely ignore the About Us page on websites as a consumer. Mainly because I am a features and benefits kind of person. Once I find a product that ticks the boxes, I am ready to buy. I am not really bothered who they are, they already have my business.

    What your article demonstrates, is not everyone is like me. I am polishing my copy writing skills all of the time. Heck, I am even scared you guys will pull this comment apart!

    Anyway, I suppose the lesson I have learned from this post, is to apply the same approach to all of the pages on my sites. Not just the landing pages or the sales pages. Thanks for the lesson. I think it’s time to review a few of my sites About Us pages!

    • Yeah, good point – we’re all different. I always look at About pages as I’d like to know who I’m dealing with, but I’m quite often disappointed. Have a look at your stats to see whether you get any visits or not.

  • Josh Garofalo

    It peeves me when About pages speak in the third person and try to sound holier than thou.

    Cue flashy salesman voice:

    “Mr. SoAndSo is an expert in ‘x’ and created a ‘y’ which is best-in-class at ‘z’. He graduated summa cum laude from a school you could NEVER…ever…EVER afford. When he’s not completing ironman competitions, making first contact with ancient tribes, and performing open heart surgery on abandoned puppies–he’s busy planning a trip to Mars. That’s right, he’s going to be the first. Don’t you wish you were me…I MEAN him?

    When he’s not too busy being amazing and doing things you only wish you could do, he’s thinking about you and your business problems–but only then–and only sometimes.”

    Yeah. That makes me want to reach through the screen, grab hold of his silk tie and say, “Hey! Congratulations, you’re incredible. Now tell me why you care about my challenges and explain why I should trust you to help me fix them.”

    PS – I’d love to go to Vegas. I’m a complete amateur. Much of what I’d hear would blow my mind. Rubbing shoulders with people who actually know what they’re doing would be priceless. I’ve always loved stringing words together and business, but never thought I could meld the two together to make a living. This would be an incredible launch pad.

    What’s in it for you?

    Well…umm… when I am awesome at this copywriting thing and someone important asks, “So, Josh, how’d you get your start?” I would say, “Well this awesome copywriter named Henneke sent me on a wild trip to Vegas. It’s not what you think. Her and her friends footed the bill for an expensive and sold out conference. It was there that I really got started. I know, lucky…right?”

    I would then look into the camera and mouth the words, “enchanting”, “marketing”, and “dotcom”, while air typing–kind of like the contestants on American Idol.

    If you don’t pick me, I hope you were at least entertained. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Josh

    • You have to tempt Joanna, not me 🙂

      I personally find the puffery more repulsive than the third person. 😉

      • Josh Garofalo

        Agreed! I’d do away with both though if possible.

        The only time 3rd person doesn’t irk me is when it’s someone reading a bio to a crowd about the person that is about to take the stage.

  • Darren DeMatas

    Good stuff Henneke. Good to see you on Copyhackers 🙂

    P-U Those are all pretty stinky mistakes. I would have to say that the stinkiest is #2, blabbering on.

    Back in my corporate life, I might have grungingly put together a few corporate about pages with more bullets and dates than necessary. “More events make us look more important, right?”

    Ummm no.

    🙂

    • Ha yes, that’s a common problem. I guess it’s difficult for insiders to pick the few key points that engage their readers. But it must be done!

  • Jeff Williams

    Hmm … demonstrate caring, be pithy, be clear, be daring, show personality, show pictures, and provide a call to action.*

    I don’t know what this will do for my About page copy, but it’s going to be gold for my dating profile.

    Thanks Henneke!

    *Oh, right. The CTA. Can you introduce me to your friend Joanna? She’s one of my heroes.

  • Hi Henneke, thanks for bringing our attention to this oft-overlooked page! Perhaps you can also add a “wall of shame” of bad About pages and point out what’s bad about them? (Not that I’m a schadenfreude-er, ahem!) Btw, I know you draw well and it’s becoming your signature. Ever considered adding sketches to your About page?

    • Thank you, Karen. I always feel a little uneasy about pointing out mistakes with specific examples. Hence the approach here of a generic how-not-to followed by examples of how-to.

      And yep, adding sketches to my About page is on my list. It’s about time that purple-haired Henrietta gets her on spot on my About page – she’s an integral part of my business now 😉

  • It’s rare I agree with every item on a list being discussed on blog posts like these but I have to agree with all the arguments brought up here.
    I’ve actually been trying to prevent businesses from making these mistakes for several years now, but I always run into issues with management or ownership shooting the ideas down for one reason or another. It’s often hard to convince them to set ego aside when putting out copy for their About, Mission and other pages.
    I’d love to know strategies copywriters use to convince hard-headed and stubborn owners that the mistakes mentioned here can be detrimental!

    • The problem with copywriting (as with most marketing) is that everyone always has an opinion. Many business owners & managers think they know best – even if they sometimes don’t really know what they’re talking about. But we’re all taught it isn’t good to say “I don’t know”.

      My best strategy so far has been a touch of arrogance. I simply tell people their suggestion won’t work. You’d be surprised how people start to listen when a supplier or freelancer speaks their mind. Of course, it doesn’t always work, and you can’t be too blunt. Some clients get upset, so there’s a risk of losing them, but I’ve always felt it was worth this risk. Because I want to write copy I’m proud of and not just shrug my shoulders, write something crappy and get my fee.

      In some cases, of course, two approaches can be tested.

      • Touch of arrogance! I like that. I will try that next time for sure.

  • Sonia Thompson

    I think one of the reasons why businesses have so much trouble with the “About” page is because people in general aren’t that good of describing why someone should care about them. It goes along with your mistake #5.

    In life – when we meet people, when we don’t know how to properly engage them – we ask questions like “so tell me about yourself” or “what do you do?”

    And if you give the same ho-hum answers like, “I’m in customer service” or “I’m married with two kids” – don’t quite make a person memorable to others they come across.

    The responses rarely connect.

    This is why I think many “About” pages are so bad. When it comes time to write them, people go into that same mode they do at a cocktail party when someone asks them one of those yuck questions.

    Instead – we should follow your example, by of course skipping all the mistakes you talked about, and in particular finding a way to inject more personality into who we are.

    We need to give people a reason to care – a reason to say, “you know what, she’s pretty cool. I like her style. I want to know more.”

    That’s when the “About” page has done its job.

    As always Henneke – thanks for the fabulous reminders!

    • Yep, I totally agree, Sonia. I love the way you put that – give people a reason to care. Let’s inject some more personality into those About pages! 🙂

  • The mistake that’s most irritating to me is this: companies ignoring/missing the fact that their About page is a highly-trafficked page.

    It’s pretty crazy to see how many companies (including some I’ve written for) where their About page gets a significant chunk of website traffic yet the content is treated as an afterthought.

    I’d say that in terms of copy, there’s no other page on a website that I’ve seen as neglected as the About page. The suggestions you’ve made here don’t need to take a ton of time yet I’m sure they’ll have a measurable impact. Yet some companies are so focused on creating new content or tweaking other pages that they don’t bother to rewrite and optimize the About page.

    • Yeah, I feel your pain, Jeffrey. I once wrote copy for a company who didn’t even have an About page. Fortunately, they let me write one!

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