This is a guest post by Ofer Tirosh and M.E. Simpson, the founder and content manager, respectively, of professional translation services  company Tomedes.com.
A question for you online marketers and content managers out there: If you made a small change to a client's website (or your own), such as a content revision of those basic web pages linked to at the bottom of the homepage (FAQs, Help, Contact Us, etc.) – how would you expect it to affect your sales? Most of you would probably say, Dude, ask a real marketing question. Typically, these teeny tiny links at the bottom of the homepage do not operate as individual tools for acquiring more or longer traffic visits, or increased conversion rates – not the way landing pages or SEO content does.
Recently, our online translation service and LSP company, Tomedes , gave one of our most basic pages a make-over. By basic, we mean that pretty much every website has one. It's a web page that rarely gets any attention, especially in the online marketing world. However, after we put up this newly revised web page, our conversion rates went up 13% – overnight. Most online marketers, SEO experts and content writers would never dream that this inconsequential web page would directly and immediately increase conversion rates by 13%. It is a web page that even the smallest of business websites have: the “About Us” page.
You may be grossly unimpressed. So what? That overnight CR increase could be a complete coincidence.
True, it could be a coincidence – except it isn't.
Don't yawn and roll your eyes just yet. The data from Google Analytics revealed some unsettling facts about Tomedes' About Us page. A disproportionate amount of visitors were hitting the dreaded X button and abandoning the site from this page, compared to the traffic on our other web pages. Now, our conversion rates weren't exactly in the gutter – they were actually pretty good. But “pretty good” is not good enough for any service website when you have 80,000 competitors closing in on your potential customers, ready to pounce like a pack of ninjas on the traffic that was yours first.
So. Tomedes put together a small team with members from communications, marketing, linguistic management, and content writing, who put on their superhero costumes and started brainstorming. Enter “Project About Us,” whose mission was to rescue the About Us page, which was metaphorically dangling from the ledge with one hand.
You may still be pretty cynical. Yeah, okay, the About Us page. Seriously? Come on, the About Us page is no substitution for good SEO content, linking, or landing pages – it's pretty much just a formality.
Au contraire. The About Us page is a little more – well, actually, a lot more – than a formality. Especially for B2B service websites like ours.
As a translation company, we maintain and market a premium service image, targeted primarily at potential B2B clients. These kinds of visitors and potential clients typically take more time examining our site. They aren't going to make impulsive decisions about a service that could affect their reputation or interaction with their foreign language markets, or anyone else. They may want to check our rates, see what kinds of clients we have, or look around – briefly. While they may be there more than 30 seconds on average, they don't enter our site to do some leisurely reading with their morning coffee, or spend all day checking facts in every single one of our blogs and articles. So which page can they go to in order to get an overall feel and some necessary info about our translation service? Why, our About Us page, of course.
So the team for “Project About Us” began to use case studies, market research and analysis, and other fancy methods to develop the skeleton of a new page. Consider the old About Us page introduction:
Tomedes is a one-of-a-kind language translation services company with a global team of professional translators. We provide quality translations between every major language combination. Our clients have ranged across big and small businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, and individuals as well. . . . the mission of Tomedes is to become the leading global platform for professional, low cost translation services.
Blah, blah, blah. This is a prime example of lame content and self-focused writing that rarely ever works – obviously, because visitors were bored right off our website. The revised introduction now reads:
We are Perfectionists. Work-a-holics. Passionate Linguists and Personable Personnel. We are Believers in cross-cultural, cross-lingual communication between all peoples sharing this world. We are Smart, Human Translations.
This introduction, or the “Who” section of our new About Us page, is much more attention-grabbing. The words themselves are more colorful and dynamic, and though concise, this intro lets the visitor or potential customer know who we are, and why we do what we do. It's not more of the empty droning about how great we are – even though we happen to think so – or boring, business-y phrases like “highly automated business processes” or overstatements like “highly advanced quality assurance system which includes proofreading.” Last we checked, proofreading wasn't a highly advanced anything. It IS a good, sound QA strategy, though. The company's concepts and strategies themselves were concrete. It was the communication of those strategies and concepts that needed change.
Good "About Us" pages communicate passion for the work, show real people, give specific company history or details, and allow the company's personality to color all of it. These are the kinds of changes ours needed. We continued to structure the content into Who, Why, How, What, and Where sections. This streamlined the content, encouraged details, and promoted more engaging language. Here's a few lines from our “What” section:
There isn't much you can ask for that will surprise us – we've translated everything from the ingredients on a cereal box to the kinds of … documents Hollywood makes movies about.
There are projects we receive more frequently than others … but if you want us to translate your new tat, or the Chinese on your fortune cookie, we will do that too.
We got rid of the fluff, the overstatements and the cliché “selling” talk. We transformed our "About Us" into honest, real, truthful information. Guess what? Honesty has worked far better than blowing hot air up our own rear ends, so to speak. (If you want to check out the entire revision, here it is .)
Don't get us wrong. We aren't selling conversion rate botox. No claims here about how a revised About Us page, or any other basic web page revision, is a miraculous, cure-all guarantee for increased conversion rates, all by the time you wake up tomorrow morning.
Our suggestion is merely to have a look at your Google Analytics data (or whatever analytics or testing programs you use), and give special attention to those teeny tiny links at the bottom of your homepage – not just the About Us page, but the FAQs page, the Help page, or even the Contact Us page, as naked as most of those are. Even if you don't find any noteworthy or tell-tale data about your visitors' behavior on those web pages, see if there isn't room for improvement anyway. You might find that a simple fix can yield awesome results.