Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions About Frequently Asked Questions

No, the title of this post isn't some bizarre typo caused by one too many late-night writing sessions. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) pages are a fixture of Internet commerce; in fact, it's pretty hard to visit kind any kind of business site without seeing an "FAQ" tab on the home page. FAQ pages serve a valuable purpose. They can help you defuse common concerns and objections right off the bat, smoothing the way toward a purchase or at least further conversation. They can debunk popular myths about your industry, explain individual products or services, dispense important advice, explain how to place orders, and shed additional light on your business's values and mission. Having written my share of FAQ pages for clients over the years, however, I've come to realize that they can inspire as many questions as they aim to answer. So here's a little FAQ page about FAQ pages.

Q: What should my FAQ page include?

A: There's really no list of "must-have" questions and answers, which means that there's no single way to populate an FAQ page. One of the beauties of FAQ pages is that you get to decide which questions need answering. Simply ask yourself which questions you hear all the time from your clients, prospects, and referral partners, or go through old emails to see which questions you've answered over and over again. At the same time, think about including questions that you wish people would ask, or that you suspect they're keeping to themselves.

Q: How long should my answers be?

A: There are no particular rules about answer length, but use common sense. Abraham Lincoln stated that a man's legs should be long enough to reach the ground. Your answers be long enough to answer the question -- and no longer. If your reader see that his question has an interminable answer, it'll only make him more leery to wade into deeper waters.

Q: How should I address legitimate worries or known problems in my industry or product line?

A: Either don't include them on the FAQ page at all, or answer them honestly. You can always find positive ways to couch those negative situations, such as: "We know you're concerned about this issue, and so are we. That's why doing X, Y and Z to make your outcome more pleasant and productive."

Q: Should I put my company bio in the FAQ page?

A: Probably not, although you could answer some specific questions about skills, experience, et cetera. A full bio paragraph about your company or its leaders more properly belongs on your About Us page. Reserve your FAQ page for questions that might come up after the reader has perused your Home, About Us, and Products/Services pages.

Q: Should I leave some popular questions unaddressed?

A: In my humble opinion, yes. Generally speaking, marketing materials that try to cross every T and dot every I leave the reader with the impression that there's nothing left to ask -- and that could very well kill your chances of receiving calls and having productive chats that result in closed sales.

So, there's my brief FAQ page about FAQ pages. Do you feel a little better equipped to write your own? I hope so -- but if you still don't feel like bothering it yourself, rest assured that I can help you in that department too!