E-commerce companies typically spend hours perfecting their online product descriptions, enhancing existing images and boosting their brand profiles. All of these activities are important, of course. However, many companies admit to neglecting one of the most critical areas of their site as far as the customer is concerned (although many owners don’t realise this is the case, i.e. that the customer often finds this page invaluable). The page we are talking about is, of course, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
Yes, it’s not a particularly stimulating page to look at – none of the company’s products or services are displayed there – and it tends to be very heavily fact-based. That is, however, the point of it.
Despite the importance of most companies these days having an online presence, some fail to see the necessity for a FAQ page – big mistake. This is notably the case when you consider that recent research by global market research company Forrester showed that 70 per cent of consumers preferred getting their questions answered via a company’s website than by having to ring its customer service agents. That should not be surprising really, considering it is far quicker to look something up online than wait for someone to answer the phone. This only works; however, if the FAQ page has been designed properly in the first place. What many marketers, myself included, have discovered is that despite its importance, not all FAQ pages are equal, far from it.
The point of a FAQ page is to answer typical customer questions quickly and in a concise manner. The queries could be about delivery times, postage costs, the company’s returns policy, shop hours etc. It allows the site visitor to get what they need quickly, accurately and then move on.
In this piece, I will tell you how an excellent FAQ page on any company’s website can increase sales traffic and, at the same time, boost that company’s overall online presence. It will also lead to a higher placing search engine ranking. I will also explain just how to design such a fabulous FAQ place in the first place.
How an FAQ page helps with digital marketing
Customers like it. A well-thought-out company FAQ page keeps visitors to the site happy; therefore, they will think of the brand in a more favourable light. They will also stay on the site longer and are more inclined to buy from a company that tells them everything they need to know about buying a product or service from them, including how best to get in touch, what their shipping policy is, etc.
It helps with link-building. To explain a company’s processes to customers, it’s often necessary to link to other pages on the website. A FAQ page is an excellent means of doing this since it naturally incorporates other pages on the website (as well as external sites). Internal link building like this is a recognised Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tool which, in turn, helps boost a website’s ranking in search engines.
It could lead to a featured snippet. Google and other search engines regularly put featured snippets from companies on the first page. These snippets are more often than not taken from FAQ pages of websites. Companies whose FAQ questions and answers are concise, direct questions and answers have the best chance of being chosen as a featured snippet. It is also excellent for SEO and getting potential customers to click on that particular company’s website.
It allows companies to use their keywords. It is possible to use both head-tail and long-tail keywords on a FAQ page. That is because the questions and answers will be naturally related to what the company is selling; regardless of whether it is of a product or service nature. Using relevant short and long-tail keywords and phrases will bump a company’s placing in the search engine rankings.
It frees up time for business owners. Not having to continually answer the phone or reply to customer emails about factual questions frees up time to simply get on with selling. Many e-commerce owners believe this is the best reason for having a FAQ page, i.e. it lets them concentrate on their business. It also means not having to hire an extra member of staff to attend to phone and email requests when other parts of the business need attention.
It helps build the brand. Every company has a specific tone and style – whether that involves dealing with customers humorously or formally (or something in-between). The FAQ can help establish the company’s tone of voice – the type of questions and how they answer them. FAQs show customers that the business knows who they are and how they think.
It builds trust. Bothering to have a FAQ page in the first place and attempting to answer every customer concern shows that the company cares about those visitors to the site. It also proves they want customers to have a good experience on their website and recognise that their time is equally as valuable to them.
It builds authority. A FAQ page doesn’t just have to answer questions on the company. It can also venture into answering questions about the industry as a whole, e.g. a gas heating supplier might discuss the current regulations in the industry and necessary permits installers require to have. This knowledge can show site visitors that the company is an authority within its field, which in turn leads to customer confidence.
It’s all very well knowing why you should have a FAQ page, but how you create one is another matter. For instance, some companies have been known to use their FAQ page as a ‘dumping ground.’ By that I mean if they have the information they want to convey on the site but aren’t sure on which page of the website it should go, they will sometimes just ‘dump’ it in the FAQ page. Not only does this make that page look messy, but it will also appear disorganised and confusing for the visitor to navigate. It’s a real turn-off, in other words, and the very reason for a visitor to skip over to a competitor’s website and make their purchase there.
Creating an impressive FAQ page isn’t tricky. It just involves adhering to a few known facts and guidelines. I’ve outlined the main ones right here:
How to create a good FAQ page
Be succinct. Companies should keep questions and answers short, informative and factual means the company has more chance of appearing in a Google snippet on page one of the search engine. But more than that, it lets customers move on quickly to purchase that company’s product or service. FAQ pages which are too confusing can cause a visitor to leave and look elsewhere for what they were looking to buy, i.e. going off to a rival firm.
Create categories. Having separate headings and grouping relevant questions under them will make a company’s FAQ page easier for customers to navigate. Additionally, it will make the page look neater and the customer more inclined to stay on it to find what they need. One category could consist of Shipping Details under which you could list questions and answers about postage times and rates, signed deliveries and how to download a returns label etc. Another category could consist of Payment Details where a business advises customers on which methods of payment the company accepts, what to do if paying in a foreign currency and how long it takes to make a returns payment, etc.
Use bullet points. It’s not always easy to keep everything short and snappy on a FAQ page – especially if some answers require long explanations, or there are several steps to accomplish before showing the final solution. In this case, bullet points or numbered lists are a good idea. Why? Because it means there is not a massive block of dense and off-putting text for the visitor to read. This is important because we know people’s attention spans are shorter when reading on the web than they are a book or other printed publication.
Have more than five questions. Five or fewer questions lets the customer know that the company isn’t earnest about keeping them informed. It shows that instead of thinking about the customer, the company has supplied a ‘token’ FAQ page, and probably more for SEO purposes than for them. Either that or they don’t know how to produce a FAQ page – which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the visitor.
Keep it updated. Practically nothing looks worse than a company which is out of date when it comes to regulations within its industry.Bad too, is if it has changed its returns policy for instance – by shortening the length of time it accepts goods within – but forgets to change this on the FAQ page. Not only will that annoy customers, but it will also be out of line with any trades description policy.
Ensure the FAQ page is easy to find. There is no point in a company spending time creating a fabulous FAQ page if the web visitor to the site can’t locate it in the first place. A link to the FAQ page should be at the bottom of the website on the footer band. Another link should also be in the header menus at the top of the website.
Include images and even videos. Companies who believe in an ‘all singing, all dancing’ FAQ page often include pictures and videos. Any visual media tends to be along the lines of ‘How to’ guides. They usually consist of images or videos showing how to use the product they are selling. Images could also be used alongside each other to show the correct and wrong ways to carry out instructions etc. Pictures and videos aren’t just more interesting to look at, but help keep the FAQ page ‘clean’ too.
Include a search bar. A search bar will help site visitors navigate easier and quicker, meaning they aren’t likely to become frustrated and move on to an alternative site. This is essential if the FAQ page is long and contains videos or images, meaning the visitor would have to scroll through them to find out the answers to their query.
Add contact details to your FAQ. Despite a company’s best intentions, website visitors may still find the answer to their question challenging to locate on the FAQ page. Worse, it may not even be there in the first place. In which case, it makes sense to include a contact telephone number and/or email address too. The former is better though since the customer is probably impatient to know the information to their pressing question right away! It may also be that the customer has reading difficulties and can’t access online details easily.
Finally, the number of calls a company receives on factual matters may have reduced, and their bounce rate may be up, but how do they know if their FAQ is working? One way is to ask their customers that question directly. This can be done by asking visitors to the site to rate the answer to their problem. Allow them a space to reply, and the company will benefit twofold. How? Well, the customer is shown the company cares about them by allowing them to say if they are unhappy. At the same time, the company is given valuable feedback as to whether they need to be more explanatory or more transparent with their answer.
In conclusion, an intelligent, neat and useful FAQ page will keep visitors to a website staying longer. That’s because they can find the answers to any questions simply and quickly. This, in turn, is more likely to make them purchase the goods or services that the company is providing. It will also make them more favourably inclined towards that company; even becoming an unofficial brand ambassador. And which company doesn’t want that?