A lot of companies have FAQ pages. Some do them well, some don’t. But what does having a good FAQ page even mean? What are FAQ best practices?
While many companies think of their FAQ page as the place to answer a smorgasbord of their audience’s questions, FAQ pages actually have a variety of purposes. Here are 4 of my favorites.
1) They answer your audience’s questions
This is the most obvious purpose of an FAQ page, even if it isn’t the only one. If your prospects have questions, they come to your FAQ page to find answers. So, you want to make it as easy as possible for prospects to find what they are looking for.
The key to this is to have a quality layout. There are many ways to do this, and many companies that do this well. Dropbox lists only the questions on its FAQ page (the answers are all on separate pages). This keeps the page layout simple and clean, allowing prospects and customers to quickly find the information they want.
Since Dropbox doesn’t have many questions, it does not need to segment them into categories. Contrast this with MediaFire, which breaks the questions on its FAQ page into buckets (“Downloading,” “Uploading,” etc.) and uses anchor links to direct visitors to the answers further down the page. This layout works better for companies with dozens of questions.
These are just two examples. In reality, there are many ways to lay out a quality FAQ page for your website. The format you choose depends on how many questions you have and your stylistic preferences. Just make sure your format makes it easy for your visitors to find what they want.
2) They invite your audience to learn more
Your FAQ page should never be a dead end. You don’t want your audience to find what they are looking for and then have nowhere to go from there. Including links to other relevant pages of your site in your answers drives your audience to learn more about your company and your offerings.
Another way to encourage your audience to learn more is to invite them to contact you if they have questions not on your FAQ page, either by directing them to your “Contact Us” page or by giving them an email address. Although some companies, like TGIF, do this right off the bat, I prefer either doing this at the end of the FAQ page or periodically throughout the page as appropriate, like Apple does.
3) They tell you what your audience is interested in
If you use anchor links in your FAQ page – like the MediaFire FAQ page mentioned earlier – you can use Google Analytics (though you will have to ensure your code is tracking the anchors) to examine which questions are most frequently clicked on.
Once you determine what these popular questions are, you can act on this insight. Maybe your audience is clicking on a particular question because this concept is poorly explained on your website. In this case, you should consider changing the website copy. Alternatively, your audience may be clicking on a particular question because it finds the topic particularly relevant. In this case, you can write blog posts or whitepapers on this topic.
4) They can support your sales efforts by answering the tough questions (emphasis on “can”)
Although you generally don’t want your FAQ page to be overly sales-oriented, it can still help you sell, if you’re careful about it. You can even consider using your FAQ page to take on the tough questions – like why are your prices higher than some competitors’. Some experts, like MarketingProfs content veteran Ann Handley, suggest considering taking on these questions.
However, you do have to be careful. If your audience visits your FAQ page early in their buying process and one of the first things they see about your company is that you have high prices, you may alienate them early. So, proceed with caution. Think about what answers you would give to the tough questions, and whether your prospects will be receptive to the answers.
FAQ pages allow you to do more than just educate your audience. They actually have many purposes. The key to really improving your FAQ page is to stop thinking about it as just a tool for your audience and start thinking about it as a tool for your business.