How to Turn Your Website into an Automated Sales Machine (Part III)

(This is the third post in a series. For the other posts click here: Part I, Part II.)

 Few people are simply going to hand you their money (especially on the web) unless the following three conditions are met:

  1. They need to feel sure you have exactly what they want
  2. They need to feel they know how everything is supposed to work
  3. They need to feel they can trust you

Luckily, you can automate your website to help satisfy your potential customers for all three of these conditions.

In Part II of the series we talked about how each and every potential customer comes to your site with questions, and how it’s your job to answer those questions. Part II was about showing them that you have exactly what they want. You do this in the main content areas of your site by being as specific as you can about the products and/or services you offer. (That’s condition #1 above: They need to feel sure you have exactly what they want.)

In Part III, we are going to talk about how you can satisfy condition #2 above: They need to feel they know how everything is supposed to work.

The most practical way to do this is with an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section. Obviously you are still answering questions in this section, but the content here will differ from the main content of your site. The main content of you site, as mentioned before, is about exactly what products and/or services you offer. In your FAQ section, however, you will focus on all the questions that surround your products and services.

Some examples of FAQ question would be the following:

  • How long will it take to deliver?
  • How much is shipping?
  • How can I pay?
  • Does ABC do XYZ?
  • What if I want to change something?
  • Can I have X with Y?
  • Can I exchange A for B?

FAQ questions may come in many varieties, depending on your product or service, but generally they will probably be about logistics or functionality. You may find that you are repeating something in you FAQ section that you’ve already answered in the main content of your site, but that’s OK. If it’s a “frequent question,” that means it’s important enough to answer in multiple places.

 

STRATEGY


One of the greatest things about WordPress is that there is a plugin for just about everything. And, of course, there are FAQ plugins that you can use. Unless you have a very small FAQ section, you will probably want to use one of these plugins because it will help you keep all your information more organized, and it will help you in the future if you want to add or delete questions.

10 Tips for Building a Killer FAQ Section

The following tips should help when building an FAQ section on your site.

1. Copy the Big Boys

If there’s an established site in your market, then look at what they’ve done. If you are just getting started in your market (or just beginning to sell in it), you may not be aware of all the frequently asked questions that come up. But an established site surely will be. Don’t “steal” their exact copy, of course. But go get ideas from them.

You may even get ideas from sites that aren’t in your market.  Amazon is a good place to get ideas, for example. Amazon and places like it test this type of stuff RELENTLESSLY. (As well as everything else on their site.)

Why reinvent the wheel? Let them spend the money to do all the testing, and then just copy what they’re doing.

I don’t know how true this is, but as a kid I remember hearing that Burger King did just that. Instead of investing in finding out where the best places to put their restaurants were, they let McDonald’s spend all the money and do all the market research, and then they just put up a restaurant down the street from wherever McDonald’s did. Pretty smart, if you ask me.

2. Consider Your Market When Naming Your FAQ Section

Consider naming your FAQ section something other than “FAQ.” Depending on your audience, it may be more user-friendly to name your FAQ section something like “Help” or “Questions” or “Support.” Keep in mind that some people might not know what FAQ stands for.

As Amazon’s target market is about as generalized as it gets, you’ll notice that they have chosen to go with “Help” and not FAQ.

 
3. Consider Using Questions

Although it’s an FAQ, many sites might not actually use the question and answer format. Some will use a “topic” format. For example:

Topic Format Title: Shipping

Q&A Format Title: How much is shipping?

What’s the difference? Well, at times there may be no difference. The Q&A format, however, can work well in a few situations:

  1. When the questions are pretty common and most people would word their questions in a similar way. (Such as, “How much is shipping?”)
  2. When it would benefit the buyer to read more even when they don’t know what types of questions to ask. If you ask the questions for them, they will become more engaged. Once they’ve read the question, there’s a better chance they will want to see the answer.

For example, let’s say you offer web design services, and the topic is company logos.

  1. Topic Format Title: Logos
  2. Q&A Format Title: Will you create a logo for me?

Someone buying web design services might be so overwhelmed with all the options that they forget about a logo (or that they might have to pay extra for one). Questions allow you to “frame” the topic in a way that help your visitors see the information in the context you would like.

In general, asking questions tends to be more engaging.

4. Make Your Questions/Topics Clickable

If you have more than a few questions in your FAQ section, then you should make the questions clickable links. This allows the user to easily scan over the different topics quickly. If you listed each question with an answer underneath it, scanning for just the right question would be much more difficult.

 Getting a good FAQ plugin should make this easy.

Let’s take a look at an example of Google/YouTube using clickable links for their FAQ section. (Also notice that they’ve chosen to use actual questions.)

 5. Organize Long FAQs by Category

If you have an extremely long FAQ, organize the questions by categories first.

Again, a good FAQ plugin should make this easy to do.

Let’s take another look at Google/YouTube doing this. They actually have so much information that they’ve organized it into non-clickable categories (e.g. “Create and Manage Account”) and then clickable sub-categories (e.g. “Account Information”).

Clicking on the “Account Information” link takes you to a page with many more clickable links about Account Information. If you have a lot of info to convey, you will definitely need categories.

 6. Make the Answers Easily-Digestible Chunks

  • If one answer is several paragraphs, ask yourself if it would be better breaking it up into several different questions.
  • Use bullet-points or numbers when possible
  • Use white space to improve readability
  • Don’t try to sell or market in your FAQ section. Give direct, informational answers.

 

7. Consider Using a Rating System

Having a rating system on your FAQ section can help you get feedback on how well you are answering people’s questions. This feedback clearly shows you where you might improve to help your potential buyers.

Yet again, a good FAQ plugin can help you achieve this.

I have seen open/public rating systems where everyone can see the scores your users are leaving you, and I have seen closed/private rating system where the user rates the answer, yet it isn’t made public.

Obviously using a closed/private system doesn’t make you look as bad if one of your answers isn’t up to speed. Also you will have to consider that people may rate your answer negatively for various reasons—one being that they didn’t get the answer they wanted because they were looking at the wrong question.

Let’s take a look at a closed/private system on Microsoft’s site:

8. Make Feedback Easy

If your FAQ plugin doesn’t allow visitors to leave detailed feedback (or even if it does), make sure you have an email address, or a contact form, or a link to a contact form at the bottom of each answer you give. If your visitors are having problems finding the answers they need, you need to know that.

9. Have Tutorials if Necessary

If you begin writing an FAQ and you find it is getting very long, you may need to create more in-depth tutorials for your visitors. Simply link to them from your FAQ section.

10. Make Your FAQ Section Easy to Find

Make sure to put a link to your FAQ section in your main navigation. Also, put a link to it in your footer if you have links in your footer. Many people have been trained to go directly to the bottom of the page if they’re looking for a Help/Support/FAQ link.

The WordPress footer system is excellent for this. It is easy to links to your FAQ section from there, and you can even put a few links to some VERY common questions there if you have very common questions that many people ask.

They Have Questions – You Need to Have Answers

The importance of answering potential buyers’ questions can’t be stressed enough. First, realize that they DO have questions—every single one of them. And then do your best to determine what those questions are. Without knowing their questions, you won’t have the right answers.

When people don’t find the answers they’re looking for, usually they just simply go away. If you’re lucky, they will contact you and ask you. If you’re really lucky, you will be bombarded with support emails and phone calls. … But if you’re smart, you’ll automate everything from the outset and let your website do all the work.

(This is the third post in a series. For the other post click here: Part I, Part II.)

 

 

(Thanks to opensourceway for the Q&A image. Thanks to HikingArtist.com for his strategy image.)