July 06, 2006
Case Study

Personable 'About Us' Page Lifts Ecommerce Conversions 30%

SUMMARY: On most sites the 'About Us' page (aka 'Company Info') is a copywriting backwater -- a little dry, a little boring, a lot corporate.

But, what if you lavished the creative marketing attention on your About Us page that you do for your top offerings and landing pages? Can an outstanding About Us page help an ecommerce site stand out in an ocean of competitors?

Oh, yes, it can:

How do you compete online with famous retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and BackCountry (not to mention Amazon)?

"We're a bit smaller and don't have quite the resources and backing that others do," says Nathan Decker, Evogear's Senior Ecommerce Marketing Manager.

Founded in 2000, the site sells more than 1,500 items for surfers, skiers and snowboarders. Most of the gear is famous-name branded for those in the know, but none is exclusive to the site.

So, the problem remains, unless you want to compete on price alone (an unenviable position) how do you convince shoppers you're the site they should buy this gear on … when they have a broad choice of retailers who all sell pretty much the same thing?

The marketing team did all the right stuff with Web analytics, intuitive design and site optimization. In the end though, what they came down to was the fact that people buy from people.

The world's skiers, snowboarders and surfers are true communities, united by the common adrenaline rush their chosen sport brings them. The way to their hearts just might be by showing them that the Evogear team is as much a part of the community as they are.

(Note: This is a tactic that has worked for BackCountry, who tested a shaggy mountain-man persona for their online customer chat feature.)

So, the ecommerce team did something a little unusual -- they asked the Web department to take time AWAY from improving merchandise pages that actually sell something to make the About Us page really whiz-bang.

The revised About Us Page featured some pretty standard stuff such as a two-paragraph history, a quick mission statement and list of eight core values. But then, just as you think it's a normal corporate page, you see the decidedly non-corporate group staff photo.

Posed around a picnic table outside, these people are silly. These people are happy. These people are a crazy group.

Scroll down a bit and up comes the group photo No. 2. This time, they are having a darned fine evening. Really partying. Grabbing each other, clutching drinks, raising fists in the air, yelling for joy at the camera man.

This isn't corporate. It's personal.

The personal flair continues below that with a photo and profile of every single employee (not just the big shots). The photos are sometimes silly, sometimes charming, sometimes peppy and one or two are almost a little scary. These are absolutely definitely real people.

The profiles for each employee resemble what you'd expect to find on a social networking site, except instead of talking about their past jobs or dating desires, the staff answer formula questions such as:

- Brands I am stoked on.
- What do you like to do besides work at Evogear.com?
- How did you get your start with Evogear?
- First time skiing or snowboarding?
- What else?

The answers are written by the actual staffers and contain text-links to product merchandise pages whenever a product is mentioned. However, not all staff mention product, and profiles are clearly more about them than about being marketing fodder. Example, "I am pretty image conscious as everyone at Evogear will tell you so I get stoked on anything that makes my butt look good."

Staffers also include thumbnails to their own personal library of snapshots, which generally includes pics of themselves skiiing, snowboarding, surfing or just hanging out with each other.

"It's very sticky content," notes Decker.

As with any social networking site, each staffer's profile includes a big fat button so visitors can contact that individual directly. However, to help route questions, they also include a “contact customer service” link next to each button as well.

After they built the fancier About Us page, the team placed a house ad on the site's home page to promote it. The ad features three staffers’ headshots along with the copy: "Who is Evogear? Click here to find out more about us."

In addition, they added a hotlink to the page as a standard part of the footer on every product page: "Why Buy From Evogear? • Take a peek into our world."

5-7% of home page visitors click through to the About Us page. Shoppers who view that page convert at a rate 30% higher than shoppers who do not see that page.

Enough said.

Useful links related to this article:

Creative samples -- screenshots from pages


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