Frequently Asked Questions. When was the last time you even thought about them?

10 to 15 years ago they were widely used on websites to answer customer questions. But now we have Facebook and Twitter. Our sites have contact forms so people can get in touch with questions. Do we really need them anymore?

If your goal is better engagement and more conversions, you’re better off without them. FAQ pages are pretty meaningless to audiences, and most likely hurting your bottom line. In truth, they’re symptoms of content that isn’t working.

This article will dive into Frequently Asked Questions. I’ll discuss why they should be eliminated from your website and show you three ways to give customers the answers they need without making them scroll through a list.

The problem with FAQ pages

Creating a list of questions and answers may seem like an easy way to organize common questions. The problem is they place too much of a burden on your audience. By making visitors sift through questions in the hope of finding answers similar enough to their actual problems, FAQ pages require a lot of work.

This is really counter-intuitive to what a great user experience should be. Everything on your website should make it easy for customers and prospects to get to know you and take the next step.

Today’s web is different than it was 10 years ago. Peoples’ expectations and habits have changed. They want information at their fingertips and they use quick scanning techniques to determine relevance. They don’t care much about a hypothetical list of questions. They want to engage with websites that provide solutions right up front.

Let’s look at some more effective ways to repurpose question and answers and provide solutions right up front.

1. Put them on your homepage

Even though you’ve neatly tucked them out of the way, some frequently asked questions are better placed right up front and center on the homepage.

If you think of your homepage as the front door to your website, any information on it should welcome visitors in and encourage them to get to door #2.

Information that is perfect for homepages lets visitors get to know you. When visitors get to know and like your brand they’ll start feeling an emotional connection and want to stick around. Any content that talks about your company philosophy, your approach, or perhaps details about your team should come out of your FAQ page and be placed here.

You don’t need to, and shouldn’t, go in to great detail about these on the homepage. What you want to do is place short teasers with compelling CTAs that take visitors to more detailed pages.

You may have some other content on the FAQ page that should live on the homepage. Take some time to think about what information prospects and customers would want to know right up front, and then inventory your site’s content. Any information that best supports your value proposition should be taken out of the FAQ and placed on the homepage instead.

2. Create some buyer personas

Buyer personas personalize your target customers. They’re detailed descriptions that help you understand who your customers are, what makes them tick, and what drives their purchasing decisions so you can better meet their needs.

Personas put a face on your ideal customers by documenting everything from age, gender, income, to hobbies, goals, and career. They include a name and a photo. These are simple steps, and you’d be surprised at how visualizing customers likes will help you identify with them on a personal level.

By differentiating your customers you’ll start to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach and segment your audiences.

This template from Single Grain gives an example of what a buyer personal would look like:

Sample Buyer Persona

The idea is to create a separate persona for each target customer, and ideally you’ll have at least two or three:

Here’s what you want to include in each persona:

  • General background: This includes all the basics such as age, gender, location, salary, company, job title education, and family.
  • Specific goals: These are both personal and career goals. Knowing this helps you understand where your customers are coming from.
  • Challenges: These are personal or career challenges as well as challenges as they relate to purchasing your products or services. You want to determine buying resistance and how you can overcome it.
  • Objections: Find out any objections they may have to purchasing. Are they the only decision-makers or are there other stakeholders involved? Is their objection based on value or price? Perhaps they just don’t see the need and some education on your part is required.
  • Fears: What keeps them up at night? What are their concerns? This allows you to better understand their pain points.
  • Primary values. Find our what your customers care about. Understanding their priorities will help you understand how they prioritize spending, any key influencers and how much they’re willing to pay. It also provides key information for nurturing campaigns.

Here are a few places to gather information for your personas:

  • Check your website analytics
    Analytics programs won’t tell you who your target customers are or should be, but knowing what keywords customers used can give you an idea of the motivating factors that led them to you.
  • Get feedback from your customers
    This is going to be your best source of reserach. Create a list of questions and send them to a few of your ideal customers.
  • Take stock of what you already know
    Anyone within your company who has customer interactions will have valuable input about what makes customers tick. Get their perspective and include that feedback into your personas.
  • Create educated draft personas
    Other experts will tell you not to make educated guesses, but if your budgetary resources don’t allow extensive research, creating draft personas is better than having none at all. Assumptions can be a slippery slope and you want to be careful here, but you can always come back later and refine your personas with actual data. Your draft personas may be enough to guide your initial marketing initiatives. You’ll also be making great strides toward differentiating and segmenting your audiences.

3. Create task-based workflows

The third way to pull the content out of your FAQ page is by creating task-based workflows.

A lot of times the reason visitors don’t make it to page #2 is simply because they don’t know what you want them to do. Without knowing they can’t make a decision. For instance, the steps visitors should take to start using your company’s products and services may be crystal clear to you and your team. Are those steps clearly mapped out for visitors? Do they know what to do? If the only place you tell them is on your FAQ page, there’s a good chance they don’t.

Task-based workflows help fill in gaps between what you expect people to know about your website and what they actually know. They show you how people interact with your website to complete tasks and functions. Your goal is to find the problem areas where people get stuck.

To start creating a workflow, make a list of each task you want visitors to complete. Once you have that list, go observe a handful of people navigate your website. The people you choose should be anonymous so you get unbiased and objective feedback.

Here’s an example of a task-based workflow:

Sample Workflow Diagram

Enterprise websites and ecommerce or membership sites will have more complex tasks, so those lists will be long. If you have a smaller website, yours may be shorter.

You might include tasks such as:

  • Get in touch with you
  • Work with you
  • Locate products
  • Locate your place of business
  • View prices or packages
  • See industries or specialties
  • Find store or business hours

Once you complete the workflow diagram, you’ll be able to see what problems and obstacles exist on your website and where you can eliminate or optimize tasks. Your goal should be that visitors take as few steps as possible to complete each task.

The workflow will show you areas where you need to update content so you can bridge any gaps that are preventing visitors from making the right decisions.

The next time you have a frequently asked question, ask yourself if your FAQ page should exist at all. Chances are, the solution really needs to be provided on high profile pages like the Home page and About page. Instead of patching up design and content flaws on your website, create buyer personas combined with task-based content so visitors can find the answers they need without hunting for them. If you think it may be time to redesign or rebrand your website for better engagement and conversions, please contact us.