How to Craft the Perfect About Us Page

Mat Zucker

Mat Zucker, Partner at Prophet, joins the Content Experience Podcast to discuss what a stellar About Us page can do for your brand.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Mat Zucker

Before There Was Social, There Was the About Us Page

In the early days of the internet, a company’s About Us page was often the only digital space that provided insight into its mission and identity. These days, consumers have a vast number of options for researching brands and sussing out their values. The About Us page, however, remains an essential piece of digital real estate that too many brands overlook.

When Mat Zucker analyzed the About Us pages of some of the world’s top companies, he learned just how many of these pages fail to deliver real value with the stories they tell there. He also uncovered five archetypical approaches to composing an About Us page (The Five P’s) and common themes among the most successful pages. The best pages, he learned, told engaging stories and offered straightforward information about the brands’ purpose, principles, and more.

In this interview with Mat, you’ll hear more vital takeaways from his analysis of successful About Us pages. You’ll also learn steps for clarifying your brand’s voice and communicating that identity to your audience in the most intentional way possible, using one of the most essential (and undervalued) components of your online presence.

In This Episode

  • The five archetypes of About Us pages (and how to identify which archetype your page most resembles).
  • What your About Us page offers your audience that your other pages, profiles, and digital properties cannot.
  • What Mat learned from analyzing About Us pages from the world’s top companies.
  • Where to start when honing your brand identity and voice.
  • How your homepage and About Us page serve different functions in your business’s web presence.

Quotes From This Episode

“About Us pages have been up since the early web. It was one of the first things created. People visited them because there was no way to access a company. There was no social.” – @matzucker

Don't just look for your one big story. Look for many stories that really embody who you are or illustrate what you do. Click To Tweet

“Right after ‘What I Believe’ and ‘Why We Exist,’ go one level deeper, into your principles.” – @matzucker


Content Experience Lightning Round

If you had to write an “About Us” page for yourself, what would you include?

Mat would start with his history—crafting a story arc is very important to him. From there, he’d delve into what he makes and does.

See you next week!

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Episode Transcript

Anna:Hey, everybody. Welcome to The Content Experience Show Podcast. My name is Anna Hrach from Convince & Convert and I am here with the always amazing Randy Frisch from Uberflip. Now, today, we have a very special guest on. We have Mat Zucker who is partner with Prophet which is a digital consultancy. They work with clients and today, we talk about something that might seem a little bit odd but you're going to find out really, really critical. We actually are going to be spending the majority of our conversation today talking about About Us pages on websites, so brand company pages.  
At first blush, that might not seem really interesting but, Randy, we had some pretty amazing conversations that dove into how to do company branding, what the top 100 look like, what the best ones look like, what they're doing and how this actually really sort of affects and reflects brands overall. What did you think?  
Randy:Yeah, honestly, here's the truth for everyone listening. I had no idea what to expect on this podcast, didn't know which way it was going to go like don't get me wrong. Prophet, they work with amazing brands like T-Mobile and Chick-fil-A and ... Like huge brands that we all know but I was like, "Okay, is this really going to ring true?" And I started to doubt everything that we do on our About Us page. I don't know about you, Anna, but-  
Anna:Well, we almost started like workshopping Uberflip almost like . . . But we had this plan and now I don't think I want to do that. You started like . . .  
Randy:I don't know what you think. We made a point in passing in the podcast that I'm thinking a lot about and it's kind of like what's more important, your Homepage or your About Us page? Because depending on your company and how well-known you are, we shouldn't underestimate how often someone is going to that About Us page to really cut through, if you will, all the fluff and really get to the point to understand.  
Randy:I'm wondering on average, how often it is that someone updates their About Us page.  
Anna:It is really fascinating. And Randy, I know that you had mentioned that you're already looking at kind of retooling your About Us page. I have to admit that I like your About Us page for Uberflip. I think it's good. I think it's well-designed. But I got to say, I've had a lot of conversations over the years especially when I was doing website redesigns and content but that About Us page, I would venture to say that 90% of the people that I worked with were just like, "Okay, great. Yeah, that's great. We have that there. Check the box."  
There weren't a ton of conversations that actually went into that and it didn't seem like it was as important in the grand scheme of things but I think Mat helped us realized just how important it really is.  
Randy:Absolutely. There are some really interesting comparisons that we also go through in different strategies. I can't remember the five off the top of my head. I'm going to screw at least one of them up unless you've got them. I think it was principles, people, product, pedigree and performance.  
Anna:Yeah, spot on.  
Randy:Yeah. Okay, phew! If I screwed any of those up, you'll be able to listen and if you're wondering what those five things mean, then you got to tune into the entire podcast. Here we go with Mat Zucker.  
Anna:Hey, Mat. Thank you so much for joining us today. It's really great to have you here.  
Mat:Oh, you too. Thanks for having me.  
Anna:Yes. We got to chat a little bit before the show and get to know each other, but why don't you tell everybody a little bit about yourselves so everybody can get to know you too.  
Mat:Sure. I'm based in New York. I am the co-leader of Prophet's marketing and sales practice. If you don't know Prophet, we're a global brand consultancy. And my areas of expertise are kind of around digital marketing, content and communications and I think it's because my background is in advertising as a copywriter and in digital and direct marketing. So when I became a strategist from being a creative person, that was kind of the best transition I could make.  
Anna:What's funny is I also came from an advertising background, an advertising agency background and started as a brand copywriter. Immediately, I have all these questions I want to dive into all of these topics with you because I so rarely find people that take that path, it's kind of funny. But the thing that I really want to dive into straightaway is you conducted this really fascinating research project about About Us pages on company websites which as a content advocate, I think that the About Us page holds a lot of weight but it's really kind of forgotten about it, at least in my opinion.  
A lot of people are like, "Oh, you know, it's in the butter. It's fine. It's there." But what did you find with this massive report because you looked at like a hundred different companies, something like that, like a ton.  
Mat:Yeah, I've done it to two years. About Us pages, they've been up since the early web. It was one of the first things that was created. People visited them in the early web traffic patterns. People actually did visit them because there was no way to access a company. There was no socials, so I think they were an early hit and they've been around forever.  
What I started to notice is a lot of brands, they kind of hadn't updated them. A lot of them looked like they were still created in like the early 2000s or late 90s. Well, a few other brands actually made an effort and really put some sweat into it. This is a 24/7 billboard for your brands that's up there that you can do really whatever you want. It probably doesn't have all the pressure of transactions so why not take better advantage of it.  
We wanted to kind of look at like why is that and who's doing what and who's doing something interesting? We started with just looking at the 100 like the Fortune 500 like the top 100, the big icky companies, what are they doing that's interesting? Are they out of date? And then a strategist I was working with at a firm, Helen Nie, she said, "Why don't we actually contrast it with like the Fast Company 50, with like more innovative companies and see both like what are people doing and is there any difference between the newcomers, the big newcomers versus the old classic legacy companies?"  
Anna:It's super fascinating. So what did you find then? What were some of the big reveals?  
Mat:The first thing is that you want to see, first of all, did everyone have one, and what do they call it? The vast majority of companies do have About Us pages. And they do call it About Us. They call it company info, so there was a little bit of nomenclature stuff that we were looking at. But then we started to really look under it and found that about 75% have a primary navigation. They're obviously making a big deal of it.  
If you're going to have one, you could put it below in the footer. You could put it in the masthead. You could put it last top right or you could put it first. We thought it was kind of interesting. We looked at who was prominent, who was kind of having it but didn't make a big deal out of it, and who had it that was absent. About 75% actually use it prominently and not in primary navigation. That was surprising to me.  
I was like, "Okay, a lot of people think it's as important as I do or maybe as of 10 years ago. Who knows?" 25% have it actually hide it in the footer or somewhere elsewhere or maybe it's not even present, you have to dig around like it's in the careers page or somewhere else too. And only 5%, I couldn't find one of these 100 or so companies too.  
Randy:That's wild. It's funny as you described this, Mat, because I'm thinking to myself that probably 9 times out of 10 when I go to a webpage, I'll give the homepage like 10 seconds of my attention to try and figure out what they do and then I'll say like, "Screw this, like where's the About Us page, what do they actually do?" To your point, we're maybe not prioritizing it to the way we should but maybe the bigger question here is how should a homepage and About Us page differ?  
Mat:Yeah, so we looked at the differences too because not everyone is doing exactly the same way. Your homepage really probably has a lot of vibrancy and dynamism and changes quite a bit. But the Our Company page is more of a thing is, "Do I want to do business with these people?" And if it's in the career section like, "Do I want to work there? Is this a place I want to be?" From the investor point of view, it's, "Do I want to put my money there?"  
I think the homepage has a different kind of pressure at least classically of basically what's new, what's different and going on. It's a little tricky now because so many of us use mobile to access a company page where that mobile homepage is actually going to serve multiple purposes. But usually, there still is an About Us that's separate. We did find five different kinds of About Us page if you want to hear about those.  
Anna:Yeah, that was actually going to be my follow-up question was like, what are actually people putting on here because it's one, first off, it's fascinating. I agree with Randy. I'm kind of surprised that it has that much prominence in the main navigation. So I'm curious to see if based on your findings that that prominence is justified based on what they did on page.  
Mat:Yeah. So what we found is there's about five different archetypes of what people do on their About Us page and there's no right answer. We just found these five patterns. And conveniently, Helen found each one is a P. There's five P's.   There's companies that decided to use their About Us page to be very principle-led. That's very led by their values.  
Some are very people-led, so it's very much up in front when you bump into them. You see their leadership or their culture or their faces or their team.   The third kind is very product-led. Some companies like Spotify or even Google in a way ... Everlane was another one ... they led by the thing they produced, the product and then the making of, and the specs meaning they're just insanely proud of what they make. What they make is who they are because each of these things are different gateways into who they are because it's About Us too.  
The fourth is pedigree-led. That's where you're led by your history. We've been around forever, Walmart. “We started small with a single discount store and now we're huge, largest retail in the world.” It's a tradition, it's more historical. It could be very modern too but your pedigree is important.  
And the last one was performance-led, companies that are really much about like we're really good at what we do. It's not what we make, it's our reviews are amazing, our awards, our numbers. You see a lot of statistics there. SpaceX does this. They start with what they do before they shift into their pedigree.  
Those were the kind of the five big P's. We found really interesting examples for each. Some, of course, blend it. They're a little bit more led by one but they used other elements but we thought that was interesting about what people said about themselves first in order to set the tone for who they are.  
Randy:That's interesting. I'll confess fully that as you're describing that, I was on my About Us page as you were prepping and I'm like-  
Mat:I looked at your About Us page too.  
Randy:Nice. I was sitting there and I was like, "Okay, yes. We've got the value, the people, the product. I don't know if we got into pedigree and performance," but I bet everyone is doing that right now as they listen to this podcast. They probably called up a tab on their mobile device just saying, "Okay, like which of the five ..." Was it five P's or did I throw-  
Mat:Yeah, there's five too and yeah, and it's funny and it's like, "And if you put something up, did you intentionally do that?" Or you're like, "Maybe you've picked the wrong thing. Maybe you've put up your people but you really want to be principle-led." You can mix that like one of my favorite is Patagonia. Patagonia, you look right into the ... You roll over the navigation and all of a sudden, you see what they are and their mission in the world. And then you also get to see their people.  
They've very principle-led but then people comes in quick after and I bet that's very intentional. While maybe some companies are looking at their site right now and being like, "Oh, I put that first. I surely should put in the other things first because that's a better demonstration of who I am."  
Anna:That's a good point that you make. Even though there are five different archetypes, you didn't list them off in any particular order, correct?  
Anna:It's really about who a company is or what it is and what it wants to represent and that's sort of the best way to go forward assuming that I was reading between the line.  
Mat:I think the trendy and tempting one is to be principle-led. We all want to be purpose-led brands. We want to be principle-led and it doesn't mean it shouldn't be there. It probably should be there for every kind of company or a strong brand. But should that be first? Should that be the first signal of who you are is your principle? Maybe not. Maybe it should be people.  
Or maybe what you make is so amazing and interesting, and so such a good analog for what you are that you should put that first, or maybe you're disruptive in a category and you need to play up your pedigree or just say you're a brand new company and your founders come from other very accomplished companies. Maybe you don't want to be dismissed as some startup. Maybe you want to show your pedigree that you've got these people that are so experienced creating this new enterprise. So you could be very purposeful and very intentional about how you play up each of the archetypes for your different business objectives.  
Randy:Yeah, it's interesting. So the second thing after I checked out my own About Us page is that when I checked out the Prophet one because I was thinking to myself, what's the right way to do it but as you said, it really depends. It seems like you guys are very much leading with values and then getting into pedigree after that and what are you doing.  
It looks like you have a lot of these elements on there. How often are you AB testing this, like is this a page that you would ever say . . . like our homepage we said earlier. We're AB testing our homepage all the time. Are you ever doing any testing or do you know of any companies that are testing these pages to figure out what works better for them?  
Mat:I think most companies do not test them. We've made some shifts putting our values up on the page as a new indication of who we are and we're a professional services firm so that makes sense. You want to know who you're doing transactions with. I think the companies that get the most ... They got to get enough traffic really to warrant testing those out, but I think the first trick is to match them to business objectives and then maybe do that too.  
Or maybe a more clever place to do is if you have a special About page or connection from investors or from careers page whether it's the same page or whether you're just linking to there, because I think those are more measurable because you'll know are you getting more job applications based on presenting yourself at X or presenting yourself at Y.  
I could see doing AB testing for sure. I think you could come up with like a couple of cool use cases of how you might best want to do that.  
Randy:That's really interesting. There's a lot more to unpack here, Mat. What we're going to do, we're going to take a short break here from some of our sponsors. We'll see how they describe about them and then we will be right back here on the Conex podcast.  
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Randy:We are back here on the Conex podcast with Mat. Mat, I got to be honest. You've got like 90% of my attention during this podcast because the other 10% is just spent going to every web property I have to see how we describe ourselves. And it's tricky because we're on LinkedIn, and we're on Facebook, and we're all over the place. I'm wondering like you're About Us research, was it tied strictly to the website or could it be extended? Or is that version 2, maybe?  
Mat:It's version 2 now because I think that is a great idea. When I started with the web because the web is the 24/7 channel that's been around forever and we were also trying to look for who's changed those and who hasn't. It's a little easier to see whether you used Wayback Machine or something else to know what's going on too.  
But we did see some patterns where we spread out from the web to see what they were doing elsewhere. And a lot of people are fairly lazy about it, I think. If you got like a LinkedIn About profile page where you get to know a company when maybe you're looking for a job or something like that, they're kind of very straightforward. They're a little boring. It doesn't make you necessarily want to join it. You kind of have to go back to the web to do it.  
We saw this interesting example. I don't know if you know the company Patreon. They're like a Kickstarter for like creative folks. And they have an interesting About Us page. And then what found is what they had, was over on Medium, one of the executives wrote a piece about who they are and what their company was like for more of a personal point of view. It made us really think about the channels could take a different position and the who is representing the company might be different.  
So the web is very much about the company as a whole with the exception of Google. Google's About Us page is like a letter from Larry and it's really interesting. It's sort of a letter about what they do, and it's very personal. It was one of the few examples we saw that that was that prominent. And it wasn't actually Google. It was Alphabet. Alphabet's About page was the letter from Larry. Then the most part over on Medium, it was a more of a personal letter. So you can kind of see that difference that it's individuals versus maybe the mass company.  
Anna:Interesting. What's fascinating is I love that example because I feel like a lot of brands struggle with taking their core identity and bringing it anywhere outside of the website. And then also let alone making it sort of lived through an actual person. That is a very tricky thing to do, so kudos to that company. But how do you feel like people can actually do this because obviously, we want the company mission, vision, values, identity, persona to live on but it has to be able to kind of grow and stretch and change based on the situation?  
Mat:One trick is to figure out how to balance the uber story for it and then figure out specifics that could be proof because people want proof, right? We're experience-driven. We want to believe it, not just hear it. So, it's more than messaging.  
One way to do it is if you spend the time working on who you are and what you believe and what you stand for and why you exist. Maybe that sticks around for a while. Maybe you adjust it every now and then. But if the proof points, examples, the stories, whether it's customer stories or facts or anything, if that could be more dynamic and more interesting and more alive, I think that would be an exciting way to mix both worlds. Be real-time relevant as well as kind of be a stoic and have a strong point of view.  
Anna:Yeah. I'm a massive fan of show, don't just tell. I think that's something that is really messing us up especially when it comes to brand personality and brand profiles. And it's one thing to write a funny headline or a snippet but then to actually live it and embody it within every piece of content, yeah, you have to show it. You can't just say that you're principled. You have to show how you're principled too. Yeah, super fascinating.  
Randy:It's interesting, we're in the midst of a project right now, my team, where we're trying to figure out how we describe what we do. And it became this big debate like do we make a product video or do we make a About Us video and what we stand for. We're trying to kill a million birds with one stone with this thing in the end but I'm sitting here thinking, "Okay, well, what video should we show, if you will? What story should we show on the About Us page? Is that same video or is it a very different story?"  
Mat:I have two answers for you. One would be the traditional thing to do is the About Us video, who we are, we've all seen them up there. Sometimes, they're really, really incredibly boring and generic. Sometimes like a good airline video for like a safety video, they can be amusing and interesting too. An alternative would be ... Our founder, David Aaker, I don't know if you know him. He's like the father of branding. He's a really prolific writer. One of his most recent books last year was called Signature Stories. And his idea was that you would not just look for your one big story but you want to look for many stories that really embody who you are or illustrate what you do.  
They're almost like living, breathing demos of what you are. And they're great for customers, they're great for employees, they're great for people. One thing I would suggest maybe is consider doing a few stories that embody what you do through like real stories of customers or employees or something or narratives and don't try to do one but do a few. But they're enough for me to get a sense of, "Oh, yeah, I get it. I get how that works."  
Anna:In terms of actually being able to translate brand stories and translate brand identity which by the way, Randy, kudos to you guys for ... That's a hard thing to undertake and everybody out there who's trying to figure out their brand positioning and their brand identity and even just about who they are, that is a really difficult task. I've been a part of several of those projects and both for the companies that I've worked for and then other clients when I was on the agency side. And it is not easy.  
But Mat, how would you ... Even just a few key takeaways, how do you feel like people can start to even just figure out their brand identity and really start to get on that path to describe articulately who they are and figure out how do they want to position themselves? Is it the typical like you have to have ... You just have to start with your mission and why you exist and then your vision on where you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years? And then your brand pillars, like, do you have to have those traditional things or is there a more light way to do it? How do you best recommend it?  
Mat:I think doing those elements like you described starting with what you believe in, what's your purpose in the universe and then therefore, why you exist is a really, really practical thing to kind of pause and do. And I think that could be a three-hour conversation or a three-month journey depending on how you want to do it. Some clients, we find already have a running start on that. They just haven't codified it. Others have they really never thought about it and they're really starting from scratch.  
Sometimes, there's competing visions. You kind of need to do the exercise just to get that kind of alignment. And then I think one thing I would do is right after what I believe and why we exist is go one level deeper and that is kind of into your principles or your experience principles. Basically, it's like the three or four things the way in which you do that, like what you deliver. And those aren't products and services but those are more the experience principles or the belief principles but it's more of the how. And it's all your proof points, what they ladder up to.  
And I think that's really good proof in pudding because some of those could be aspirational like things you hope to do in the next couple of years but you've kind of started to do so you got a little bit of cred there. And then some of the things could be things you just really, really good at and known for already but it's not enough to lean into the future.  
Randy:Yeah. Personally, I love everything you're hitting on here. I wanted the book, I said I read a while back and if you're not a book reader, you can watch this on YouTube. Its Start With Why, the Simon Sinek. It's such a good book and framework. We actually use that to establish why we exist and how we do it and the what and everything around that. I think it really helps. It's interesting as you described with that 10% that was ignoring you through this.  
I went and pulled up Google's About page like you suggested. I found their description of what they're about is they say, "Our mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," which is such a simple description of everything that I think of Google for. But I probably would lean perhaps with more product or more pedigree or performance versus realizing just what is their vision and mission about.  
I think this practice can actually help guide our company as you're pointing to us and help people buy into that company in a big way. This has been a ton of fun. I've really enjoyed this, Mat. What we want to do there before we fully let you go and let everyone listening go is keep you around and get to know you a little bit right after a little short break here on the Conex podcast.  
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Randy:All right, we're back here with Mat. And Mat, we just did a whole episode on the About Us page. I feel like half the listeners who listen to this podcast probably know where I'm going with this personal get-to-know-you question. But let's figure out what your About Us page would look like. I'm sure you've done this exercise because if you bring the whole report on this thing, you gave us those five P's. What would be your first two P's for yourself and what would they look like? How would you kind of describe yourself in that way?  
Mat:I'm going to use my own medicine, right, too. I guess as much as we all want to be very value-led and principle-led, I don't go there intuitively as the first thing I would put up. I probably would put it somewhere but I probably wouldn't start with it. I tend to start with my history. I really spend a lot of time writing about, thinking about the arc and the trajectory of like a career and a person. I'd probably lead with pedigree. I'm a strategist now, but I was a copywriter then and I also moved from the city to the farmlands.  
Since the story or now arc is very important to me, so I would definitely will lead with that. I probably would get quickly into like what I make or what I do pretty quickly because as an ex-creative person, well, as a creative person but as an ex-creative director, I tend to be obsessed with portfolio and what I actually make or have to show for. So that would be my first two.  
Randy:That's interesting. It's funny and I wonder if you ever did this. I interviewed a lot of people for jobs and want to perhaps join us or looking for careers and just advice. And I often say to them something like, "Tell me about yourself," like I'll just open up with that. And I'm very specifically broad with that question, and I find it interesting those who go right into their career path versus just tell me something about yourself. Tell me about the things that you do on the weekend.  
Mat:They all feel obligated to start with the beginning to the end. I just have to find a way also not to bore people from where I start at the beginning of the time and start with the headline like how do you write in headlines or talk in headlines.  
Randy:Yeah, absolutely. Well, listen, this has been great, Mat. I really enjoyed this. Maybe you can give us one page that we can go to perhaps get this report that you talked about today or just learn more about Prophet.  
Mat:Report is not out yet. You're the guys that are the first to hear the initial results. You might be shocked to say. I'm going to give a few more at eMerge Americas in Miami soon. But if you follow me on twitter, @matzucker, I'll be kind of releasing the report also on my LinkedIn page too. So, look me up. It's Mat Zucker with one T. And I'm at, so the report will probably get published on a blog page there.  
Randy:Amazing. This has been a ton of fun. This one really pushed me to think about our own company at Uberflip, and I'm sure you're going to talk to Jay and talk about the C&C homepage or About Us page, homepage soon. Mat, we thank you for that and hopefully, everyone listening got challenged today.  
Randy:Please continue to tune into this podcast to get that challenge on a weekly basis. You can find us on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, anywhere you get your podcast. And when you can, leave us some feedback. Until next time, this has been the Conex podcast.  
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