Get your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) right and you’ll save money, add oomph to your marketing and drive sales. But get them wrong and customers will stop trusting them — and you.
I’ve written FAQ articles and self-service copy for dozens of iconic brands, from insurance to toys to loyalty programmes. Here are my top tips for writing FAQs that support customers, reduce unnecessary contact and enhance your brand image.
Where to start with FAQs if your business is new
1. Use search engines to find out what people really want to know
Don’t make things up — it’s better not to have any FAQs than to have irrelevant ones and damage their effectiveness. Because if people don’t learn something useful or interesting, they won’t return to them, even if you improve them later on.
You can use Google to research what confuses your audience about your product or service. In my case, these topics serve as a starting point for the FAQs that I’m writing for my own website:
2. Validate your FAQ ideas with keyword research
Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with SEO and marketing practices: there are lots of free and easy-to-use tools you can use to check what people are searching for. Give the brilliantly-designed answerthepublic.com a spin.
It’s a quick and easy way to validate what you believe are common questions.
Start with your search engine’s auto-complete feature to get some ideas.
Then head over to answerthepublic.com to validate them. You’ll get a colourful diagram telling you what people really want to know. Beautiful — and useful, too!
How you can use customer service information to create FAQs
3. Add real questions from your customers and prospects
Make time to review emails, calls and chats from your customers at least once a month, and update your FAQs accordingly. Pay attention to the words they use to describe their problem and mirror those in the question part of the article.
Not only will this help with SEO, it will also show your customers that you’re listening to them and are ‘on the same page’.
4. List the most frequent, most recent questions first
OK, this may seem obvious. But lots of FAQ pages out there still list them alphabetically or add new articles at the bottom of the page. F is for frequently, and visitors are much more likely to trust your competence if they can get the help they need, fast.
Brilliant FAQs: where customer support meets content marketing
5. FAQs: your blog’s little sister
Your blog builds trust by showing you know what interests your audience and that you share their values. The same is true for the most useful FAQs. So treat them like mini-blogs and make them part of your content marketing strategy.
Consider turning meatier topics into a blog post, especially if your subject matter isn’t exactly every day, or you find yourself answering the same questions again and again.
If you can, create infographics, videos and/or interactive tools for your FAQs as well. That kind of content often gets shared — which means you get free advertising, better SEO ranking and can reduce unnecessary queries even more.
6. Give each question its own URL
While a searchable FAQ page is good for SEO, it’s even better if each of your articles has its own URL. Because we know that customers tend to google their questions instead of reading through a dedicated website, top to bottom.
Here is an example of what this looks like. During my time leading the in-house copy team at LEGO Consumer Service, one of my projects was to drive more traffic directly to the global LEGO® help topics. Even though the help topics have had several overhauls since then, the principle still applies.
These screenshots show how easy it is to google a specific issue and get the best help in one click:
Simply tell your search engine what’s up — and the right FAQ appears. Magic!
Follow the link to get to the full answer.
How to measure your FAQs’ performance
7. Check if people ask you about things explained in your FAQs
Are customers praising them or asking follow-up questions? That’s a good sign (you’ll never be able to give answers for everyone’s specific circumstances.)
If you still get questions you’ve answered online, try making your FAQs more ‘findable’, or changing the wording.
8. How long do people spend on the page — and what do they do next?
Analytics are very important to web-based companies (and who isn’t based online these days!).
Do a bit of number crunching to find out how much time people spend with your FAQs. You don’t want high bounce rates, but at the same time, people shouldn’t spend hours trying to find a needle in the haystack.
Visits lasting a couple of minutes indicate that people are reading and interacting with your content. Heatmap tools like Hotjar can give you even more insights.
It’s also worth tracking where your page visitors go to when they leave the FAQs. Do they:
- go on to another FAQ item or your blog, sign up for your news, or make a purchase? (Brilliant)
- contact you with a question? (OK)
- move on to a search engine or a competitor’s site? (a warning sign that they didn’t find what they were looking for)
Why your FAQs’ tone of voice matters
9. Use your customers’ words to write your FAQs
We all suffer from the curse of knowledge. It’s so easy to forget what it’s like to know zilch about our area of expertise… and that includes terminology. Business-speak, legalese, insurance lingo… it’s a proper turn-off for most people.
The easiest way to avoid jargon is to build your FAQs on keyword research and customer service info. You’re more likely to speak the language of your audience and build a relationship that transcends marketing.
Tackle the terminology of your industry head-on and explain it in a conversational, informal tone. It’ll also help prospective customers feel confident making an informed decision.
10. Make your FAQs sparkle with help from a professional
Many startup founders, marketers and brand teams know exactly what their company should feel like. But especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty of customer care content, bringing that vision together can be tricky. That’s where an experienced copywriter can streamline the process and make sure everyone’s on board with the direction you want your brand to take —from customer service advisors to store associates and editorial teams.
Do you struggle to write in the style you want? Not sure your tone of voice permeates what you’ve written? Many copywriters offer you a quick review and some tips.
Or you could ask for some tone of voice training to grow your skills. If that’s something you’re interested in, feel free to get in touch.