how to fqa

How to set up frequently asked questions

The “Frequently Asked Questions” or  “FAQ” page…

How to set up a frequently asked questions page on your website. It’s a great team mate for your website, and one that can help prevent losing that visitor and prospective client, is the “Frequently Asked Questions” page – good old FAQ…

“FAQ” – A Great Team Mate for your Website!

If you are like me, when you’re browsing a website and can’t find the information you’re looking for, you will most likely just move on to the next website. You probably won’t bother making a phone call to find out the additional information you’re seeking – in particular if you think that information is relatively straightforward. And, as we have established in our previous statistics blog, visitors generally spend 30 seconds or less on a site to find what they’re looking for – so a site owner is always playing “beat the clock” as far as grabbing and holding a visitor’s attention. One crucial thing for the site owner to remember is that key information must be easily accessible.

A great team mate for your website, and one that can help prevent losing that visitor and prospective client, is the “Frequently Asked Questions” page – good old FAQ…

How do you identify what questions should be put in your FAQ?

Good question (excuse the pun) – but it actually should be questions that you receive from your website visitors, clients, and prospects. What questions are asked most frequently during e-mail inquires, phone conversations, and introduction or sales meetings? I like to think of FAQ in the context of an interview – I am being interviewed by a prospective client and he or she is firing away with questions.

Here are some steps to take in creating your FAQ:

1. Establish who your target demographic (most desired website visitor) is.

Your target demographic should really be the point of view you consider when assembling your FAQ.  Generally this will be your target prospects and clients. There is little value in posting off the wall or one-off questions that are unique to one prospect only. Your FAQ should be directly from your client and prospect base, and should serve this base best.

2. Write down the questions you have been asked in the past.

When a prospect or client asks a question, be sure to record the question and answer to use in your FAQ area. If it is on the telephone, then I would send the prospect a follow up e-mail after your conversation and put the question in writing – “Just following up from our conversation and verifying the information again…”. Then by keeping a copy of that e-mail, you have started your FAQ list!

3. Logically break the questions into categories – Services, Products, & Pricing, for instance.

I have recommended that you start with around 10-20 FAQ’s, but this can vary, especially if you have a product or service that naturally lends itself to lots of questions. In that case, I recommend that you break your FAQ into different categories, such as service questions, product questions, and/or pricing and general company information. Keep category information together, as it is logical that one question will lead to another (or to an expanded answer). Listen to the way prospects ask you about a product or service, and follow their lead when deciding how to present your FAQ items.

4. Establish the optimum answer to the question (this should take some thought!).

When you create your FAQ’s, don’t just write the first answer you think of. Look at the question and establish a total answer that covers each aspect that may be in that question. In other words, be thorough. Ask yourself, “Does my FAQ answer cover different prospects or clients who might ask very similar questions?”

For instance, someone might have asked if you ship to Canada, and you’ve chosen to use that question in your FAQ. The simple answer would be, “Yes, we do ship to Canada.” A better answer, covering a far broader range of possible questioners, would be, “Yes, we ship to all countries.” Better still would be to change the QUESTION slightly (for the benefit of a non-Canadian who might not think the question applied to him), to “Do you ship to all countries?” Answer: “Yes, we do.” A weak FAQ response could be a nail your coffin when it comes to a prospect deciding to contact you. (OR NOT!)

5. Prioritize the FAQ into logical sequence – basic to advanced.

Arrange your FAQ in the logical sequence that progresses throughout a conversation. Ask the obvious questions first, and design the FAQ to assume that you are beginning at the start of your conversation with a prospect (not halfway through it). I would not recommend putting your pricing structure as your first FAQ. Pending your industry, you might not identify pricing online at all – but if you are talking about pricing, it should come in the FAQ approximately where it would in a meeting with a prospect – at the end or close to the end of the meeting. That way, the prospect has a full understanding of everything you are offering, which most likely will justify your pricing.

Is there a limit to how many FAQ’s you should have?

There is no doubt you could really go to town in terms of the number of FAQ’s – realistically, you could have hundreds of questions, but I would recommend narrowing it down to the top 10-20 questions. Taking the above steps, you want to clearly identify the top questions that you are being asked by your key demographic, and then if necessary break them into appropriate categories. Also as important is to establish the logical sequence of questions – basic to advanced.

For example, Bear Web’s prospects are coming to our website to see samples of our work, see the kinds of clients we have, and to get a list of the services we offer. They then decide whether or not we are a company that can provide the services they are looking for. Our questions in FAQ are arranged in the order of basic to complex, and are formatted as a “one time conversation” – meaning that they are anticipated to be read in one reading, and not as a disjointed list of questions that are read from time to time. In businesses with a longer list of FAQ’s, however, they will likely be read on an as-needed basis, and so categorizing them is very important to ensure that visitors will be able to quickly find the answers they’re looking for.

Once you have FAQ’s in place, will they work forever?

Like every aspect of your website, you should periodically review your FAQ’s and make sure they are current and covering your key questions. If an FAQ is out of date (or technologically incorrect) you have sent a great big message to your prospect – “RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN” – as we are not up-to-date, and we don’t take the time to provide you with accurate information in a timely manner. I am sure you get the point – don’t waste your web visitor’s time by having FAQ’s that don’t answer their key questions.

There has never been a better or more relevant time to add this new “Team Player” to your website. The FAQ is a great option to have on your website – prominently displayed, up-to-date, and informative – so that when your web visitors decide to pick up the phone and call, they will be ready to “talk turkey” (versus calling YOU a turkey for not giving them the information needed to establish whether your company was a good match or not!).

Peter Beare

Peter founded Bear Web Design in Nashville, Tennessee in May of 2000 and has been actively involved in web design & development, web content management & education, web hosting & management as well as internet marketing. His experience gained by working with clients from the sales cycle to launching a new website to overseeing a client’ s second generation redevelopment has given him a unique understanding and perspective of the internet. This allows him to serve our client base with expert leadership & service with a completely hands on approach.


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