How to write FAQs – an FAQ for B2B
[First published in 2011 but Byron had a good idea in the comments, so we updated it.]
We’re big believers in the power of a great FAQ section on a B2B website — not just for customer support but for marketing. So here’s our FAQ on FAQs:
What’s an FAQ?
For some, it’s a list of questions that people really do ask a lot. For others, it’s more like a list of questions you wish were frequently asked.
What’s it good for?
An FAQ does a few things that other forms of communication don’t do quite as well:
1) Let you tell your story in an informal, conversational way from the user’s perspective.
2) Address some common objections – without having to bring them up in the main ‘product’ copy.
3) Provide a level of customer support – helping customers use your products and helping prospects make the right decisions.
4) Build trust – if you include unflattering questions and answer them honestly. No, really.
Oh, and 5) Actually answer the questions prospects frequently ask! (Duh).
Is this the only place for you to answer questions?
Quite the opposite. If you do have questions people ask all the time, ask yourself why. Then figure out ways to answer these questions before they’re asked.
Marcus Sheridan based an entire marketing philosophy on this idea, after using it to turn a struggling pool company into a national powerhouse. He tells all in his 2019 book, They Ask, You Answer. I love his down-to-earth framework and his anything-but-down-to-earth presentation style (get him for your next conference).
In fact, your FAQ page can show you the customer questions you most need to invest in answering in your content. So that’s a sixth purpose.
Who should use them?
Every B2B website can justify an FAQ section. But for some, they’re essential. We like FAQs for companies that are creating a new category or new kind of application because these always generate lots of questions—and, if unanswered, those questions become obstacles.
What makes a good FAQ?
I’m glad you asked that. A good FAQ is clear, well-organised, gives short answers, uses an open, conversational voice and links a lot to helpful content (on your site and — god forbid — elsewhere).
Above all, a good FAQ reflects your daily conversations with customers and prospects. Get your sales and customer success people in a room (or a Zoom). Spin up an online whiteboard. And start FAQstorming.
How many questions should I include?
Twelve. Unless you’ve got a really complicated story, then put in as many as you like, organised by topic for easy navigation.
How promotional should I be?
Go ahead and promote, but don’t be crass. The beauty of FAQs is that they feel like a friendly, open, honest view of your business. If you ask stilted questions like, “Why is your widget so popular among IT departments struggling to stay on top of power consumption?” people will probably figure out that this is not really a list of questions that are frequently asked. It is a brochure in very poor disguise.
Why do so many leading technology brands choose to work with Velocity?
See what I mean?
Can I use my FAQ to pimp some of my content?
Indeed you must. You’ve produced lots of content that’s useful to your target audience. It would be malpractice not to steer people to this content in their hour of need. Again, don’t be crass about it. Make sure the content is relevant to the question. Like this post about Listicles in B2B. (Jeez).
Can I use my FAQ to bring up sensitive issues I’d rather not flag in the main web copy?
Yep. FAQs can be a really good place to raise and counter a common objection without broadcasting that objection to on your home page.
It’s a great place to practice what we call Insane Honesty, a little-practiced but invariably successful B2B tactic. If there are people who your product is not right for, tell them now! They’ll appreciate it and everyone else will vibe on your integrity.
Do you have any good examples of FAQs for B2B?
No but Hubspot has ten in this super-helpful article.
What if I can’t think of twelve good questions?
It doesn’t matter. Nobody counts.
Well, some people do. So you might as well make a few extra ones up.
Byron Callas, Callas Consuting | March 22nd, 2021
Nice. It would be infinitely more helpful you linked to GREAT b2b FAQ examples.
Doug Kessler | March 25th, 2021
Thank you, Byron. That does make sense. I added a link at the bottom.
Byron Callas, Callas Consuting | March 31st, 2021
Thanks Doug. Good link.
I’ve become a fan of your website..
I show it to people as an example of a good B2B site for services like yours.
Your crap is better than most.
Doug Kessler | April 16th, 2021
That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me all week. Thanks, Byron!