How to Turn Your 404 Page Into a Marketing Secret Weapon

 

You know what a 404 page is, right?

Just in case you need a refresher: it’s the error page your visitor reaches when they look for a page on your website that no longer exists.

Most businesses leave these as the standard template included with their host.

Big mistake.

Because, you can transform your 404 page from one that only reinforces a disappointing experience into an opportunity that builds a strong relationship with someone who could become a customer in the future.

How you ultimately do that is up to you. But here’s a simple process, with some examples, on what you might do:

  1. First, Acknowledge Your Mistake with a Unique Message

The standard 404 page says something like “404 Page Not Found.” That’s a tad cryptic. It’s computer speak to people who may not be tech geeks.

So, change that message into something else. It works doubly better if you can be humorous. Here’s some ideas:

  • “Whoops! Our Bad. We Don’t Have that Page.”
  • “Shit. We Lost It.”
  • “Uh-oh. Big Mistake On Our Part. We Kinda Sorta Don’t Have The Page You Want.”

Anyway, you get the idea. Some fancier websites will even take you through an animation that allows you to punish their web developer. No need to install that functionality on your website, but it shows you what’s possible.

The important thing is you clearly admit your own mistake. You may also want to include a sentence or two below clarifying the message a tad further.

  1. Give Your Visitors Options for What to Do Instead

If you have the standard 404 page template, it doesn’t give your visitors any recommendation on what action to take next. Sure, they could go up to your main navigation and choose something. But they’re much more likely to take action if you suggest a few ideas on what to do next.

One idea is to go to your analytics, find your top 3 visited pages or product categories, and offer these links. You could also give them the option to do an on-site search to find what they were looking for.

There’s not necessarily a “right” strategy. Anything you do to keep your visitor engaged is a win. You’ve done the hard work attracting them to your site in the first place, so keep the relationship going.

  1. Offer a 10% Discount in Exchange for Their Email Address

This may be a better fit for e-commerce sites that sell many products. But if you’re a service provider, you might include it too.

A 10% discount to make up for your mistake would go over quite well, and especially so because your visitor didn’t expect to get it.

Make sure to get something from them in return…like their email address. Then, you can turn them into a long-term customer through email marketing. Your best customers who buy the most stay on your email list. So, you can transform a minor mistake into thousands in revenue for years to come with this strategy!

Now, Your 404 Page is a Great Marketing Asset

See how something simple, like a 404 page, changes from just another event into a marketing machine?

Think creatively online. Think win-win. And you’ll get more customers and stay ahead of your competition.

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