The ideal in any web page or ecommerce, is to achieve that the user experience is as pleasant as possible. Users must be able to find what they are looking for and end their visit satisfied.
Obviously, each brand has its own marketing objectives, but in order to meet them they must meet the needs of their audience. And this also includes the experience of browsing your website.
Despite the fact that this is the ideal, many times a mistake is made and the dreaded appears Error 404. Sometimes because of a broken link or redirect that we have not corrected, and sometimes because users directly search for what they want and make a mistake in their search.
The point is that page 404 It is one more within a website and it must be taken into account, both to design it and to generate its content.
“An optimized 404 error page is the one that ensures that users do not abandon the visit and continue browsing.
Thinking strategically, you can even get to enhance a product or service. “
WHY SHOULD YOU CUSTOMIZE ERROR PAGE 404?
There are many websites that use the classic templates or plugins to insert the content on page 404 and they do not spend more time or effort, but surely the ones that have caught your attention the most have been the ones you have seen personalized.
The “back” button is one of the most used in any browser and one of the reasons is the external links that open in the same tab.
In many occasions, the user continues browsing within this new web page, but sometimes he still wants to see more information than can be found on the “about us” page, and he returns by pressing the back button.
The other reason are 404 error pages. If the user does not find another navigability option within the error, they will close the page or go back.
If the error is the first thing you perceive from your WordPress website or your PrestaShop online store, going back will return to the place you were visiting before and probably will not visit you again, but if you want to attract users to other pages within your website , it is best to have a custom 404 error page.
Optimize the content of your 404 error page, It will bring you many benefits that you will see reflected in the navigability of users:
- It will improve your brand image: Taking advantage of this page to enhance your image is always a good decision. By running away from preset templates, you can customize 404 page as much as you like. You must respect the design of your website using the characteristic colors, typography and communication tone, as well as any other relevant aspect. Thus, those who reach this page will identify where they are and why.
- You will attract users to your strengths: Don’t let page 404 be the end of a user’s visit. Suggest more navigation options. For example, allow me to go to the home page, or leave a comment or suggestion. You can also propose content, products or services similar to what you were looking for.
- You will increase the possibility of generating conversions: Take advantage of this space to promote your star products or services, but do it in a subtle way. It is not a page where you should write business texts only, so it includes calls to action to redirect the user to the conversion you want to promote.
- You will convince dubious users: Think that on the Internet there are many users who are not clear what they are looking for. If you offer them relevant information, or at least tell them how to get to that information, they will stay on your page.
Therefore, the time and effort you dedicate to this page will always be an investment. When you consult the navigation analytics of your website, you will be able to perceive the benefits.
FEATURES OF THE 404 ERROR PAGE IN MARKETING
As we have seen, a 404 page with optimized content can help you improve the results of your website. However, why stop there?
Integrating it into your strategy may be a plus to enhance the achievement of your marketing objectives.
“When a business thinks about how to bring its brand to the online sector, it must think about all the channels and tools it has at its disposal.”
In general terms, we think of great actions taken to the web, email marketing or social media field. However, it is better to go one step further and see what other options each of these channels can provide.
At the web level, we must put ourselves in the user’s shoes and try to optimize everything in our power, and precisely 404 error page It is one of those aspects that should not be neglected.
Here it does not matter if it is an ecommerce, a blog or a corporate website, you should always consider its potential, however small it may be.
Next, I tell you in detail the 3 potential functionalities of a 404 page, which you could take advantage of on your website and that, perhaps, you had not taken into account until now.
This space is part of your website, so I do not recommend that you waste it; you know… It can also be a good place to offer your products or services!
As I mentioned above, it should not be their main message or objective, since the first thing you have to do is explain to users how they got there and what solutions you offer them.
Once the content of your 404 error page has already fulfilled its main purpose, you can consider the option of, for example, including a banner with promotional information.
This can be a good way to compensate users for wasting their time clicking on a broken link. For example, you could take advantage of the circumstance to offer them a discount code, a promotion or even exclusive content.
It is very possible that the user ends up forgetting his landing in the wrong place, so it is a good way to build loyalty and improve online reputation.
Another possibility, which of course is not at odds with the previous one, is to request the user to leave your contact information or a message explaining your situation.
Perhaps it is not the most appropriate way to capture a lead, since it is about users who have had a negative experience when browsing your website, but an approach you never know what can end, Maybe a happy ending?
This example you can see on my own website after unsuccessfully subscribing to my newsletter.
In addition to this case, I can think of many other options that encourage the capture of leads on a web page, and that in a totally viable way you could keep active on the 404 error page, such as Subscription pop-ups or promotional items download.
This is not a page on which to place the main content of your page, but it can host secondary content that attracts users to other sites on your website.
For example, in the case of SEMrush, they facilitate a call to action button highly visible to redirect the user to the home page.
How about applying this concept to enhance your favorite articles or those contents that you want to position as references?
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF AN ERROR PAGE 404
In order to get the 404 error page to help you achieve your marketing goals as much as possible, you need to have Optimal layout and consistent copywriting style.
Let’s make an organized summary of what we have seen so far, based on the visual and textual elements that you must include, do you think?
WHAT ELEMENTS SHOULD YOU INCLUDE IN YOUR DESIGN?
- Corporate colors and typography: Actually, any WordPress template or another CMS will respect the same design that you have configured for the rest of the pages of your website. However, consistency is a must in branding, and page 404 should also follow the canons of your brand or personal style. As we saw in the benefits, the font and colors are key differentiating elements.
- Search bar: This helps the user to find what he was looking for, and encourages him not to leave your website. On the other hand, you can analyze what users are looking for from this page and you will know if there is any pattern in their navigation. This will help you solve possible errors.
- Redirect button: As I already mentioned, it is important that you give users the opportunity to start again within your web page with a button of “return to the home page” or, perhaps, to other main pages.
- Relevant links: By showing them content, products or services similar to what they are looking for, you will be showing them your interest in solving their needs. You already know that in this way they will value the effort and investigate the options that you offer them, possibly ending with a conversion.
- Form: As we have said, it is a good opportunity for them to send you their comments or suggestions. Listening to the opinion of users is the only way we have in marketing to find out if we are doing things right or if we should divert the course towards other objectives.
- Call to action: Using flashy phrases and buttons, you can indicate what you expect from users who come to this page and guide them to the next step. For this, I usually use a very direct copy that refers to the user, using the first person singular; “I want to see more”, “I’m interested” …
WHAT KIND OF EDITING AND CONTENT SHOULD YOU USE?
In addition to these elements, an effective and personalized 404 error page uses a close tone, showing that we can all go wrong. Thats why he simple language It is another important ingredient when building this page.
On the other hand … be careful with the language! If you use a foreign CMS it is likely that page 404 uses an English template, or that the information is even displayed in a programming language. Translating it and making it understandable for all your users is the minimum.
Although the writing style to apply on this page will depend, as in any other, on the style of your brand or business, there are certain general advice that you can apply:
- Apologize: We can all make mistakes and nothing happens. Apologize to users and show your most human side. Empathizing is very important in marketing, sure that you are aware of it.
- Use humor: Take advantage that they have come to that page to get a smile out of them. You can use funny images or GIFs that encourage them to continue browsing. To get inspired you can take a walk on Twitter or Snapchat, where the use of these elements is very common.
- Write an original copy: All the error pages report the same, but they usually do it in a bit boring way. I would recommend that, in that sense, you take advantage of the space on this page to be original and stand out from the competition. Such an error can translate into a surprised user who will therefore remember you.
- Simplify: As we have seen, there are many options to take advantage of this page. That does not mean that you have to use them all. Decide what your goal is and be concise. You want users to continue browsing, not to spend too much time on the error page or to feel overwhelmed with so much information.
- Keep the footer: In addition to providing solutions to continue browsing, you can keep the web footer active. It usually includes important links such as social network profiles or the sitemap, so they will have more options to continue their visit through your online communication channels.
No one wants their users to get to the 404 error page, as this means that something is wrong. But sometimes it is inevitable, so it should not be overlooked. It is part of the web and as such it must be treated.
Analyzing the flow of user navigation and being alert when they reach this page, is essential to find those errors and solve them.
In this article we have seen the least bitter side of this reality, because (as I always say) in marketing from every compromised situation a new opportunity can be taken.
So, review the most outstanding contents of your website as well as your general strategic objectives, and decide how you will surprise your users who, by mistake, land on your 404 page.
Have you ever had traffic spikes towards the 404 error page? How do you take advantage of it?
Freelance Digital Marketing Consultant and Content Manager. He has university training in International Business Management and Teaching. She is currently the Marketing Manager of MadridNYC and administrator of the blog Diseñocreativo.com