We’ve all been there and nobody likes it when it happens – 404 error pages.
That page that pops up when the thing your were searching for, has disappeard into the internet ether.
No matter how good your website is, you are still going to have error pages displaying to your visitors.
You don’t need to panic immediately if you find out that your website generates some error pages. Actually, most of the error 404 page hits are generated by search engines in cooperation with the software you use to power your web page.
Simply put, if a customer ends up on your 404 page it is most likely an error link generated by a search engine therefore, your visitor who got the 404 error is most likely referred by a search engine.
This is very important to know. Traffic is being referred to your site by search engines. Yeyyy!
Having in mind that most of your error 404 page hits will be generated from search engine visits means that all of these referred visitors are most likely visiting your web site for the first time.
So, what to say to someone who was excited to see what he was looking for on your website only to stumble upon that awful 404 sign? Sounds like not the best occasion to introduce someone with your business, right? Or is it?
Actually, it might be just the perfect time to start building a relationship with your visitors.
Here’s a list of things you can do to make the most of this not so pleasant situation for you and your visitors.
- Cheer them up with some nice “We are sorry, 404 happens” sign
Hey, there are millions of websites out there and most of them have almost the same 404 page – a plain text generated by their hosting provider saying that something went wrong.
Admit it, creative 404 page can make your day or at least it is a good way to tell your visitors that you care about them even where others don’t.
- Ask them about what they were looking for
Plenty of your visitors will come to your website, read what they need, leave and never come back. But, this moment when they stumble upon a broken part of your website might be emotive to an extent and therefore perfect opportunity to start communicating with your visitors. Is there a better way to do this than asking them what were they looking for?
Actually, you want to care about what they were looking for and help them find the information because, simply, they are most likely your future customers .
- Convert them into your subscribers
Asking your visitors to tell you more about what they were looking for and to see if you can help them is as easy as embedding a simple contact form into your 404 page. However, you can go even further and you could convert them into your subscribers right there. Simply by including a checkbox next to your contact form asking them to become your subscribers. So easy, right?
- Offer them a gift as a sign of your excellent-ness
What would be a better way to cheer up your visitor after they’ve stumbled upon your 404 page than offering them a gift as a sign of your good will?
People just love free stuff.
Think of the most frequently asked question you get about your products – could you turn the answer into a infographic? Maybe you’ve got some tips or hacks, just like this tv episode, that you could share with your customers.
Or, you could offer a discount code that is only valid for the next 2 hours.
If you offer something, you can easily make your 404 page be more like 404! page.
The bonus here, is that you’re adding new potential customers into your email database.
- List your best selling products
It might not be a perfect place to sell, but if you are sure that most of your error 404 page hits are coming from your external traffic i.e. visits from search engines or other referring websites, then this occasion is too good to miss the opportunity to introduce your new visitors with some of the coolest products from your store just before they navigate out of your website forever.
- Don’t be afraid of breaking some rules
By now, you should already know that breaking rules is the only way to grow your small retail business on a budget. It’s what sets you apart from the formulaic competition.
So, why not include a small on exit intent popup on your 404 pages to ask your visitors again are they sure that they couldn’t find the information they were seeking for and offer them a simple search box asking them to try again.
There you go, with these simple hacks you could unlock the treasure you maybe weren’t aware of and you could simply make your existing customers happier and this holiday season might be the perfect time for you to consider applying some of these hacks on your website.
By the way, you might want to check our previous article about getting yourself ready for the holiday rush and get my free holiday planner.