Back to Learning Center
Subscribe
Join 40,000+ sales and marketing pros who receive our weekly insights, tips, and best practices.
Thank you! You have been subscribed.
Learning Center
Learning Center
Close
The IMPACT Learning Center

Free resources to help you master inbound marketing and They Ask, You Answer

Access the Learning Center

Access the Learning Center

Access the Learning Center
learning_center_grey__What is They Ask, You Answer-v2-black

What is They Ask, You Answer

What is <span>They Ask, You Answer</span>
Articles, Podcasts, & Updates

Articles, Podcasts, & Updates

Articles, Podcasts, <span>& Updates</span>
Free Courses & Certifications

Free Courses & Certifications

Free Courses & <span>Certifications</span>
On-Demand Keynotes & Sessions

On-Demand Keynotes & Sessions

On-Demand <span>Keynotes & Sessions</span>
Events
Events
Close
IMPACT+ Membership
IMPACT+ Membership
Close
Services
Services
Close
Navigation_8_2021_taya

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training
They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop
Navigation_8_2021_workshop

Inbound Marketing Services

Inbound Marketing Services
Navigation_8_2021_website design - monitor

Website Design & Development

Website Design & Development
Navigation_8_2021_hubspot implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation
Navigation_8_2021_virtual selling

Virtual Sales
Training

Virtual Sales <br>Training
Navigation_8_2021_swell - paid ads

Paid Search & Social Services

Paid Search & Social Services
Become a Certified Coach
Become a Certified Coach
Close
Marketing Strategy

How to Delight Your Visitors (& Win Leads) With a Clever 404 Page

By Joe Rinaldi

How to Delight Your Visitors (& Win Leads) With a Clever 404 Page Blog Feature

how-to-improve-your-404-pages-delight-visitors

Now I know what you’re thinking. “How can a 404-page delight someone? Shouldn’t the goal be to avoid these pages?”

You’re right. In a perfect world, every visitor would end up on the correct page without any unforeseen detours. Unfortunately, not even the biggest tech giants can defend against that accidental keystroke or rogue 301 redirects.

It’s times like these where you can take what would be a major inconvenience and turn it into a pleasant surprise. -- or as we say, a “delight.”

Sometimes the best discoveries are the ones that you weren’t expecting to find. Was that cheesy? Yes. Accurate? Absolutely.

Here are a few valuable tweaks to turn your 404 pages from a negative moment for your brand into a positive one:

Be Transparent About the Issue

Start off by explaining the cause of the issue in your content. Tell them why they aren’t seeing what they expected. People hate being left in the dark.

When a visitor arrives at a generic 404 page, like the one below, the initial surge of confusion that consumes visitors is enough to turn them off from your site for good.

improve-your-404-pages

Sympathize with your visitors when explaining what might have landed them on this page -- a mistyped URL, a faulty redirect.

Everybody makes mistakes; addressing the issue shows them that you're human and understand, making you more personable. After all people like to feel like they’re doing business with other people, not machines. Right?

Make sure to refrain from getting too technical. Explain the issue in simple terms. Visitors are already frustrated at this point, no need for them to have a degree in computer science just to understand the issue.

Pro Who Got it Right: Propeller

Check out 404 page from Propeller (now AOL) for example. They keep the explanation short and sweet, apologize for the error, and suggest a few causes for the issue.

improve-404-pages-1

Note: When suggesting the causes for an issue, try not to directly blame the user. You don’t want to start your new friendship off on the wrong foot. A-List Apart suggests using words such as “possibly” and “might have” to lessen the blame.

Provide Visitors with a Remedy to their Issue

Once a user knows the cause of an issue, it’s time to provide them with a solution. Giving them a few different paths to follow will help them stay on your site and find a page relevant to the one they were looking for.

Try including a few of the following options:

Site Navigation: Including site navigation will give visitors the opportunity to view all of the available paths to navigate throughout your site. It will also help create a seamless brand experience, letting users know they’ve reached the right site, just not the right page.

Search Bar: A search bar is one of the quickest ways to help users find the page they were looking for. They can search in their own terms and find the exact page they want, rather than you sending them elsewhere.

Contact Information: Giving the user the ability to reach out to you accomplishes a couple of different things; It shows them that you want to work with them to help them solve their issue. It will also notify you of errors on your site that you may not have been previously aware of.

Quick Links: In addition to your site-wide navigation, you can provide visitors with 4-5 quick links that lead to the most visited pages on your site. If a user has landed on your error page there may be a good chance they were trying to visit one of those high traffic pages (I typically include a link to the homepage, a conversion page, and a contact page.)

Pro Who Got it Right: MailChimp

MailChimp does a good job of providing users with the right amount of helpful links on their 404 page. They give their visitors the option to search for a specific page as well as navigate through their full site navigation.

MailChimp.png

Note: When including these elements remember to be careful about including TOO many different paths. You don’t want to overwhelm users.

Don’t Be Afraid to Add a Touch of Personality

In the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”. This ideology should be applied to every aspect of your site.

Even if a 404 page is someone’s first interaction with your site it doesn’t mean you have come across as rigid and cold. People don’t want to do business with a company that doesn’t feel human.

Inject a bit of your company’s personality to the page and introduce them to your company’s tone. People need to be invested in your company regardless of what page they’re on.

Pro Who Got it Right: Email Center UK

Take a look at how Email Center UK adds a splash of their personality onto their page. They’ve included their actual developers on the page which lets users see the guys behind the scenes, who may actually be correcting the problem for them.

This makes Email Center UK look more human and makes me more likely to forgive an innocent 404 error. They’ve also added a bit of humor to the page playing off of the idea that one of these developers is to blame for the issue.

improve-404-pages-1

Create an Opportunity for a Conversion

Remember when I dropped that cheesy line earlier? “Sometimes the best discoveries are the ones that you weren’t expecting to find.”

A 404 page is the perfect time to capitalize on that saying. Use your error page to start engaging with your visitors by presenting them with a high-level offer or a linking out to a few relevant blog articles.

Taking advantage of that opportunity will help get your visitors into the funnel, help make you appear more helpful to your visitors, and depending on the offer can even help delight your current customers.

Pro Who Got it Right: HubSpot

Hubspot’s took a nice approach to include an offer on their page, by putting a very subtle free trial offer link in the list of their helpful links.

improve-404-pages

They’re not beating visitors over the head with a huge graphic (remember the main point of this page is to still help your visitors), but still gives them the opportunity to convert without feeling pressured.

Parting Thoughts

People make mistakes and errors are going to happen on a website. It’s how you help your visitors during this time of frustration that’s going to keep them on your site and without a bad taste in their mouth.

Give your users the proper tools to fix their issues, speak in simple terms, be personable, and don’t be afraid to continue their journey with an offer.

Topics:

Marketing Strategy
Published on August 20, 2015

Recent Articles

9 Crucial Elements Every Homepage Should Have [+Video]

By Ramona Sukhraj on October 21, 2021
6 min read

How To Become a Better Coach (for Business Consultants, Sales Coaches, and Marketing Strategists)

By Kimberly Marshall on October 20, 2021
8 min read

Get Clients To Seek Your Approval, Not the Other Way Around (Podcast)

By Kimberly Marshall on October 13, 2021
1 min read

Why Your Business Always Needs to Invest in Marketing — in Bad Times and Good (+ Video)

By John Becker on October 7, 2021
8 min read

How to Grow a Digital Marketing Agency (with Coaching Services)

By Paul D. Grant on October 6, 2021
6 min read

Hire Freelance Writers with Caution (Read this First)

By Paul D. Grant on September 27, 2021
10 min read

5 Key Elements of a Winning Inbound Marketing Strategy

By Kimberly Marshall on September 14, 2021
14 min read

How to Get the Most Out of Your 2-week HubSpot Free Trial

By John Becker on September 13, 2021
5 min read

Free inbound marketing courses and training

By Paul D. Grant on September 10, 2021
4 min read

Drift report on pandemic fallout reveals seismic shift in marketing strategy

By Paul D. Grant on September 9, 2021
2 min read

How much HubSpot do I need?

By John Becker on August 17, 2021
4 min read

Inbound marketing strategy: 7 steps to success

By John Becker on August 11, 2021
8 min read

How can the StoryBrand framework be used for inbound marketing?

By Zach Basner on July 21, 2021
6 min read

8 business blog design examples that keep readers engaged

By Steve Polito on June 16, 2021
6 min read

Think you’re paying too much for HubSpot? Here’s how to get your money’s worth

By John Becker on May 5, 2021
5 min read

Do I need to hire a HubSpot specialist, or can someone on my team handle it?

By John Becker on April 30, 2021
4 min read

Every website agency talks about strategy; How is IMPACT different?

By John Becker on April 19, 2021
5 min read

Customers aren’t getting what they need from my website; What can I do immediately to change that?

By John Becker on March 8, 2021
6 min read

6 tips for creating a successful HubSpot and Salesforce integration

By Joe Bachir on February 12, 2021
5 min read

Is your marketing still relevant in 2021?

By John Becker on February 11, 2021
6 min read

How to best use your 2021 marketing budget so your company rebounds

By John Becker on February 8, 2021
4 min read

53 best marketing books you need to read (updated for 2021)

By Allison Melnik on January 21, 2021
15 min read

Digital marketing budget: How much should you spend per month?

By Eric Dunn on January 14, 2021
9 min read

The 10 marketing KPIs you should be tracking (updated for 2021)

By Carolyn Edgecomb on January 5, 2021
9 min read

How does IMPACT's website strategy blueprint process work? (schedule and outcomes)

By John Becker on December 18, 2020
5 min read