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How To Create A Killer 404 Page
They are the unsung heroes of our websites.
They do the work no one else wants to do and, quite frankly, the work we don't ever want to have to deal with...
The 404 error page.
If you're not familiar with what the 404 page is, it is the default page on your website that appears when a visitor reaches a page link that either does not exist or no longer exists.
There are a lot of reasons that these pages can pop up but most frequently it is due to a page being deleted by the owner or a link changing.
Either way, these pages do the duty of informing your site visitor that the page they are looking for no longer exists and usually offers them two solutions:
Option 1: Go to the Homepage
Option 2: Search for the page using either a search box or the site map
Either way, both of those options suck.
You're hungry and want a cheeseburger so you drive on over to your favorite burger joint and when you get to the front door there's a sign that says
"We've moved, please go to our corporate headquarters and try and find a cheeseburger there."
Now, I don't know about you but I may be loyal to certain places but there's no way I'd go drive over to the corporate HQ to try and see if they can sell me a cheeseburger.
The whole ordeal of driving over there, dealing with their front desk lady, having to deal with multiple people to try and explain what I want....
No, just no way I'm doing that.
What I would do is find the next best solution and go there and... guess what?
I'd remember that the restaurant is closed and I'm a busy person so I'm not going to bother to ever go back because I know the place is closed and I've got a new place that makes my life easy and fast.
But that's exactly what we do with our 404 pages. We tell the visitor that what they were looking for isn't there and invite them to go on a scavenger hunt trying to find it. We don't inform ourselves of this issue so it basically doesn't get fixed. It just sits there serving up bad news to potential buyers.
If you haven't optimized your 404 Page yet then your competitors who have want to thank you for sending them free leads.
OK, let's not make you feel any worse. LOL, Let's get this thing fixed now and forever!
Sit down and buckle in folks, here starts the training, 100% for free to you.
Find where your 404 page lives. If you have WordPress you'll be able to find it either in your Settings or in your Appearance tabs on the left hand side of your Admin Panel. These vary slightly based on your theme. I have and am a HUGE fan of Thrive Themes.
If you have Thrive, you can find the 404 default settings under the Thrive Dashboard and then in Theme Options.
Once you get to the 404 Default Page Settings, review what is currently there. Most likely it is some basic text with a button to return to the Home Page or a search bar (or both).
Do a test to see what the page looks like in real time to a visitor.
You can do this by opening a new tab in your browser and typing www.yourdomain.com/cheeseburger-in-paradise. I'm going out on a limb here and making the assumption your site is not a Jimmy Buffett fan page, you most likely do not have a page with that address.
Note: You can also do yourdomain.com/123 (I'm a Jimmy Buffett fan and we started with a cheeseburger scenario so I gotta follow it through! Fins Up!!! 🙂
Your 404 Page probably lacks any creativity, huh? We're gonna fix that right here in this step. You'll want to come up with some copy that mirrors the tonality of your brand.
As you may have guessed, my brand tonality is conversational, witty and downright awesome. <-- Shameless plug 😉 Here is what my copy looks like:
Here's what my introduction copy is for my 404 page. Click image to zoom in.
You've got the witty copy to smooth out this rough patch for your customer experience but now we need to deliver a proactive solution to them that achieves the following 5 key goals:
1. Provides a solution to the problem
2. Keeps them on your site ( and happy)
3. Delivers value
4. Notifies you of the issue
5. Gets you a new lead
You read this right, we are going to use your 404 Page as a lead magnet.
Here's how we're going to achieve this:
Create a web form. I use Infusionsoft so I created a campaign called 404 Page.
The web form will ask, What is the type of content you were looking for when you got this 404 page? Check the box below for the topic.
And below that question will be the main page categories for your website.
My website focuses on Marketing Services, Coaching Services, Infusionsoft Services, Corporate Events and the standard Other/Not Listed.
I also give them an option to describe what they were looking for when they came upon the 404 Page.
This helps me, once submitted to identify what is wrong. For example, maybe they were looking for my free Personal Success Blueprint but the link was changed.
By them telling me this, it helps save me time to identify the issue, fix it and then quickly get that visitor what they want before they lose interest.
So these are the options in my web form that is embedded in my 404 page. It looks like this:
Here's what my web form looks like on my 404 website. Click image to zoom in.
We now are going to build some automation in our campaign to email them with some primary pages, links and posts that cover their main interest they identified in the web form. These are the main topics (ie: Marketing Services, Coaching Services, etc)
The campaign will fire off the email that is directly correlated to the choice they made. We can do this by setting up a decision diamond and having that diamond's logic based on the form submission choice for the radio button.
Here is what the decision diamond looks like:
Here's what your decision diamond should look like. A path for each web form option.
Click image to zoom in.
And here is what the email looks like that the visitor gets:
Here's what my email looks like that I send after the web form is submitted. Click image to zoom in.
Did you read the email I have that goes out to the 404 Page visitor who submitted the form?
If so, you noticed that I have an offer built right in to the email giving them the option to do a free 30 minute coaching session with me.
This is a perfect soft sell opportunity to identify a hot lead that could have slipped through the cracks and because this email comes from them engaging your site, it is not conveyed as a "salesly" email.
By the way, you don't have to find my 404 Page if you want a free 30 minute coaching session. I'll happily provide you with one if you click this link because if you read down this far in my blog, you are dedicated to growing your business and that I respect. 🙂
Now, let's take a look at what your campaign needs to look like once you've written your emails for all of the web form options.
Here's what your Infusionsoft campaign should look like once it's built. Click image to zoom in.
One other thing worth mentioning since we are almost done.
Make sure to add your most recent blog posts in your 404 Page. That'll instantly serve up recent content and provide an avenue for them to go down the path of consuming your blog content.
That's good for you as it deepens their connection with you as well as cements your authority in your space.
If you'd like to see how I built my 404 Page just click this link.
The Final step!!
After they have gone through your email sequence sending them valuable links that they may want to check out you'll have your system check to see if this person has gone through your Indoctrination Sequence or not.
If they have, push them in to your Long Term Nurture campaign.
If they have not completed your Indoctrination Sequence you'll want to push them in to that sequence and make sure you wait a day before they begin that email series.
* Just make sure you are following compliance to make sure you have permission to email them.
If you don't know what an Indoctrination Sequence is, just leave a comment below and I'll happily explain. If you have any questions with this campaign please let me know and I'll happily answer them for you.
If you just want me to build this for you, I can do that too if you have Infusionsoft. If you don't, I can set you up with it and get you rockin' and rollin. Just email me.
Either way, please let me know how this goes for you by commenting below. I love watching each of you succeed and want to make that journey a tad bit easier. 🙂
Here's a step by step video tutorial on how to create your own killer 404 page using Infusionsoft.