How To Generate Leads From Your 404 Page

Nobody likes a 404 page.

Simply put, users find them annoying and they leave. That’s a missed opportunity for your business to generate leads and convert them.

Sure, you expect to generate leads from your blog, but your 404 page is a great piece of real estate for you to generate leads as well. Just like pricing pages, many businesses tend to overlook them entirely.

But, the problem is that default 404 pages leave a poor impression on your visitors, result in high bounce rates and ultimately many missed opportunities to actually generate leads and convert visitors.

Remember that visitors see these 404 errors a lot more than you might think – so don’t think you can ignore them! Did you know, for example, that the average lifespan of a web page is only 100 days?

To ensure we’re all on the right page (the 404 page, to be sure), what exactly is a 404 page?

A 404 page is what you see when you visit a website and it says “page not found.”

A 404 error is an HTTP status code that shows up when the server is not able to locate that particular page.

All websites have them and the bigger your website, the more of them you will have. They can happen for a variety of reasons, but a couple of common ones include deleting pages without using a 301 redirect, broken links or simply misspell links.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to generate leads from your 404 pages. Here’s how:

1. Provide a Solution – And Fast

If someone has arrived at the wrong destination, the most helpful thing you can is to point them in the right direction.

One way to go about this is by performing a spelling check on the particular URL and then suggest other URLs that look similar, as is the case in the example below:

How To: To do this, you need Google’s Custom Search API. You can read step-by-step directions here.

Another option to generate leads from your 404 pages is to redirect users to your products and/or home page – this is a common strategy. Take a look at the example below:

Similar to the options above, it points people in the right direction. As such, it’s helpful. When you are helpful, you stand a better chance of generating leads.

A key tip here is to give visitors a few options (but, not too many), so that can capture interest without preventing visitors from taking any action at all.

Don’t just direct them to your homepage; also provide links to your products and other relevant pages as well.

If you want to stick with this route, don’t even let visitors even have to make a decision about where they go: simply redirect them to your homepage (or your product page) from the very beginning.

How To: To redirect people to your homepage, product page or wherever else, all you need to do is install the All 404 Redirect plugin for WordPress.

2. Add a Search Box To Your 401 Pages

One of the most popular ways to keep people on your 401 page is to add a search box. This is more effective than directing people to your home page because a search box allows the user to find exactly what they want, right then and there.

A great example of this is MailChimp’s 401 page:

Keep in mind that you should include a clear call to action so that the user knows what to do and also that you ensure the search bar stands out.

However, there’s another reason why search boxes are so valuable, aside from pointing users in the right direction: they offer a lot of data in terms of the most popular search terms on your site, which you can find via Google Analytics.

Another option, then, is to link to the most popular search terms on your 404 pages.

3. Offer Coupons/Discounts

Consider this: what would be the most likely way to capture your attention and make you stay around just a little bit longer if you ended up on a 404 page?

A coupon or other similar incentive would likely be one of the most effective options, right?

We know that first time visitors are unlikely to convert (in fact, only 2% will convert the first time), but we know for a fact that that number drops to 0% if you don’t give them the opportunity to do so at all.

So, one way to get people to stay is by utilizing exit intent, that is, offering a coupon or other type of discount as soon as people are about to leave your site.

It works like this: essentially, the software will be able to detect that a particular user is about to leave your site; just as they are about to click the ‘x’ button, a popup will show them a coupon, discount or similar type of incentive just as they are about to leave.

How To: Hello Bar offers free exit intent software for free.

4. Lead Magnets

Lead magnets work the same way as coupons: they minimize the annoyance of encountering a deleted or moved page and allow you to turn a lemon into lemonade.

As we mentioned above, most first-time visitors won’t convert the first time they visit your site – whether that’s giving up their email address, buying a product and so on.

That’s exactly what lead magnets were designed for. They allow you to offer these people something in exchange for their email address.

There are many different types of lead magnets out there, but a popular one is an ebook (here’s how to create an ebook as a lead magnet).

However, if your business hasn’t created any lead magnets yet, another great option is to simply offer a demo.

In fact, Hubspot uses this very strategy:

Notice that they are particularly witty with their copy, “Even the things we love break sometimes.” We will get to the importance of capturing attention in just a moment.

5. Design Tips

  • Be Witty, Don’t Be Boring: Capture Interest. If you want to turn your 404 pages into an opportunity to generate leads, adding value is a great first step. But, if you want to truly maximize the effectiveness of your 404 pages you need to capture people’s attention.

In fact, arguably this should really be the first step before you think of offering a lead magnet, etc.

If you notice the examples above, all of them try to capture attention with visuals or witty and/or funny copy. Even playing into the cute factor can be effective. Above all, make your 404 pages compelling in some way so that visitors stay a little longer.

However, remember that any images should still align with the rest of your branding.

Take a look at EmailCenter’s 404 page (notice that they are apologetic and place the blame on themselves):

  • Strong Call to Actions. Keep in mind that a strong call to action is also important as well. You need to make it clear what you want the user to do so that they don’t leave your page.

Wrapping It Up

404 pages should not just sit there and be unhelpful.

404 pages should be designed to capture interest, be helpful and/or add value. You can do this by pointing users in the right direction, by offering coupons or lead magnets and by using funny images and/or copy.

Remember – the best businesses out there turn every opportunity into an opportunity to generate leads and convert – even on pesky 404 pages.

Do you have any other tips to generate leads from 404 pages that you’d like to share? We love to hear about them in the comments section below.


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