Connect with us

MARKETING

How to Optimize Your 404 Error Page for SEO & Conversions

Published

on

How to Optimize Your 404 Error Page for SEO & Conversions

In an ideal world, you would never need a 404 error page. Links would never break, resources would stay in one place, and visitors would seamlessly navigate around your website by clicking on links. Despite best efforts, however, 404s still happen.

This error is the most common one that your site’s visitors will encounter. It basically means that the page the visitor was trying to reach cannot be found. This could be because the page has moved to a new URL or because it’s been removed from the website.

While you should take steps to correct these errors on your site when you find them, it is also important to create a 404 error page that helps visitors find what they’re actually looking for in the event that they encounter this error. Done right, 404 pages can even be used to increase SEO and boost conversions. Here’s how.

Customers don’t want to see 404 pages, and companies don’t want broken links since both cases result in reduced sales opportunities.

But it’s not all bad news. With the right approach, businesses can optimize their 404 pages to provide value. Here are 12 ways to create better 404 error pages.

1. Position your products.

First up? Use your 404 page as an opportunity to effectively position your products. Show visitors a curated selection of some of your most popular offerings, along with links to each product. While potential customers may not be looking for these specific items, this approach provides a way to get visitors from your 404 page onto active site pages.

One thing that’s important to note: Always include images. While links to products are better than nothing, links with images are far more effective at getting customers to click through.

This image from fashion accessory company Steve Madden shows the product approach in action.

How to Optimize your 404 Error Page for SEO: Steve Madden

 

2. Serve up user reviews.

You can also improve your 404 pages by including user reviews of your products or services. Here’s why: When users land on 404 pages they’re naturally frustrated. They’re not sure what went wrong, but they do know that they didn’t find what they were looking for. As a result, they’re already annoyed, reducing their likelihood of buying anything you’re selling.

By adding a few well-chosen customer reviews, however, you can lessen the sting of the 404 page and get customers to the page they want to see (and back on the road to conversion.)

3. Capture new customers.

Starting your 404 page off with an apology is a solid tactic, but you can improve on 404 operations by generating new leads. Here’s how it works: Along with the “we’re sorry this doesn’t work message”, offer a way for customers to get in contact with you or offer a free demo of your product or service.

Create a simple one-line hook that asks users to submit their email addresses and you’re on the way to cultivating new connections, just like HubSpot in this example:

How to Optimize your 404 Error Page for SEO: HubSpot

4. Make an impression.

If you can’t make them stay, at least make them laugh. From a joke at your own expense to a funny video that may (or may not) have anything to do with your brand, humor can both create a positive impact and help customers remember your brand.

Consider a visitor that lands on your 404 page, watches your funny video clip, and has a laugh. The next time they see ads for your brand on social media, chances are they’ll remember the positive impact of your funny 404 rather than the frustration of landing on the wrong page — and they might just come back and visit you again.

5. Point Them in the Right Direction

While you may not know exactly what customers were looking for when they landed on your 404 page, you can make educated guesses. By using data collected from your customer relationship management (CRM) and analytics tools, you can create a set of common customer search terms that can help inform your 404 design.

For example, if you’re an outerwear ecommerce brand and your most popular searches are for “winter coats”, “rain jackets” and “waterproof boots”, put links to all three of these categories on your 404 page to help point customers in the right direction.

6. Offer value.

If you can’t find what customers want, offer them something of value. One option? Exit-intent popups.

Although it’s true that as a general rule, people don’t like popups, this approach offers an exception: By creating popups that appear before users leave your 404 page and offer discounts or sales pricing with a code, you can convince users it’s worth making a trip back to your homepage to find what they were originally looking for — or to purchase something else.

7. Keep it simple.

When it comes to 404 pages, don’t overthink it. Sure, explain in basic terms what went wrong and offer a potential path to help solve the problem, but don’t write paragraphs of text explaining the problem and asking for customers’ goodwill.

Why? Because they won’t read it. Instead, streamline your apology and then add a list of common links (that actually work) to your site, such as your homepage, search page, and help pages.

8. Provide Interaction

What if you could make 404 pages more fun? Some brands have opted to create mini video games that give customers a few minutes of fun and then provide links to other site content. This is a great way to put a positive spin on an otherwise negative experience. By letting customers blast aliens, you can lessen the sting that comes with landing on a 404 page.

Kualo does this with its 404 page. By pressing the spacebar, visitors can shoot aliens in space as they move across the screen in the shape of the brand’s logo.

How to Optimize your 404 Error Page for SEO: Kualo

9. Leverage keywords.

404 pages can also help boost your search engine optimization. Here’s how: Instead of simply putting up a brief message and apology for your 404 page, add a few of your most popular keywords along with relevant links. This helps add value to an otherwise broken page by making it something that can help users find what they’re looking for.

Let’s say you’re a company that offers drop-off pet care. You could include keywords like “doggy daycare” or “pet service” on your 404 page along with links. In practice, this means adding a few lines of text after the 404 message such as “Looking for our doggy daycare page? Click here”, or “Need best-of-breed pet service? See what we have to offer.”

10. Put your app front and center.

Another option to help boost the impact of your 404 page is adding a link to download your mobile app. Sure, it’s a bold move — visitors might not want anything to do with your app after they land on your 404 page, but if you position it in the right way, it might just work.

For example, you could highlight how your mobile application won’t return 404 pages, or make it clear that it’s easier for customers to find what they want using the app. Even if you don’t generate a substantial amount of downloads, every app installation is another customer on the road to potential purchase.

11. Create Connection

If you can connect with customers, you can keep them coming back. One way to do this is by leaning into their frustration. Technology company Emailcenter did this by creating a “pick who to fire” page that let visitors decide who should get the blame for the 404 page they’re seeing. While it’s just a funny interactive joke, it helps create a connection between customer and company that can keep them coming back.

How to Optimize your 404 Error Page for SEO: EmailCenter

12. Get social.

Last but not least? Offer up links to all your social media sites on your 404 page. In effect, this opens the door for customers to voice their concerns, but also sets the stage for companies to kickstart a relationship.

If you’re able to quickly respond to visitor comments as they appear, you can get past the initial 404 disappointment and get customers back on-side by providing them links to specific product pages, forms to offer feedback, or even special discounts.

Making Marketing Focused 404 Pages

Looking to increase your marketing efforts? Solid options for 404 pages include:

Search Bar – One great feature is to have a search bar that is featured prominently on the page. Your visitor was clearly looking for something , and while they may not have found it on their last click, a quick search should send them in the right direction.

Navigation Menu – You also probably want to include a site navigation section, so that visitors can continue browsing your site immediately, without having to go back a page.

Fun – Some websites like to include quirky apologies in their 404 pages. These aren’t totally essential from a usability standpoint, but they can go a long way to calm a visitor who might otherwise be frustrated.

Bottom line? While it’s impossible to completely avoid the dreaded 404 page, it is possible to turn this not-found function into an asset.

By considering what customers may be looking for, leveraging relevant marketing data, and making sure your 404 page reflects your brand positioning, you can shift 404 pages from simple placeholders to SEO and marketing performers.

This post was originally published in February 2011 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

New Call-to-action


Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

MARKETING

Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

Published

on

Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

(more…)

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Published

on

A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Published

on

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

​​

via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending