Using 404 Pages to Grow Your Email List
Most of us neglect 404 Pages…
The truth is many of us don’t have a firm grip on what 404 Pages are or the impact 404 Pages have on the overall user experience of our website.
404 Pages – are the standard response code for web pages requested that could not be found.
If you’ve surfed the Internet long enough, for one reason or another you’ll have encountered a 404 Page error. They happen all the time and for many different reasons, most of which are not your fault as the website owner:
- Someone manually enters the wrong page URL
- Someone links to your website with the wrong page URL
However, sometimes it is your fault:
- Bad internal links from one page to another
- Bad links from social media profiles (shame on you)
- Deleting a page from your website without proper redirection
- Redirecting to the wrong page
The reality is no matter what you do, no matter how clean your website is, there is always the possibility that a visitor to your website will land on a 404 Page error.
Want to see how your website responds to a 404 Error?
Simply type in a URL extension that doesn’t exist. Something like (unless you have a page named 404).
Result could scare you…
You might see something like this very generic, useless 404 Page:
It’s important to remember that most web visitors are NOT savvy to the ways of the Internet. They’re consumers, looking for education, entertainment or products to buy. When they land on 404 Pages, whether it’s their own fault or that of the website owner, these consumers immediately become turned off.
Their “Something is Wrong!” alarm starts going off and more likely than not they’ll be moving on to a new website.
This is bad.
If you’re a WordPress user, maybe you’ve spent a few bucks and purchased a premium theme like Genesis, then your 404 Pages are most likely a default archive page. A default archive page looks very similar to your website except where the visitors desired content would be, there is instead a list of links which are meant to help the visitor find what they were looking for.
But no one clicks these links and though the appearance of the WordPress default archive isn’t as obtrusive as the generic Page Not Found message, it’s just as useless to you and your website visitors.
A Better 404 Page Error
I am an unabashed fan of Leadpages, so much so that I had Leadpages president, Clay Collins, on the Content Warfare Podcast discuss landing page strategy.
Leadpages has given me a better option for the inevitable 404 Page error (see below).
If you’d like to check this page out in it’s live version type some nonsense after my url.
This page, tastefully and professionally lets visitors know that the page they were looking for does not exist… Nice.
But why it’s so powerful is that is also allows me to present them with a free copy of my eBook in exchange for subscribing to my email list… Genius!
…also you can’t see it in this screenshot but there is also a link back to my homepage.
Do I think this page is going to single-handedly grow my list to a 100,000? Probably not.
But will I capture some email subscribers who may have otherwise just bounced off my site? Absolutely I will. I have already.
Google’s Advice for Creating Useful 404 Pages
You may be wondering if there are any negative side effects to this strategy from an SEO perspective. Here’s what Google has to say about Custom 404 Pages:
If you have access to your server, we recommend that you create a custom 404 page. A good custom 404 page will help people find the information they’re looking for, as well as providing other helpful content and encouraging them to explore your site further.
Yes, asking visitors who reach a 404 Page error may be a bit self-serving. But if that visitor came to this site to become better at content marketing than I can’t think of more help content than the No BS Guide.
Other Ways to Improve 404 Pages
Additional ways to improve our 404 Pages include:
- Custom Search Box
- Provide valuable and useful links
- Add video telling visitor where to go
- Include ways to connect on social media
Here’s the deal with 404 Pages…
No matter what you do, visitors are going to find them… so instead of ignoring 404 Pages, why not use them to build our email list?
Leadpages isn’t the only solution that allows you to do this, it’s just the cleanest, easiest and awesomest that I’ve found so far. Our email list is the most valuable asset we have in the online world, this little trick simply adds another stream of subscribers.
Thank you and good luck,
I am Ryan Hanley.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article and want more, I encourage you to Subscribe to my Newsletter
Drop Some Knowledge
What about this process doesn’t make sense? What experience have you had with 404 Pages? Any questions about Leadpages?