The 404 pages often become an afterthought when you are designing a website. It is likely because people don’t see the potential of these pages other than informing visitors that the website doesn’t have certain information they’re searching for. Surprisingly, the error page is a great e-commerce tool, but only if you use it right.
The Uses of 404 Error Page
A website visitor will be directed to 404 “not found” pages when they search for information that the website is unable to provide. There are many reasons why this situation can happen. It can be that the link is broken, the information is already deleted from the page, or that the website has never had that information.
The 404 error page is more than just a delivery method to bad news, though. There are in fact many uses that the page can offer to you, such as:
It avoids confusion in website navigation among users
When the website doesn’t have a set 404 error page, visitors will be directed to the homepage. This situation creates confusion for visitors as they might be unsure that they have typed the link correctly. It can cause them to make more attempts to access the information which leads to frustration.
It maintains users engagement to the website
This point is linked to the first point. Users will get frustrated because they think that they’ve put the right link but not be able to access it because the website has a problem. It can reduce their engagement with the website and make them leave. A 404 error page will be able to maintain that engagement.
It allows more branding opportunities on the website
The website’s 404 pages provide opportunities to do branding. These pages should be treated just like any other page on the website. It should display the brand’s logo and other design elements. The choice of fonts should also be consistent with what you will find in other parts of the website.
It enables you to promote other content on the website
Some of your website content may be high quality but for some reason don’t get high engagement. You can actually promote those contents on the “not found” page by providing links to them on the page. The likelihood that users will click on those links is higher.
It can boost sales
These pages are a great marketing tool if you want to boost sales. This is especially useful if your website sells physical products. You can entice the visitors with various marketing ploys, presented on a silver platter on the error page.
How to Turn a 404 Error Page into a Useful E-Commerce Tool?
To keep the engagement to the website and possibly also turn visits to 404 pages into sales, you need to embed a call-to-action button onto the pages. There are several call-to-action buttons that you can include in the design, for example:
Usually, a visitor doesn’t visit a website bearing only one purpose. When the 404 error page doesn’t offer any other function, the visitor might be deterred from exploring the website further. They may just leave the website altogether, instead. The search bar can accommodate visitors with such needs. This template can be a reference for this style.
Contact Information and Links
You may want to encourage the visitors to contact customer service instead. Some internet users aren’t reluctant to contact the brand directly especially if they need the information urgently. It is helpful to provide contact channels that are easily accessible. This template, for example, allows you to link visitors to the company’s social media.
It is also possible to provide product listing on the 404 pages. Instead of being disappointed by the lack of information, visitors will be introduced to the brand’s available products instead. It can be in the form of a catalog. You can arrange the page so that each product photo will link visitors to the e-commerce page.
The error page is also helpful if you want to broadcast promotions available in the store. It can be discounts, new product launches, or something as simple as free delivery. Some e-commerce websites actually get creative and make the promotions appear as if it’s the company’s way to apologize for the error.
Marketers should start acknowledging that 404 pages are potential tools to boost sales. You have to design the page appropriately so that it can yield the results that you are looking for.