I admit, it took me about six months longer than I had planned to make the time to create this page.
It had been on my priority list as an essential part of our website. Now it’s here and so I can discuss the reasons why I think building a custom 404 error page should happen as soon as you build your site, and not much later like I did.
1. Missed Traffic
When it comes to site traffic, one of the worst things that can happen after your PPC, ad, or content has compelled someone to click, is that the first thing they see is the nasty default 404 error page. I don’t know about you, but for me, if I’m visiting a site for the first time, it almost doesn’t matter what page I was trying to view, if my first experience is a 404 error, I’m done with that site. I become missed traffic.
2. Missed Call to Action
We all know that it’s hard enough to skillfully direct the right prospect with the right content through right action. So it is absolutely essential that if they are prepared to click on an actual call to action or click the submit button on a form, the last thing we want is for the link to be broken. Missed Calls to action are a killer.
3. Brand Damage
Brand damage is obviously not as easy to define or track as the previous two, but the lasting effect of turning someone off your product needs to be carefully considered. Not having your site well organized and maintained can easily shake the confidence of a prospect. Additionally, the entire goal of a website is to make the buying decision and process as easy as possible. To put your prospect through the inconvenience of a link that doesn’t lead to the content they were seeking as well forcing them to back browse is never a good idea.
As your site gets larger, and the pages and links change, it’s difficult for any marketer to keep track of which links are still floating out there and the pages to which they are linked. For the reasons above, as well as to provide a solid back-up for your prospect to reach valid content in case you missed a broken link, it makes sense to create a custom 404 error page right out of the gates.
Any other benefits you think of for creating a custom 404 error page?
I continue to plead my case for increasing quality content marketing and decreasing, well, almost everything else. But with the increase in content comes a pervasive need to get organized, and quickly.
It was once manageable when all I needed to concern myself with were a few case studies, a version update here and there, and maybe a new product description now and then. But now, with three products instead of one, two blogs, a newsletter, and countless email campaigns, I am starting to feel the chaotic crush of disorganized asset management.
That’s why I am in the process of adjusting my mindset and approach to content management, and have begun to think of it more like a publisher would an editorial calendar. We have been tracking what assets we have and when they were created, but unfortunately haven’t made the leap to not only planning future content across the board, but mapping content on a calendar.
I was most recently inspired to finish this project soon by the fine folks at Duct Tape Marketing
and John Jantsch’s recent blog post Why Your Email Marketing Needs an Editorial Calendar
. It definitely reinforced the need to plan not just my major assets, but particularly my email marketing plans across all channels and for all campaigns.
Our organization contains a monstrous editorial team of two, so the effectiveness of Duct Tape Marketing’s Google Calendar idea may be limited, but I found structuring my calendar based on some of the ideas (particularly 2. Organizing the Calendar) in this Copyblogger post
extremely helpful, and you might as well.
Are you finding yourself struggling to manage your increased content as I am? What does your content calendar look like?
Once upon a time, dozens of search engine algorithms ago, I paid ten cents for the keyword “imaging” in a text ad on Google Adwords.
Today the keyword “imaging” costs us $3.25 to get on the first page.
Even with each ad targeting a specific demographic with keywords silos of 12-15 each, only showing exact, or negative keyword vetted phrase matches, spending $3.25 for a random click just isn’t worth it anymore.
As a result, we dropped our total monthly Adwords spend from over $1100.00 to less than $600 and almost all of that on display ads (this doesn’t include Bing), and decided to focus on organic search and content marketing.
A funny thing happened to the number of visitors we received each month – THEY INCREASED.
Even with custom landing pages for each specific ad, Pardot tracking and lead flow reporting, it has become increasingly more cost effective to work on quality content as the starting point of a quality interaction rather than trying to entice a qualified prospect with limited text ads.
I think that while a well-oiled PPC program can (and still does for us) lead to new visitors to our website, the ROI just isn’t worth as the keyword costs have become so high. I also think that PPC has gone the way of yet another “traditional” advertising revenue source. Consumers have grown tired of PPC just as they did Print advertising, for example. The consumer continues to become increasingly savvy, and has the means at his/her disposal to glean much higher, more in depth content with much greater ease than ever before. Once upon a time, the focus of an online search was basically a glorified digital Phone Book query. As such, PPC text ads with attractive content on the first page did very well and were a pretty decent way to connect to a local business or find more about the product in question. But now with more in depth information easily accessible, the PPC ad continues to lose its appeal all the while its price per quality keyword increases.
In fact, according the research from GroupM in conjunction with Nielsen, PPC activity accounts for less than 6% of all search clicks.
The key for us now, especially with the ease of Social Sharing, is really relevant content made easily accessible. By taking the time and money away from PPC and investing it in targeted SEO and content marketing, we are able to provide much more detailed information to the inquiring prospect immediately, which helps facilitate a considerably higher quality interaction, and thus a more efficient and timely sale.
Have you scaled back on your PPC spend too?
When you think of marketing skills that are part of the job, you usually think of writing skills, web design, graphic design, etc., but database management?
I have made mention in the past that I wished that I could be a database guy. I’m going to reiterate, I really wish I had some database skills.
As a marketer, moving data, tracking data, ensuring data integrity, and making use of data is pretty much the core of what we do. We might be able to create relevant content and send some terrific emails, but when it comes down to converting sales, data management is key.
Our current dilemma involves the inability to write back to our License Key Generation platform. We have our customer data in Salesforce for sales and support. The problem is that our data sync is one-way to salesforce to protect our license key database integrity. If I really knew how to dig into our database, I might be able to facilitate a two-way sync for just contacts without too much difficulty.
I’m aware that I can certainly have someone do this for me, but without the database knowledge, I have to pull several people on our side from development and the project becomes far larger and more time consuming that it should be.
Another huge data issue for every marketer is data hygiene. Our customer records are a bit of a mess, and we have a large number of duplicates and incomplete records. Again, I know that there are plenty of companies who can clean us up just fine. But, if I was a database whiz I could have a continuous process in place and wouldn’t have to pay the large sums of money to have them do it for me.
Alas, at this point I don’t have the time to really learn database management, but I also have don’t necessarily have the budget either. Hopefully I will figure something out.
Is anyone else stuck in database purgatory?
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|About Adam Murphy -
Adam is the President and Owner of Big Bang LLC and espouses a pretty progressive small business philosophy based primarily around hiring the right people and getting the hell out of their way.
|About Nate Bauer -
Nate is the Marketing Director for Big Bang LLC and pretty much spends his days tip-toeing on the pinnacle of how to most effectively implement strategy given the wide open cookie jar of small business marketing possibilities.
|About Kelley Burian - @kelleyburian
Kelley is the Sales Director for Big Bang LLC. Responsible for everything from GSA contracts, resellers and international customers, she has her hands full doing whatever she can to make sure our valued clients are thrilled with our fantastic products.