Page Not Found; But Wait There’s More! – The Art Of Error Page Selling

errorYou’re not on an error page.

Just wanted to say this up front since the headline says “page not found.”

Anyway, the concept of error page selling is something I’ve stumbled upon a couple of weeks ago when looking at a product called Wishlist Error Page Booster (WEPB).

I didn’t actually buy it because I don’t have a membership site, but the idea itself is brilliant.

In short, it’s all about turning your error pages into sales pages.

In a minute, I will show you how to make this possible on any WordPress site for free, but first, let me give you a WEPB example:

If you have a membership site then naturally, some of your content is not available to the public. This means that whenever someone who’s not a member tries to visit it, they will only see an error message (an error page).

However, most of the situations where visitors actually see those pages happen when a non-member tries to view some premium content, or a low-plan member tries to view your upper-plan content (in case you have more than one membership level).

WEPB lets you capitalize on that by taking the error pages and using them to display a custom sales message along with a buy button, which effectively turns your error pages into sales pages.

This kind of selling can be very effective because the visitor is already interested in the content (since they’re viewing the page), so they should be much more likely to buy from you.

BUT.

There are two downsides to this plugin (oh, WEPB is a plugin, did I mention that? … anyway):

  • WEPB is $47,
  • and it needs another plugin to work – WishList Member, which is either $97 (single site license), or $297 (multi-site license).

As you can see … you need $150 just to get started. And if you don’t have a membership site launch in plan then buying WishList Member is kind of pointless (by the way, it’s one of the best membership site solutions available, but that’s a whole other story).

Free WordPress Error Sales Pages

Of course, there’s always a way to create a similar sales page, only for free.

Every WordPress theme has a custom file meant to display error pages. It’s usually called 404.php and can be found in your main theme folder.

If you’re savvy enough, you can edit the file by hand, create some widget areas, and then place a sales message inside one of the areas.

If you’re not, you can use some free plugins:

The first plugin worth mentioning is called 404-error-monitor. This one doesn’t create any custom error pages, but it logs 404 errors that visitors encounter on your site.

This means that whenever someone gets a 404 error, it goes in the log. By taking a look into such a log, you can find some frequently occurring errors and then maybe create custom pages to take their place (pages with manually placed sales messages).

Another approach is to use a plugin called Custom 404 Error Page. This one will probably be a little more handy because it doesn’t require any research work. You just create a custom page, click save, and you’re good to go.

Basically, this plugin gives you the possibility to control your error page through the WP Dashboard (almost like any other standard page). You can tweak the content, the background, the images, etc.

This functionality allows you to turn your error page into a sales page with ease (like I’m describing here), or …

You can use your error page to helping find missing children

Yeah, how did I go from “selling” to “helping find missing children,” right?

Anyway, the thing I’d like to mention here is a website called notfound.org. It’s a place that lets you help find missing children by including an additional box on your 404 error page. The box displays a picture of a missing child along with some additional contact info.

There’s a plugin that makes the whole thing hassle-free: NotFound.org 404 Page.

So you know … it’s up to you. Either (1) do nothing with your 404 page, (2) turn it into a sales page, (3) turn it into a page for helping others, or (4) turn it into a sales page along with a notfound.org box (because why not do both?).

Lastly, I still consider Wishlist Error Page Booster and WishList Member great plugins (for membership sites), and that’s why I’m linking to them here.