Let your 404-Page Not Found be a Marketing Win

Do you know where your 404 Page is? Do you know what it is? It’s a GREAT opportunity to strengthen your brand - and perhaps delight your customers at the same time. Keep reading. . . .


So the 404 page is your Page Not Found. Huh? Is that not helping?

Even if your website is brilliant, at some point someone is going to land on a 404 page. (Just in case - it’s the page that pops up when the URL isn’t correct - “Page Not Found.”)

It can happen for various reasons - but that topic is wayyyyyy too complicated and technical for me to address here. So let’s just make sure that if a visitor does land on yours, the experience helps your brand rather than hurts it. And Google does care - here they give you their take on 404 pages.

This is so simple - it’s a one and done and you don’t have to think about it again. And it can help retain your customers.

Typical pages generally fall into one of these categories:

  1. The generic fallback/boring page (don’t do this).

  2. Slightly branded, but doesn’t really connect the dots or help the user do anything.

  3. Really, really good (let’s focus on those).


1 | Graduate Hotels


These hotels are always near college campuses - get it now? The audience often is coming into town for a game, to see their kids, looking at schools, or just love a good college town. So well done. And if you scroll down, you will see the footer. Their call-to-action is either back to the Home Page or to Reserve a Room, which is what most people probably want, anyway.


2 | MM.LeFleur


100% on-brand and I like the fact that they give you categories below (I couldn’t get all of that into one screenshot). And, note the chatbox in the lower right. They do have their menu at the top, which you can’t see and a footer. The girl who says, “oops!” is a familiar face throughout the site, so it’s someone you may have already seen and know.


3 | EMirates Airlines


Emirates did a good job with this. Beautiful, smiling flight attendants saying, “hey, this wasn’t your fault, but ours!” Then, they give you links below to help you get back on track. I feel like the 404 and the gears could be a little more on brand, but the idea is great.


4 | CreativeLive


The CreativeLive site is clever, but it is a little tricky if you aren’t website-savvy. However, their audience is digital-savvy and creative, so it speaks to them. As the name (CreativeLive) suggests, the viewers are most likely in creative industries, so the brand personality is spot on.


5 | The masters


This gets 100 points for cleverness and being on-brand. I only wish they gave the user an option to find what they were originally looking for. If this is someone who doesn’t understand 404/Page Not Found, they might be confused. However, you do have the navigation bar at the top, which most likely works. Unlike Emirates, they tell you it was your fault, but that even happens to Tiger Woods.

6| Amy porterfield


How much fun is this? Amy is also fun and entertaining and loves music, so again, 100% on-brand. I love that she points you right to her Cheat Sheets, since she is the BOSS of list-building. You can click on her navigation bar, but she wants you to sign up for her sheets, so she makes that the easiest thing to do.


What Not to Do- please!

Okay, so before you see the last six, here are two that make me sad. They are from great brands and unfortunately this is what you see most often. If your website has anything similar to this, please fix it. Or just call me - we will fix it together. Please.


Okay, back to clever and smart . . . . .

7 | airbnb


Airbnb has done a good job with this animation. If you go to the actual page, you can see that the girl starts out smiling with her ice cream cone and then her ice cream falls. I’m not exactly sure what the ice cream has to do with travelling, but it is relatable and it fits. Just as important, it gives the user options to get where they wanted to go. Also note the Search bar at the top of the page.


8 | drybar


This is a salon that only does one thing: they wash and blow dry your hair - that’s it. This could not be any more on-brand, but I do wish that they helped you get back to where you wanted to go in the first place.


9 | Southwest


Similar to Airbnb, Southwest has an animated page (the red directional thing moves back and forth). 100% on-brand and some tips to help you out.


10 | Peter Millar


A lot of these have been cute and quirky, but if that is not your brand, don’t do it for the sake of cleverness. Peter Millar stays elegant and simple with a dash of style, just like their clothes. Font and colors are spot on. The options they give you most likely will take you where you need to go. And as we are going to see more and more often, there is a help chatbox in the lower right corner. Personally, I would like to see them be a bit more creative, but I don’t know the inner workings of their strategies or their audience, so am assuming this works for them.


11 | The DWELL hotel


This boutique hotel in Chattanooga keeps it simple, but elegant and fun. Chances are, their visitor is looking for information about the hotel or one of their restaurants which are all right here. It also educates the visitor who may have not known about the restaurants.


12 | Marie forleo


If you don’t know Marie Forleo, she IS her brand and this is 100% her personality, so it is perfect. Her copy is spot-on and she gives you options to get out. And, note that you can also watch a video. Smart. (but so is she).

So there you go. Twelve examples of (mostly) well thought-through and branded 404 pages.

This is something you should do today. There are so many customer touchpoints that we don’t have control over. What an easy way to turn a bad (not a crisis, but still not good) experience into a better one.


ps (perspective shift)

your 404 page is not a mistake page. It's yet another opportunity to define your brand and connect the dots in your customers minds.