Some of the most important pieces of content on a website are often overlooked because they fall through the cracks in the content plan. Help text, error pages, and confirmation pages are opportunities to build (or repair) a relationship with a customer but are often approached as afterthoughts. These are all important aspects of a solid web content strategy that can greatly increase your conversion rate and engagement with your brand.

Confirmation Pages and Emails

confirmation pageHem.com is a new, high-end design site from the founders of Fab.com. Prior to the site launching, Hem.com used the “early access” confirmation page to encourage engagement with the brand.

Your customer has taken an action and given you information about themselves, so use this opportunity to suggest other content or products they may find interesting. Whether it’s a similar product or a newsletter, this is a huge (and often missed) opportunity to show your customer that you understand them and to suggest another way to engage with your brand.

Helpful tip: When developing your content plan, include a list of similar products or content that the user may be interested in. Verify your hypotheses using information from your personae documents and demographic analysis. And don’t forget to A/B test to ensure that you’re optimizing the content correctly.

“Help” Text

If your website asks customers to complete a form, it’s important to explain the need for certain information. Recently, I was attempting to book a hotel room and the reservation form required a “customer ID.” I hadn’t ever stayed at the hotel so I didn’t know if I had a “customer ID.” I called the hotel and was told that my ID number was in the footer of an email that I had received from the hotel. This could have been easily explained in some “help” text within the reservation form.

Helpful tip: Don’t develop your campaign tactics in a vacuum. Look at tactics in the context of the entire conversion funnel to ensure you use the same terms throughout your campaign. If the form asks for a “customer ID”, ensure this content is highlighted in the email (and other tactics) that are pushing customers to complete the form.

Error Messages and 404 Pages

404 pageFab.com, in general, does a great job of maintaining a consistent brand voice throughout the site. 

Error messages are an opportunity to modify your “help” text to explain to the user what went wrong. When creating forms, ensure that your error messages are consistent and help the user identify how to solve the problem. Display the error message in the context of the problem (and the page) and use your already-created “help” text to point the user in the right direction.

Just because you hope a user never ends up on a 404 page doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be a part of your content plan. Whether it’s including a search box, links to product categories, or suggestions for contacting the company, use the 404 page as an opportunity to redirect your user instead of leaving them at a dead end.

Helpful tip: Your content plan should account for both the content that you want to focus on and the content that you hope doesn’t get a lot of attention (e.g., 404 pages). Plan for 404 pages and error messages when developing your content and ensure the content is helpful and on-brand. If you use a friendly, conversational tone on your website – use this same tone in your error messages and 404 pages as well.

Content strategy is about communicating with your customers in an intentional way, yet many companies are still missing opportunities to provide useful content. Your content strategy should account for all of the communication points that a user may encounter. This will ensure that your brand and your messages are consistent throughout the customer’s journey.

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