Internet Marketing - How To Handle Landing Page Error Messages Without Putting Off Customers

By Gregory Smyth

The tight production schedules and many different variations of landing pages often means they cause you more trouble than any other page on your website. However tempting it may be to simply leave the page as is when you get an error you don't understand, missed opportunities from these errors are literally cash walking out the door! All the SEO marketing, link building and viral marketing in the world won't help your business profit if customers can't get through your order or conversion form. We look at some common types of errors on landing pages, and how to handle them to best retain customers.

Privacy errors are one of the trickiest types to handle. This type of error occurs when a customer either leaves a field blank because they consider it inappropriate to ask for, or makes a 'donkey' entry. Donkey entries may include fictitious names (Mickey Mouse, John Citizen), or obscure countries of residence. They can also be identified by sporadic blank fields throughout the form. These errors are understandable from a customer point of view, however frustrating from a e-commerce consulting and web marketing strategy point of view. The best way to tackle them is to provide a reason they are required. Use a hover-over question mark to give details, or simply make an explanation of why the information is needed in your error message.

If you get a lot of privacy errors, think about whether the information you are asking for is worth the possibility of losing customers over. It might be a useful part of your web marketing strategy or internet marketing plan to collect demographic information about your customers. Then again, it might strip your profits. Look at the numbers from your web analytics package and decide from there.

Category errors are another common and difficult type. The categories on the form do not match the user's details. This happens with addresses that don't match your customer expectation, and also orders that may be larger or smaller than you have planned for. In the case of category errors, make sure that you give a reason for a specific type of data needing to be entered - for example, shipping restrictions to specific countries or to PO Boxes. Savvy internet marketing strategists will also put alternate contact methods on the form to handle these errors. Callback services, customer service phone numbers, and live chat are all possibilities.

Typing errors are the most common type of error on a form, and are usually confined to the occasional field only. You can identify them when there is a strange name spelling, when a password is entered incorrectly, or when an address does not make senseOne easy way to help avoid them is to show the customer the details they have entered (without the visual distraction of form fields) and give them the opportunity to review them. Transcription errors are a variation of typing errors, but look similar from your end - fields are partially filled but do not match your content expectations. The best thing to do is ensure that your error message text is assistive or constructive. Ask the user to check or re-enter details, don't simply tell them they are wrong. Accusatory-sounding messages will negate all of your search engine optimization and internet marketing efforts!