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Newsletter #720: The “Learn from Your Customers’ Mistakes” Issue

{Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That Email
. This is text of the great issue all of our email
subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the

When a customer commits a mistake on your site, it's your fault. Watch for
these trends and look for opportunities to improve your site.

1> Search results

2> Mistyped URLs

3> Abandoned forms

4> Check it out: A collection of epic mistakes

1. Search results

Customers using your internal search are looking for something specific that
they can't readily find on their own. Catalog retailer Fingerhut discovered that
55% of on-site searches were returning no results. Upon fixing a mere 15% of
these failed searches, Fingerhut saw conversion rates increase 26% and projected
over $1 million in incremental annual revenue to the company within a year.

The Lesson: Search results are where you'll learn what customers want and
what content on your site is hard to locate.

Learn More: Fingerhut research

2. Mistyped URLs

Take a look at the URLs that are sending people to your 404 "error" page. It
could be a result of a dead link somewhere on your site, or it could be that
visitors are being forced to guess how to find specific content. The North Face
takes full advantage of their error page with their "404 Goat" that eats their
links and pages, as well as a link to let them know how the error occurred.

The Lesson: Use your 404 page to find ways to make your site easier to
navigate — and to have some fun.

Learn More: The North
Face 404 page

3. Abandoned forms

If a large percentage of your forms are being abandoned, it could be a signal
that you're asking too much or you're not giving a good enough benefit to
filling out the information. Likewise, if you're getting bad information, your
form itself may be confusing and poorly designed. Keep your forms simple,
focused, and only ask for the information you really need.

The Lesson: If a lot of people are abandoning your forms, you're frustrating
a ton of prospects and customers.

4. Check it out: A collection of epic mistakes

While we're on the mistake theme here, check out the web's biggest collection
of mishaps: The FAIL Blog. It's a nearly constant stream of videos and photos of
blunders, screw-ups, and goofs — and even includes the occasional "WIN."

Learn More: FAIL Blog

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  1. Bob February 26, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    Re #2. Better yet, don’t ask your users to send you information about the missing page. Just write a script that automatically sends you that information via email and/or db. Get the bad link and the referer to that page. We do that, as well as registering the 404 hit in google analytics.

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