SEO + Analytics company in Whitby, Ontario (416) 937 5316

Analytics for Error Pages

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404 error

Have you ever ran a campaign analysis and found that you had a 0% conversion rate?
Are you seeing a large decrease in return visitors to a part of your site that should be increasing?
Have people stopped logging in suddenly?
Are you seeing self referrals and other click path abnormalities?

Error – your website is broken

While working for TELUS as Voice of Customer Prime, I was charged with the duty of collecting and managing all feedback from and the app portals. One of the first things I noticed about the opt-in page feedback – this is where a visitor pro-actively wants to tell us something – was that there were many comments from error pages. Most of these pages were 500 Internal Server error pages or 404 Page Not Found error pages. These server generated error pages were not even captured by our web analytics tool. No tracking code on them at all!

Tag managers are not often configured to deal with these dynamic error pages. Large websites often use multiple platforms, so it’s important to audit each area and make sure that tracking code is being inserted into all the server generated pages.

Canary In The Coal Mine

If your not tracking error pages, that’s quite a hole for visibility into the health of your website. There are three things I want you to take away from this article.

  1. Website health relies on a number of tracking tools, not just click analytics
  2. Opt-in feedback is gold for fixing usability problems. Let people tell you how much your website/app sucks. Encourage that! Then act on the feedback to fix and optimize.
  3. Tracking errors and making these reports visible to everyone on your digital team can save you money and save your customers from frustration. It’s the canary in the coal mine.

Data Lens

Data Lenses
Lenses used to derive insights from data.

We are finally at the tipping point where data strategy is the focus for new business ventures. Hooray! I’m not just talking about the tech world. Sure, there are still a few laggards in the digital industry that have recently realized the need to mature their data strategy…and that’s one reason people like us are so busy.

As a digital marketing consultant I’ve worked to mature the data strategy of many small businesses and large corporations. I’ve grouped them into a few buckets here:

Some–> Don’t collect any data–> Completely blind
Many–> Have data but no insights–> Therefore no action
Few–> Using this data to drive tactical changes–> Therefore no optimization
Too few–> Using data to optimize all aspects of their business–> Growth limited to specific areas

By the same token, there are a few businesses that have insights, but don’t have a strategy that allows them to connect the economic motivation for change. This is a failure to communicate the value of recommendations. It’s not for lack of hard work or focus; It’s often because they lack the resources and bandwidth. Ultimately, that’s where vendors and digital marketing consultants like myself can fill the gaps.

The Analogy

The maturity of a company’s data strategy can be compared to lenses of different sizes.

Eye Glasses – See & endeavour – Readiness

Don’t be blind. Without the basic ability to see the data, you won’t know what is working and what is not working.

Enablers: Basic digital analytics implementation and dashboards with basic measures

Telescope – Observe the macro – Directional

Use this lens for looking back in time to see trends and set goals for the future. If your telescope is powerful enough you can peer into the trends of your industry and see how you trend against your competition.

Enablers: Conversion tracking, marketing research data

Microscope – Study and experiment with the micro – Tactical

This lens is for looking at the details associated with the mechanics.
Done right, you will be able to derive immediately actionable insights to promote growth of good seeds and quash the growth of poisonous spores.

Enablers: A/B testing, micro-conversion tracking, segmentation, conjoint analysis

Google Glass – Put everything in context with augmented reality – Tactical

Now you are looking at information in context instead of disparate insights. Qualitative data is ultra-useful for optimizing all aspects of the business, yet too few have a data strategy which allows insights from this data source to be used effectively across the whole organization. Get data out of the silo and stop data hoarding!

Enablers: internal ratings, feedback & research programs, external reviews and ratings data


All these lenses will be used to generate insights. The key enabler to science, including marketing science, is observation. Improve your observational powers and you will enable better analysis.

You are limited or enabled by the maturity of your data strategy.
In your case, which is it?