Broken links can be fatal to your business

May 24, 2011

When a website exists to sell products, you’d expect that the links to the PDFs for the brochures and product information would work, right? And if they didn’t, you’d hope that someone in the company was keeping an eye on this so that if the links no longer work, they’d do something about it.

Detailed product information is essential for those who are seriously considering buying. When there is no pricing on the website — just a call to contact the company for a demo — my experience leads me to assume that the product has big bucks associated with its purchase and/or licensing model. So before I commit to a demo and a sales pitch, I would want more information.

If I found broken links, I might do one of these things, depending on how interested I was in the product:

  • Go away, never to return (very likely if it was just a passing interest)
  • Come back in a few days to see if the links now worked (maybe)
  • Contact the company and tell them their links are broken (perhaps, but only if I was really interested in the product)

A week ago, a reader of this blog sent me information about such a company. Here’s part of his email:

Broken links are annoying.

But if it’s coming from a company who proclaims that documents cannot be lost if people use their system, then it’s funny.

At the bottom of one of my client’s email said:

  • This email was created using Office Automator.
  • For information on Office Automation products, visit the website at www.officeautomator.com.au

This sounded interesting, so wanted to find out what this was all about.

The website contained some interesting information. The “document management system automator” sounded interesting: “Office Automator DMS is specifically designed for corporate clients to enable them to track and manage documents.”

I tried to get more information by clicking on a PDF brochure link; instead, I got a dead link. (tried both Firefox and IE)

I think I’ll give this product a miss…

So I checked out this website, and sure enough, the links to all the product brochures were broken. I checked again a week later and they were still broken. I may check again in another week to see if anyone has noticed or told the company — it’ll be interesting to see if and when they get fixed.

Meantime, the company is likely losing many potential sales all because people will walk away if they can’t get the information they need.

If you want to check these links yourself, go to www.officeautomator.com.au, click Resources > Brochures and Product Information in the menu bar, then click on any of the products.

Bottom line:

  • Details about your products on your website are crucial in helping someone make a ‘buy’ decision.
  • If the links to those details are broken, you are losing sales.
  • If your company is in the document business and links to your own documents don’t work, you just look unprofessional.

[Links last checked May 2011]

One comment

  1. Very useful article. FYI, the W3C has a nice, free link checker that you can run on any web site. Here is a link: http://validator.w3.org/checklink

    All you need to do is put in a URL and it will give you a comprehensive report.

    In fact, I just checked our site, since I hadn’t checked it in a while, and found a problem:-). Thanks for the reminder.

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