Social media marketing and website optimization have opened new avenues for funeral homes to reach a broader audience. Not every family stays local anymore — kids, siblings, parents — it’s uncommon for them to all be in the same town. So, when it comes to planning a funeral for a loved one, many families must turn to the internet and social media to decide who they want to work with.
“If you don’t have a presence online, you’re overlooked by these families. Families also want to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in their hometowns, and that includes being able to see who has passed away. Families rely on online obituaries for that. There is so much opportunity online to connect not only with your community, but with families all over,” explains Samantha Ward, Marketing Manager with Frazer Consultants.
Having a great website and social media strategy has already changed the funeral business. Having a great website is no longer an option – it’s a requirement.
“A funeral home’s website should be the base of their entire marketing efforts. It should be packed with resources for families and answer the questions that get typed into Google by families to find a funeral home’s services. It should have planning tools, grief resources. Some firms are now adding quizzes to their funeral home websites to let families take a quiz to figure out what type of service is best for them. When your website has everything a family would need, your social media marketing becomes easier to educate and inspire the thousands of people on Facebook in your community, and direct them to your website where they can learn more. Having both working for your business is what will be the difference between your funeral home growing in 2019 and staying the same or seeing a decline. I say this confidently because our team has now managed more than 100 funeral homes Facebook strategies and they are seeing incredible results for funeral homes that didn’t think it was possible not long ago,” outlines Ashley Montroy, CMO for FrontRunner Professional.
The common overarching mistakes that apply to both how funeral homes use social media and website optimization strategies have to do with: getting attention; having a tone or voice that’s uniquely theirs; having relevant content and being transparent in dealing with the customer. With regards to getting attention, it’s about providing content that people find interesting and different from what others are saying. That in turn is told to them in a manner that resonates with them and is personal.
“Many funeral home websites are full of marketing language and focus on their locations, staff and fleet rather than showcasing real stories from real people. It’s important to make it easy for those stories to be shared and exposed on your website,” urges Joe Joachim, Owner and CEO of funeralOne.
Content is king. Don’t share what everyone else is sharing — be unique to yourself and your firm. You need to try to tell your story and show your community who they really are. Be authentic.
“The content is not about being self-centered to the organization but rather benefit oriented to the customer. And finally, being transparent rather than engaging in game of “hide and seek” with the audience. It’s not surprising that we overwhelmingly trust recommendations from people we know because we expect them to be honest with us. And within businesses, transparency is considered of very high importance to customers when it comes to establishing and maintaining brand trust,” Ed Michael Reggie, CEO of Funeralocity explains.
One of the biggest changes that has come about in search engine optimization most recently is that funeral homes need to optimize not only for written text, but for voice.
“Several years ago, we were focused solely on what someone would type into their computer. These were typically pretty thought out or shortened versions of what they wanted to search for. Now, with the introduction of Siri and other voice activated searches, we look to cover a wider range of ‘long tail’ keywords (longer phrases that accomplish goal). For example, the short/typed version of a search may be ‘funeral homes Las Vegas’, but the voice version may be ‘What funeral homes are in Las Vegas’. Although Google parses out the ‘connector words’, having these exact phrases in your website will really help boost your rankings for each individual phrase,” advises Jeffrey Arnold, President of 4Spot Marketing.
When it comes to social media marketing, the biggest mistake is in expecting social media to do your marketing for you (especially for at-needs). Social media will barely move the needle for at-needs in the short term, and even over time, it’s not a big at-needs generator. It’s a weapon you use pretty much exclusively for pre-needs.
“As it relates to social media for funeral homes and related businesses, I’d say the most successful approach is to post about topics that aren’t specifically about death! People aren’t going to follow accounts that are all about death, and they’re unlikely to share, like or retweet posts on those themes. On the other hand, if you post about topics that interest that demographic, you typically see much better engagement. It’s fine to weave in the occasional post about burial and/or cremation, but you should be very conservative with that,” warns Welton Hong, Owner of Ring Ring Marketing.
Continue reading this feature editorial for more tips from industry professionals on how to optimize your website and improve your social media presence for today’s fast-moving world.
4Spot Marketing offers a full range of SEO, Google and Facebook advertising, and business and process automation to help funeral homes collect more leads in the door, and keep those leads engaged until they are ready to purchase.
“Unlike many SEO companies, as are domestically headquartered and we use 100% manual content/link-building techniques that are ‘white hat’ and effective. We also use a ‘radius’ system of building out linking structure so that we have the most comprehensive, natural link-building process possible, that produces results,” explains Jeffrey Arnold, President of 4Spot Marketing. “By incorporating a holistic view of your marketing efforts, we help our customers put together a cohesive, integrated marketing approach to get people off the search pages, onto our clients’ sites, and through their front door. We have a 100% success rate in getting our clients to the top of the search engines,” he continues.
4Spot even offers a free SEO ranking analysis for anyone who wants to see where they rank and where their opportunities lie.
“One of the main questions we get is whether customers are locked into a year long-term contract, like some companies require. They are not. We have a 6-month requirement, as SEO is not an instantaneous result. After that, we go month-to-month, because we know that either they client will have achieved their SEO goals and be happy with that, or they’ll like where they rank for many phrases but want to continue building on other phrases,” adds Jeffrey.
At 4Spot, they know that the most successful techniques today are still rooted in the things that worked in the past, but in a different fashion.
“5-10 years ago, if you wanted to rank #1 in Google you just had to go get a ton of backlinks (links to your website) with the anchor text (phrase you wanted to rank for) and have them point to your site. So, if you wanted to rank for Funeral Home Las Vegas, you would go out and buy 10,000 links from someone that links that phrase to your home page. Buy the links, next week you are #1. Links were king,” he explains. “Today, links are still very important, and arguably still the key factor in ranking effectively. However, if you did what is listed above, your site would run the risk of being deindexed (completely removed from Google’s database). You see, Google employs people who are far smarter than you and me, so they caught on really quick to what was going on. Today, links are important, but they must be ‘organic’ … meaning that they must have a wide variety of anchor text phrases (they can’t all be “Funeral Home Las Vegas”), and they need to point to different pages of your site and they must be created in a regular, normal patters (you can’t have 1000 links show up Monday, none the rest of the week, then 1000 the next Monday, etc.). They must trickle in, just as they would if you were sharing content, etc. The most effective SEO happens when you implement a very complex linking strategy that encompasses many layers of links all eventually pointing to the same main site,” he adds.
Frazer Consultants offers marketing packages for both social media and SEO/PPC. They have varying levels for these packages so they can be as hands-on or hands-off as needed, depending on the amount of help a funeral home wants from their team. With their social media packages, Frazer Consultants helps get funeral homes set up on social media and optimize their pages.
“We also help with posting and promotion, depending on how much help a firm wants in that regard. With our SEO/PPC packages, we optimize their site based on their audience and their competitors. We also create and maintain pay-per-click search engine ads and campaigns. And if a funeral home just wants to try to do things on their own, we also have a ton of free resources on our site, like eBooks and social media kits with pre-made posts. We will work with you to find the level you need,” explains Samantha Ward, Marketing Manager with Frazer Consultants. “Not everyone needs us to take over their entire social media strategy and presence, and that’s fine. If you have staff that already do that work, we can work with them. Or we can take it off their plate, if you feel their time is better served elsewhere. It’s entirely up to you,” she adds.
Frazer Consultants offers varying levels of services so that they can find something within any price range, and they also regularly offer discounts when clients bundle services together. On top of that, they have a lot of payment options that make paying for services more manageable.
“One of the biggest differences between us and our competitors is that we’re constantly growing and improving. What makes our services so good is the constant feedback we are getting from funeral directors. We regularly send out surveys, make phone calls, and listen to what our clients have to say. It’s the relationships we have with clients that let us offer the best products and services,” Samantha states.
One big mistake that Samantha sees funeral homes make is the lack of storytelling. Social media is meant to be social, so just posting obituaries and calling it a day is not a good strategy.
“Posting obituaries is a good starting point, but you should be going beyond that to share your funeral home’s story. Talk about your staff, your history, your involvement in the community, or anything else that shows your followers who you really are. It’s the same way with a website. You should be creating website content that’s unique to your funeral home and your story, not just listing your services and products. Another mistake I see is infrequent or inconsistent posting. You won’t gain anything by only posting and interacting once a month, and you won’t keep an audience if you don’t post reliably. Having a blog and a few social media pages is a good starting point, but you have to encourage people to actually interact with it. Post regularly and consistently, so families know when to expect content from you and are encouraged to interact with that content,” she advises.
Funeralocity.com connects undecided families with the best funeral and cremation providers for their needs. When a family enters an address or zip code at funeralocity.com, all funeral providers in the area are displayed along with their GPLs.
Funeralocity is free to families and completely risk-free to funeral providers.
“Funeralocity brings funeral providers more business, higher revenue, greater market share…all without any up-front costs or risk. Online comparison shopping is now the new ‘Main Street’ for everything from food to travel to funeral care. With Funeralocity, the smart funeral home or cremation service can thrive in this new marketplace,” explains Ed Michael Reggie, CEO of Funeralocity.
There is no charge to funeral homes for being listed on Funeralocity. Funeral homes and crematories that show outstanding quality and service are eligible for acceptance into the Excellence Provider Program, participation in which is also free. Only when a call is sent to you by Funeralocity and you have served the family and been paid, is a modest success fee paid. Funeralocity is a win-win for families and for funeral directors.
“Funeralocity is a company whose time has come: a comparison website for funeral providers developed with the guidance and support of leaders within funeral service. When we are in the market for a house, we go to Zillow. When we look for a job, we go to Monster. When we are looking for love, we go to Match.com. And now for undecided families, there is Funeralocity to compare funeral and cremation services in one’s community,” Ed describes.
Regarding social media, Ed notes that it is critical to the success of any strategy that your firm build an authentic connection with the audience. He explains just how important it is to remember that people don’t exclusively go on social media to shop.
“Harassing followers with spammy sales tactics won’t work. Instead, understanding what your specific audience uses social media for will help you connect with them on a personable level. Second, being all over the map with regards to frequency of posts and content tone will have your firm be viewed as unreliable by prospective customers. Understand that just because you’re posting content, it doesn’t mean your fortunes are going to change overnight. So be patient. And lastly, have great content that is keyword-rich. Without interesting content, there’s no reason for people to stick around. People want to be informed or entertained…so give them what they want in a way that works for your firm as well. Also, boosting posts and running targeted ads are great and cost-effective ways to expand your reach beyond those local families who already know you,” recommends Ed.
Ring Ring Marketing offers full-service social media campaigns for clients who are positioned to benefit from their campaigns. That includes every aspect of the social media success cycle, including social influencing, social networking, social selling, and social listening. They handle it all.
“As for website optimization, we similarly offer a comprehensive approach. That includes website design (or redesign), generating lots of SEO-friendly content, inbound and outbound link building, improving site security and site speed, optimizing for mobile devices, on-page and off-page SEO techniques, and so on,” states Welton Hong, Owner of Ring Ring Marketing.
There’s zero risk to working with Ring Ring Marketing, because they have a 100 percent money-back guarantee for the first two months.
“If you’re not satisfied and want a refund, you get back everything you paid us, no questions asked. We can do that because we’re so confident in our techniques. We don’t work with every funeral home that wants to work with us; we only work with those that are positioned (by size, geography, local competition, etc.) to greatly benefit from our methods. So, if we take you on as a client, we know we can greatly improve your call rate and overall revenue in both the short term and long term. That lets us offer this complete guarantee,” Welton says confidently.
Ring Ring Marketing is fully invested in your success: If you don’t make money, they don’t make money.
“That makes us very different from most other online marketing firms,” mentions Welton. “It’s why we never lock clients into long-term contracts and why we offer a full refund. It’s why I spend a huge portion of my time educating the industry for free through magazine articles, webinars, and blog posts. It’s all about helping funeral home owners not just survive but thrive in this challenging time. Everything we do is focused on helping you grow and generate more revenue. It’s not about selling our services or making money off our clients. Your success is our success,” continues Welton.
It is important to note that Ring Ring Marketing works only with independent funeral homes that average at least 175 calls per year. While they wish they could serve smaller firms, their systems simply work best for businesses of this size. At the end of the day, they don’t want to waste anyone’s time or money on techniques that won’t be extremely effective for the firms they serve.
“It’s a lot more work for us to put the client first in everything we do, but that’s the only way I’ll do business. If you’re investing your money with me, it’s my duty to produce results. It’s my duty to help you multiply capital. So that’s my entire focus, and that’s true of everyone I employ,” Welton concludes.