A Pocket Guide to Mastering Online Marketing

The Online Deal and You

This short guide is for every funeral director who has ever felt a feeling of overwhelm at the challenge of how best to market his or her business online. And who wants to do it without throwing large amounts of money at the Internet wall in the hope that some of it sticks.

I touch on some technical questions but steer well clear of tech speak.

Do you even need a website? There are still businesses, funeral directors amongst them, who are of the opinion that their business can be viable without a website and they may be right. However, being viable and being successful are not the same thing.

Consumers buying habits have changed and won't be going back; we are better informed about prospective purchases, we compare vendors and largely make our mind up before contacting anyone.

Being aware of how things are right now and then implementing the basics outlined below in line with those buying habits is an opportunity too significant to ignore.

Takeway: Having a website will raise the profile of your business in the community, perception of your company is improved with good a quality website.

Which Domain Name?

A domain name based upon a location can be effective, i.e. is always likely to do well in search engines. There are however good reasons why that shouldn’t be necessary and you can instead use your brand name as your domain.

With a basic application of search engine optimisation on your website a listing on page one of Google is possible without including the location in the domain name, I’m referring to ‘organic’ or natural results here not paid for listings. Not tying your domain to a place will allow you to use one of your greatest assets in your domain; your business name.

SSL - Anyone setting up a new website should specify a security certificate otherwise known as SSL which will add a green padlock to the domain in the browser address bar.

Takeway: Use your business name in your domain name and be aware that SSL is becoming a must have.


They Ask You Answer

A website that is well designed, is on brand and visually appealing can go a long way to promote your business. Without useful content however it will be an empty shell.

Producing content can seem a big task but is really nothing different to what you’ve always done. You answer customer questions. About everything. About arranging a funeral, about crematorium funerals, about cemetery funerals, about coffins, about registering a death, about choosing hymn’s, about humanist ministers and much more such as your prices and funeral announcements.

Give people all of that information on your website and they will appreciate you. Google will too.

Takeaway: Think of all of the questions people ask and answer everyone on your website

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Funeral Announcements

Funeral directors are switching on to the fact that by far the best place for funeral announcements is not on a newspapers website but on their own website. Visitor statistics demonstrate people that people are searching online or directly visiting funeral director websites to find funeral announcements.

Previously local newspapers were the 'go to' resource for this information followed by local press online announcements pages. Families and friends are seeking this information and a funeral director is best placed to provide it, the goal would be that a search containing the word 'funeral' and a name and location will bring up the relevant funeral director website.

Takeaway: If you take only one positive step after reading this article make that including funeral announcements on your website.



Website Imagery

If you want people to take your business seriously then you need to take it seriously yourself. The images on your website should feature people strongly, they should be ‘your people’ orientated and they should be professional. Investment in good quality photographs will make you look professional and help to gain trust in your brand.

Product images should similarly be of good quality, families will use your coffin gallery to make their choice if you give them that opportunity and make the experience the best it can be.

Takeaway: Time and money invested in professional photography creates a valuable business asset.


Walker and Morrell Funeral Directors


What About Google?

There are three ways that Google can help you:

  1. You can appear in the free Google My Business listing for a funeral director search on your area
  2. You can appear on the first page of free ‘organic’ or natural results for the same search
  3. You can appear at the top of the page in Pay Per Click results, i.e. you can pay to be there. The decision is yours however I would advocate the first two options over 'paid for' ads almost every time.

Takeaway: You do not need to spend money every month to advertise your business with Google. Write relevant content that answers your customers questions and helps them when they need it most.


What now? Social media?

Social Media - your next step? Once you have your website in place and operating effectively as the online hub of your business do you need to engage in social media?

In much the same way as some funeral directors will argue that they can get by without a website there are those who take a similar approach to social media. And they’ll be right however they will be missing out on the opportunity to engage with more people, raise the profile of their business and subsequently enjoy the benefits.

A Facebook Business page and a Twitter page can both be set up for nothing in an hour or two and updated a few times a week with minimum time cost. The addition of those two assets represent a marketing opportunity never before available to small businesses.

Takeaway: Recognise the opportunity of free social media marketing for small business. Before the Internet age only large businesses could afford marketing to this extent.

Video: How to set up a Facebook Business Page.
Video: How to set up a Twitter account.


Who’s Measuring Results?

All of your marketing activity can be tracked and measured with Google Analytics. If you’re spending any money on a website, advertising via online directories or portals you can track visits from those sources to your website.

If you have an Announcements feature on your website you can measure website activity and see any subsequent increase in visitor numbers. You can do this rather than relying on vague statistics provided by some of the well known online advertising companies seeking to justify a package sold with spectacular promises of huge numbers of visitors.

Takeaway: A basic Google Analytics report can tell you which pages on your website are popular and where your visitors are coming from. This information can help you to shape decisions about future marketing activity.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics

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Gerry King - Funeral Director Websites
Gerry King - Funeral Director Websites

This is part of a an ongoing series of articles from Funeral Director Websites aimed at supporting
Independent Funeral Directors in marketing their business.