SAIF Webinar - Talking About Funeral Costs
Why Talking About Funeral Costs Matters
SAIF Webinar - Talking About Funeral Costs, in this presentation we'll discuss:
- Why SAIF has decided to mandate prices online
- The requirements set out by SAIF for online prices
- Addressing the different approaches to service descriptions
- Funeral Prices on Your Website - The Opportunity
- A funeral pricing page case study
- Going beyond what you charge - your ‘culture content’
- Differentiating - what do you stand for?
- The Simplicity of SEO - They Ask, You Answer
- Funeral costs and search engine rankings
- Your SEO gifts - who is the hero of the story?
- What does a Search Engine Friendly page look like?
- Is Pay Per Click for You?
- A Simple Social Media Approach
1. SAIF Webinar - Talking About Funeral Costs. Why SAIF has decided to mandate prices online
Extract from SAIF Insight Magazine (Page 4) October 2020:
'This has been a discussion point for two and a half years and we have probably found the right level as it is a modest revision. We have received criticism from members who do not like online pricing and criticism from the CMA that we have not gone far enough.'
Based upon a specification set out by the Scottish Government SAIF have established, for consumer comparison purposes, a standard funeral (known as The Simple Funeral). The pricing table example includes The Simple Funeral items, included on the Local Funeral website - www.localfuneral.co.uk were outlined by Terry Tennens in SAIF Insight magazine, October 2020.
This price table is SAIF ‘minimum
standard’ and members are free to add details of alternative packages on their websites.
Clear pricing information from funeral directors
The CMA have been investigating funeral pricing and media reports have pointed to lack of price transparency making it difficult for bereaved families to understand and consider their options fully.
Read more on the Local Funeral website https://localfuneral.co.uk/help-and-advice/funeral-price-transparency
Local Funeral identifies the three main areas of cost that helping funeral directors and therefore families to provide and gain clarity:
- Funeral directors costs
- Third party costs
- Discretionary costs
What is a Simple Funeral?
The Simple Funeral is a basic funeral arrangement as defined by the Scottish government. At present they're the only UK government body to publish a recommendation (as of June 2019), but the rest of the UK is expected to follow in the near future.
The Simple Funeral
2. Requirements set out by SAIF for online prices
SAIF Webinar - Talking About Funeral Costs. From March 31 members will need to include on their website or a digital platform of their choice, if they do not have their own website, a price for a simple funeral and a price for an unattended cremation or burial. The Simple Funeral:
- Provision of a coffin
- Provision of a hearse
- Opportunity to hold a service
- Transportation of the deceased from the place of death (excessive distances may incur additional charges)
- Necessary certification and guidance on all legally required procedures
- Provision of staff for care of the deceased and support for the bereaved
- Uplift and care of the deceased prior to the funeral
- Viewing of the deceased (by appointment).
Alternative Pricing Layouts
3. Addressing the different approaches to service descriptions
Funeral directors may use different terms to describe the same service i.e. some may say ‘uplift of deceased’ where others say ‘removal of deceased’. Each of the elements on the list presents an opportunity to expand further thus fulfilling the purpose of your website in answering funeral related questions. For example:
Uplift and care of the deceased prior to the funeral (also known as 'removal of deceased').
4. Funeral Prices on Your Website - The Opportunity
How can displaying prices help not only search engine optimisation but also conversion optimisation?
Cost is one of the most common search topics. By discussing cost, not only will you attract traffic from Google, you will also explain what makes you different, build trust and encourage enquiries.
If you just publish your prices in a dry and basic manner then you are inviting cost based buying decisions. If you go further by writing cost based information you make the first step away from cost decisions and encourage enquiries. For example:
- Why are our funerals costs more expensive than some others? (i.e. funeral providers without premises, or who don't invest in training, or are not a member of a trade body etc..)
- Why are we cheaper than some other funeral directors? (i.e. we are independent and do not have to pay dividends to shareholders, we do not have overheads of bigger companies etc...)
- How Much Does it Cost For a Traditional Funeral (or a simple funeral or a basic funeral or a direct cremation funeral etc...)
5. A funeral pricing page case study
By including comprehensive information surrounding cost related questions you automatically create a search engine friendly page while providing a valuable information service to families and increase the possibility of enquiries.
So how can you ensure people stay on the page long enough to engage with your information?
To create the optimum engagement your pages should follow simple user experience rules (UX).
Good UX includes avoiding long blocks of text by breaking paragraphs up with sub headings, making sure that text is accessible by using bigger font sizes (we use a minimum of 16px for body text), use strong colour contrasts between text and background. Using light grey body text may appear trendy but is difficult to read.
The use of varied media such as images and video is proven to increase engagement.
Explain in Detail
What is included?
Also included in the illustration are:
- Payment of relevant doctor's fees (not applicable in Scotland)
- Payment of relevant officiant fees
- Crematorium, as recommended by the funeral director.
What is not included?
The Simple Funeral does not include embalming, provision of a limousine or third party fees payable on your behalf (plot fees and interment fees etc.).
6. Differentiating - what do you stand for?
Your About Us page will always be one on the most visited pages, the human connection is what makes the web work, don't disappoint!
The examples below are taken from the website of Knox & Son, they talk about the history of the their business and include photos taken by a professional photographer of all of their staff. Good quality images represent a valuable investment in your business and can bring your website and social media to life. Who wouldn't want to work with these guys?
About Your People
7. Going beyond what you charge - your ‘culture content’
Many funeral directors forge strong community links by holding memorial services, charity fundraising or bereavement support. As a SAIF member you are able to provide bereavement support through SAIF Care. Initiatives such as these are typical examples of funeral directors establishing an ethos of giving back to their community, going beyond what you charge and focusing on your culture.
8. The Simplicity of SEO - They Ask, You Answer
The more answers you provide on your website, the greater the opportunity of being found in a Google search. We must move on from the idea that the search term 'funeral director mytown' is the only one that matters.
A story that demonstrates this point is that of a family I know who went through a sad bereavement and needed to arrange a funeral for a loved one who specifically asked for a banana leaf coffin. They searched Google for ‘banana leaf coffin funeral Durham’. they called a funeral director who came up in that search and that was who they asked to arrange the funeral.
The Marcus Sheridan Approach
The philosophy of answering on your website every question you were ever asked about your services has been championed by Marcus Sheridan.
In the midst of the 2008 financial crash he famously turned around his struggling swimming pool business in America by adopting this approach in an act of desperation. The results were spectacular and Marcus went on to help many businesses around the world to achieve similar results. I can personally vouch for this, I saw him speak two years running at an international marketing conference in Edinburgh and met people who had followed his advice with consistent results.
The Simple Approach to SEO
Marcus Sheridan has written a book on this topic for business people like you. He refined his simple strategy without any knowledge of marketing or SEO and his book is written for people like him, people who are experts in their own field as opposed to marketers.
9. Funeral costs and search engine rankings
Listen to Marcus Sheridan explain why you must talk about prices on your website.
The strategy is known as Inbound Marketing or Content Marketing which simply refers to the fact that people coming into your website because your content appeared in their search. It's a simple matter of sharing your knowledge on your website to attract more visitors and enquiries. Because people search for information about prices more than anything else you will increase chances of being found.
The process is equally effective for all kinds of businesses in all markets.
10. Your SEO gifts - who is the hero of the story?
Families are at the heart of what you do, make sure they are also at the heart of your website. This kind of content shifts the emphasis from what you charge to what you do.
More and more services are shifting to digital based and your website is the place for them to take place rather than a third party website or social media. Funeral announcements represent ready made content for your website and are the number one subject matter for attracting your community to visit your website.
In almost twenty years of building websites for funeral directors I have found no better way of attracting visitors. The notices must be on your website as opposed to on a third party website, even if that page is made to look like your website.
11. What does a Search Engine Friendly page look like?
Funeral Directors should be reassured that Google wants your business to be found, search engines are designed to make that happen. Google wants results to be dominated by experts in their field as opposed to SEO experts.
Each search engine friendly page should focus on one search term i.e. 'funeral costs', attempting to optimise a page for several keywords is counter productive as the effect is diluted. The information should be comprehensive and in depth with the search term repeated within the page content as well as the areas shown on the graphic.
Results Relevant to Search Terms
Search engines strive for relevance, and a move to filter out the SEO ‘experts’ in favour of authentic search results. From a funeral directors point of view this is good news, it’s not only important that your service can be found in searches based upon your local area ahead of less relevant results but also to be found for more diverse funeral related searches.
You can be confident that by following a few simple guidelines and writing with authority on the subject of funerals your content will be attractive to search engines.
Broaden the Focus
Calls to Action Throughout
12. Is Pay Per Click for You?
This is a question I'm asking you to answer. From my experience PayPerClick is not an effective use of a funeral directors advertising budget. I've heard plenty of reports of someone who knows someone who is getting lots of business from PPC but as yet haven't seen any concrete proof.
It can be to easy to make an assumption that because a funeral business appears to be busy and are also doing PPC then that is where the business is coming from. And the circle is completed when based upon that assumption you also do PPC so another funeral director is doing PPC in fear of missing out and so it goes on.
SAIF - The Power of Fraternity
This would seem to be a perfect opportunity for funeral directors to come together and share some data. Vast amounts of money are evidently being spent every month on PPC. Across the board, what are the typical returns on that spend?
13. A Simple Social Media Approach
The funeral profession is about people and therefore firmly rooted in the ‘social’ sphere. Justification enough for you to have A Facebook Plan for Your Funeral Business. Bear in mind that, as with any marketing, you should start with your customer in mind:
- What will they be interested in?
- What will they engage with and share?
By the simple fact that people may engage with (i.e. comment and discuss) and share your Facebook Posts your business profile has the potential to be raised.
Simple Facebook Plan for Your Funeral Business
- Set up a Facebook account
- Set up a Facebook Business Page
- Make your page visually appealing and consistent with your brand by adding a Profile Picture and Cover Photo
- Invite as many people as possible to be ‘friends’ of your page
- Add funeral announcements regularly
- Add a mixture of other content regularly (2 or 3 times per week)
- Add links from your website to your Facebook page
- Encourage people both online and offline to engage with and share your content