The Biggest Marketing Trends as We Enter 2018

Now that we’re officially in 2018, I wanted to take a few minutes to point out some of the biggest funeral home marketing trends I’m seeing in the new year.

While the calendar year is still fresh, this is the perfect time to make sure you’re taking advantage of these trends and techniques. The longer you wait, the more ground you could be giving up in the battle for the local death care industry market.

More families will be going online to determine their choices for funeral homes and cremations

If anyone thought researching burial and cremation providers online was a “bubble” that would eventually burst (some, inexplicably, thought just that), we now know better.

This trend simply isn’t going to stop. As more people of all ages access the internet 24/7 from smartphones and tablets (and increasingly, even smartwatches), online search will only increase as a factor in choosing a funeral or cremation provider.

While most industries typically only show negligible or low single-digit growth over a given year, searches for burials and cremations grew 13 percent in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016.

More than half (56 percent) of funerals and bereavement searches in Q3 of 2017 came from mobile devices, indicating how ubiquitous these items have become in average Americans’ lives.

When we factor in declining church attendance and the increase in transience in American towns and cities, it’s unquestionable that online search will continue to make gains over traditional methods in how families select burial or cremation services.

Online “market share” among local funeral homes will become much more competitive

I’m using “market share” here as a general term to mean having a dominant position over local competitors online: superior ranking in online searches, more effective and better-positioned pay-per-click ads, highest quantity and quality of online reviews, etc.

Dominance in your local market in 2018 and beyond will be won online. As of 2018, we’ve reached the point where user-friendly technology isn’t just an extravagance for the well-to-do or people in tech-centric cities. It’s now just as pervasive in small-town America.

Today, virtually everyone accesses technology everywhere, no matter if you live in a deeply rural area, the suburbs, or the heart of the city. Middle schoolers use it. Great-grandparents use it. And of course, everyone in between does as well. So local funeral homes need to work hard right away to stake out territory over their local competitors.

The sooner a funeral home invests in establishing the strongest possible position in a local market, the more easily it will be able to hold that position and increase its actual market share. Death care businesses must act quickly to leverage online opportunities before their competitors do.

Having responsive web design will be an absolute necessity

A website with responsive web design is one that ensures visitors have an optimal experience no matter what type of screen they view it on — for example, a desktop monitor, tablet or smartphone.

When you pull up a website on a phone and find yourself scrolling all over to read the text or have trouble viewing images or finding and clicking links, that site doesn’t have responsive design. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for a lot of local funeral home sites, and that’s really bad. They’re simply not ready to compete in 2018 and beyond.

With more people searching for burial and cremation providers on smartphones and tablets, these devices are becoming more important than desktop computers. It’s absolutely imperative that a funeral home site be easy to read and operate on a phone.

Additionally, Google has rolled out its mobile-first index, which essentially means it prioritizes the mobile experience over the desktop one.

Funeral home websites that don’t work well on mobile devices will be heavily penalized in Google search engine rankings and in overall SEO, which will be devastating to lead generation. In 2018, they will need responsive web design if they want to have any hope of competing locally.

Remarketing will become a powerful technique for growing pre-need contracts

Remarketing lets a business continue marketing itself to potential clients even when they’re not actively searching for providers.

For example, they might be in the market for fresh landscaping, check out a landscaping sales site, and then leave without making an appointment or filling out a contact form. Remarketing lets that landscaping business continue showing ads to the potential buyer (on a variety of unrelated websites) for a set period of time after the original visit.

Using remarketing to market pre-need services will be a huge growth opportunity in 2018. When friends and family visit a funeral site to view obituaries, remarketing lets that site continue marketing to them afterward.

Following the death of a loved one, these potential leads will be at their “warmest” — in other words, most likely to be considering whether they’ve made plans that will avoid putting a burden on their family upon their passing.

There are several thoughtful, nuanced ways to employ this type of advertising, and I expect it to become a major player in growing pre-need contracts in 2018.

(Note: Ready to supercharge the leads you get from the internet and convert them into real-life clientele? In his free webinar, marketing expert Welton Hong delivers practical techniques you can employ today. Click here to register!)

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