Funeral home web sites

Part One: Online Brochures, or Engaging Educators?

Part 1: Online Brochures, or Engaging Educators?
Part 2: The Overall Design Process
Part 3: The Power is in the Prose
Part 4: Don't Neglect Your Web Stats

Let me ask you a question.
What's truly important in a funeral home Web site?

As more and more funeral homes come to the Internet, it's critical to think about what it means to your business to enter ‘the digital age.' Do you want your Web site to be merely a digital brochure, or should it be interactive, and engaging?

Most importantly, which would you rather visit, if you were a prospective client family?

I know what my answer is, but you could say I'm rather biased.

Years ago I wrote that funeral home sales copy, whether online or offline needs to be instructive, educational, and powerfully emotive. That means it's got to be more than just a 21st century tri-fold brochure. And, I still hold with that belief.

In the next three installments, I'm presenting guidelines and strategies for creating compelling funeral home Web sites. Part four will then be a discussion on getting the most out of your Web site statistics, and often neglected tool for determining the overall effectiveness of the pages within the site.

Content is Still "King"

One of the biggest challenges funeral homes face is writing quality, educative content; content that touches the hearts and engages the minds of site visitors. You simply must provide content that is both rich with geographically-relevant keywords for the search engines, but designed to educate and motivate your target audience as well.

Did I say "educate"?

Yes, I did.

Americans are great consumers. We know the best televisions to buy, the particulars of automobiles we're considering - but, by and large - we know next to nothing about funerals, cremations, and the wealth of products and services available today. It is up to us to educate them, in a compassionate way. To ask insightful questions and present options based on their responses.

This need to educate is something that sets funeral service apart from other consumer arenas. Education and persuasion doesn't come from beautiful graphics or pleasant background music - it comes from well-chosen words. Writing those words is something I take very seriously, and you should too.
After all, when meeting with a client family, you choose your words carefully - so why wouldn't you when writing your Web copy?

If you've got a Web site that isn't performing up to your expectations, or planning your site for the first time, consider the benefits of Web site content development:

  • Increased lead-generation and sales
  • Improved differentiation from your competitors
  • Build (or rebuild) your firm's credibility
  • Provide industry thought leadership

Content is crucial to your online business success and should be prioritized as such. Far too many business owners put off the job of creating quality content, in favor of the "bells and whistles" of pastoral images and music.

Step One

Think about your products and services from your client families' point of view for a minute. Get out of your own way: your Web site shouldn't be about your firm, but rather it should be about your client's needs and desires. The question, asked from the site visitor's point of view, is "what's in it for me?"

Often when clients have questions about a particular product or service, you can easily refer them to a blog post or article on your website that relates to that topic, answers their questions and more often than not, result in an online or phone inquiry. Did I say blog? Yes, I did. More about that later.

If you are having difficulty with your web site content development, look to your current and past customers if possible for informational needs that you can meet with quality content.

  • Do you find that your clients are consistently asking the same questions over and over?
  • Do you find that your clients lack knowledge in a particular area?

Consider writing an article or tutorial to meet those informational needs and to supplement your sales copy.

So, part of your homework for this section on Web site content development is to sit down with your funeral home staff members and generate a list of the major questions prospective client families ask you, either during the initial phone call or during the arrangement conference. Keep that list handy, because we'll need it next time.

The second assignment is to consider what your goals are in designing, and writing content for your Web site. Regardless of what products or services you offer, user-friendly content can be developed if you implement a web site content strategy to fit your goals. Are you most interested in differentiating your firm from your competitors? Or are you choosing to position your firm as a leader in the field, with strong brand recognition? Set your goals down on paper, and get ready for the next installment on overall Web design.