Content Marketing in 2020: Tips for Funeral Directors

Posted February 5, 2020

7 min read

Guest post by Welton Hong

Independent funeral home owners whose businesses are thriving in 2020—yes, thriving, despite increasing competition from direct cremation providers and corporate entities—know that one word is the key to generating many more at-need and preneed calls.

That word is the key to ranking better than your competitors on local search engine results pages (SERPs), the place far more families are going now to make choices about both at-needs and preneeds.

That word is the foundation for establishing spectacular online credibility—which is an entirely different thing than offline word-of-mouth credibility—with families in your community.

That word is the determinant for whether Google, the massive leader in online search (about 90 percent of the market), considers your funeral home website to have exceptional relevance. That’s what determines whether your site appears in the critically influential “3-pack,” in Google Maps listings, in popular “near me” searches, and more.

That word is content. And if you didn’t know that until the previous sentence, I strongly recommend you read on.

Content Is King

Digital marketing for funeral homes is constantly evolving. What worked well two years ago, or even a year, might not be effective at all today.

However, some things remain foundational year after year, and one of the biggest ones is that “content is king.” Put simply, the more high-quality, original, relevant content you have on your website and other places on the internet where your firm is mentioned—what we call “citations”—the more successful you’ll be in your online marketing efforts.

There are many highly effective tools at your disposal to generate more calls from digital marketing, including pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, website conversion optimization, and even social media (the latter particularly for preneeds).

But it all starts with content. If your firm is anemic on great content, all the other tools are far less effective. Content is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

As I indicated above, this is borne out in two distinct ways: First, great content establishes credibility with families considering your firm for at-need or preneed calls. Second, it’s what Google and other search engines use to determine whether they should effectively “promote” your business (for free!) in organic search results and related platforms.

Conversational Content and Quality

More so than ever before, people don’t want to read through dry, academic text to learn more about your firm. They want to feel like they’re having a conversation with you, even if the conversation in question only goes in one direction.

That’s why it’s important for your content to have a tone that’s friendly and engaging. They will quickly warm up to your firm if it sounds like you’re speaking from the heart, person to person, rather than tediously reciting a dry list of options and benefits.

Granted, it’s slightly trickier for a funeral home to adopt this tone than, let’s say, a pizza place. Your content always must be reverent and professional. Cracking silly jokes or being too casual actually would hurt your credibility, instead of burnishing it.

However, it can be done. Informal certainly doesn’t have to mean unprofessional. Here’s a good exercise: When creating your written content, think about writing an email to your mother or a similar close relative.

You’re not going to be a smart aleck in an email to your mother—at least I hope not—but you also won’t be dry and academic.

As I noted, your written content also needs to be original and of high quality. By original, I mean that you shouldn’t purchase previously used or even slightly “spun” copy to bolster your content, as tempting as this might be.

Duplicating content—or even outright plagiarizing from other websites—isn’t just unethical, it immediately endangers your website. Google will find out, and when it does, it can massively penalize your site.

As for high quality, I mean that it should be highly relevant to burial and cremation. It should be grammatical and easy to read. This is important not only for ranking well on search engines but for establishing credibility with families who visit your site.

Google My Business

It’s also imperative that your funeral home leverage the power of its official Google business listing, which is now known as Google My Business.

GMB is much more than a business listing. It provides you a free business profile that lets you, in Google’s words, “easily connect with [clientele] across Google Search and Maps.”

You can upload images of your firm to your GMB listing. You can also upload blog posts and other relevant written content, which helps you rank higher in search and further bolster credibility with local families.

Your business profile will pop up immediately whenever people search for your firm on Google. That’s one reason it’s vital to ensure your business’s name, address, and phone number—aka “NAP” info—is correct on your profile. Having an accurate address also ensures your firm appears properly on Google Maps.

Additionally, you can list your operating hours on GMB. Most likely, you’re available for at-need calls 24/7, so make sure your listing reflects that. If your listing shows you as being closed, you’re probably not going to get calls during those times.

Finally, your listing will display any Google reviews your business has received. The importance of generating positive reviews is a larger subject for another time, but here’s the short version: Much like having lots of great content, in 2020 your firm must have lots of great reviews.

For one thing, Google now actually considers your quantity and quality of reviews in determining your search rankings and whether you deserve to appear in the local 3-pack. Granted, it’s only one of many factors, but it’s a major one.

Additionally, having great reviews obviously bolsters your online reputation with local families. Obviously, no one’s going to use a funeral home that averages 2.2 stars out of 5. And if you only have two or three reviews—even if they’re all five-star reviews—that’s not enough of a sample size for most people.

Mobile Isn’t the Future—It’s the Present

Finally, I want to take a moment to make sure funeral home owners and other deathcare providers are prioritizing mobile in their online marketing efforts.

Far too many funeral industry websites remain optimized only for the desktop experience, which is a big problem given that more people view these websites on mobile devices (such as smartphones) than on desktops in 2020. That’s actually been true for a couple of years now.

Mobile optimization is another huge subject I only have room to touch on briefly here, but the bottom line is that your website needs to display well on mobile, be easy to navigate and operate, and provide options such as “click to call.” That lets people who pull up your site on a smartphone or a tablet call you with a single touch of their screen.

For a while now, Google has been penalizing the search rankings of sites that aren’t optimized for mobile, and that penalty will only get heavier as time passes. Desktop use will continue its steady decline this year and in subsequent years.

Grandparents and even great-grandparents regularly use smartphones and tablets to research funeral services today, so you can’t ignore this development in your key demographic. Be sure your site is optimized for mobile so you can generate many more at-need and preneed calls in 2020.

About Welton Hong

Welton Hong is the founder of Ring Ring Marketing®, which helps deathcare firms generate more calls from the internet, and the author of Making Your Phone Ring with Internet Marketing for Funeral Homes, 2019 Edition.

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