Of all the industries that operate in the UK, the funeral industry is one of the few to always be guaranteed customers. In 2021, 586,334 deaths were recorded in England and Wales; while this is a decrease from the previous year, it still represents a significant demand for funerals.

However, although demand for funeral services might be high, as every funeral director knows, competition in this sector is tough. The deathcare business is both complicated and dynamic with an estimated 7,000 funeral directors in the UK, all vying for the attention of potential customers. Some of these are independent family-run funeral homes to ensure they stand out from the many other funeral directors in their area. Others are corporate giants building out branches of branded funeral services across the country.

The legal framework is not straight forward either. Recent changes in the UK funeral industry have made it even more important for funeral directors to take a closer look at their marketing efforts. In 2021, an in-depth review of the UK funeral sector was conducted by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA). As a result of the review, the way that funeral directors are allowed to operate and market themselves changed.

Before the new CMA regulations came into force, some funeral directors generated business with little oversight. There are now new CMA rules and all UK funeral directors are required to abide by them. As deathcare regulations tighten and the wider advertising sector also undergoes rapid change, it is more important than ever to understand the nuances of advertising funeral services.

In this challenging environment, funeral directors need to establish compliant and sustainable ways to advertise and promote their businesses. If you are in this situation, please read on to learn how you can help your funeral home get noticed and attract new customers with funeral advertising and marketing.

Develop a Marketing Plan

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Writing a marketing plan is an essential first step when trying to advertise your funeral services. A good marketing plan enables you to establish clear goals around what you want to achieve from your promotional efforts. It then establishes exactly how you will make this happen. What channels you will use? How frequently you will publish content and how much it will cost you.

When writing your marketing strategy, it is essential to analyse your competitors so you can see what you are up against and how your business compares. Have a look at their flyers, their social media and even their reviews to look for clues as to how they are performing.

Find Your USP

A group of women wearing colourful clothing stand around a cardboard coffin touching it.
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When competing against multiple funeral services, it can feel impossible to make your business stand out from its competitors. The good news is there is a solution to this issue. Finding your funeral home’s unique selling proposition (USP) will enable you to differentiate it from the other funeral service companies available.

To determine your USP, you could research the other companies to assess what your funeral service does differently. Or, you may have an obvious difference in your business, such as specialising in eco-friendly funerals, being female-run or arranging funerals of a specific religious group. Whatever the differentiator your company has, highlighting it and weaving it into all your messaging is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.

Focus on Your Own Website

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Your business website is the front door of your funeral home and one of your greatest assets when it comes to promoting your funeral services. Ensuring that your website showcases your business in the best way possible will help you capture more visitors and turn them into new customers.

Ensuring you offer high-quality content and provides a meaningful experience for potential customers is important. To deliver a positive user experience, you should ensure your site is easy to navigate and features all the content that your potential customers would expect to find in a logical way. Don’t forget to include digital funeral notices. If you use software to manage your funeral home they may offer to embed notices for you and it is known to attract more visitors to your site, raising your brand awareness.

Making it as easy as possible for people to find all the information they need is especially important for funeral websites, as your potential customers might be elderly or visit you in a state of distress. Planning a funeral can be an overwhelming and unexpected task. So, making it as easy as possible for potential customers to use your site makes it that little more likely they’ll choose your business. Test it regularly yourself to make sure no buttons or forms are broken.

Create a Google Business Profile

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As well as working on optimising your website, you’ll also want to create a Google Business Profile which enables you to be more visible to people searching for funeral services. Once you have claimed your free Google Business Profile, you will be able to update it. Adding useful information for your potential customers, such as your opening hours, phone number, and a photo of your business, will help your business to get noticed.

It is important, for both you and Google, that the information found on services such Google Maps is up to date. Keeping on top of this may also benefit you in other ways, for example through rich snippets which enhance the way you appear in search engines and make it easier for you to be contacted.

Build Your Traffic

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Once your website and  Google Profile is looking good you’ll need to start driving more traffic to it. A good way to start is by regularly posting to your own blog and social media. Focus on quality more than frequency. Working on ensuring that your website is SEO-optimised is part of this effort but you’ll also need to work on off-site tactics. This involves making sure you are listed on relevant directories, setting up and maintaining your Google business profile and building backlinks through guest posts on relevant media, interviews with local press or partnerships with local florists or other suppliers. Over time, consistently working on your content and being open to opportunities to appear on others’ content will improve your positioning in search engines.

Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

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Using pay-per-click (PPC) is an example of paid media that often proves beneficial to service businesses. The most commonly bought PPC ads are Google Ads although Microsoft and others offer similar services. You will need to define keywords to bid on and design targeted campaigns that focus on the geography and demography that matches your customer base. Be sure to be specific, you can always expand later. If you want those instant leads but it sounds too complicated you can hire a marketing freelancer or an agency to give you a hand.

If you decide to do it yourself and launch your own PPC campaign, be sure to monitor it regularly. Checking the account regularly is the best way to ensure that it is working. Check that you appear on the right search terms and that the bids are profitable. If you have set up conversion tracking correctly, you will be able to see which keywords are generating visits, calls and form submits. You’ll also see those which are costing you money and not delivering any useful results. Based on these kinds of metrics, you will be able to tweak your campaign to ensure that it performs optimally. Remember to take seasonality into account.

Be active in your community

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Don’t forget that you yourself may be one of the most effective promotional channels you have. If you are a caring and engaging member of your community, potential customers will naturally gravitate toward your services. Corporate funeral chains won’t be able to compete with you on this front. Don’t be afraid to attend local events, partner with local associations and perhaps run support groups linked to your aftercare services. Don’t overdo it but genuine engagement with community groups is often appreciated and remembered.

Monitor Your Results

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Last but not least, one of the most crucial things you need to do when advertising your funeral services is to monitor your results. Measuring how many leads are generated as a result of your advertising activities is vital and provides valuable information you can use to inform future campaigns. Google Analytics is one of the best known services for this and it is free of charge. Setting it up will help you track all sorts of metrics and discover which advertising methods deliver the best results. You can then focus more on these in the future to get the best return on your investment.