In a time where it seems like a new digital tool is popping up every month it’s tough to know which ones will have an impact, especially when each can be used for personal or business purposes. However, one of the tools that has been around for a while and continues to prove its worth, is the blog. It’s likely a familiar term these days, but most funeral homes don’t blog and those that do may not be blogging properly.
Perhaps you’ve been curious about the hype surrounding blogs, dabbled with them a bit yourself, or see the value in blogs but just can’t dedicate the time to them. This guide is designed to help you see how powerful blogging can be if done right, and how to confidently blog with a purpose.
What is blogging?
Before you get too inspired, and start typing away, we need to figure out what exactly a blog is. I’m sure many of you have a good idea, but let’s really break it down. Google defines a blog as:
“a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style”
I’ve highlighted the most important parts of this definition to help understand the actual purpose behind a blog. Regularly updating blogs, much like any other online content, is usually the biggest turn-off for funeral homes (along with what to blog about, which we’ll get to later). Consistently updating your online platforms with content takes time but it is vital to your success.
The second point I made note of was conversational style. Blogs are different from news articles, so it shouldn’t sound like you are speaking at the person. They can, in fact should, be informative but you also want to engage your audience. Much like other social media platforms, blogs can be a place where your community engages with you, asks questions, and gives feedback.
Why should I blog?
As I mentioned above, the majority of funeral homes do not currently blog. Some may think that “it’s not for the funeral industry”, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. Funeral directors often express their disapproval at how the profession is portrayed in the media, and that the public only hears about the horror stories. So what better way to get the truth out there than by telling it yourself? Beyond giving your funeral home (and the death care profession as a whole) a voice, here are some more reasons you should blog.
- Increase engagement and website traffic: The more useful information your funeral home’s website offers, the more likely people are to visit it. However, if your website has too many pages it will become overly complicated and tough for visitors to navigate. Blogs bypass this issue by being a separate entity that is still connected to your website. This way you can start as many new posts as you desire, adding the great content your website needs to get more traffic, without cluttering your website.
- SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most common terms in digital marketing these days, and for good reason. Getting found on search engines is a big piece of the pie and blogs can play a large role in this. The most obvious way is simply through the added content. More relevant content means more keywords being used and this is how search engines will determine where you stand when your community searches for a topic related to death care. Another way blogs impact SEO is through inbound links. If your articles are compelling enough other websites will share them, thus creating even more ways for your website to be found. According to HubSpot, companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website! How cool is that?
- One blog topic creates lots of different content: Having trouble coming up with posts for social media? Blogs are a great source for many different talking points and you can have several posts leading to the same blog at different times. You can take little snippets from the blog post that highlight the message the post is trying to portray and end the post with “read the full blog post here” with a link to the blog post.
- It only costs time: Blogging is a truly free online strategy. Paying for ads on Google or Facebook can certainly have their advantages, but if you’re looking for something that’s easier on the wallet then blogging is the way to go. Writing about things that are close to your heart can be a breeze, and the return that your funeral home will get from the time you put into blogging will be very worthwhile.
- People trust blogs: According to Pamorama, blogs are the 5th most trusted online source for consumers, even ahead of magazines and a brand’s own website! This goes back to what we were talking about earlier and writing with a conversational tone. Telling the story of your funeral home through your blog helps to humanize it a bit more and this leads to a more trusting community. Beyond this, blogs are the 3rd most likely online source to influence a purchase. While the funeral home purchasing model differs from others, you can still use it to influence and educate consumers on pre-planning, memorial options and more.
What should I blog about?
Seeing the advantages of blogging and realizing it’s a useful online strategy is the easy part. Coming up with consistent engaging topics that your community will benefit from, can take a bit more work. The direction and voice of your blog will ultimately depend on you, your staff, and how you want to brand your individual funeral home, but there are some strategies which can be applied to any blog. These tips should be taken into account when you’re sitting down to start writing.
- Tell your story and be sincere: For a purchase decision as important as a funeral, families want to know that they will be getting the best service possible and all of the details will be taken care of. One way to show them why they should choose your funeral home, is by being transparent and giving them insight into what kind of place it is as well as the staff who run it. With the amount of research done online these days, this means going beyond what you may have on your homepage. You don’t need to sell your funeral home when you’re doing this, it’s about becoming more approachable. Just give your community some insight into your well-rounded staff and your values, and your services will sell themselves.
- Educate and inform: The funeral profession has a grand opportunity in this category. Death is something that people tend to avoid, however it is becoming more acceptable to talk about. Because of this, when people are forced to deal with this inevitability, they often know little about the entire process. FrontRunner websites are already optimized with great informative content, a blog gives you the opportunity to take some of this subject matter and repackage it for your specific community. What are some common misconceptions you hear from people about the funeral profession? What are some things you think families should know about the process but often don’t? What actually goes into planning a funeral or celebration of life? What’s the difference between the two? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself when trying to come up with some educational content.
- Showcase unique memorials: This isn’t always an option and may go against some funeral homes’ beliefs, but showcasing a creative memorial service is a great way to generate traffic to your blog – as long as you have permission from the family to do so. Naturally not every family is going to be willing to share their loved one’s celebration of life with the world, but for the ones that are it gives you the opportunity to display some of your unconventional services first-hand.
- When in doubt, ask around: Who better to decide what you write about than the audience you’re actually writing to? You can set up polls or surveys within your blog or on your social media channels to ask your readers what they’d like to hear about or just to get some general feedback. Make sure to ask other staff at your funeral home if you’re stuck for ideas as well. Another option is to have a guest blogger write every now and then, interview someone, or share your opinion on a great article you just read somewhere. This could be from a professional in the field or in a different field, such as healthcare or event planning for example. Remember, you want to educate and inform so the more knowledge you can gather, the more diverse your posts will be!
What else should I know before I start blogging?
A couple more important pieces to make note of are length and links. How long your blog should be is a bit subjective and you will likely read some different answers to this around the web. The short answer is aim for 1,000-1,500 words. This will help boost the SEO of your blog without drawing out the content too much. The long answer to the ideal length of a blog is that it depends on many different factors, the main one being your own goals. The length of your posts will vary depending on the subject matter. You should try not to think too much about length when you first start writing, just start getting your thoughts down and you’ll be surprised what you can produce!
The second point I mentioned was links. It is important to keep in mind that the end game of blogging is really to get families on your website and engaging with your funeral home. Creating links in your blogs to a section of your website helps with this as it helps direct people to where you want them to go. This is where website content comes in handy. Your content can act as a further resource for your blog topic and is a simple way to create more traffic and engagement.
Is that all there is to it?
Essentially, yes. Practice really does make perfect when it comes to blogging and writing in general. It takes time to find and fine-tune your writing voice and decide how you want your funeral home to be seen through your blog. Remember to keep things conversational and blog about topics that interest you and the rest will fall into place. The first step is to start doing it. A huge boost in your web traffic could be just a few blogs away!