In the 10 plus years that I sold and then later managed a multi-million dollar preneed program the most consistent lead source we had was direct mail.
Even though referral leads were better quality leads, they depended on the sales rep to go through the process of cultivating the referrals. Even with low direct mail responses – we had to rely on bulk mail as our regulations prevented us from using addressed mail – they were still ROI positive so we continued the mailings. The problem though was that this was a shotgun approach as we didn’t know exactly who was going to receive the mail piece.
As the world – and more importantly our individual markets – move online, preneed marketers have to change their way of thinking. We can’t “direct market” people online without first getting their email address – and people just don’t freely give up their email. We can make sure that our websites are SEO’d (Search Engine Optimized) so that we will rank at or near the top of Google for terms like “funeral planning in San Diego CA” but this only gets in front of the people looking for preneed information.
What about the people who didn’t have a care in the world until they opened their mail and through our wordsmithing, compelled them to take action so that their death wouldn’t be a burden on their families?
Well we could create banner ads and try to get them to appear on seniors focused websites or on the online obituary page of the local newspaper’s website. The problem with this strategy is that there are so many ads and, if they don’t recognize the ad, they will just ignore it.
So how do you get in front of an audience that is more likely thinking about making their own arrangements?
Let’s go back about five years for a possible insight into this. At that time I interviewed Pam Kleese from Homesteaders Life Company for the Funeral Gurus podcast. They had just completed a study where they surveyed over 1,000 of their policyholders and the one finding that I thought that was the most interesting was that 49% said that they had attended a funeral or memorial service in the prior 6 months and an additional 16% the prior 7 to 12 months – so almost two-thirds (65%).
If we surmise that attending a funeral of a family member or friend is a trigger to consider pre-arrangement – like a “mortality gut-check” – we don’t need to look very far to find this audience – in our visitation rooms and chapels. Now this isn’t new and funeral homes should have materials available for people who are in our facilities but we don’t want to be seen as too “in your face” or pushy.
So how should we overcome this issue of having a hot target audience right in front of us without being seen as too aggressive with our marketing to them?
Enter your funeral home website which should be getting on average 250 visitors for every call that you serve (500 visitors per call is the goal that we set for our website clients). If you have 20 calls in a month you should have at least 5,000 visitors to your website that month. If we then apply the theory of attending a funeral triggers the mortality gut-check, then we should be marketing preneed to these website visitors. The problem is that we will face the same issue as we did before of how can we achieve this in a tactful manner. Putting banner ads about preplanning on your online obituaries may not be very appropriate. Is there another way of harnessing this perfect traffic source?
Let me introduce you to REMARKETING. This service is offered by Google and others, but it is best to start with Google and this is how they define remarketing:
Remarketing is a feature that lets you reach people who have previously visited your site, and show them relevant ads when they visit other sites on the Google Display Network. Source: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453998?hl=en
So what happens is that when someone visits your website to read an obituary or leave a condolence, there will be a tracking cookie that is placed on their browser. Then as they continue to surf the Internet, any website that subscribes to Google’s AdSense program, there is a good chance your ad will show up to that visitor. These ads should be tasteful but with a compelling message and call to action so that they can get more information about preplanning their services. Then over time these cookies expire and the visitor won’t see the ads again until they revisit your site again and the process starts all over.
Since these ads will follow the visitors around the Internet for a while, skeptical people may feel that they are being followed or even stalked. If your campaign is set up properly you can set the frequency of the ads to be lower if you don’t want your ad to show too many times to the same person.
Traditional banner advertising can be expensive and isn’t the most effective way to advertise online, especially for a local business. But since your remarketing ads only show to people who have already been to your website and are somewhat familiar with your brand, there is a greater likelihood that your ads will be recognized by the visitor. The other important factor here is the cost of remarketing campaign. Once it is set up, you are only paying for the number of times that your ads are clicked on – not the number of times your ads are shown (number of impressions). For example when I was promoting my Funeral Rock Stars live event, I received 20,652 impressions for only $43.60 – that is $0.002 / impression.
I believe that Remarketing is the most effective and cheapest form of paid advertising for Top Of Mind Awareness and Brand building for the people that don’t click your ads. Also, for those that do click your ads, you are able to use a rifle approach to target people who have recently been effected by a death of a family member or friend. Then it is up to the message on your website to convert them from a prospect to a lead – and this is all done automatically once your remarketing campaign is set up.
Bonus Strategy: For any of your other advertising that you pay for that drives people to your website – whether is it TV, Radio, Print, Direct Mail or online, you should have your remarketing code placed on those landing pages. If that prospect doesn’t take action on that first visit, they could be lost forever, but with a remarketing campaign, you can continue to market to them after they leave your website. If it is true that people need to see your message at least seven times, remarketing will cover the latter six, plus many more points of exposure.
To see remarketing in action, you can visit one of my two event websites: www.FuneralBootcamp.com or www.FuneralRockStars.com and then you will see how these ads will appear on other websites that you visit around the Internet. For more information about Remarketing for your funeral home, visit: www.FuneralFuturist.com/Remarketing.