2013 Year in Review

2013 was by far our best year yet, as we’ve released many exciting new products, features and partnerships to help funeral homes grow online. We are deeply grateful to all the amazing funeral homes we work with in our effort to move the industry forward.

In case you missed anything, here are the highlights:

Social Media Copilot

The Social Media Copilot was the hit of 2013! The Copilot makes it easy for funeral homes to engage and grow their fan bases. In fact, Facebook posts published by the Copilot reached over 1 MILLION people in your communities in 2013!

The Copilot content library now consists of almost 2,000 posts, hand-picked to engage your funeral home’s audience. In addition, we released a handful of new content feeds including a “Special Days” feed, pet loss feeds, and “Branded Photo Boards”, which automatically customizes grief-related photo boards with your funeral home’s logo for the ultimate viral branding on Facebook.

Through the launch of our new Copilot Captain program, we’ve helped funeral homes increase their fan count in their communities by over 50%!

Finally, we launched Copilot Insights to help show you exactly how many people are seeing your posts on Facebook, and which are the most popular, without ever leaving your email inbox!

Talk of a Lifetime on Facebook

We are excited to have partnered with the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC) to help you share the Talk of a Lifetime campaign with your funeral home’s Facebook fans!

As part of our partnership with FAMIC, we released a free version of our Social Media Copilot that automatically publishes the Talk of a Lifetime content to your funeral home’s Facebook Page.

Want to try the free Talk of a Lifetime version of the Copilot? There’s absolutely no cost and you can cancel at any time.

Just take this link to get started:

https://funeralinnovations.com/users/register/famic?plans=44

Healing Registry

Our Healing Registry e-commerce solution got even better in 2013, with a mobile version to make it easy and accessible on even the small screens of smart phones.

For the year, our partners have seen a $63 average CPM through our Healing Registry. In other words, every 1,000 obituary visits has resulted in $63 of flower and gift sales!

To put this in context, our Healing Registry gets over 50% higher CPM than what we’ve observed with other obituary e-commerce solutions!

Funeral Innovations is Growing!

We were excited to welcome a new member to the Funeral Innovations team this year. James Arama joined Funeral Innovations as a software developer, and he brings an unmatched work ethic, curiosity and creativity to the funeral industry. James is set to graduate from Marist College in New York, with a major in Computer Science, and experience working at Intel as well as a high school national championship programming pedigree!

 

 

Looking Forward to 2014

As great as 2013 was, we can’t wait to show you all awesome things already in the works for 2014!

We’d love to partner with you in our mission of helping funeral homes grow their businesses online. If growing your company sounds good to you, contact us and see how we can help!

Mobile Healing Registry

We’re excited to announce that our Healing Registry has gone mobile! Now people who visit obituaries on your mobile website can purchase sympathy flowers and gifts right from their phone, resulting a better customer experience and more revenue for your funeral home.

If you use the Funeral Innovations Healing Registry, your mobile registry is already enabled.

Introducing Social Media Copilot Insights

Our Social Media Copilot has been helping funeral homes take their Facebook presence to the next level, by helping manage their Facebook posting and content. It’s been so effective that its posts have reached well over 100,000 people on Facebook in the past month!

Now funeral homes that use the Social Media Copilot will know exactly how many people the Copilot is helping them reach! We’re excited to launch our new Copilot Insights, weekly emails that detail your Facebook Page’s performance and reach!

Copilot Insights emails show a wealth of information about your Facebook Page, laid out in a way that is simple to understand. Each week, the emails show you:

  • How many different people saw your content
  • How many new fans your Facebook Page gained during the week
  • How many people saw and interacted with each of your posts that week

With the Social Media Copilot Insights, we’re excited to continue helping our partners grow their fan base, increase their reach within their community, and understand how it all works!

Obituary Stats, Delivered Daily

Many of our partners (“The Innovators”) are surprised to find out just how many visitors are going to their online obituaries. That’s understandable, because our web growth platform has a lot of tricks to help drive traffic to their website!

However, we wanted to make it easier to know when your obituaries are seeing lots of visits. We are excited to release our latest feature, which notifies you daily via email when you have high traffic obituaries, and shows where all those visitors are coming from!

Just another way to demonstrate the value of the best web platform in the business!

The Facebook Formula for Pet Loss Professionals

If you attended our live ICCFA webinar earlier this week for learning how to take your pet loss business to the next level with Facebook, you learned some secrets about how Facebook works and how you can use that knowledge to gain a step up.

If you want the full slide deck from the presentation, you’ll find it all here!

The Facebook Formula for Pet Loss Professionals

You can take the following link to get our full presentation notes for The Facebook Formula for Funeral Homes.

Pet_loss_post

Understanding Facebook EdgeRank for Funeral Homes

At the ICCFA Sales Conference, I went into detail about how Facebook EdgeRank determines who sees your posts on Facebook, and how funeral homes can use that information to ensure more people see their content.

While EdgeRank can be a complex topic, we put together a cheat sheet to provide you a quick overview and reference of how it works.

Edgerank_screenshot

To download the EdgeRank cheat sheet as a full PDF, click here.

If you want to effortless increase your EdgeRank and get more engagement from Facebook, check out our Facebook Copilot software for funeral homes.

The Facebook Formula for Funeral Homes

At the ICCFA Wide World of Sales conference in Las Vegas, we gave our most impactful and educational presentation yet!

We focused on how funeral homes can decode the Facebook Formula to grow their fan base and succeed on Facebook.

We were floored by the response to our talk, and decided to take the unprecedented step of adapting the entire presentation’s notes as a step by step tutorial below. So click the image below to see the slides and follow along with the written notes.

We’re confident every second you spend reviewing this information and strategy will be well worth your time!

 

Introduction to the Facebook Formula

The last couple years, I’ve come to the ICCFA conference preaching the importance of social media as part of your overall marketing strategy.

While this industry is notoriously slow to change, the good news is that I’ve seen a shift in thinking, as many of you have recognized the impact of social media, and have started embracing it in your business.

But, there’s still a lot of mystery about Facebook. Most of you see the value, but you’re still not sure:

  • how it all works
  • how to maximize the impact

So in this presentation, you’re going to learn following:

  1. How Facebook determines who sees your posts
  2. How you can use that knowledge to get more people to see your content
  3. I’ll show you real world case studies of how your peers (some in this room) are succeeding on Facebook
  4. I’ll reveal a 7-step strategy for taking your Page from nothing to active, effective marketing channel
  5. I’ll show you how to measure your results and see if it’s all working
  6. I’ll reveal a HUGE new Facebook feature, revealed just this week, that will affect the future of your business

Importance of Facebook for Funeral Homes

Why is it so important that you are reading this material right now?

  • Because consumer behavior is evolving & evolving quickly!
  • Growth in your marketing is going to be online & in social media
  • If you don’t go where your customers are, you risk falling behind those who do

In this presentation, we focus on Facebook as a marketing channel. But why should you focus on Facebook over everything out there? It’s simple: Facebook now has over 1 billion active users.

And while you may only hope to get a small fraction of those users as fans of your Page, it’s not just about reaching those who are direct fans. It’s also about the friends and family of your fans.

Because even if you’re reaching a 25 year old just out of college, you are then exposing your message to her parents… or even her grandparents. If you’re sharing pre-planning education, wouldn’t you agree that those are important people to reach!?

Facebook for Funeral Homes 101

Before discussing strategy, let’s make sure you fully understand how Facebook Pages work.

Here’s one of our partners’ Facebook pages. When you look at it, what really stands out? It’s the big, beautiful cover photo – first thing your fans see, and often what they remember. Beneath that is the app listing, followed by the timeline of content and milestones.

You next want to set up admin roles if you will have multiple staff contribute to your page. That’s because you don’t want situation where a laid off or disgruntled employee from deleting page in retribution (trust me: we have seen this happen).

Once the page is created, how do people become fans? They can click “like” on the page itself, or you can even add the like button to your website.

Once someone is a fan, that’s when the magic happens! Because everything you post on your page is pushed to them. They see it in their news feed when they log in to FB. This builds an interactive & ongoing channel to your customers!

Introduction to Facebook EdgeRank

Now that you understand the basics of Facebook Pages, let’s start uncovering the mysteries.

Have you ever noticed when you visit FB, you see the posts of some people and brands more often than others?

And did you know that when you post something to Facebook Page, if you have 1000 fans, only a fraction of them will see it?

Why is that?

Answer = EdgeRank. That’s Facebook’s formula for determining who sees what, and how high in the newsfeed a post is shown. By understanding this formula, you can gain an advantage, and ensure more people see each of your posts!

EdgeRank is comprised of 3 main factors: affinity, weight, and time decay – I’ll explain each of them now.

1. Affinity – a measure of each fans’ interaction with your page

ex, suppose you have 2 fans: Bubbles & Giggles. Giggles interacts more with your content, by liking & commenting on your posts. What that does is increases affinity between your brand and Giggles and due to EdgeRank, Giggles is more likely to see your future posts than will Bubbles.

In other words, the more a fan interacts with your content, the more likely it is they’ll see your future posts.

How do you use that information? Craft your posts to be more engaging. For example, short posts get more engagement than longer ones, and photos/videos/questions get more engagement than simple statuses. Photo albums get the most engagement overall!

2. Weight – measure of how much effort involved in the engagement

Not all actions your fans take are created equal. If Bubbles comments or re-shares a post from your page, that carries more weight than a simple “like”.

Let me repeat: actions by your fans that take more effort are more valuable to your page.

As a result of the example above, Bubbles will see more of your stuff in the future, and it’ll give that post a bump up in the rankings for all your other fans.

To increase the weight of your interactions, find balance in what you post. If you vary the content, you’ll vary the engagement.

To do so, you can practice the Rule of Thirds.

  1. 1/3 content should be related to your business: talk about your company, your services, your staff, your history, etc.
  2. 1/3 should be about your industry: grief tips, funeral resources, pre-planning education
  3. 1/3 should be you directly engaging your fans; talk to them, ask them questions, try adding polls

3. Time Decay – the freshness factor

The older a post is, the less likely to be seen, or will be shown lower in the feed.

Advice: Post frequently. because of the Time Decay, you need to post often to make you have fresh content that will show up high in the feed

Funeral Industry Case Studies

Let’s look at some real life examples of how your funeral industry peers are succeeding on Facebook, and what can you learn from them. Pay closest attention to how their techniques are maximizing those 3 EdgeRank factors.

Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory

They play a clever game: their fans try to guess the name the famous person who passed away on that day, based on clues they post to their page. Their fans submit guesses in the comments.

How does this increase their EdgeRank? They get high weight interactions through comments, and because they post often, there is always fresh content appearing in their fans’ feeds.

Williams Funeral Home

Last year they had a tragic fire. As they rebuild from this fire, they are involving their fans by posting images and updates on their Facebook Page showing their progress.

What makes these posts so effective? In addition to providing a human element to their brand, they are building affinity through engagement.

Peaceful Paws Pet Cremation

Peaceful Paws Pet Cremation post their Peaceful Paws Tour on their Facebook Page, which showcases different parts of their facilities and grounds. This increase their affinity and shows up their beautiful facilities.

Horan & McConaty

This page provides a great example of speaking directly to fans. They post lots of questions directly to their fans, and as a result, they get increased weight of interactions.

Maquoketa Area Obituaries

This page is run by Don Carson of Carson & Son Funeral Homes and is separate from their funeral home’s Facebook Page.

Here they post obituaries in their community. But what makes this so clever? They post not just his own obituaries, but his competitors, essentially monopolizing the obituary market in Maquoketa!

7-Step Strategy

Now that you understand FB Pages and EdgeRank, and you’ve got some ideas from your peers, let’s pull it together into an advanced end-to-end strategy, to take your FB Page from zero to hero.

1. Create Page & cover photo

The cover photo is an important first impression. If you’re not artistically inclined, use free a free tool such as this one from Pagemodo.

2. Invite all your friends and family

Can’t emphasize importance of this enough! So many funeral homes skip this step and wonder why they can’t grow their page. You need a base of fans to start engaging community & grow virally. Best way to get base is through family & friends. You can do this from your Facebook Page by clicking “Build Audience” and inviting them via email, Facebook or by sharing your page to your profile.

3. Post engaging content

You need to organically increase affinity & get viral growth. Engaging content will do this. Include content such as photo boards, inspirational quotes, pics of your facilities and grounds, events your funeral home is holding, etc.

We can help you post engaging content with our Facebook Copilot.

4. Ads & sponsored posts

You can run Facebook Ads and sponsored stories to help grow your fan base.

5. Pre-planning content and marketing messages

Advice: keep in mind that people come to Facebook to be entertained and engaged, not to be sold to. So the most effective way of promoting your pre-planning is to keep it interesting by posting education, case studies, testimonials and stories.

Also, be sure to make it easy to get started. We have a preplanning app embedded right within the Facebook Page!

6. Measure Your Results

Facebook Insights shows you what works and what doesn’t. That way you can do more of what works and less of the rest.

With Insights, you can see how each post performs and what works for your audience, because every fan base is different.

You can also measure your results using our Facebook Power Rankings, which is a free tool that we developed at Funeral Innovations. The Power Rankings analyze your effectiveness and show you how your page compares against others in the industry. Best of all, it’s free and takes under 10 seconds to run!

7. Repeat continually

An effective strategy requires patience because the process is ongoing. You need to keep engaging, using ads to enhance your reach, continue your marketing & constantlyl analyze your results. Each time, you refine the process and get a little bit better, as your Facebook Page grows large and larger.

If you stay patient and refine your strategy, your effort will pay dividends now by helping your firm grow, while positioning you to win for years into future!

Conclusion

If you found this information useful, be sure to follow our Funeral Innovations Facebook Page for more!

If you want to engage your Facebook fans effectively and easily, our Facebook Copilot can help!

Finally, if you have any questions, comments or want to chat more, please contact us.

Facebook’s New Graph Search is a Huge Opportunity for Your Funeral Home

Facebook recently announced a big new feature called Graph Search. This is Facebook’s answer to Google Search, but it works differently than Google, and if utilized properly, provides an enormous opportunity for progressive funeral homes on Facebook to pull ahead of their competition.

Screen_shot_2013-01-16_at_7

Facebook Graph Search, while not yet open to the public, will allow you to search on Facebook and use the huge amount of structured data that Facebook has collected (think of the trillions of connections between people and other people, places, and things) to show customized results that are most relevant to you.

For instance, someone could search:

  • funeral homes liked by my friends
  • funeral homes that are liked by people in Madison WI

In other words, we are looking at a powerful new concept: social search.

For instance, a person who needs to find a funeral home can use Google to find a general listing, or they can use Facebook’s Graph Search to find funeral homes that their friends like or are connected to. This improves the results, because you trust your friend’s opinion more than you trust Google’s listing.

Why is this such a huge opportunity for your funeral home? As people start using Graph Search for finding businesses such as funeral homes, the ones that will show up most in the searches are the funeral homes that are already engaging their large fan bases. This will drive new customers and provide an additional sales channel similar to Google searches!

In other words, Facebook is now giving an enormous benefit to those businesses who are already making the most of their Facebook Pages!

To take advantage of the upcoming Graph Search rollout, continue to engage your audience. Make sure you get people to like or comment on your posts, to help continue your viral growth and make it more likely that your funeral home will show up highly in Graph Search results.

Want to really engage your fan base? Check out our turn-key Facebook solutions for funeral homes.

Using Facebook to Engage Your Funeral Home’s Community

Is your business currently taking advantage of Facebook to engage and educate your community on the services you provide?

Over the past few years we have kept a close eye on the impact Facebook can have on our funeral home partners’ marketing strategy.  Traditional marketing methods of direct mailings, newspaper and radio are continuing to become more expensive and less effective.  Social media has continued to grow in popularity with both large cities and small towns. Our team at Funeral Innovations has worked hard over the past year in collaboration with our funeral home partners to deliver the FI Copilot – a turn-key Facebook marketing engine for your funeral home!

 

The Copilot will deliver engaging, hand picked content to your Facebook page with as much or little interaction from your staff as you’d like.  Content that is proven to get results will be placed on your Facebook page on a schedule that works for you.  Your staff has full control of monitoring what is posted through email notifications to ensure the message represents your brand. You can even customize the message and schedule your own, custom content to maximize your brand’s message! 

Many of our partners are already witnessing the advantages of the Copilot, reaching hundreds and even thousands of people in their community every week!

If you are not currently using the Copilot, please contact us and we can arrange to activate it for your business.

We need your help!  Please forward this email to any pre-need insurance companies or marketing companies you work with.  We are in the process of expanding the Copilot to insert educational and engaging pre-need marketing content to your Facebook page.  By getting your pre-need companies onboard, we can further increase the impact on your social marketing efforts!