A website is an important tool that allows you to effortlessly engage with families. In today’s digital world, having an online presence is crucial. The expectation of today’s buyer – regardless of age – is that information can be researched online before engaging with a product or service. In fact, one study estimated that 81% of buyers will search online for a product or service first. If your cemetery doesn’t have a website, you are missing direct opportunities to engage with families and provide your services to them. Don’t miss out on these opportunities because you’re not sure what should be on your site. Whether you’re creating your first website or your existing site could use some improvement, below are some tips to tell your story and connect with the families and community you serve.
Remember Your Target Audience
It’s important to remember that your site is for families first – it is not for your staff or others in the profession. The number one reason someone will be visiting your website is because a family member recently passed away or because they are planning future burial arrangements. Approach your entire site design with this mindset. Think about what information a visitor might be looking for in either of those scenarios and make sure it’s easy to find and understand. This shows visitors that you can meet their needs, answer their questions, and that you are the right cemetery for them.
Clearly Explain What You Offer
In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie tells his readers that they should speak in terms of the other person’s interests. Families and potential customers are on your website because they have a need or a want. While the services you offer might seem standard to you, the average person is not familiar with cemeteries. Plainly and clearly describe what you offer. For example, when speaking of an interment right (which is unknown to most people), speak of burials instead. Visitors may be emotional and overwhelmed, so strive to keep information simple and clear.
It is important to also clearly distinguish your services between pre-need and at-need scenarios. This is your chance to educate visitors why pre-need considerations are important and why they should be planning those arrangements with your cemetery. It is also an opportunity to show how you interact with families. Is your style laid back and comforting, or are you more focused on efficiently walking families through each step of the process? If a visitor can sense your tone and personality through your website, they will have a better idea what to expect when they visit in person.
More generally, make sure navigation is clear and menus are well organized and easy to find. While this is important throughout your site, it’s especially true on your homepage. Your goal should be to get your visitors to the information they’re looking for quickly. Your website shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt. It’s great if your visitors want to linger, but they shouldn’t have to to find what they need. A general rule of thumb is that you should have between five and nine main menu items on your site and only one level of submenus in your navigation.
Focus on What Makes Your Cemetery Unique
Generally, most websites will have a specific “About Us” page. It is crucial, however, that the uniqueness of your cemetery flows and is represented not only on this page, but throughout your site. This is done through a strong design language, high-quality photography, and how you speak about your cemetery and its services.
If your cemetery has a rich history, be sure to share. This might be of particular interest to those tracing their genealogy. You may want to mention any famous burials or any unique structures (keeping in mind family privacy, of course). Perhaps you are known for your statues or fountains. Maybe your cemetery features a remarkable view, or an impressive mausoleum. Think about what would make a visitor say, “Wow, that’s where I want my family to rest for eternity,” and showcase that. At webCemeteries we offer virtual tours so site visitors can explore the most interesting features of your cemetery from the comfort of their own homes – or on their mobile devices when they are visiting in person.
Invest in Professional Photography
We have visited hundreds of cemeteries across the United States and Canada at webCemeteries. We have seen gorgeous cemetery property, thoughtfully planned for the loved ones who will be interred at these locations. Highlight this by showing it off!
High-quality, professional photography is well worth the investment. Not only will it make your website more appealing, but you can also use the photos on pamphlets, flyers, social media, and emails. A few well chosen photographs will speak volumes to your site’s visitors. You want them to be able to picture the beautiful place they or their loved one could be laid to rest.
One other tip: Have photos taken of the specific burial spaces you are trying to sell so they can see exactly what you have to offer. Let the photos attract the eye and invite the user to reach out and talk with one of your family counselors.
Share Who You Are
Including photos and bios of key staff members on an “About Us” page adds a human touch to your website. Many people would like to know who they’ll be interacting with if they choose your cemetery. Headshots should be professional but friendly. Smiles can go a long way, especially as visitors are deciding who they’ll entrust with their loved ones.
Many cemeteries have relevant logistical information that needs to be shared. This information should be easy to find but don’t make this priority over representing your cemetery well. Leading with rules can give an impression of your cemetery being rigid and unfriendly, and may cause some families to look elsewhere.
If your cemetery is active in your community, be sure to highlight that. Promote any events you might be hosting, such as foliage walks or history tours.
Make Your Site Helpful to Families Already in Your Care
webCemeteries offers several services to engage families which can be integrated into your website. Online burial records make it easy for guests to search for a loved one and receive directions to their gravesite. Remember My Journey is webCemeteries’ online memorial platform that connects family and friends of the deceased by giving them space to share memories of the one they loved. To take your site to the next level, you can also use webCemeteries mobile app, specifically branded to your cemetery, to allow your families to access these features on the go.
The convenience of these services will build goodwill with your current families and offer an opportunity to drive additional sales leads as you make it easy to engage with your cemetery.
It’s important to remember that your site is for families first – it is not for your staff or others in the profession.
Make Your Contact Information Easy to Find
If someone is looking to contact you, make it as easy as you possibly can! Get out of their way and let them do it! If you are a single location, publish just one phone number and one email address to simplify the process for the individuals looking to contact you. Don’t make them decide because that can result in the person then not following through. It is better to build an internal process where a family counselor is helping direct incoming calls and emails within your organization rather than putting the choice into the hands of someone who is grieving.
Your contact info should be easy to find from anywhere on your website. We recommend including it at the top and bottom of each page as well as on a dedicated “Contact Us” page. Be sure to include your physical address as well.
Capitalize on Any Relevant Trends
If your cemetery offers unique options that align with current trends, be sure to feature them. For example, if you have a cremation garden, you should create a page with photos and text describing the value of that service to get folks thinking beyond simple cremation. Green burials are another recent trend. If this is something you offer, take the time to explain why this might be a great option for your visitors. By creating specific pages around these services, you’ll also enhance your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy so people who are specifically searching for these services are (remember: 81%!) able to discover you.
Don’t Forget the Basics
A good cemetery website should follow the basics of any good website. It’s important that it’s fully functional and looks good on phones, tablets, and computers in a variety of browsers. It should be easy to navigate, visually appealing, and include quality content that’s relevant to your target audience. Make sure your images aren’t grainy or low-resolution, but also that they’re not so large that they slow down your site. (A professional cemetery website design company, like webCemeteries, should take care of this for you!) Be professional, but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.
It’s a good idea to use a service like Google Analytics or similar to measure where your visitors are coming from, what pages they’re visiting, and how long they spend on your site. Make adjustments accordingly.
Remember that your site isn’t for you – it’s for the families in your care. Your website is another way to serve those families well in today’s internet-driven world.
Meet our Chief Technical Officer
Jason brings his impressive leadership experience and technical background to bear at webCemeteries. His past achievements have included managing technical mergers and acquisitions, leading a team of 20 engineers through large system transitions, and developing leading industry products. Jason’s technical leadership at webCemeteries is advancing our systems to shape tomorrow’s cemetery management software.
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What are cemeterians saying about webCemeteries?
This [website] project was quite an odyssey with plenty of twists and turns. The webCemeteries website design team weathered the storm. I think it’s more than fair to say that without their efforts, we would not have gotten this over the finish line…and with such an excellent outcome.
Mark J. DePalma
Forest Lawn Buffalo