Marketing Your Business—Part III: Creating an Online Presence
We’ve talked about the need to identify what your business offers and who needs those services. Now it’s time to discuss how to create an online presence to reach more customers.
In an earlier time, a grieving family trying to plan a funeral may have simply turned over the details to a funeral director. Today’s consumers are much less likely to release control of their loved one’s funeral details. They want to know the options available for creating a unique and memorable final service, including funeral and memorial keepsakes.
They also expect businesses that offer those options to have some sort of online presence. You’ll be giving your new business a much greater chance of success by reaching out to the growing majority of customers who always look online first for products and services.
So, how to affordably and effectively establish your new business online? Here are four tips for leveraging a website to reach potential funeral program customers:
- More Expensive Doesn’t Always Equal More Effective: If you’ve been doing your homework about starting a new business, you’ve probably noticed the abundance of firms offering to create the perfect website. What they charge can range from ‘reasonable’ to ‘heart-stopping’ and the price doesn’t always match the results. If you don’t plan to design your own website, make sure you know what the web design firm is offering. How much will you be charged for revisions? If you’re going to accept payments online for your services, what level of security will your website have? Do they have references from companies who have hired them? How many pages are included in their hosting/design package (or is hosting purchased separately)? Who will maintain your website and how quickly can changes be made? Ask questions up-front to avoid costly mistakes in your online marketing strategy.
- Consider Designing a Simple Website Yourself: Many webhosts, for example: GoDaddy, CloudHosted, 1&1 and similar low-cost services, have add-ons that allow you to build your own website easily. By following the templates they provide and uploading documents such as sample funeral programs, you can create a web presence without having to be a tech genius. Remember, all you really have to do is answer these two questions: how does a potential client reach you and what do you have to offer them?
- Keep it Clear and Simple: It’s always aggravating to open a cluttered website with no idea where to find what you need. Now, imagine doing that when you’ve just lost a friend or loved one and you’ll see why you MUST keep your website clear and simple to use. If they can’t figure out how to get in touch or start an order, they’re going to go somewhere else. Make sure your contact information is on every page. Set up your ordering process so that they don’t have to click twelve times to get what they need. Have a way for web visitors to get in touch if they just need to talk (even by email) with a real person. Frustrating a visitor to your website with a messy, hard-to-navigate design is a sure-fire way to lose their business, especially is they’re stressed-out with planning a funeral. Walk them through the design/ordering process step by step and be sure to have easy-to-follow payment instructions, as well.
Help Web Browsers Find Your Site: Staying on the first page of a web search engine is a challenging task, but there are some simple things you can do from the beginning.
a. Design and write your website by thinking like your potential customers. What do they need? What kind of wording will make your website more attractive to them than other funeral program design services? It’s always a moving target to keep up with search engine marketing techniques, but the bottom line is unchanging, “Can a customer find what they need and want by visiting your website?”
b. Use keywords to pinpoint your marketing strategy.
As you’re writing your website content, or having it written, think about key words or phrases your potential customers may use to find you. Do you offer “easy funeral program design”, “affordable funeral bulletin printing” or “custom funeral programs”?
Is someone who needs your services likely to type, “how to order funeral programs online” in their search engine? Or would local customers type, “Chicago funeral programs”? Experiment with different words and phrases and keep track of what’s working. Make sure what’s listed in your website keyword index is actually on the page and used in natural sentences. The days of ‘keyword stuffing’ on websites is long gone, and that practice will get you banned from search engine results.
There’s a lot to think about when designing an attractive, easy-to-use website to build your customer base. It’s essential, though, to have some kind of web presence early in your funeral program design business.
Make yourself easy to find on the internet and keep your customers on your website by using an uncluttered, simple to understand approach. By doing so, you’ll serve your customers well and provide exactly what they’re looking for on the internet.