By Managing Editor Courtney Gould Miller, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Digital at MKJ Marketing
COVID-19 has created countless obstacles for all industries, including our own.
However, with every new problem we encounter, we’re given the ability to innovate new solutions. We’re forced to scrap the old playbook, finally abandoning the processes and procedures that weren’t working before all of this and finally try something new.
While e-commerce cremation websites are not new to our industry, during these unprecedented times, they’re proving to be more valuable than ever before because of their ability to make the process as simple as possible for families.
While the pandemic is increasing the need for cremation, the growing demand is actually a part of the major shift we’ve seen in all industries relating to consumer preferences and behaviors. Having an easily accessible online presence is not just an added bonus anymore — in consumers’ minds, it’s the only option, as many are not allowed to leave their homes or are trying to limit their outside trips as much as possible.
With a fully-developed, standalone e-commerce website like the ones we create at MKJ Marketing, no storefront or physical location is necessary. Instead, families can answer questions through your website and then pay via credit card. They can also identify the deceased’s body and fill out forms through your website. They don’t even need to step foot inside your store — an idea that appeals to many right now, especially to those who are in the high-risk category.
National unemployment numbers are jumping past 38 million, and reducing expenses is now top of mind for everyone. Many have already lost their jobs or are trying to save money in case they are furloughed or are laid off down the road. Not only do these websites offer convenience, but they also provide an affordable option for families, along with a way to lower your overhead to match the lower price.
At MKJ Marketing, we’ve helped firms across the country launch e-commerce cremation websites over the last decade, and particularly with those launched during the past two months, we’ve seen record success. If you are thinking of starting an e-commerce cremation website for your firm, consider the stories from these innovative leaders.
Ease of Use is Vital for Families
Oak Cremation, started by the Ford Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Centerline, MI, was launched during the thick of the pandemic back in April.
During their first week in business, they served three families and then added six more in less than a month.
“Two of those families were facilitated by next of kin who did not live in the state. The ease of making all the selections online and coordinating electronically were the deciding factors in them choosing Oak Cremation,” said Elyse Erickson of Oak Cremation. “The families have loved that there is no need to come into the facility, especially during the pandemic.”
The staff there says the families who have used the service have noted to them just how simple the website was to use. They also appreciated that they received confirmation emails and payment receipts promptly after the fact.
User experience design expertise is critical to making a site feel “simple” to a site visitor. If it’s not easy to use, then families will stop the process before they even really begin due to frustrations, prompting them to look elsewhere. Just like it takes even more thought and effort to write a line instead of a page, it takes significant development work and knowledge to create an e-commerce platform that feels seamless.
Investing in Marketing is Key
Milwaukee Cremation, a brand of Krause Funeral Homes & Cremation Service in Milwaukee, WI, also launched in April.
The brand began with a two-part approach to marketing, including a pay-per-click budget large enough to cover the high search volume for cremation services in their market, and a TV campaign to explain their offerings and advertise their competitive pricing.
All of this investment in their marketing strategy paid off. Within their first 10 days of operation, Milwaukee Cremation served seven families through its website.
“Having a way for families to plan a cremation entirely online expands our reach and allows us to achieve even greater volume in our market while keeping the price accessible to all families. In just weeks, we’ve seen how this complements our full-service and discount brands to have a third offering just for online and simple cremation,” said Mark Krause, owner of Krause Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, Informed Choice, and Milwaukee Cremation.
Oak Cremation also noted how web searches helped pushed customers toward them.
“We already know five of the cremations we served were generated from web searches,” Erickson said.
Success Stories in Different Markets
Crematory operators who already had an online presence are also seeing a return on their investments.
Paul St. Pierre, owner of St. Pierre Family Funeral Services & Crematory and Simplicity Funeral & Cremation Care in Indianapolis, IN, also operates the Cremation Society of Indiana. He reports that the Cremation Society of Indiana has served the same number of families in the first four months of 2020 as they did during the first six months of 2019.
Similarly, Simply Hart’s of Hart’s Mortuary and Cremation Center in Macon, GA, and Cypress Lawn’s All County Cremation Service in San Francisco, CA, have seen large increases in calls through their online business so far in 2020. Lumen Cremation in Nashville, Tennessee launched amidst the pandemic in 2021 with purely e-commerce, online arrangements.
Want to learn more about launching your own cremation e-commerce website? Contact MKJ Marketing to schedule a demo.