A person writing in a notebook

 

Written by Sarah Rickerd

 

The writing on the wall is clear: your funeral home needs a website.

 

An estimated 97% of online adults turn to the web to find information on products and services, according to research conducted by the BIA / Kelsey Group. These searchers result in an estimated 7.5 million Google searches each month for phrases including the words “funeral home” each month, making the internet the third most frequently cited source of information and advice used by families to plan funerals (after family and friends, as well as funeral homes themselves).

 

An even more important finding from the study is that people who research online before making purchases wind up spending an average of 20% more than those who don’t, due to their confidence that they’re making the best possible decisions. Despite the obvious advantages of having and maintaining a funeral home website, a whopping 22% of firms still have no online presence whatsoever.

 

Interested in updating your website? Call 866-372-9372 or fill out the form below to request a free demonstration!

Not all websites are created equal

However, it’s also becoming increasingly clear that it isn’t enough to just have a website. If your website is out-of-date, you could be losing customers to more modern competitors.

 

According to a recent survey conducted by Microsoft and reported by Fox News:

  • “91% of consumers said they would stop doing business with a company because of its outdated technology.”
  • “62% said they are likely to become repeat customers if a business uses modern technology.”
  • “More than 70% of consumers said they would be extremely or quite concerned their information would be compromised if they provided personal information to a website that was outdated.”
  • “[M]ore than 80% said they would leave a website that looked outdated if it asked for credit card information.”

Take a second to let that sink in. More than nine out of ten consumers would stop using a company because they perceive it as being out-of-date technologically — a margin that most funeral homes can’t afford. And more than seven out of ten would balk at giving out personal information to outdated sites, which is a big deal when you consider how many funeral homes rely on contact forms, pre-planning forms, online funeral check out and flower orders for leads, payments, and commissions.

 

Even survey facilitators were surprised by how extreme these results were. “Consumers definitely care” about the technology small businesses use and they “care even more than I thought they would,” says Russ Madlener, senior director of US SMB group at Microsoft. “More than 90% of people who took the survey would consider going elsewhere if they perceived the small business is using old and outdated tech.”

 

Diagnosing an outdated site

Design in general — and website design in particular — has always been a subjective art. What looks great to you might look outdated to a customer, so how can you tell when it’s time for a website update? Asking yourself any of the following questions should help shed some light on the state of your current site:

 

When was my website last updated?

Technology changes quickly — just ask anybody who’s purchased a new computer or smartphone, only to have the “latest and greatest” model roll out just a few months later. Website design is no exception, so if your site is more than 2-3 years old, there’s a good chance it isn’t making use of the latest web technology standards.

 

Does my website rely on Flash or other scripts to run?

In the past, Flash animation and other script-based content pieces were a fun way to add visual interest to a website. But today, they’re a hindrance to the many customers whose smartphones can’t load these elements. If the important content on your site runs using Flash or other scripts, it’s definitely time for an update.

 

Is my website responsive to different monitor sizes?

When it comes to monitor sizes, there are two issues you need to be aware of — the shift towards widescreen desktop monitors and the increasing prevalence of mobile devices.

 

One dead giveaway of an outdated funeral home website is a site that was built for the square monitors that were popular up until a few years ago. If your site (or the template that it was built off of) seems to be centered tightly on the monitor with several inches of blank space on either side, there’s a good chance it looks out-of-date to website visitors who are used to today’s more modern, wider designs.

 

Another tell-tale sign that your site could use an update is a website that renders in full form on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. It’s estimated that mobile web usage will overtake desktop web usage sometime in 2014, which is why it’s so important for funeral homes to update their websites with responsive, mobile-ready site designs that cater specifically to these users.

 

Does my website use more than three colors or font styles?

One hallmark feature of the late-1990s and early-2000s website design was an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach that incorporated as many colors, fonts and other graphic elements as possible. But as web technology has grown, most businesses recognize that not only is this unnecessary — it has the potential to detract from a funeral home’s branding as well. So if your current site has more than a handful of colors and fonts, it might be time to look for a more polished alternative.

 

Is my bounce rate too high?

Bounce rate refers to the number of people who visit one page on your site and then click the “Back” button without ever engaging with the second page of content. As the stats from the Microsoft survey listed above demonstrate, this could be because visitors find your site outdated and, as a result, untrustworthy. Take a look at your website’s analytics. If you see a bounce rate of more than 70% on any of your pages, it could be time for a new look.

 

If your site fails any of these tests, it’s time to start thinking about a redesign. Fortunately, the process doesn’t have to be painful. No matter which funeral home website design agency you decide to work with, look for a company that offers the latest web technology (and that offers regular updates to stay on top of this changing environment), but will also handle the transfer of all obituaries and online condolences for you. The best funeral home website providers understand that what you’re great at is being a funeral professional and, consequently, will handle the heavy lifting of launching a new site for you.

 

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish, as losing even one traditional burial customer due to an outdated, cheap website design could cost you far more than what you’ll pay for a new website from a more reputable company. Form a solid relationship with a reliable funeral home website provider that will take care of your site in the long run, and you’ll benefit from stronger relationships with your customers and less revenue lost to your more tech-savvy competitors.