Hint: Facebook is essential, but must be coupled with email nurturing for best results
This article first appeared in the Dec. 3, 2018 Funeral Service Insider newsletter under the title “Eight Social Networking Tips for Success As You Prepare to Tackle the New Year.
In 1906, the mega American retailer, Sears, published a specialty “Tombstones and Monuments” catalogue where families could order custom-engraved markers for their deceased loved ones. These markers shipped directly to the final resting place of the deceased, allowing grieving families to memorialize their loved ones from afar (and affordably, since price was a key selling point). Families had a need. Sears filled it.
Today, grieving families still want to celebrate and memorialize their deceased loved ones, and they increasingly use online methods when making decisions around final arrangements. Future-thinking business owners in the death care profession know a digital marketing blend must be part of their business plan or they risk bigger companies filling that need with a Sears-style approach.
We created a 2019 digital marketing tip list to help you connect with your community, build trust with your audience and position your firm for growth and a stable future. These ideas came straight from data we collected in our decade executing successful digital marketing plans for funeral homes and death care professionals using our automated marketing software.
Step 1 in your marketing plan: Facebook is a must.
Here are our 4 tips to making Facebook work for you, your community and your business.
- Post new content on a consistent basis.
Posting to your Facebook page consistently is essential. Why?
- It keeps your firm in front of your community.
- Consistent posts help build a sense of reliability with your followers.
- Regular posts help you learn what your audience likes and wants more of.
So how often should you post new content? Ideally you want fresh, useful content your audience can engage posted at least every day. Yes, we said every day. Actually, our data shows that posting more than once a day drives 41% more reach for funeral homes than posting less frequently. But once a day should be the minimum. Consider planning your daily posts ahead of time, then supplementing with additional posts related to time-sensitive events or happenings.
- Post useful, quality information your audience wants to engage with. Why?
- Useful post content shows you understand your audience and builds trust.
- Educational content, posted regularly helps you gain credibility.
- Informative posts people like and share get your firm in front of a bigger audience because of Facebook’s algorithm.
While posting consistently is important, posting quality content is even more important. So what makes for “good content” on your Facebook page and where can you find inspiration? The best content gets lots of clicks, comments and interactions from your community. It’s often educational, useful or emotional. Some possible ideas include holiday-related posts, tips to cope with grief, inspirational stories, or a series of quotes about grief, cherishing life, or family.
If you want a little inspiration, follow Facebook pages of successful funeral homes with good content and watch what they do. Some of our favorites are McCaleb Funeral Home, Hoff Funeral Homes, and Simpson Family Funeral Homes.
- Use Facebook ads.
When you post on your Facebook Business Page with an organic or unpaid post, only 5% of your audience is likely to see it because of how Facebook serves post content to people using the social channel. But there is a way around this. By using Facebook’s paid advertising options, you can put your content in front of more people.
Use Facebook’s Boosting function or create Facebook Ad Campaigns to reach more of your followers and new people interested in your content. Both Facebook Boosting and Ad Campaigns put your content in front of more folks than just your followers.
Facebook offers a variety of ad types meant to drive different actions. Getting people to your website, increasing awareness about your firm or aiming to convert followers into customers are some ad-type options. You’ll want to choose an action or goal first, then design the ad campaign around that goal or action. You should also customize your audience based on your content. We’ll talk about that next.
- Know thy audience! Customize your audience and give them the right content.
Once you’ve decided to use Facebook Ads and picked a goal, you’ll need to target an audience. Facebook allows you to hyper-target based on demographics, such as location, age, gender, and education. Set your target audience based on the topic you will cover. Be very specific here. The type of content 50- to 65-year-old women want will be very different from content targeting the 30- to 45-year-old crowd. Consider what message will resonate with your target audience before you create a Facebook Ad Campaign.
Additionally, be sure you set your ad budget high enough to capture that market. The more targeted the audience, the more the ad will cost (usually). But spending a little more money can yield big results since your ad reaches people in your area who are interested in your services rather than making its way into the feeds of folks not in your target demographic.
As Facebook marketing becomes standard business practice, turning likes and clicks into sales requires additional digital strategies. In the past year we’ve see huge success following up on Facebook Ads with drip email nurturing.
What is drip email nurturing?
Drip email nurturing delivers articles and information to people interested in a particular topic through a series of emails. We’ve discovered collecting contact information on Facebook starts the process, but just because someone clicked on your ad or signed up for your contest doesn’t mean they are ready to buy from you. That’s where drip email comes in to deliver useful information, warm up your leads and ultimately help you make more (and easier) sales. Why? Because people who open and spend time reading the nurturing email series are very interested in the topic and often ready to make a purchase. The email series functions as their consumer research on the topic and increases their readiness to buy.
Blending Facebook Ads with drip email nurturing
Here are 4 tips to make a Facebook and drip email nurturing combination work:
1.Create a Facebook campaign that collects information.
An effective Facebook and email nurturing combination starts with a paid Facebook Ad Campaign. To create one of these, decide what your end goal is and plan around that. For instance, if your goal is to get more preplan sales, your Facebook campaign might offer a series of preplanning reminders or a downloadable preplanning checklist. People who click on your ad can then enter their contact information.
Next, create an email series that educates your audience on the topic. Just like with Facebook posts, this information should be tailored to your audience, related to your campaign ad, and educational, interesting or useful for your target audience.
- Emails campaigns are like Goldilocks. The number and frequency should be just right.
It’s important to send the right number of emails spaced out over the right amount of time. So what’s “the right” number? That depends on your campaign. The first rule is to make the frequency of emails apparent in your Facebook Ad Campaign copy. If your ad asks people to sign up for “Daily Preplanning Reminders” then be sure you’re sending an email every day after they sign up.
For some topics it may be better to send one email a week for several weeks or even one email a month for several months. A combination Facebook Ad Campaign and drip email series titled “Coping with Grief During the Holidays” may work best as a weekly email series. Running the campaign in the fall as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach would deliver useful content to loved ones dealing with the holidays after a loss.
- Automate your posting and emails.
Automating your posts and emails can save you and your staff a tremendous amount of time and hassle. It also helps you stick to a consistent posting schedule. You never know when you’ll get a call or a family might need you. If you’ve scheduled your posts and emails ahead of time, it frees you up to serve your families. Plus, automated scheduling software includes useful metrics and statistics that help you determine what content is working and what’s not.
Additionally, when you set up your automated email series, be sure you make the information easy to read. Make each email skimmable. Be sure to:
- Keep your paragraphs short.
- Use bullets and lists.
- Use headings in bold to help guide the reader through your article.
- Include a clear CTA or Call to Action in each email.
- Make sure your logo is prominently included.
- Add a signature at the end of the email.
- Look for these key indicators to identify who is ready to take action.
So you’ve sent out a drip email series to your contacts. How do you know a contact is ready to take action? We’ve found a number of common actions that indicate a person is ready to convert. Use your automated email system to track theses metrics:
- Opening every email – Opening every emails indicates deep interested in the topic and shows someone is learning from the content or articles you sent.
- Responding with questions – When a contact reaches out with a question, it opens the door to a deeper conversation. Ask them for their phone number and offer to call them with the answer to their question.
- Responding to CTAs – If you’ve included a clear Call to Action in your email (and you should have), contacts who respond expect further action from you. If your CTA asks, “Are you ready to start preplanning?” with a “Start Now” button, the contact who completes that step wants you to call them. It’s the perfect opening to make a sale.
- Signing up for more than one drip campaign – Say you run a preplaning Facebook campaign every month for three months. Sometimes the same contact will sign up for several of them. Even if that contact doesn’t read all the emails, the topic resonates with them. This would be a good person to reach out too.
If contacts on your email list exhibit one or more of these behaviors, consider them close to a purchase decision. They want more contact, and it’s worth reaching out to them individually rather than just digitally.
Doing it on your own
We help hundreds of funeral homes and death care professionals with their digital marketing. People often ask how much time it takes an in-house marketer to run a successful digital campaign. Our answer is lots. A well-designed digital marketing program can be a full-time job. Plus, keeping it effective means staying on top of changes in digital marketing, Facebook changes and the best new ways to reach the right people.
But with 88% of people doing online research before they buy anything and a growing number expecting online information for funeral planning, it’s essential to stay in front of an increasingly competitive market. If you understand the importance of online marketing, but don’t have the time to do it yourself, we can help. Reach out to Funeral Innovations at firstname.lastname@example.org.