Almost all funeral home websites utilize some flavor of online obituaries. At first glance, they might all seem the same; but in fact, online obituaries come in all shapes and sizes. From paid offerings to free ones. Minimalist or full featured. Hosted or native code. Open or closed.
Since Funeral Innovations provides our own premium online obituaries, we of course have strong opinions about all of the choices mentioned above. And we’ll express our thoughts in a series of posts explaining how you ought to choose your obituaries provider.
However, for now we’d like to expose a trap that can torpedo the long term success of many funeral homes’ web strategy. It’s a mistake that’s made easily and often, because most funeral directors don’t know the potential negative impact until it’s far too late. I want to warn you about the dangers of a closed obituary system.
What’s Wrong with Closed Obituaries?
Most funeral directors fall prey to closed obituaries because they aren’t even aware of what they are! Simply put, closed obituaries lock you down with a single web host, whereas open obituaries will work no matter who hosts your site or even if you change hosts down the line.
Consider this common scenario: as a funeral director you’re not necessarily an expert in web technologies, so you put your trust in some firm to build your website. They say they’ll include online obituaries, which is great because you’ll need to display those on your site. All is well, until a couple years later when the web firm you initially trusted no longer has kept up with the latest technologies. On the web, 2 years is like a generation; during that time you’ve found that another web firm offers far superior products, websites, and hosting. The only problem is that you’ve got years worth of obituaries built up and your current host will not let you take your obituaries if you leave. As a false show of support, your host offers to provide you a dump of your obituary data, but you soon discover that your new firm is unwilling to write a custom program required to migrate this data.
In short, you are out of luck.
Because of this difficulty, you stay with your current, obsolete web property while your competitors adopt the latest technology and start eating away at your market share.
Unfortunately, this shady business practice happens all the time! Last week a customer wanted to come on board with our solutions. When their existing host found out, they provided a dump of the obituary data in a nearly unreadable form, then gave the customer 2 days before shutting down their current site. Fortunately we were able to write a custom script to recover all 2,000 of their obituaries into our open system, however most software companies will not be so flexible.
Open = Freedom/Flexibility
Compare that scenario with the customers of open obituaries. If you use Funeral Innovations’ premium open obituaries, your data remains YOURS for life. You don’t even need to host with us; but if you do and you ever decide to leave, you can bring your obituaries with you with no extra work required. That’s because open obituaries work with any host, any website, and any system. That means you get the freedom and flexibility of choosing all the best solutions for your business, and never have to worry about being locked in to a single provider or host.
What You Need to Know
Choosing a closed obituary system is one of the biggest dangers facing a funeral director when planning a web strategy. Closed obituaries can negatively affect your business in many ways:
- Locks you in to a single provider forever
- Obstructs forward progress of your web strategy
- Prevents competition, resulting in lower quality obituaries
- Removes your freedom of choice and flexibility
As you are looking to upgrade your funeral home’s web strategy, here are three questions you absolutely MUST ask any potential technology providers:
- Are the obituaries open?
- Can I use the obituaries with any web host?
- Do I retain ownership of the obituary data?
If they say “no” to any of those questions, you owe it to yourself and your business to say “no” to them!