You have probably heard about it or been a part of it. I’m talking about SMS or Text Message Marketing. Text Message marketing is typically not a highly “in your face” style of getting a message across such as a billboard, Facebook Ad or Sales/Landing page.
SMS marketing comes into its own after a customer has shown interest, but needs some nurturing to help them to choose you over a competitor. I will specifically be talking about SMS Marketing as it specifically relates to funeral homes and the death care industry in general. I want to give some specific situations where this technology can be implemented and also touch on some of the tools and legal requirements of SMS marketing.
Why SMS Marketing vs Email or Other Channels for a Funeral Home
The open rate for typical email marketing campaigns is around 20% while a typical SMS campaign has around a 90% open rate.
The response rate for an email campaign is around 6% while around 45% of people respond to a SMS campaign.
Those two sets of data tell you a vital story that you need to understand to see why SMS is such an effective tool when used properly and within the right context for the customer. Nearly half of the audience that you send an SMS campaign to will respond to the number of people you’ll need to reach out to is far less when compared to email. Overall this could end up costing you less overall.
“So if I send these texts out, people are going to open them. But what do I say, how do I build trust over text, and does this help me get more customers to choose my funeral home.”
While there are honestly hundreds of ways that SMS can help a funeral home I want to touch on what I think are the Top 3 ways that SMS can be applied to marketing for a funeral home:
- To start the conversation with a customer instantly and be able to keep someone interested while the funeral director or other staff have a chance to return a call.
- To be able to send specific instructions, links, or specific information. This could be sending out a text message to a group of people that will be attending a funeral with locations and times of the service.
- Follow up after a service and ask for testimonials with ease. Weeks after a service is completed and after a follow-up call you can easily send over a link to your Google My Business to ask for a review with your “short link”
Start the Conversation Right
Via a contact form on your website, you can ask right away if the potential customer would like to receive texts from your funeral home. Soon after submitting the contact form, they will receive a text from you letting them know that you will get right back to them with a call. This lets them know you care right away and shows them the next step that’s going to happen, a call from you. After the initial call and scheduling an appointment to come in to meet the Funeral Director a text can be sent with a Google Maps link to navigate to the funeral home and provide written instructions. You can also send out an appointment reminder with the time and date. Trust me, there is a dramatic increase in show up rate for appointments after something as simple as this. With our Copilots CRM we can automate most of these processes, making this easy and reducing the effort on your end.
Getting Everyone on the Same Page
How do you organize and let everyone know when and where a service is going to be held right now. Maybe have the family send out to everyone that they want to come and organize it. Maybe send people over to your website and hope they get it figured out. With SMS marketing you can get a list of contacts or have an opt in link on the obituary of your website. After they sign up you can send a text to all that should be in attendance. This helps your services run more smoothly as well and take some of the strain off of the family you are serving.
You can also use text as a non-intrusive way to inform a family and next of kin about what is going on currently with a service or aftercare. Many people are busy and would rather receive a text message for minor issues or info than a call. You can still be very personable via text.
Follow Up with SMS
Now more than ever getting online reviews is essential but it’s quite a challenge for a funeral home to gracefully ask for an online review. Death is a sensitive topic in the western world and it needs to be treated as such. After a few weeks usually a funeral home will do a follow-up aftercare call to check in on the family and make sure things are as they should be. During that call it can be assessed if the next of kin was pleased with how you did as a funeral director and funeral home overall.
If you think that the person was truly pleased by how you and your team did there is no shame to ask for a review. While reviews are important for business promotion, they are vital for setting customer expectations and experiences. We read reviews to know how a customer experience is before deciding to do business with someone.
As you read a review for a restaurant, you find one saying they prepare your favorite meal perfectly, then you know what you are going to get when you order that meal. If your team provides amazing personalised service, cares like a family member would, and has a fair and easy to understand pricing structure, then people will point to those things. Reviews simply add clarity for a customer who may have never worked with a funeral home before.
After asking for a review over the phone, a text can be sent with a “shortcode” from Google My Business, leading them directly to your listing. It’s an easy and effective way to make sure you maximize your online presence with reviews.
Reviews are important and in our industry around 30% of people will read an online review when making a decision on a funeral home.
Before you get into attempting some SMS marketing yourself you may want to familiarize yourself with the CAN-SPAM act. These are very important rules that you need to follow in order to keep yourself out of any legal grey areas or potential fines. Three main things to watch out for are: Have an OPT-IN (or explicitly state that they will receive texts from you), Have an OPT-OUT and honor those requests as soon as possible but definitely within 10 business days, and finally don’t include links in the first message to someone. The reason for the last point is similar to email marketing, you don’t want to end up in a spam folder and not be seen by the customer. A link on a first message is a sure way to do this. For more information on this review the information HERE from the FTC.
Give it a shot! There is a lot to gain from SMS in the front end of the customer experience, getting more excellent reviews, and organizing the masses. The cost to get started can be low with many SMS platforms and while per text it costs more than email it can be highly effective. At Copilots Agency we provide SMS marketing and automated follow up with our Copilots CRM system. A Customer Relationship Management tool that is specifically designed for use by funeral homes. If you would like to learn more about SMS and our CARE system Click Here to learn more!
Copywrite Dec. 2020 by Tyler Baumgardner