Forever Remembered and its parent company, eMUNICATIONS.com, Inc., have been providing web-based applications to the death care industry for more than three years an eternity in Internet time. Beginning with the trademarked Forever Remembered® Online Obituary Service to funeral home web site design and development to online funeral home marketing consulting, we have developed a thorough background of presenting death care services on the Internet what works and what doesn't. We can even show you how to leverage any Internet investment you may have already made.
To help you better understand the options you need to consider we have provided below some brief information about some general Internet concepts and a summary of offering online obituaries and why they are critical to your funeral home web site's success. We encourage you to take a little time and study this page. We guarantee you will come away with a better understanding about how the Internet will benefit your company.
1. Web site Subject and Purpose.
Predetermining the scope and function of your web site will help you make decisions on the many options you will have (online brochure, customer service, sales/marketing, ecommerce, etc.).
These options include, how big your site will be, hosting, domain configuration, content, design and online and offline advertising.
Also, knowing what your web site will be about will help you inform and express to service providers and contractors what you need, this way you'll get what you want.
2. How and who will build your web site.
Depending on your budget, it will determine how and who will build your web site. You may pay others or you may learn how to create a web site by yourself.
If you do not have the time or the patience to learn how to create a web site on your own, then hiring someone else should be your decision. Or, if you want a dynamic, interactive web site, they you will need to hire expertise and experience.
Forever Remembered® can offer you a variety of options to choose from if you decide hiring a design firm is your best option. From our all inclusive package that includes, domain registration, hosting, email design and maintenance for only $699 to a full-blown custom web solution, know that you will be hiring experience.
If you are interested in programming your own web site check out these web sites for helpful advice and tools:
4. How will you advertise your web site.
This is a critical concept. Advertising your web site is a very important aspect of building a web site. If you build it, they won't necessarily come unless you tell them! There are several ways online and offline to advertise your web site.
- Banner ads on other web sites
- Submit to search engines and directories
- Tell others you meet in chat rooms/other web activities
- Text ads in newsletters/other mailing list
- Classified ads
- Banner Exchanges
- On-line Obituaries
- Magazine and newspaper ads
- Posters and Flyers
- Your company's brochures
- Business cards
- Radio & TV
- Tell others you meet
- Gift items with your logo
- On-line Obituaries
Be sure you leave room in your budget for advertising. This is critical. Advertising and promoting your web site is very important. If you do not have a sound implementation of advertising and promoting your web site, then you'll just have another funeral home web site that nobody visits. For some promotion ideas check out Web Developers Journal.
5. What type of web address (domain name).
There are many types of web addresses to consider. Each option has their advantages and disadvantages.
- http://www.YOURNAME.com (domain address) This is the most common type of address that businesses would like to acquire. They are quickly accessible, easy to remember, search engines accept them over other address, shorter name to type out and print out on offline advertisements, and gives an overall feeling that you are online for purpose and serious about what you are trying to sell or provide. These will usually cost between $20-$35 a year.
- http://YOURNAME.theirname.com (sub domain) These names are often given to web sites that have sections that are as popular as the main web site. Some hosting companies do offer these as part of their packages and are treated similarly to the web addresses above. They may charge for these, but you can also find them for free
- http://www.theirdomain.com/YOURNAME (user domain) These types of web addresses are most likely going to be the cheapest and more commonly free with your ISP or Free Host online. They are generally longer and are not accepted from search engines as often. As long as there is no or little advertisement from the provider, then these types of web site will be fine. This should always be free or free with your ISP.
If you plan to pay for option #3 (unless its free with your ISP host) or #2 (unless your getting a heck of a deal, less then $5 a month) we recommend you go with option 1. Option one, for a basic (very basic and small) web site would cost between $20-35 year for your domain name and $5-15 for your hosting, which isn't a big investment when you think about it.
If you would like to check the availability of a domain name or are ready to secure your domain names, go to GKG.net or Network Solutions
6. Where and what type of hosting.
After determining which domain name you would like, you will need to find out what type of hosting you'll need. Finding a hosting company is not difficult, but for new comers it may seem a bit complicated.
Web hosting is where your web site will "live". You will upload your web site to your host. When you type in your web sites domain/address (see above) it will be forwarded to your web site (well actually to your IP address. An IP address is just a bunch of numbers that are assigned to your web site). This transaction is done instantly.
There are A LOT of hosting options so DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Here is a list of the most common:
- Your Internet Service Provider Many ISP's offer their users free web space. This type of web space will usually have between 5-10MB of free space and will not allow you to sell products or services online. They will also have an address called a user domain (see What type of web address). This hosting type may or may not come free with your ISP. Advantages: Free!!! Disadvantages: May not offer enough space, may not allow business web sites.
- Free host. There are many free hosts online. They all offer different types of services and can provide you will many different types of web address (see What type of web address). Your domain name will probably still cost you between $20-$35 dollars a year. This type of hosting is most likely to over all different types of ranges of space from 1-250 MB. Do not trust host that promise unlimited! Advantages: Free!!! Disadvantages: May have banner ads and pop-up windows, may not provide enough space, may not allow businesses web sites.
- Paid host. There are also many-paid host online. They will offer all sorts of packages that you can choose from ranging from small to large, for different types of web sites. Be sure to compare host before you decide on one and ASK QUESTIONS, always! If you are unsure about anything always ask questions. Depending on the space and services you need hosting can range between $5-200 or more a month. With this type of hosting you can have any type of web address (see What type of web address). But my advice would be to spend the extra $20-35 a year for a domain name, if you plan to go with the paid host. Advantages: You choose your plan, customized everything, no banner ads, no limited space (because you choose), put anything on your web site (according to host rules). Disadvantage: You have to pay for your host.
Forever Remembered® can assist you with a paid host account. We do all the work in setting it up and accounts start at only $24.95 per month at eMUNICATIONS.com, Inc. You will get all the space you need, five email accounts, excellent online traffic reporting software and more. Or, you can check out the free hosting options at AngelFire and GeoCities
7. Web site maintenance & updates.
This may not seem very important, but it is. Web site maintenance is something that needs to be done. Changing text, graphics, and other items on your web site monthly or even weekly is a good consideration. It keeps your content fresh and give previous visitors a reason to come back to your web site.
Web site maintenance should be on the bottom of your stress list. Only because you can easily pay someone or learn to update your web site yourself, for very low price. Maintenance for a web site generally should cost less than actually building the site (but it is not a general rule, so do your research and find the best price).
Web site maintenance can be referred to as hiring a "webmaster", which is just someone that not only updates your pages, but also "should" be checking on your site often to make sure everything is working, answer technical questions about the web site, and keep track of visitors coming to the site and where they are coming from. They can also do many other things for you, just ask! You do not necessarily have to hire a Webmaster; you can just hire someone whenever you need your pages updated. Of course, when you utilize Forever Remembered® as your hosting service, there is no charge for normal maintenance.
8. Final Comments
There is a lot to know and consider when setting up your Internet initiative. It is not a matter of "throwing up some web pages". You can do that, but you won't get any benefit. You will become frustrated and then, most likely, make the erroneous decision that the Internet just won't work for my business. Your number one consideration should be how do I get traffic to our company's web site. With funeral home web sites, your answer is online obituaries.
Online Obituaries are critical to your Internet strategy
Initially funeral homes and cemeteries were slow to embrace the Internet. Common misconceptions were;
You have probably seen these misconceptions dispelled in the press by now but, if you haven't or would like additional information, contact us.
- My market is local
- My Families don't use computers
- I don't have a computer or know how to operate one
- No one looks for death care information on the Internet
- We primarily handle elderly cases, they don't use computers
- A custom funeral home web site is too expensive
The early adopters got burned by unscrupulous or ignorant web designers. These web designers did not understand this unique industry and its unique marketing requirements. Furthermore, most web designers know programming or graphics design, not business marketing or promotion. You've heard it before, "we can make this spin" or, "it'll be cool if we make the casket open and close", etc. Not what you need to promote your business. In the end, these early adopters came to the conclusion "The Internet does not work for my funeral home."
Next, several online obituary companies popped up. They promised funeral homes free obituaries and maybe even a free or, low cost funeral home web site in exchange for promoting their service to your families. That was the problem their services to your families. Family and friends would go to your web site just to click away to the other company's web site to view obituaries, purchase flowers, send condolences, etc. or worse, would not even go to your web site but to another web site address all together. Your message, your services, your reputation would be missed. Many of these companies are now having difficulties with this business model; some have gone out of business, some are about to. Again, you would hear "The Internet does not work for my funeral home."
Forever Remembered is a different approach. We put obituaries and memorial pages on YOUR funeral home web sites. You get the credit for providing this service to your families, building your reputation for care, compassion and leading edge service. You can provide the service at the price you wish, even complimentary or bundled in a package of service. We don't need to re-design your funeral home web sites, you don't need to change your hosting service and best of all, you can administer the obituary postings and service information yourself or we can do it for you!
Of course, with Forever Remembered Obituary Services, you better be ready for a lot of traffic to your funeral home web sites. If you don't think your host provider can handle the traffic or, if you feel you should upgrade your web site to better promote your funeral home or cemetery, we can help you with that. We have designed and implemented some of the best funeral home and cemetery web sites online they aren't just "good looking", they have proven to generate pre-need and at-need business and improve funeral home market share. We can re-design your funeral home web site or create a customized funeral home web site for a lot less money than you might think. We can also host your funeral home web site including, branded email addresses (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org), outstanding traffic monitoring reports, monthly search engine submissions, daily maintenance, backup and monitoring all for less than a dollar per day.
We invite you to look at our services in more detail and then contact us for a no charge evaluation of what we can do for your funeral home or cemetery Internet needs.