The Q4 2023 benchmarking report for UK funeral and cremation services has just been published. Learn how the top 10 UK funeral and cremation services perform across the digital space.
The latest Q4 2023 benchmarking report for UK funeral and cremation services has just been published. It covers the 10 largest national funeral and cremation services, including Co-Op Funeralcare, Simplicity Cremations, Distinct Cremations, Avalon Funeral Plans, Dignity Funerals, Pure Cremation, Celebration of Life, Golden Charter, Golden Leaves, and Affordable Funerals.
The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other funeral and cremation services to win brand exposure locally, drive online views, and generate enquiries. The report highlights quick wins that will improve enquiries from your online strategy and identifies the barriers that may be reducing your site’s ability to optimise digital performance.
To see a preview and contents page of the Q4 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.
Q4 2023 WINNERS LEADERBOARD
For a glance into just six of the metrics we evaluated these top 10 funeral and cremation services on, check out our quick-look table below;
Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's best and poorest-performing UK funeral and cremation suppliers, or request a copy of the report for the full review.
What The Industry Research Report Covers
The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each brand based on 50+ metrics and indicators of a successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.
Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels
Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing and Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from £30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing. Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.
Technical Website Compliance
Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. During times of stress and grief, cognitive abilities are often impaired, so it's essential that funeral and cremation services maintain straightforward, easy-to-navigate websites that meet clients' needs. Particular care should be taken of the pathways to key pages, such as contact pages, pricing options, and FAQs.
Most funeral and cremation service providers we've researched have a great hold on their technical website compliance, with very few errors across most of the brands in our report. In Q3, we noted that Co-Op Funeralcare was seeing the highest level of 4xx errors, returning 319 in our audit. In Q4, Co-Op Funeralcare has reduced this to 90 4xx errors, while Dignity has returned to having the most, with 133 (consistent with our previous two reports).
Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance
When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load will see a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. No one wants to be researching funeral providers, so funeral and cremation services need to ensure their customers have as positive an experience as possible on their mobile site, providing answers quickly with minimal frustration.
In Q3, mobile page speed scores for funeral and cremation service providers sat between 15 and 54, following a fall in mobile page speed performance across all sectors we specialise in. In Q4, mobile page speed scores range from 20 to 55, with Dignity, Distinct, and Celebration of Life each surpassing the ‘okay’ benchmark of 50.
Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority
Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Funeral and cremation services should be continually pushing to improve their DA - though it may be a challenging sector to build authority in, they can do this by exchanging content with vendors they frequently use, or by using a good PR strategy in building new links (and claiming existing ones).
A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however, it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. In Q4, DA scores for funeral and cremation service providers sat between 14 and 80. Celebration of Life has continued to improve its DA, going from 4 in Q1, to 10 in Q3, and now 14 in Q4, indicating a strong digital PR strategy is firmly in place.
Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop
A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. While funerals and cremations are in a niche group where the ‘popularity’ of the service never changes, without an effective organic search strategy, they can quickly lose ground to competitors. Care should be taken to monitor any fluctuations in rank, along with regular reviews of changing search terms, so they can optimise for topical, popular keywords.
In Q4, no providers saw an increase in traffic, with all ten brands seeing falls in digital footfall year on year. The biggest loss has been seen by Avalon Funeral Plans, which has seen its 73% fall in traffic from Q3 increase to an 82% loss. Distinct Cremations is the brand closest to maintaining year on year performance, with a loss of 4%
Universal Search Opportunity
Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a site can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. Funeral and cremation services should be utilising all universal search features as potential customers will want to see how previous customers have found their experience via 'reviews', 'FAQs' and 'people also ask'. This is also an opportunity to provide useful, quick content for commonly asked questions that show high potential for conversions.
Dignity funerals is appearing for the widest range of Universal Search results, while also securing the most appearances overall. ‘People also ask’ make up the largest portion of Dignity’s Universal Search Results, with a total of 3,700.
The Longtail Keyword Opportunity
Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for brand-new search terms as they enter Google’s index. There are many longtail keyword options that funeral and cremation services could be optimising their content for such as ‘funeral prices in Birmingham’ and ‘cremation services with payment plans’.
Two of our ten providers are ranking in the top three positions for less than twenty longtail keywords – an improvement from the four brands in this position in Q3. Avalon Funeral Plans is still showing in the top positions for the fewest longtail keywords, only appearing four times in positions 1-3 and another six for positions 4-10. Avalon can improve both its longtail keyword and Universal Search strategy by reviewing its current content portfolio, and examining which pieces have the best potential to appear for high-impact terms.
With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecast to hit over 42 million users by 2022, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019.
Below, we've included Co-Op Funeralcare’s Facebook ads. Co-Op Funeralcare has used carousel ads to showcase the new-style storefronts and friendly staff in local branches and will be able to specifically target each area with bespoke, highly-relevant creative.
Top Social Shares & Content
When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your brand engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. Social media could be especially useful for sharing information about different financing and buying options.
In our last reports, we have noted that Simplicity Cremations has been falling behind other providers when it comes to Facebook likes and Instagram followers. Simplicity Cremations (along with most providers) still does not have a presence on Instagram, but now has more Facebook likes than three of their competitors.
Website Readability & Accessibility
20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, brands lose customer interest as they turn elsewhere. As all funeral and cremation service providers know, death does not discriminate, so they will therefore need to ensure their website is accessible for all customers looking at funeral and cremation options.
In our last report, we noted that Pure Cremation was seeing the most accessibility barriers, with 78 alerts and 24 errors. In Q4, Pure Cremation has reduced these levels to 22 errors and 35 alerts.
GET THE FULL 70-PAGE Q4 2023 REPORT
To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.