by Courtney Gould Miller

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created countless obstacles in our industry,  there are just as many opportunities for those willing to try something new. Case in point: The e-commerce cremation websites we’ve launched this past month have seen record growth, providing an affordable option for families who want to plan a direct cremation online. Why the incredible success? Higher death rates in certain markets may be part of the reason, but we believe it has more to do with consumer preferences and behaviors that have shifted during this time.

Case Study 1:
Oak Cremation
Visit: https://oakcremation.com/
Launched early April 2020

Oak Cremation, started by the Ford Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Centerline, MI, launched during the thick of the pandemic, initially using only pay-per-click marketing. During their first week, they served three families, then added six more in under a month. Says Elyse Erickson of Oak Cremation, “Two of those families were facilitated by next of kin who did not live in the state. The ease of making all the selections online and coordinating electronically were the deciding factors in them choosing Oak Cremation.” Oak Cremation has also received two urn purchases and a lot of positive feedback on how easy the website is to use, including the open communication channels, and how quickly families receive confirmation emails and payment receipts.

“We love that MKJ created a look, feel, and identity for Oak Cremation that is independent of our full-service brand while keeping the same high standards we were looking for in this new venture,” says Erickson. “The MKJ team was great to work with and thought of many user-friendly aspects to make the process streamlined for families. The families have loved that there is no need to come into the facility, especially during the pandemic. The marketing plan MKJ recommended was critical for our success. We already know five of the cremations we served were generated from web searches, and one through a referral from our full-service business.”

Case Study 2:
Milwaukee Cremation
Visit: www.milwaukeecremate.com
Launched late April 2020

Milwaukee Cremation, a brand of Krause Funeral Homes & Cremation Service in Milwaukee, WI, focused on simple cremation with an entirely online service offering, including online body identification, e-signature of forms, and online payment. Milwaukee Cremation began with a two-part approach to marketing, including a pay-per-click budget large enough to cover the high search volume for cremation services in their market, and a TV campaign to explain their offerings and advertise their competitive pricing. In the first 10 days of operation, Milwaukee Cremation served 7 families through their website, with more coming each day. To expand on this early success, more marketing efforts are planning, including organic search and billboards.

Mark Krause, owner of Krause Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, Informed Choice, and Milwaukee Cremation says, “Having a way for families to plan a cremation entirely online expands our reach and allows us to achieve even greater volume in our market, while keeping the price accessible to all families. In just weeks we’ve seen how this complements our full-service and discount brands to have a third offering, just for online and simple cremation.” Krause continues, “I’ve always trusted MKJ with my marketing. Their guidance through this process, including choosing the name, creating the logo and branding style, and planning the entire marketing strategy through their Digital360 program and television commercials, was exactly what I needed. I’ve also taken so much from MKJ’s Cremation E-Commerce Mastermind that prepared me to launch well even during coronavirus.”

Other clients who have operated cremation e-commerce businesses for years with MKJ Marketing’s websites and marketing strategy are seeing that investment pay off. Paul St. Pierre, owner of St. Pierre Family Funeral & Cremation Services and Simplicity in Indianapolis, also operates Cremation Society of Indiana. He reports Cremation Society of Indiana has served the same number of families in the first four months of 2020 as during the first six months of 2019. Similarly, Simply Hart’s of Hart’s Mortuary and Cremation Center in Macon, GA, and Cypress Lawn’s All County Cremation Service in San Francisco have seen large increases in calls through their online business in 2020.

MKJ’s team is at work on many more e-commerce websites, as numerous firms want to serve their markets 24/7 through an online location. With an e-commerce website, no storefront or physical location is necessary. Instead, families answer questions on your website then pay by credit card. Identification and e-signature can also take place through the website.

Interested in learning about how you can launch your own cremation e-commerce website, or  better market your current discount offering? Contact MKJ Marketing for a free consultation on this opportunity.