Love digital

words: Declan Maguire
Love digital

Ahead of its official launch at this year’s AGM, Declan Maguire reveals SAIF Digital, a unique new service harnessing the power of digital marketing…

In the last two years, we have seen a fundamental shift in our profession.

Regulation has and will continue to reshape the basic principles of how we operate and offer both at-need and pre-need funerals. COVID-19 has altered how we meet with families and deliver funeral services, and this has accelerated a rise in consumer demandfor a simple funeral, and an increasing preference for direct cremation.

Amid all of this activity there has also been a notable shift towards digital marketing by funeral directors, more specifically a significant increase in investment by corporate providers. There is a very good reason for this, and one simple statistic demonstrates it: in 2020 for every two UK funerals, there was one search online for a funeral director.

Searching for a funeral director online is not a random act, it is done because there is a need for the service and, in the last two years, we have witnessed a step up in digital engagement across the profession.

Part of the challenge we face as funeral directors is finding the right source of advice and guidance that intimately understands the funeral market, constantly monitors changing trends and competitors, and keeps us at the top of our digital game.

The other challenge is finding the time to manage all of the various moving parts of the digital landscape and trusting that the time and investment you are directing into the process is providing a return on investment.

Bringing together the best minds

In July 2021, we started work to meet those challenges by developing a programme that would bring together the best minds in funeral marketing, digital marketing, and industry intelligence.

It was vital that wherever we ended up, the programme had to support all members – from those who had no digital skills through to the most tech savvy – and offer them a service as part of their membership that allowed them to receive a comprehensive audit on their business’ digital engagement.

Further, if a member required additional support to develop websites, deploy pay per click and manage social media, we could provide that service under the guidance of the SAIF Digital team.

In September 2021, we launched a test programme to bring together a small group of members and work through the challenges they faced, devise simple engagement tools, and create an easyto- use path for them to enrol in the programme. We brought together a team from SAIF, Golden Charter, and Maguire Partners to build this and at this year’s AGM I am delighted to announce we will be launching SAIF Digital.

The key goal behind SAIF Digital is to provide an expert funeral industry digital marketing service to members to help arrest any decline in business or drive growth.

Supporting businesses of all sizes

Whether you already have a web designer, social media manager or marketing agency or not, SAIF Digital is geared to support members of all shapes and sizes.

To achieve this, it is important to frame the process for members and the first step is to outline how we view the make-up of a funeral director’s incoming business.

Every business has varied sources of income. Some more established companies have a high proportion of repeat business based on high quality of service or locality, and often have stronger referral or recommendation percentages. Others have a larger source of funerals from investing in funeral plans. Some, particularly new market entrants, invest heavily in pay per click, social media and traditional media to acquire the increasing number of what I call ‘floating funerals’.

I coined that phrase to describe families who are not necessarily associated with or loyal to any one funeral director in their area. Instead, they will make their decision at the time of need based on information they seek out online or be influenced by recent advertising. There are three reasons behind this: a change in consumer behaviour to seek out best price or best service, a change in the willingness to pay for convenience, and the evolution of the traditional family unit.

Less than five years ago, it was estimated that ‘location’, ‘recommendation’ or ‘previous experience’ were the key factors for families deciding on a funeral director.

If we look at the number of searches online for ‘funeral director’ in 2020 we can see that this has changed dramatically. In short, the percentage of floating funerals in the market has increased to become a make-or-break point in a small to medium funeral business in an urban setting. Using this methodology helps our team understand your business’ make up and determine where and how we can help you focus your digital marketing to achieve maximum impact for your business.

While developing your digital presence may seem daunting, there are a few simple rules to start with and with a little time and help from our team, we can get you started.

Enrolling in the programme is easy – just visit, click ‘Register’ and complete the form and we’ll be in touch. Alternatively, join us at the SAIF Digital launch, at the SAIF AGM in Edinburgh.

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