Local Media Insider wrote a fantastic review of Memoriams.com. Here are a few highlights:
Memoriams increases obituary revenues by 30%
Allowing funeral homes to place orders directly and networking markets scores a home run
As e-commerce advances, adding order-taking to classifieds and other niches is a smart move. Newspapers are turning travel sections into online booking engines, and selling background checks to landlords via third party platforms.
One LMI editor’s pick in this category is Memoriams from Adpay, which provides a better way to increase obits revenues by around 29 to 30% and grow the franchise.
Simply put, Memoriams provides a front end order taking platform for newspapers to sell obituaries seamlessly through funeral homes.
About 100 newspapers are “preferred partners” who provide the service to local funeral directors, effectively turning them into an extra obits sales force. These newspapers can also use the platform internally as a workflow tool for telemarketers working with families placing ads locally and across the network.
So far the network has obtained pricing and packaging information from 2300+ newspapers, who passively receive orders even if they are preferred partners actively promoting the platform to funeral homes in their own market.
In part, Memoriams is the newspaper industry’s answer to Tributes, a company which partners almost exclusively with broadcast sites to allow funeral homes to directly upsell obits to its online platform, effectively by-passing print obituaries entirely. Consumers like the extra features and lower costs and funeral directors like the ease of use and upsell capabilities.
Legacy.com, the primary distributor of online obits for newspapers, caught up with Tributes in most areas, providing popular online upsells such as guest books and Next Generation packages to families via its newspaper partners.
But Legacy receives the data directly from newspapers, not funeral directors. So while some papers have their own front end tool to aid funeral directors placing ads, most do not and funeral homes are left faxing, calling and pricing if they want to provide this service.
Research also shows that about 30% of obituary consumers request additional placements in out-of-state newspapers, a process that is even more painfully time-consuming.
“(Funeral directors) have to look up phone numbers, write another obit, get another rate, and get the customer to approve it,” according to Deb Dreyfuss-Tuchman, EVP of Sales at Adpay.
Unlike Tributes or Legacy.com, Memoriams is simply an order taking system. The platform allows funeral directors to place obits directly in print and digital locally and across the network, plus place orders for enhancements such as multiple images, emblems, additional text, digital spotlights and guestbooks.
The site does not compete with guest books or other upsells, but integrates them to help place the order more efficiently.
Once taken, orders are automatically emailed to the family, providing an extra layer of accuracy.
So is it working? So far the program is popular with funeral directors because of the ease of use and accuracy.
“They do it because they believe helping families with obits is a very important service,” Dreyfuss-Tuchman said.
Out-of-market sales are also popular. “We have newspapers as small as Leesburg Today, where we are seeing additional market buys into the Washington Post through the fluid nature of the tool.”
Additionally, Adpay claims that the ease of adding markets is resulting in an average of 2 obits per order, “doubling the number of obits going to the newspaper and growing print obits as a whole.”
LMI has confirmed that newspapers selling Memoriams see about a 30% net increase from paid obits, especially if they were relying on fax and email to collect icons, photos, etc. AdPay confirms each market’s gain by taking a baseline of per obit net pricing prior to implementing the system, and checking against post-implementation results.
Addiitionally the system decreases errors and makes good at a time when families are especially emotional. “It’s a really important category to make sure you get the information right,” Dreyfuss-Tuchman noted.
A good sign for the new platform is that the Dallas Morning News is about to launch the system. They have created a direct integration into their Mactive front end system, so that “no human has to touch the system… there is no rekeying. It is completely automated, so there is an internal saving as well.”
This partnership is in the no-brainer category for newspapers who carry obits. Partnering with Memoriams removes the last advantage that Tributes, as the industry disruptor, may have had and helps build the obits franchise for newspapers long term. The transaction fees need to be paid by someone, so the increased price has to be factored in if there is an issue of price resistance. However, it appears that this category is less price resistant, validated by the revenue gains of 30%. The average obit costs about $130, depending on the size of the market, so this is a largely seamless way to gain an average of $39 more per sale and reduce errors. Finally, the funeral directors only need to be set up once, and the enhanced relationship can generate more opportunities for print companies.