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It’s no secret that many newspapers are seeing less obituaries year over year. With more than 1,500 newspaper partners and 4,000 funeral home partners in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, U.K. and Europe, Legacy’s large network allows us to analyze industry-wide obituary-related trends and share them with our valued partners. This month, we’re looking at notice volume trends, and what we can do to help you combat the decline in newspaper obituaries being placed.

Notice Volume by Month
As we’ve pointed out in the past, there are seasonal trends in deaths.  More people die in the winter than in the summer months. This is reflected in newspaper notice volume trends as well. In both 2016 and 2017, January had the highest number of same store newspaper notices, followed by March.

To visualize these trends, we looked at monthly notice volume indexed by 2017’s average monthly notice volume. The closer the month’s index is to 1, the closer it is to the 2017 average. As depicted in the chart below, January has the highest index with almost 1.2, whereas September (the month with the lowest notice volume) has the lowest index with .91. See full monthly 2017 notice volume, indexed by the average 2017 monthly notice volume below.

The Decline in Year Over Year Notice Volume
The biggest takeaway when it comes to newspaper obituary notice volume trends, though, is that it is declining industry-wide year over year.  In 2017, we saw a 6% decrease in the same newspaper accounts notice volume across North America. This trend is nothing new, it’s been affecting the newspaper obituary category for years.

The reason for the decline in notice volume can be attributed to a lot of things. For one, print newspaper subscriptions are also down. This decline combining with the rise of the internet and social media platforms, can make a newspaper obituary seem less relevant to some people. It can lead to families opting to only post their loved one’s obituary with the funeral home and then sharing that funeral home obituary with their online social networks.

However, our research shows that people do still see the importance of a newspaper obituary. In fact, in a survey of over 1,000 people, 88% of people wanted to place a newspaper obituary if a loved one died. This figure was consistent across all age groups and regions. People still value the newspaper as the best way to permanently memorialize their loved one’s passing and spread the news of a death.

But, we know that the newspaper obituary placement rate is not at 88%. And while there are many factors as to why it’s not as high as our research shows, Legacy.com is working to get you closer to that figure. We have some free tools built to help make placing a newspaper obituary easier and drive additional obituary placements for your newspaper.

Use These Free Tools to Combat Declining Notice Volume Trends:

1. ObitWriter – At the end of last year, we debuted our latest product, ObitWriter to our partners. ObitWriter is a first-of-its-kind tool that helps funeral directors and families easily create obituaries for placement in local newspapers. To learn more about ObitWriter, click here.
2. Custom Obit Style Ads – 
Our custom obit-style ads have been proven to drive additional and higher quality obituaries. Read how The Press-Enterprise grew their obituary notice volume with our free ads here
3. Custom Funeral Home Materials – 
Our customizable Obituary Writing Guides give your funeral homes clear examples of compelling small, medium, and large obituary placements and what those cost to place in your newspaper. These guides can be left in funeral homes’ planning rooms to help promote the value of the newspaper obituary where the families are making the decision. Contact us for downloadable files or help in creating custom materials for your market at marketing@legacy.com.

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Claire McAlpin

Claire is a Marketing Associate at Legacy.com with experience in marketing strategy, experiential marketing, account management and sales.

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