While death rates are surging — 50% more people will die of old age (National Center for Health Statistics) over the next 30 years — traditional print obituary placements by funeral homes have been in decline. In fact, experts predict these declines to reach 20% by the end of 2023.

The reason is simple:

most newspaper orders are placed by funeral homes, while the growth market for obituaries is in private party placements. In fact 64% of families making end-of-life arrangements will choose DIY funerals and cremation by 2025.

Source: Statista.com

Addressing Private Party Obituaries

To address this market shift, both Legacy.com and its newspaper partners are pivoting to attract and service private party obituaries. Legacy.com now even offers an Obituary Desk Management service to support newspapers with many of the services that used to be handled by funeral homes, including death verification and customer service for grieving families.

“We need to have as many new entry points as possible for folks to place obituaries,” says Brian Walsh of Lee Enterprises, an early private party adopter.

Source: E&P

“Anything we do on this front is a no-brainer, because you’re going to get people placing obits who otherwise might not have.”

So just who are these up-and-coming individuals taking the reins and placing private party orders and what is the best way to capture them?

Who is Placing Obituaries

According to a recently published report in E&P, 48% of those placing obituaries are digital first gen-x and millennials. As digital natives, they expect a “pain-free” online experience. Not only are 92% motivated by a great experience to write a review, but 73% will also switch to a competitor after just one bad purchase experience.

Source: Zen Desk

This may be their first time contacting a local newspaper, so the on-boarding process needs to be fluid, intuitive and dependable.


Experts recommend to ‘Aim for 3 or less” clicks on the website from the first click to purchase.

Testing flexible pricing options such as lower rates for digital-only obits and dynamic price points that allow the user to add and subtract elements that automatically change the obituary price in real time is also recommended.

Upgrades such as video, genealogy services, and multiple market placements help increase order size and fill additional needs, including catering to the 40 million people who move every year and may want to place orders with out-of-state newspapers.

Finally, given the stress of handling end-of-life arrangements and the emotional nature of writing obituaries, friends and family members placing orders may also benefit from phone support that includes both a sympathetic ear and advice on how to write what is often their first obituary.

“Providing this level of development and support may feel out of reach of most media organizations.”


Providing 24/7 print and online obituary placement, unlimited access to 3,000+ newspapers across the country, and a mobile-focused, managed ecommerce funnel is more important than ever.

But the most important new program may be Legacy.com’s Obituary Desk Management Service, an experienced team provides daily and after-hours phone support for private party obituary placements, death verification and content screening.

Best of all, there is no extra cost to the media companies. Newspapers retain 100% of their obituary rate and can shift focus to develop private party obituaries without missing a beat.

With all the turnkey pieces in place, newspapers serious about reversing the obituary volume decline and remaining relevant and accessible in their communities for local deaths news can literally start growing revenues tomorrow.

Contact iPublish Media Solutions for a custom demo by calling (508) 366-6383 or email sales@ipublishmedia.com.