User experience is the key to success

facebook obit

Key Results from 289 Facebook Campaigns













Media: Utah Media Group

Key Executive: Sally Steen, Senior Vice President of Advertising

Initiative: Targeted Facebook Obituaries from iPublish Media

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After 14 years as regional manager of Panasonic, and 16 years with the Utah Media Group, one thing Sally Steed, Senior Vice President of Advertising, learned is that if you are building a product—whether hardware or software—user experience is the key to success.


In the case of obituaries, that meant the user experience of the person in the call center answering the phone, the experience of funeral homes placing notices for families and the experience of families and readers all had to meet the highest standards. “We ask ourselves every single day, how can we improve these experiences?

UMG Facebook Obit FeaturesThis thinking led to the implementation of  iPublish AdPortal Obituaries as the order intake system for both the call center and funeral homes to use. AdPortal Obituaries automates many of the functions, making it easy to create the obituary, send it to print and online outlets, create a billing record, and collect the revenue.

iPublish improved the experience for the person inputting the obituary by making it easier and faster,” said Steed, which led to improved service to families “at the worst time in their lives” by providing better, faster customer service.

In July, 2020, the classified department added Targeted Obituaries on Facebook, basically turning obituaries into Facebook ads and sending them in news feeds to groups mostly likely to have known the deceased from school, work, civic organizations and more.

The user experience greatly simplified the interface to Facebook with just a few key choices—location, interests, schools and employment—tailored specifically for obituaries, so anyone can create and place a polished, targeted Facebook obituary notice news feed ad.

Funeral homes are thrilled with this service, especially during the pandemic. With COVID 19 hindering large in-person funerals, the funeral home may add a link to any virtual funerals conducted on Zoom, Skype or other video services.  It also gives the funeral home additional exposure with both their logos and preferred links included in the news feed ad.

This is often the worst time in the lives of the family of the loved ones who passed away,” Steed said.The funeral home can assure families they have [social media] figured out and do the thinking for them.”

The big surprise was how much families loved being able to reconnect with their loved ones’ former classmates, friends and colleagues who they may have never met, and who would otherwise be unable to send their condolences and stories. Our world has become very transient, and it is not unusual for a person to be born in one place, live/work in another and retire to a 3rd place.


Steed shared the following results at the 2020 Digital Summit. Facebook Targeting Options“I’m thrilled to be able to share the experience,” Steed told the virtual audience. Here are the results:

  • Targeted obit had an outstanding 9% CTR from the shared obits, with a 9.7% engagement rate.
  • Revenues from obits have increased by 20% in the last two years; and for this initiative, “ease of use pays for itself”.
  • Only one family has asked to opt-out of the social sharing.

Implementation was a breeze. “It was a very clean and simple process. iPublish was flawless in putting this together,” said Steed. AdPortal Obits itself is super simple to use. “For my people there was no slowdown in placing the new Facebook component; the process remained flawless. Appreciation from families and funeral homes was much better than expected.


Asking themselves how they could improve user experience when it comes to placing obits, Sally Steed and her team at Utah Media Group found the key to their success in removing the complexity by automating many of the required functions. The greatly simplified user experience enabled them to bundle Facebook obituary news feed ads targeted by the families to their print obituary workflow. The results have been nothing short of outstanding—20% increase in revenue, and praises from families and funeral homes alike on the level of engagement and performance of the ad campaigns—9% and 9.7% respectively.

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