Monthly Archives: July 2014

Accounting Website Design Mistakes to Avoid

Website Design for CPA AccountantsAs a potential buyer on the hunt to purchase something, we all stumble upon websites that absolutely suck.  Whether it’s a local restaurant or B&B or professional service firm, we all know it when we see it.  Train wreck…

While most accounting firm websites are improving, there are still some gems out there.  Here are some of the common mistakes that I frequently see on poorly designed websites.

Mistakes to Avoid

1. Phone number is only on the Contact Us or Home Page – The goal of your website is to create the right branded impression, answer questions quickly, and motivate a prospect to call you.  Given that, why isn’t the phone number on every single page?  Often, the phone number is only on the Contact Us page or Home Page.

Research shows that 60% of website visitors enter your website from an interior page, not the home page.  That’s because they come to your website from a search engine rather than typing in your URL.  Like any residential home, the traffic pattern into the house is often a side door or back door, not the front door.  Net, you want your phone number prominently placed on every single page of the website.  It’s website design 101.

2. Too much text on a page – While the internet is an information driven medium, prospects respond to images and colors before getting motivated to read text.  Many accounting firms jam too much text on the page or use accounting jargon to describe the service they provide, which pushes prospects away.

3. About Us page – Prospects are looking for some connection with the firm owners.  The About Us (Who We Are, Partners, etc.) page is an opportunity to stand out and should provide pictures of the key players along with well written bio’s.  The number of accounting firms that are too lazy to provide a picture of themselves along with a well organized bio shocks me.  The second common mistake is pushing Our Values mass produced text into the About Us page rather than genuinely describing the firm owners and key staff members.  These are cop outs and your prospective clients see right through it.

4. Non-relevant tools – Some of the canned accounting website designers use tools that are irrelevant to accounting.  For example, one website designer often inserts a weather forecast onto the home page.  If someone is seeking to hire an accountant, what do they care about the weather.  That’s a total non sequitur.  Another is a stock price tool, which there are hundreds of other websites that provide more powerful stock portfolio tools.  The content on your website should focus on the core accounting/tax services you provide and not delve into meaningless or watered down tools.

5. No SEO – To us, your website should be easy to locate on the internet and should be search engine optimized.  Most of the canned providers offer cheap templates that are lost in space and difficult to locate in Google, Bing and Yahoo.  All of our websites are optimized for search engines and we do not charge extra for it.

6. No Social – Your website should include social media so prospects can elect how to interact with you.  And, it should provide an option for an integrated blog.

7. Lacks Mobile – Your website should adjust to fit the size of the visitors screen size.  If they use a smart phone, it should be a mobile version.  If tablet, then another size.  If a desktop, then another screen size.

8. Reputation Management – Your website should help you obtain online reviews with less effort and gradually improve your local reputation.

With the advances in technology, you should expect more from your website and put your best foot forward.  For more detail on what your website should accomplish, join us on August 7th to learn more.  The webinar is free and we will demo several powerful tools which should become part of your practice.

Inbound Marketing Fans Understand Why Blogs Are Imperative

Cartoon - BlogWhile most of us love inbound marketing when it works effectively, we hate the work required to get the end results.  As Americans, we are lazy and want the results without all of the hard work. 

The fact is that prospects for your accounting services search online for solutions to their problems.  To become the firm (or person) best suited to solve their complex issues, you need to create a presence on the internet which motivates the prospect to call you.  In other words, all roads direct them back to your firm, or you. 

Blogging first started in the late 1990s as a unique way for people to share ideas, experiences, thoughts and opinions.  Today, everyone from mom-and-pop businesses to Fortune 500 companies utilize blogs to increase their visibility online, improve their reputation, develop a following, and generate new business. 

Here are the reasons why having a blog integrated into your website are important. 

  1. “Google says” – Google has a voracious appetite for fresh content.  They reward websites and individuals for providing unique content by elevating your website in the search engine results pages.  They especially like blogs because the content is easier to index and is date stamped so they know how fresh or old it is.
  2. Showcase your unique talents – A blog is a wonderful platform to demonstrate your knowledge base for a boutique type of service and create a following.  Rather than blog about general accounting and tax related topics, which are too broad, we recommend that you narrow the range by developing a niche within your accounting practice, have a niche website developed around that niche service, and then add a blog to the niche website.  By narrowing the range of topics and constraining the subject matter, you can now laser focus on blogging about your expertise.
  3. Build trust and create a brand identity – Now that you have a niche website along with a themed blog to support it, the stage has been set to create an identity and establish trust.  The next challenge is to write 3-4 blog posts per month which help your followers and demonstrate the depth of your expertise.  If you do this successfully, you will eventually create an identity as a subject matter expert who prospects reach out to when they need help.
  4. Incorporate images into your blog posts which reinforce your message.  Images draw readers into your content and make it easier for them to remember your blog ideas.

If you would like capitalize on inbound marketing to grow your business, contact Build Your Firm at 888-999-9800 x1.  We have been advocating inbound marketing for over ten years and now make this easier than ever. 

Why Yelp Is Becoming More Important for Web Marketing

Google Yelp imageGoogle has just launched a new twist to their local search algorithm which will make Yelp much more important for lead generation and traffic from search engine results pages.  Within the SEO world, this new algorithm is called Pigeon.

Essentially, Yelp is prominent within Yahoo and Bing but will now become prominent within Google, again.  As background, there has been a rift between Google and Yelp for several years.  The rift stems from Google’s efforts to purchase Yelp, which were twice rebuffed, and some complaints by Yelp about fair treatment within Google’s search results.  Anyway, it appears that Google’s algorithm adjustments have addressed the concerns of Yelp and will soon become more prominent within Google’s local search engine.

For accountants that want more website traffic and leads from the internet, this means that Yelp takes on a larger role in marketing and you need to quit rationalizing that Yelp is only for hospitality related businesses.  The steps are:

1.) Set up a business account with Yelp by completing their profile completing, pictures and all.  There is a validation process which must be done.  And, it’s free.

2.) Obtain reviews in Yelp, which I must confess is more challenging.  Make your clients aware that you have a listing with Yelp and gladly welcome reviews.

3.) Set up a personal Yelp account.  Post some reviews about your favorite restaurants.  Then, review some of your favorite clients in Yelp.

If Yelp is taking a more prominent role in Google, Yahoo and Bing, it needs to become a bigger component of your marketing efforts too.

A Sector Making a Come Back – Real Estate Accounting

As the local real estate market continues to improve gradually, we have seen more accountants step up and develop a real estate

Real Estate CPA Accountants

Real Estate CPA Accounting firm for South Florida.

accounting niche.  Yes, our fingers are crossed as interest rates have remained low, inventory is declining, and the pricing in most markets is slowly improving.

Roughly three years after the housing recovery began, the long term outlook is still pretty solid.  Nationally, home values remain 11% below their peak in 2007 and expected to rise another 4.2% through 2015, according to Zillow Home Value Forecast.  At the current rate, home values won’t get back to peak values until 2017 so more upside exists.  By all means, markets like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Detroit and Minneapolis are still suffering but most US markets are promising.

Here are some examples of accounting firms seeking to attract real estate accounting clients:

Miami Real Estate Accounting and Tax

Austin TX Real Estate Accounting

Real Estate Accounting – Salt Lake City UT

Real Estate Accounting Firm – Baltimore MD

Real Estate Accounting Firm – Orlando FL

If you’d like to acquire more real estate clients, call Build Your Firm today.

Google vs Yelp Reviews?

Cartoon - Yelp reviews - writing reviewsWe all know that online reviews are essential for enhancing your local reputation.  They also increase your close ratio on new prospects and elevate your website placement in the search engine results pages.  The question is, where should I focus my efforts for obtaining online reviews and how are the reviews different in Google versus Yelp? 

Differences between Google and Yelp Reviews

Google reviews rely more on the star rating rather than the depth of the review.  According to a Piper Jaffray study, the average Google review has 161 characters while Yelp averages 784 characters.  And about 25% of the Google reviews had no text review.  Yes, the average Yelp review is five (5) times longer than Google.  In other words, Yelpers are spending more time and energy when writing Yelp reviews.  In fact, Yelp encourages Yelpers to become more passionate about their reviews, positive and negative. 

Please take this distinction into account when you try to establish yourself as an avid Yelper and try to get past the Yelp filter.  Google reviews can be shorter in length. 

Where to Focus Efforts

I recommend that you focus primarily on Google and Intuit because they are easier to get reviews posted and will elevate the visibility of your accounting firm when a small business owner is searching to hire you.  You should make clients aware that you accept reviews for Yelp, Google and Intuit in your email newsletter regularly but understand that very few clients are active Yelpers. 

While focusing on Google, Intuit and Yelp sounds like a lot, we are ignoring YP.com, Yahoo Local, Judy’s Book, Angie’s List, Kudzu, CitySearch, InsiderPages, Manta and many others. 

What is a Yelper?

Someone who actively contributes and/or uses Yelp to inform others about their buying decisions.  In fact, Yelp has a Yelp Elite Squad program which encourages Yelpers to compete and rewards them in a community oriented fashion for their contributions.  Attached is a example of a review that Tom Palm received from a Elite Yelper. 

Please download the Yelp app for your smartphone and jump into the game. 

Fake It Until You Make It

As a newbie to Yelp, I recommend that you fake it initially.  That means picking a few of your favorite restaurants, lunch spots and watering holes at the beginning and writing longer reviews that appear genuine so they have a higher probability of getting past the Yelp filter.  After this initial step, then start writing reviews for your business clients that will appreciate online reviews the most. 

Accelerate Cash Flow in Your CPA Accounting Practice

Payment Processing for CPA AccountantsBuild Your Firm’s BizPayO Payment Portal is a breakthrough technology designed to help accountants get paid faster and lower write offs.  Learn how you can integrate BizPayO into your practice to lower Accounts Receivable and have more control over getting paid faster. 

Be an early adopter.  Getting paid faster is a wonderful thing. 

Call Nita Sabo at 888-999-9800 x1 to learn more. 

Invest Time Into Your Reputation

With a bit of inspiration, creative talent, and some luck, you can create some mojo about the reputation of your accounting practice.  That’s right, it starts as a snowball going down a ski slope and slowly builds until there is a ground swell of positive momentum and word of mouth advertising kicks in…

Here are some ideas for enhancing the reputation of your accounting practice to create more “word of mouth” advertising.

1. Be Likeable – While this might sound stupid, smile more in the office, around town, and congratulate people at each opportunity.  Social media makes it easier to find out when someone gets a new job, promotion, and buy a new house.  Other ways to connect with people includes birthday greetings, whether it’s using a service like SendOutCards.com or using the tool within your Build Your Firm website.  As an accountant, you have the birthdays of each client, use them to your fullest advantage.

2. Thank You’s – Pick up some thank you cards and get in the habit of ole fashioned thank you notes via snail mail.  In today’s electronic world, an ole fashioned thank you note that is hand written goes a long way.

3. Pay It Forward – Make a deposit into the bank before asking for reciprocation.  Take some time to write some positive reviews in Google My Business and Yelp for business clients who you genuinely support and advocate.  Gradually, expand your inner circle of businesses that you support over time.  Then, ask them to return the favor with an online review.  Point them directly to the “request a review” tool on your Build Your Firm website so it’s easy for them.

4. Make The Right Introduction – Introduce some of your clients to people that you know can genuinely help them with their business.  This might be a lawyer, computer consultant or another professional.  As your practice gets larger, your network becomes a hidden asset.  Don’t keep gems hidden in your war chest.

5. Look The Part – Like it or not, first impressions do count.  People make judgements before you open your mouth.  Dress appropriately for the environment you’re in.  Error on the side of being too dressy.

6. Body Language – Body language and facial impressions are more important than you think. Branding Image - Reputation Be mindful of the signals you send.

7. Get Engaged – Being engaged in your community helps you meet new people and sends signals about your values.  Even people who sit on the sidelines notice the work volunteers do.

Reputations in a local community stick for decades.  Positive or negative, reputations precede you.  If you invest energy into creating a positive reputation, it will open doors that you never knew existed.

 

Want More Leads? Use a Diversified Approach..

Cartoon - Need Leads - SiriIn today’s marketplace, marketers have to use a more diverse approach to reach prospects.  Yes, it takes more work but once it’s in place, each piece builds upon each other and synergy eventually kicks into gear.

The days of using one method for marketing are over.  This applies to all businesses.  For example, major car brands used to develop TV commercials and only had to worry about three network channels to broadcast their message.  Today, there are hundreds to TV channels plus Netflix, internet shows and even YouTube.  The same concept applies to marketing for your accounting practice.  You need to use a variety of approaches to break through the clutter to generate enough quality leads.

Get started today so your pipeline of leads from September to December is full.

Remarketing Advertising

Cartoon - Remarketing

Remarketing advertising (aka – retargeting) is designed to target people who have previously visited your website as they browse the internet.  No, we are not bold like this cartoon implies but it does break through the clutter…

When done right, it is a powerful way to stay engaged with prospective clients, raise the awareness of your firm, and pull them back to your website so they can become a motivated lead.

Build Your Firm provides remarketing advertising in conjunction with organic search engine optimization, pay per click campaign management and reputation management.  The combination of these methods generates higher lead generation and ROI from internet marketing.

To discuss this further, contact Build Your Firm at 888-999-9800 x1.

Who Has Time to MARKET My Accounting Practice?

While most accountants want to grow their accounting practice so their practice is worth more when they decide to retire, they typically lack the time, skills and desire needed to grow aggressively.

  • Lack the Time – Most accountants get sucked into the operational side (back end) of their practice by staff and demanding clients.  We all know that the squeaky wheel gets greased.  As a result, accountants typically lack the time to aggressively market and generate enough leads.
  • Skills – Let’s face it, accountants are technically proficient but not marketing savvy.  The road to becoming proficient at accounting and tax has nothing to do with lead generation, reputation management, and branding.
  • Desire – And worst, most accountants simply don’t have the desire to peddle their own wares.  They enjoy operating in a consultative manner but hate working a crowd.

Why Is Outsourced Marketing growing within the accounting industry? 

For most accountants, the market value of their accounting practice is the most important component of their retirement Outsourced Mkt imageplan.  That’s right, the value of their accounting practice on the open market is the linchpin to how prosperous their retirement years will be.

Here are some of the other reasons why more accounting firms are outsourcing their marketing function to companies like Build Your Firm:

  1. Marketing is not a core function of the firm and not what we excel at.
  2. It is less expensive to grow with marketing than buying another firm.  That’s right, outsourced marketing is approximately 50% cheaper than buying someone else’s practice.
  3. Outsourced marketing is more sustainable, 365 days out of the year.  As a result, the annual new business acquired is higher with a sustained marketing approach than binge marketing for short periods of time.
  4. Partnering with marketing experts yields better results.  By partnering with marketing gurus, my practice will become easier to sell, more profitable and worth a higher multiple.  It’s not about doing more of the same thing, it’s about improving our profit margins, hourly realization rates and obtaining a better balanced lifestyle.

If you’d like to learn more about Build Your Firm’s Outsourced Marketing Program, then call Nita Sabo at 888-999-9800 x1.  This program will provide you with the coaching and mentoring needed to acquire new clients, market your practice consistently throughout the year, improve your reputation locally, and dramatically increase your hourly realization rates so your practice commands a higher multiple on the open market.