Accounting Website Marketing
About ten years ago, you would win the website marketing race by having a well designed generalist website. Heck, it worked well and the return on investment (ROI) was a no brainer.
As more accountants eventually caught on five years ago, it became more challenging to stay ahead of the curve and still get more than your fair share of website leads. That’s when the general public became aware of search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. The ROI was still very attractive but you had to spend more to acquire the same number of leads.
Today, it is harder and harder for a single, generalist website to be placed towards the top of the search engine results pages for all of the services provided in your practice. And if you operate in multiple geographic markets, it is even harder to be towards the top because your message to the search engines is more complex and watered down.
As more accounting firms have integrated blogs, social media, pay per click advertising, retargeting advertising and reputation management, it becomes more competitive to dominate the online lead generation game.
So what is the solution?
While there is no single solution, many savvy accounting firms have deployed a multiple website strategy to obtain dominate search engine placement for a limited set of keywords. Essentially, search engines scan your website and look for patterns which identify what you do, where you are located, and compare your website against a set of criteria within their algorithm. The more you do to support the website using their best practices and the more consistent your message, the higher placement you will receive within Google, Bing and Yahoo which translates to more leads.
Secondarily, the multiple website approach enables you to tailor your message to the prospect to create that aha moment for the prospect. In other words, some small business owners are searching by location and others are searching for a type of accountant (e.g., bookkeeper, enrolled agent, CPA Firm) and others are looking for a specialist (e.g., restaurant accountant, non-profit accountant, etc.). There is no rule that says you accounting firm can only use one website to deliver your message to the community.
In the example below, we have a sole practitioner CPA Firm in Jacksonville FL that is very small in size. However, to accelerate their lead generation and acquire a disproportionate amount of high quality leads, they are using five (5) websites. The first website is a generalist website trying to target small businesses based on location and leverages two office locations. The second website is a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor website and attempts to attract business owners searching for a CPA that works with QuickBooks users and is certified. The next website focuses on church accounting and faith-based organizations. And the last two websites focus on real estate accounting and dental accounting because there is an audience out there looking for a “specialist.”
The business rationale is that websites are relatively inexpensive and the value of each small business client is very high over the lifetime value of that relationship. Net, each website is a profit center and generates an attractive ROI if done properly.
Here is the goal for each website:
- Attract leads from small business owners searching for a CPA Firm in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra and surrounding suburbs.
- Attract leads from small business owners who use QuickBooks and searching for an Intuit QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor nearby.
- Attract leads from churches in north Florida and south Georgia searching for a church accountant.
- Attract leads from real estate businesses in Jacksonville looking for a real estate accounting specialist.
- Attract leads from dentists in north Florida and south Georgia looking for a dental accounting firm.
If you are serious about website marketing in today’s competitive environment and want more than your fair share of leads, then you should develop a multiple website marketing approach to improve your marketing.
All business owners love inbound marketing when it works effectively because it brings motivated prospects to our front door. However, 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 is imperative.
- “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.
- 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 within the niche website. By narrowing the range of topics and constraining the subject matter, you can now laser focus on blogging about your expertise.
- 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.
Occasionally, accountants are willing to take their marketing efforts on the road for a trade show to fish where the fish are. In today’s case, Mark Feinsot, CPA went on the road to a trade show for private aircraft owners, plane manufacturers, and various aviation professionals. Mark’s practice has an expertise for Aviation Accounting and Tax helping private airplane owners, aircraft management companies, pilots, flight crews and aviation professionals throughout the United States.
Earlier today, I visited the NBAA Regional Show in Westchester NY to witness the one day show myself. Personally, I don’t know the difference between a Bombardier, Falcon, Gulfstream or Cessna but Mark sure does. Heck, he used to be a chief pilot for a general aviation company and still teaches future pilots how to fly.
Today’s show was unique in that it was held at an airport in the middle of the airport, not a convention center. Parking was valet only (mandatory). Yes, there was continuing education sessions like most trade shows but this was truly unique.
Mark was like a kid in a candy store answering tax questions and meeting aircraft owners and pilots.
The point is that there are many ways to reach your niche audience but occasionally, it requires getting out of the office.
Most accountants tend to think of reputation management as crisis management. In other words, it’s reactive and only done after a terrible review is posted. This is the wrong position to take…
Reputation marketing is proactive and done consistently over time. In the world of small business, there is no JD Power or Consumer Reports to tell the marketplace who is the best lawyer, doctor or accountant in town. By default, your local reputation is the culmination of online reviews posted into Google, Yelp, Intuit’s Find-a-ProAdvisor and maybe a couple other websites.
We all use online reviews to make purchase decisions and avoid bad experiences. Whether it’s selecting a movie to watch, book to buy, stay at a hotel, or eat at a restaurant on the road. Some of us look at the absolute number of reviews, some look at the score, and some take the time to read the actual reviews. In today’s economy, the sum total of these reviews paint a picture about your accounting practice. It is what it is…
For accountants, you need to focus on the top two or three. Ignore the smaller players.
- Intuit Find-a-ProAdvisor
Google is a math oriented company so they push for the absolute number of reviews and score. If you do a great job obtaining Google reviews, it will make it easier to acquire new clients, reinforce your reputation with existing clients, and make it easier to hire new staff members. Yes, your reputation cuts across prospects, clients and staff members.
Yelp is more qualitative and community oriented. They are looking for passionate Yelpers to post online and share their experience and treats Yelpers like a food or movie critic. The longer and more descriptive the write up, the better.
The third player to consider is Intuit’s Find-a-ProAdvisor which is designed to help small business owner’s locate certified QuickBooks accountant.
The combination of these three reputation tools will have a huge impact on the community at large.
Here are three examples of accountants who use reputation marketing to support their accounting practice.
Chahal & Associates – 53 Yelp reviews in Northern California (East Bay) – 29 in Yelp’s filter
James Castaldo CPA & Associates – 21 Google reviews in Lake Grove NY – 15 Google reviews in Melville (two offices)
Over the past two years, there has been an emerging growth of accounting firms developing an expertise amongst the real estate industry. By real estate, I am referring to accountants who want to service:
- Real Estate Property Management
- Real Estate Developers and Investor Groups
- Commercial Real Estate Owner/Operators
- Architects and Structural Engineers
- Commercial Real Estate Agencies
- Real Estate Investment Trust Companies
- Non-Resident Property Owners
- Condo and HOA Boards
Here are several worth exploring:
- Florida Real Estate CPA Accounting – Pensacola – Tallahassee
- Real Estate Accounting – Jacksonville – Gainesville
- Real Estate Accounting – Miami – South Florida
- Real Estate Accounting – Atlanta
- Real Estate Accounting – Raleigh North Carolina
- Real Estate Accounting – Los Angeles – Orange County CA
- Real Estate Accounting – Austin Texas
- Real Estate Accounting – Condominiums – Louisville Kentucky
- Real Estate Accounting – New York City
- Real Estate Accounting – Salt Lake City
- Real Estate Accounting – Baltimore MD
Here are a couple myths that we commonly hear:
- If I market our practice towards a particular niche, won’t that alienate my existing clients which are in many industries?
- How will narrowing my target audience help me grow my practice? It seems counter-intuitive….
- I don’t have enough clients in that area to create a niche.
First, pursuing a niche does not mean that you will walk away from your bread and butter generalist clients. It means that in addition to your generalist clientele, you will slowly start to acquire a tighter pattern of clients so you can demand higher pricing, reduce the number of viable competitors, provide a higher level of expertise, and after you acquire enough, it will be easier for your staff to process a particular client.
The reality is that serving all types of clients (generalist) is the hardest type of practice to operate. A generalist marketing approach yields a lower fee because you are in competition with nearly all firms in the local marketplace. And, the complexity of tax and compliance issues make it very challenging to provide a high quality of service because there are virtually no economies of scale. A generalist practice approach is analogous to using a shotgun and the pricing is a function of local market conditions.
Conversely, narrowing your marketing to a niche is analogous to using a laser, rather than a shotgun, and enables you to make your marketing message more compelling, thus making it easier to close prospects. Here are the benefits of developing a niche:
- You attract prospects from a wider geographic area. The more unique the niche, the wider the radius.
- Your marketing message becomes more compelling and higher quality prospects call your office. The dialogue is now consultative and you are viewed as a subject matter expert.
- Your pricing goes up because there are fewer competitors and the prospect is willing to pay extra because they think their situation is complicated.
- Your close ratio goes up.
- And after you acquire enough of these clients, it becomes easier to process that type of client. The economies of servicing the same type of client are huge for you, and your staff.
- Your retention rate becomes longer (years longer) because the prospect thinks their situation is complicated and could never be addressed by a generalist.
Gradually, you start to add new twists to your niche expertise which make your offering more attractive, and possibly more expensive. And after this niche becomes mature and easy to master for your practice, another niche is created to create another feeder system of high paying clients.
Embarking on a Niche
If you are tired of competing in a commodity type fashion on price, Build Your Firm can help. Watch a short video to illustrate examples of niche marketing opportunities. Today, Build Your Firm has over 35 niches to make this transition easy for you. The risk is nothing and you’ll wonder why you did not do this earlier.
In fact, Build Your Firm provides a 1 year money back guarantee so it’s a no risk offer.
– Accounting niches by industry (AgriBusiness to Non-Profit to Transportation)
– Accounting niches by service (Cross Border Tax to International Tax to QuickBooks Accounting)
Here’s one last short video and then call 888-999-9800 x1 with your questions.
Here are three compelling reasons why you can no longer ignore this tidal wave…
- While we all know the Latino population has doubled in size over the past 15 years, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses has quadrupled in the same period.
- Over 30% of Hispanic-owned businesses have incomes higher than $100k – placing them in the top 20% of U.S. households.
- Approximately 75% of Hispanic businesses are bilingual. That’s right, they speak your language.
- The 50M Hispanic market is expected to grow to 130M in 2050.
- 6 out of 10 Latinos are U.S. born.
Here are a few numbers that illustrate the need to provide a multi-lingual website:
- The U.S. Census Bureau projects the Hispanic population to grow by 57% from 2015 to 2050.
- The Hispanic community will grow from 18% of the U.S. population to 28% in 2050.
- The Hispanic community will be more than twice the size of the African-American community in 2050.
And in some cities, Hispanics represent the majority of the population. Here are several large cities with high concentrations of Hispanics:
- El Paso – 80% hispanic
- Miami – 69%
- San Antonio – 61%
- Anaheim – 52%
- Los Angeles – 48%
- Dallas – 43%
- Phoenix – 42%
- Hartford – 41%
Is it time to embrace this community by having English and Spanish on your website?
Below are several examples of accounting firms who are extending an olive branch by providing a bilingual website.
- IRS Problem Resolution website – Miami FL – English and Spanish
- Fort Lauderdale FL CPA website – entire website converts from English to Spanish (see tool in upper right corner)
- International Tax – Dallas TX – English and Spanish
- International Taxation – Dallas CPA Firm – English and Spanish
At Build Your Firm, we’ve been doing bilingual marketing for over ten years. We encourage you to embrace an emerging audience which is probably right in your neighborhood.
With the power of the internet, building a bridge to multiple communities can be an effective marketing tactic to pull in a large and emerging market that may be under-served in your local community.
To walk both sides of the aisle, here is a CPA Firm in Orlando FL that is proactively marketing it’s firm to English and Spanish speaking business owners. If large utilities can become multi-lingual, isn’t time for you to consider embracing the broader community and making this a marketing point of difference. In other words, take a lesson from Donald Trump’s campaign and embrace this audience into your practice.
You might be surprised how much opportunity exists out there for your practice by removing the blinders.
In today’s marketplace, there are plenty of competitors within a 5 mile radius of your office location. That’s why it’s so important to identify what types of businesses are best for your practice.
And after you strategically identify who they are, the next challenge is to differentiate your practice and stand out. Below is a great example of how Graber & Associates is targeting the transportation industry to better service that needs of:
- Maritime Accounting for marinas, boat yards, private boat charters and ferry services
- Trucking Accounting for fleet owners, freight forwarders, and trucking companies
- Warehouse Accounting for storage facilities, logistics, and warehouses of all kinds
- Transportation Accounting for taxi services, limousines, and Uber drivers
- Import Export Accounting for manufacturing companies
To truly stand out and captivate these type of businesses, you need to visit the website at www.transportationcpa.com.