Accounting Website Marketing

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 ePay Payment Portal is a breakthrough technology designed to help accountants get paid faster and lower write offs.  Learn how you can integrate ePay 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. 

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.

Attract More of the Clients You Want – Franchise Business Owners

Not all accounting firms are alike.  We totally understand that. Some like doctors while others hate them.  Some like non-profits, while others hate them.  Some want contractors while others want farmers.  Whatever you prefer, we can pull more of the clients you want to acquire to your front door step.

Franchise Acctg1

Chahal and Associates prefers to acquire franchise business owners.  These businesses can be food service, automotive, hospitality or even retail.  The common thread is that they service franchises while most accounting firms look the other way.  To aggressively attract more franchise business owners, Chahal approached Build Your Firm with a request to help them attract more small business clients across the North Bay area of California.  

 

With the guidance of Build Your Firm, Chahal now has a plan to aggressively target franchises while projecting an image that is progressive and upscale.

Responsive Website Design – Multi-Partner CPA Firm

Responsive web design (RWD) is a website design approach which adapts to the users viewing environment.  In other words, a person using a tablet has a different screen size than a desktop and smart phone.  Responsive design takes the screen size of the user into account and adapts the presentation to fit their needs.

To meet the requests for responsive design websites in the accounting industry, Build Your Firm will be offering this for progressive accounting firms that want to be on the leading edge of website design.  Build Your Firm has been at the forefront of being the first in our industry to provide search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, remarketing, and now, responsive website design.

McKinnon Patten CPA’s is a multi-partner CPA firm in Dallas wanted to capitalize on the evolving needs to tech savvy clients, while at the same time, present themselves as a premier CPA firm in the Dallas metroplex area.  McKinnon Patten has been operating for over 40 years.

Responsive Web Design - McKinnon Patten

If you like what you see, give Build Your Firm a call at 888-999-9800 x1.

Attracting Diamonds in the Rough – Niche Marketing

Is there a special type of client that has hidden characteristics and exceptional future value but is extremely hard to find?  In other words, you are uniquely suited to meet their needs and if a couple more stumbled upon your firm, then the word of mouth advertising would start to form…

Metaphorically, here is an example of a CPA that has very unique talents but finding these clients requires a non-traditional marketing approach.  That’s where online marketing excels when done right.  Yes, online marketing provides you with ways to attract your diamond in the rough.

Mark Feinsot is a CPA who has these unique talents.  Mark happens to be a chief pilot and flight instructor and he understands the extensive documentation required to qualify for tax breaks and deductions on airplanes.  His knowledge base in the aviation industry makes him very attractive to aircraft management companies, fractional owners, flight crews, and private owner operators.

Aviation Acctg niche

To attract pilots, flight crews and air transportation companies, we will use the power of the internet make them aware of Mark’s expertise and unique talents.

If you have something unique in your background or are passionate about something and want to develop a specialty, call Build Your Firm and we will guide you down this path like we just did for Mark.

Google Modifies Google Authorship Program – Bummer

Unfortunately, Google will be changing the Authorship program and remove the images of the professional’s picture in the organic search results.  Like many, I presume this is because it negatively impacted Google’s own Adwords revenue.

For BYF clients, we used this over the past year for firms in the Outsourced Marketing Program.  It has been great while it lasted.  I believe that Danny Goodwin’s article clearly (and fairly) demonstrates the decline in traffic that this will create.

Below is an example of how it used to appear.  Yes, Jon Neal is our client in the Outsourced Marketing Program.

Google Authorship - Milwaukee

 

Building a 5 Star Reputation

In today’s online world, 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews about local businesses (source: BrightLocal) as part of their decision making process.  Whether this is looking online for a movie, restaurant, or hiring a doctor or accountant, we all use online reviews to lower our risk of a bad experience.

There are review websites that rate individuals, employers, products, doctors, realtors, and all kinds of professional services.  These online review websites make the world more transparent for buyers and shoppers of all kinds.  Eventually, it will be very hard to hide underneath the online review radar screen.

Focus Your Efforts

Because obtaining reviews from your clients takes a concerted effort, we recommend that you focus your efforts on the review websites that will give you the highest return.  Typically, this means trying to obtain reviews from your clients in Google, Yelp, and Intuit Find-a-ProAdvisor.  After you accomplish this feat, then you might target Yahoo, YP.com and in some regions, possibly Kudzu.  We would recommend skipping things like Angie’s List, Judy’s Book, and Manta.  For our industry, they just don’t have enough market share to support the effort.

What Is Taboo

The review websites take reviews to heart and go the extra mile to protect their brand.  For example, Yelp actually reviews nearly all of your reviews and looks for patterns to filter out fake reviews.  Here are some of the things that are taboo in this new online review world:

  • Placing testimonials on my website – In today’s jaded world, most website prospects will tend to ignore your carefully crafted testimonials on your website.  That’s because most realize that you ignore the negative reviews, only show the positive reviews, and probably wrote the review for your client.  Quite frankly, negative reviews often are very enlightening and help the buyer determine whether the item fits their needs.  For example, Amazon has made this into a major selling point for their online reviews.
  • Asking clients for reviews – Yelp has a policy of discouraging businesses from asking clients to post happy reviews.  One way that they spot this is if your accounting firm has 0 reviews for years and then all of a sudden, gets a few in one day.  To avoid getting filtered out, space out your reviews over time so they appear more organic.  However, it is fine to make customers aware that you encourage their feedback and online reviews.  Yes, this is a subtle difference.
  • Fake reviews – This is a major no no and has consequences.  In 2013, Samsung was fined over $340,000 for building fake reviews.  In NYC, there was a major sting operation called Operation Clean Turf and fines totaling over $350,000 were dished out to 19 companies for fake Yelp reviews.

 

Process We Recommend

The process for Google, Yelp and Intuit are very different.  Below is my recommendation on how you can proceed down this path and develop a 5 star reputation online.  I will assume that your back office is worthy of 5 star reviews and seldom has complaints.

  • Local Listings – To obtain reviews, you must secure your business in Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, YP.com and other local destinations.
  • Reputation Management Tool – Build Your Firm has created a reputation management tool soRep Mgmt Tool - T Palm it’s easier for your clients to post online reviews directly into Google, Yelp, Intuit, etc.  We install this tool directly onto your website so the process is simplified.
  • Google – To obtain reviews in Google, the person posting the review must have a Google+ account.  While a pain, we all have to play by Google’s rules given their market share.  We recommend that you personally create a Google+ account and then create a few circles of clients that you think will ultimately review your website.  By creating a Google circle for your business clients, they will be prompted to open a Google+ account.
  • Yelp – Given the filtering process that Yelp has created to weed out suspicious reviews, we recommend posting a few reviews of your favorite restaurants.  After posting 3-4 online reviews, then you should post online reviews for business clients that you genuinely support and recommend.  Pace this out gradually at say 3-4 per day.  Start with business clients that will appreciate this the most like restaurants, retail outlets, fitness trainers, subcontractors, etc.  In other words, pay your clients a compliment forward to scratching their back before asking them to reciprocate.
  • Intuit Find-a-ProAdvisor – If you want more QB clients, then create a list of satisfied QB clients.  These reviews will be the easiest to get posted.  First, you need a listing within Intuit’s website along with your credentials.  Then, BYF will add the Intuit logo to your “Request a Review” tool so your clients can click the link and post a review.

Critical Things Your Website Should Accomplish

Your website should be playing a bigger role in your accounting practice and helping you become more productive.  Here are the critical tasks that your website should accomplish:

Websites for Accountants

1. Secure document exchange – Your website should make it easy to exchange electronic documents with your clients using 256 bit encryption at all times.

2. Receive payments from your clients – Your website should accept ACH and credit card processing, thus reducing your accounts receivable.

3. Branding - The photography, colors, and content on your website should create an impression which is easy to remember and pulls together what your firm stands for.

4. Easy to locate in Google, Bing and Yahoo – While your placement within the search engine changes daily, your website should be relatively easy to locate on all three search engines.

5.  Reputation management – Your website should provide a tool for posting online reviews and improving your online reputation in Yelp, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and YP.com.

6.  Email newsletter – Your email newsletter should be easy to send out regularly and be interesting enough to read.  It should provide a blend of what’s going on with your practice and educate clients on financial matters.

7. Integrate third party tools – Your website should integrate third party Saas applications so clients can easily log onto the software program(s) they need.  Ideally, this should be on the home page of your website.  Whether it’s payroll or some cloud hosted software program, logging into the appropriate program should be quick and painless.

8. Birthday wishes – Just like your email newsletter, your website should be able to send out electronic birthday wishes and provide that soft touch automatically.

9. Mobile websites – Your website should provide a mobile friendly layout.

These are just some of the things you should expect from your website to become more productive.  If your website can’t accomplish these tasks, please contact Build Your Firm today.

Great Article on Breach of Client Data: Risks to Accountants

Data Breach RiskDo you worry about the risks associated with a breach of client data?

Recently, I went through the process of trying to obtain insurance coverage specifically for data breach.  The process was eye opening and the application was thirteen pages long.  Enough to keep you up all night long….

The Journal of Accountancy has an interesting article on how easy this can happen to any of us.  The article is about an employee that put payroll data onto a Flash drive and her purse was stolen at “happy hour.”  The firm exposure is huge.

http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2013/Aug/20138003.htm