Accounting Website Marketing

Acquiring More Leads for Transportation Accounting Services

James Castaldo CPA and Associates wants more leads from transportation related businesses in the NY metro area and Long Island.  While some aspects of this niche are not sexy like limos, trucks and taxis, other parts like marinas and jets are.  To pull this all together, James asked Build Your Firm to help him creates a niche across most of the transportation accounting sector.

In researching this niche, we recommended that James target four subsegments:  Transportation Acctg niche

Maritime Accounting

Aviation Accounting

Trucking and Distribution Center Accounting

Limos, Taxis and Passenger Accounting

Given the dense population in the New York City and Long Island along with a more diverse transportation system, he is now seeking to acquire more clients in each of these areas.  He has clients already in each area but the depth and quantity need to increase so he can expand his practice aggressively.

In addition to this website, James also has a generalist website along with two other niche websites, Restaurants and QuickBooks accounting.

Call Build Your Firm if you’d like to dial up your marketing and lead generation this season at 888-999-9800 x1.

Acquiring More Leads for Certified Business Valuation Services

To generate more quality leads for Business Valuation services, McKinnon Patten made the decision to develop a website dedicated to their business valuation and succession planning services.  Traditionally, leads for these services came from existing clients and the engagements were rather attractive.   To increase the flow of leads and make more businesses in the Dallas Metroplex aware of their niche in this area, they’ve gone forward with a website dedicated to this segment of their business.  Biz Val - Mck Patten

McKinnon Patten has operated in the Dallas Fort Worth area since 1969.  As a traditional CPA firm, they’ve done very little marketing and relied on word of mouth over the years.  However, with the economic growth in north Texas centered around the energy sector, they’ve elected to turn up the volume and generate more leads from the internet.

Currently, McKinnon Patten has four responsive designed websites designed to attract high quality leads.  Like most regional CPA firms, they have a generalist website which communicates their overall services.  However, to generate more leads in their areas of concentration and improve their overall hourly realization rates, they also have niche websites for Energy, Real Estate and Business Valuation.

If you’d like to acquire more leads from the internet, contact Nita Sabo at Build Your Firm, 888-999-9800 x1.

True Costs of Traditional Paper Based Invoicing – Off the Charts

The days of “old fashioned” paper based invoicing is off the charts.  However, many accounting firms still invoice traditionally and cross their fingers forCartoon - AR - Pay Bills Slowly the check to arrive.  And to make this even worse, many are extremely apprehensive to pick up the phone and call those clients for payment and continue to wait for the check to arrive.

The reality is that most small businesses make a habit of paying slowly and live off the float.  And because most accounting firms bill after services are performed and have very little on retainer, this creates and ongoing cash crunch.  And, it means more write-offs.  Ouch….

According to a variety of studies, here is what the “true cost” of paper based billing really costs you.

True Average Cost                             Source

$3.00-$5.00                           Institute of Management and Administration

$4.84-$20.13                          Aberdeen Group

$4.00 – $20                             Bank of America

$7.99                                         Hackett

Regardless of the study, we all know that the old fashioned way of billing and waiting for the check to arrive is broken and does not work.  In fact, that’s why nearly every single employee gets paid by direct deposit for payroll.  Getting paid electronically is cheaper, faster and so much more reliable.

Let’s assume that the cost of waiting for the check to arrive system costs $4.00 per (fully loaded) bill, then why are so many savvy accountants still processing accounts receivable this way?

According to my research, Build Your Firm’s ePay Payment Processing portal can lower the variable cost to less than $.75 per transaction for electronic processing (ACH and credit cards combined).  While this is not fully loaded because there are too many overhead variables, it is over 80% less.  And, it gets the accountant paid over thirty (30) days faster.  Wow, cheaper, faster and lower write-offs.  Hhmmm…

Based on a research study by Accounting Today, the lag time between when an invoice is sent out and when fees are collected is:

When Invoices Are Paid To Accountants

%                                  Period

65%              Less than 30 days

15%               31-45 days

10%              46-60 days

5%                61-90 days

5%                Over 90 days

Source – Accounting Today Executive Research Council, July 2013

If you’d like to get control of AR and lower your costs by 80%, then call Build Your Firm about ePay Payment Processing.  It’s easier than you think.

Improving Your Reputation in Yelp

Navjeet Chahal has taken the Yelp reviews to another level and his marketing is benefiting from the continuous effort. Yelp reviews - Navjeet - 14

In this calendar year, Navjeet has managed to acquire 38 Yelp reviews from satisfied clients’ of his accounting firm.  And because many of these online reviews were from infrequent reviewers on Yelp or the pace of the reviews was too rapid, 24 of the reviews have been caught in Yelp’s filter.  However, 14 are live which is impressive.

Here are some tips that Navjeet shared with me today on the phone:

a.)    Navjeet has downloaded the Yelp app onto his cell phone so it’s easier to post reviews when he has free time.  Within the past two months, he has written 53 reviews onto Yelp to elevate his badge status.  He writes about 2-4 reviews each week and his badge status has been elevated from Rookie to Pro.

b.)    Steady does it – Getting lots of reviews in one week will get more reviews stuck in Yelp’s filter.  Approach this process as a marathon, not a sprint.  Make it part of your weekly task list.  Navjeet writes 2-4 reviews each week from different locations and the Yelp app does look at locations he is posting from. Net, post from different locations, not just your office.

c.)     Pay It Forward – Writing genuine reviews for your clients is a nice way to signal that you appreciate their patronage.  It also indicates that you might be open to reciprocal treatment.  While blatant review requesting is frowned upon by Yelp, subtle hints and making the public aware that you accept reviews is fine.

d.)    BYF’s reputation management tool helps clients post reviews onto multiple reviews websites from one landing page.  If you like getting more mileage, this app helps you get more mileage.

e.)    Navjeet has applied this process to many types of clients.  Professional Services to restaurants and retail.  He plans to continue this each week from now until tax season. By tax season, he expects to receive about 5-8 reviews in Yelp each month.

f.)     Clients that are not active Yelpers will most likely be filtered out.  However, if they ultimately post reviews gradually over time, some of their reviews will move out of the filter and go live.

g.)    Yelp reviews are longer and more in-depth than Google reviews.   Google focuses on the number of stars while Yelp wants more passion and depth.

At the end of the day, Yelp appears to be making their best effort identifying passionate reviewers who understand the “community” of Yelp and want to share information to avoid bad experiences.  Yelp does make an active effort to reward and recognize active Yelpers with their badge program.

Overall, Navjeet realizes that reputation management is a numbers game and is willing to put in steady efforts to receive the love back in the future.  You’ve got nothing to lose by paying it forward with some well written online reviews.  Download the app and integrate this into your weekly to do list.

Hottest Sector for Growth – Energy

The energy sector is probably the fastest growing segment within the US and has enormous potential over the next decade.  By energy, I am referring all aspects of the energy sector ranging from oil and gas production, renewable energy, mining, and transportation aspects of energy.  This trend is also confirmed if you look at the fastest growing states and local economies.

To capitalize on this emerging sector and attract new business clients, McKinnon Patten CPA now has a website dedicated to this sector.  McKinnon Patten has been working with the oil and gas industry for fifty years but wants to accelerate their growth and penetrate this sector even deeper.

If your firm is located in an area that is booming because of the energy boom and would like to acquire more energy sector business clients, then step up your game and contact Build Your Firm to learn more.

Niche Marketing - Oil and Gas Accounting

 

 

 

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.