Accounting Website Marketing
Fortunately, the general attitude amongst most accountants that I talk to is more positive than year’s past. In fact, it’s a little optimistic as it relates to how the year is closing and prospects for 2016. And some have been pleased with profit margin improvements over the past couple of years.
Here are a few things that I’ve heard so far:
- Practice Management tools – Is there a magic bullet to help me as my practice grows?
- Online Payment Processing – Absolutely needed to shrink A/R!!
- Higher better staff – Ok, this is always on the list…
- Learn something new – Explore a new area to improve the practice.
- Attend a new conference for 2016.
- Replace my website (facelift) with a responsive web design that looks modern.
- Outsource marketing and lead generation for 2016.
- Improve my reputation locally so new business walks in the door.
- Develop a new niche in my practice.
- Add 1-2 new certifications to give prospects more reasons to hire your firm.
- Move my office to a better location after tax season.
Since the list is rather long, here are some suggestions to make your wishes come true.
- Plan now for technology investments. Since tax season is rapidly approaching, now is the time to explore and test new technologies whether it’s a practice management tool, tax software, replace your dated website with a responsive website, or implement online payment processing to shrink A/R. Resist the instinct to test this at year-end.
- Hire and train staff now.
- Register now for 1-2 new conferences (or initiatives) in 2016.
- Stop the DIYer marketing approach and finally outsource your marketing so it is done throughout the year and more effectively.
- Enhance your local reputation by obtaining more online reviews and move the office to a better location in 2016.
- Cut the productivity killers (e.g., lousy staff members, time killing clients, old technologies that fail to deliver on their promise).
Does your website present the “branded image” that you want? Be honest….
In the course of a month, how many compliments does your website receive?
And how much new business is it delivering to your accounting practice?
From our perspective, your firm website should create an image that makes you and your staff members proud to be associated with. It should increase the awareness for your firm, reassure prospects about your perceived quality, show associations that turn on the light bulb for prospects, and support your firm pricing. And gradually over time, the website should contribute the to branding of your firm. By all means, there is much more that goes into branding but it’s the starting point for creating a “first impression.”
Build Brand Equity – The concept of branding is not new. In fact, Proctor & Gamble used branding to create many household brands like Ivory Soap (1881), Crisco (1911), and other brands like Dreft, Camay, Spic & Span, Tide, Prell, etc. Coca-Cola is another. In our industry, BDO has been doing an effective job using a TV advertising campaign to increase awareness for BDO and turn it into a recognizable brand.
For small accounting practices, your brand image begins with the website and the impression that it creates. After that, most of the associations will be your initial meeting, what others say about your firm online (Google, Yelp, etc.), your office location/setting, and the on-boarding process with your staff.
Fundamentally, branding makes it easier for clients to process information, gives them confidence in the decision process, and evolves into brand loyalty.
To illustrate the point, here is a video that showcases how websites can create the right first impression.
Is your website faceless and impersonal? Does it lack personality?
While I admit that many accounting firm websites are improving, most are still very cold and fail to create the right first impression. In some cases, they suck. Sorry but true.
Making a strong first impression is a part of building your accounting firm into a brand. Whether a person first learns about your firm from your website, LinkedIn page, Facebook Fan page, or from a client of yours, the first impression goes a long ways towards defining their perception of your firm, and you.
Let’s focus on your accounting firm website. The process is similar for most electronic mediums. Here are several factors that create an impression when someone is considering working with your accounting firm.
1. Photography – It’s amazing how much impact a high-quality photo or graphic can have on a website design. The right photo can immediately create interest in your firm services. Take the time to paint the proper picture for your prospect when they arrive at your doorstep. Here are examples of how photography can create an image.
2. Logo/Branding – A well crafted logo can make it easier for people to remember your firm or create a favorable image of your firm. While a logo is not always necessary, it can pull together the message you want to create.
3. Website Colors – The color of your website should coordinate with the photography and logo for your firm and create the right mood.
4. Website layout design – One of the most important design elements is the layout choice. Whatever layout you use should draw the reader to those items that are most important. While most template based accounting websites use a standard and rigid design, you’ll want to make sure your website design adds to the effectiveness of your message.
5. Your Local Reputation – Managing your firm reputation locally requires a proactive effort. In today’s cluttered world, you need to utilize online reviews in Google and Yelp to influence your local reputation and make prospects aware of the wonderful services your firm provides. Your website should make online reviews easier for clients to post online.
6. Quality of Content – The content on each page about your accounting firm services should be well organized and persuasive so the prospect can decide whether your accounting firm can address their issues and concerns. In addition to having great content on your website, you should also have a blog which enables you to create a following and become a trusted advisor.
7. Associations – Visitors to your website are looking for assurance that you can handle their needs competently. Many associations have logos and these logos should be strategically placed onto the corresponding pages. In other words, a CPA logo should probably be placed into the website header so it is on each page but logos like QuickBooks Pro Advisor should be on the page discussing QuickBooks accounting services. Other logos and acronyms to consider are NACVA, CVA, CFE, PFS, MTAX, EA, JD, MBA and Certified Tax Coach.
8. Video – Another technique to draw website visitors into your firm is the use of video. Some website visitors like video and others avoid it. A general rule is that you should make video optional and never ever play it automatically.
Are you looking ahead to 2016? Do you have the plans in place to dramatically grow your accounting practice?
If not, then you should consider a more comprehensive way to grow your accounting practice.
Learn why more accountants are using Build Your Firm to increase sales, operate at higher margins, and command a higher multiple when they sell.
In today’s world, we are accessing the internet on wrist watches, mobile phones, tablets, talking to Siri, large screen TVs and traditional desktop computers. Given the variety of devices, Google Bing and Yahoo are advocating that we all jump on board with responsive designed websites. Here’s why you need to scrap your traditionally designed website and switch to responsive web design now.
One Website, Many Devices
Although Google is usually very guarded about their POV, they are now giving preferential treatment to websites that were developed using responsive layouts and actively recommending to webmasters that all new websites should use the industry best practice of responsive web design.
Essentially, Google prefers responsive web design because your website content resides on one URL rather than duplicate URLs (e.g., one for traditional monitors, another for mobile). This makes their job of indexing content much easier.
If you want to remain towards the top of search engine results pages, you need to obtain a responsive website now. Otherwise, your website will slowly drop further down the list and be visited less frequently.
The future of web design is responsive web design. If you want more leads, then upgrade to responsive. The sooner you jump on board, the better off you will be.
Build Your Firm has been designing responsive websites since 2014. Order yours today.
Local listings in Google have been downsized from a 7 pack of local listings to just 3 listings. While changes at Google are nothing new, this makes it more challenging to get the visibility and leads that were previously generated from the 7 pack.
What has changed with Google’s Local Search?
- The number of local businesses listed has shrunk from 7 to 3. As a result, competition to be listed prominently for a local CPA Firm search will now become more challenging to crack the top 3 listings.
- Phone Numbers and Addresses are gone. That’s right, the old 7 pack displayed your street address along with phone number. If you are using a desktop computer, you need to click on the listing to see more detail (e.g., phone, address, etc.). If you are using a mobile device, you can click on an icon to place a call.
- Increased emphasis on Hours of Operation.
- Google Reviews now read as Reviews.
- Increased emphasis on reviews. Like it or not, if you want to make Google’s top 3, you will need to invest more time into obtaining Google reviews to see the gold star treatment (look for gold stars next to James Castaldo’s listing).
- Google+ Profile must be complete and accurate. Your Google+ profile needs to be accurate, complete and loaded with bells and whistles (e.g., up to 7 pictures, hours of operation, etc.).
- Optimize your local listings using Local Moz. This service enables you to get a grade on your profiles and diagnostic tool providing suggestions to improve.
- Support your website with Retargeting to pull prospects back to your website for higher conversion rates. For more information on this, call Build Your Firm for pricing.
does it make sense for accountants to
create a specialty to attract the Cannabis industry?
Over the years, BYF has encouraged many accounting firms to develop niches to improve lead generation quality and better service segments of the business community. However, we are at a quandary about whether this is a viable niche for all types of accountants. If you want to chime in, we will open this topic up for discussion within our LinkedIn Group called Modern Marketing Methods for Accountants.
By all means, more and more states are passing legislation so I understand the tide is moving in that direction. It’s a reality that more states will jump on board and the federal government is caught between a rock and a hard place. In fact, it’s like prohibition days. As a result, most banks are trapped too.
Here are a couple core issues:
1.) Good moral character clause – Will the State Boards of Accountancy refuse to renew your license because you service this type of business?
2.) RICO – If the federal government decides to take a strong stand, can RICO charges be applied to a bookkeeper, EA or CPA firm that caters to this industry?
3.) Would a tax law firm or hybrid practice (law/CPA practice) be better suited to handle this clientele because of the attorney client privilege?
4.) Security, Payroll and Banking Issues – With a lot of cash on hand, this industry is susceptible to robberies and audits. Payroll must be a bear. Protecting the merchandise is a huge challenge.
Join our discussion at Modern Marketing Methods for Accountants and chime in professionally on these business challenges.
Currently, there are over twenty accounting firms that have embraced this industry. Here is a compiled list of accounting firms embracing this industry.
More than likely, you have gotten used to having so many options at your fingertips that ordering vanilla ice is no longer appealing. Even if the ice cream shop owner expands the variety to vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, your gut reaction is still the same. Get with the times… Over the past two decades, you’ve gotten used to having 20-30 flavor options that the old school options of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are unacceptable.
Here’s a totally different example.
Suppose your child gets injured over the weekend playing soccer at one of these college showcase tournaments. That’s right, the D1 college coaches were clamoring over your child on day 1 and then the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears. And now you are wondering if getting that college scholarship for a full ride has suddenly gone bye bye. As you start to look for a surgeon, here are the best options:
Medical Option # 1
“We have 30 years of experience treating patients of all ages and
all types of orthopedic accidents and injuries. We are board certified…”
Medical Option # 2
“We specialize in sports injuries for athletes. We have orthopedic specialists for
athletes who participate in high demand sports like soccer, football, basketball, etc.
Our orthopedic teams on staff support our local NFL, NBA and two major universities.
Regaining the full function of your knee is our expertise. Our treatment system also
includes your rehabilitation process as physical therapy is key to
returning to peak performance.”
Which medical option are you more likely to go with? The Jack of all trades? Probably not… Focusing the message to your target audience is very effective for improving lead generation and new client acquisition. The reality is that these two descriptions might even be the same medical group. That’s right, option #2 might have three different websites targeting different segments of their target audience. Here is an example:
The Orthopedic medical group has five surgeons on staff along with a physical therapy group in the same office building to provide total care. The medical practice has three separate websites targeting the entire metropolitan area for three types of clients:
a.) High impact athletes that suffer ACL injuries on the field. Website shows pictures of local professional athletes and local college athletes that have recovered from ACL injuries and returned to the field. Associations with the local professional teams and universities are prominent throughout website.
b.) Baby boomers that are weekend warriors and maintain an active lifestyle. Website shows pictures of 40-50 year old’s that still work out but need knee replacement to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.
c.) Active seniors that enjoy outdoor activities like tennis, gardening and hiking. Website shows pictures of 60-70 year olds enjoying life.
Each of the three websites are distinctly separate but branded under the same firm name. Each website has a separate website domain. And each website generates very different types of leads. One medical group with three different websites to maximize lead generation, surgical procedures and physical therapy clientele.
Below is an example of an accounting firm who is using a multiple website approach too. Like you, they have a “generalist” website to attract “jack of all trades” leads. To improve the lead quality, they also have custom niche websites designed to generate higher quality leads for prospects looking for a specialist who can make their “pain” go away.
The generalist website (jack of all trades) is a solid venus fly trap to catch the locals. However, to expand your wings and pull in higher quality clients across multiple states (broader geographic area), then consider adapting your marketing approach and using multiple websites to pull in higher fee paying clients.
Using more than one website is like offering more flavors than vanilla. The expense is modest and the upside is huge.
Inbound marketing has become the gold standard for marketing an accounting practice. The idea is simple – define your dream customer and then create content specifically designed to attract and delight your dream customer. The tactics are tougher than traditional direct response marketing (aka – outbound marketing) and take more time to create a head of steam but after it’s done properly, it’s so much easier to generate leads and sustain your marketing.
In today’s marketplace, the customer has so many more choices and is better informed about their purchase decisions. With the internet, today’s modern customer can research and vet the best accountants that suit their specific needs just like searching for a resort destination or selecting the best restaurant while on vacation. The same methods that they used to plan their summer vacation can now be applied to their search for a lawyer, doctor and accountant.
In years past, most accounting firms relied upon cold call telemarketing, door knocking and yellow page advertising to generate leads. Unfortunately, the intrusive nature of cold calling and door knocking have made these marketing tactics less desirable and harder to sustain. Think about it, when was the last time you purchased something from a cold call solicitor? Or took a door knocker seriously? In today’s world, the internet has replaced yellow page advertising as today’s customer wants more information at their fingertips before picking up the phone to call a business.
Here are some facts:
1. Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing. (Source – Hubspot).
2. 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles rather than an advertisement. (Source – CMO.com).
3. 93% of buying processes start with an online search for information, options and best practices. This is why it is so important to be near the top of Google, Bing and Yahoo when your target audience is searching to hire an accountant. If people can’t find your firm, you will not be considered. (Source – Marketo).
4. Companies that blog 1-2 times per month generate up to 70% more leads than companies that don’t. (Source – Hubspot).
In short, inbound marketing is a magnetic marketing strategy that requires a proactive approach to pull prospects into your accounting practice instead of reactively interrupting them with annoying messages and praying for leads.
For 2015, Build Your Firm is providing a one year money back guarantee on all new Platinum level websites. Essentially, we guarantee that you will acquire more new business within one year than your total investment with us. The more you do, the more we guarantee.
Build Your Firm is the only website developer within the accounting industry to provide this money back guarantee. And if you support your website with pay per click advertising, retargeting advertising, and a blog, we will add those elements to the guarantee as well.
All of Build Your Firm’s Platinum websites feature responsive web design, which is the new standard for web design. If your website is not generating enough new business, this risk free approach is exactly what you need to reinvigorate your marketing and lead generation.
If you are serious about growing your accounting practice, this one year ROI Guarantee is a no brainer.