Your 2020 Guide to Digital Marketing for Accounting Firms
*Originally published January 29, 2019, Updated June 5, 2020
Digital marketing is constantly evolving. It wasn't that long ago that marketing was considered a part of traditional advertising, and now it's an industry in and of itself. Online marketing wasn't even in the picture, and in most cases, buying an ad was the solution to most advertising problems. But in this age of digital marketing, everything has changed.
Today, accounting firms must be aware of the virtual loop that is created through marketing efforts and adopt the practices necessary to see their company grow and thrive. Digital marketing takes a lot of time and effort. Luckily, Titan Web Agency has been helping accounting firms create lead generation pipelines for years.One of the biggest mistakes we see accountants make with their marketing is focusing on keeping up with their competitors. Of course, you want to attract more traffic and adopt a marketing strategy that will help you edge out your competitors, but victory in the digital marketplace is not just about beating the competition. It's about serving your audience well, whether you do that via email marketing, social media marketing, or search engine advertising. Your potential clients are out there -- and they want to hear from you. More importantly, they want to know they can trust you.
If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to market your accounting firm, it’s likely that you’ve already discovered that “tried and true” marketing tactics of yesterday don’t work online. It’s a whole new ball game. What’s amazing about digital marketing for accounting firms is that your reach becomes limitless. Your audience is out there, and your marketing strategy should be designed to lead them directly to your door.
Here, we'll focus on the digital marketing methods you should be using to promote your accounting firm and get your content in front of the people who are most likely to need your services.
1. Build A Strong Online Presence
The first step to any successful digital strategy is to build a strong brand and online presence. If you don't do that, then anything else you do will be a waste of time and money -- and it doesn't happen overnight. As a growing CPA firm, it’s important that you be patient with the amount of work that goes into creating an online marketing campaign. When you find a local CPA firm with a strong online presence, you can bet it took some time to attain that position. I'd love to be able to tell you that building a brand is a quick process, but it's not. The good news is that we can help.
Let's take a minute to talk about why building a presence online is essential. Your potential clients turn to their smartphones for answers to everything from what should they eat for lunch to how much money they should save for retirement. That means you need to make sure your firm doesn't miss out on the chance to be seen and heard online.
There are several elements to a strong online presence. including:
- An attractive, user-friendly website
- Search engine optimization
- An active, informative blog that you update regularly
- Standardized business listings
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Reviews and testimonials
That might seem like a lot, but you can get it done if you focus and understand your goal. And let's face it, there's only one goal that really matters: growing your business.
We'll get into more detail on many of these points, so you'll understand how to implement them in your digital marketing strategy.
2. Make Your Website User Friendly
Let's start with your website, which is the home base for everything you do online. The goal of your marketing efforts should be to attract new clients to your website. Everything you do online should help your target audience learn about your services and redirect them to your content and your website. That's the best way to grow your business.
Your website needs to have a few key items in to be effective in today’s split-second-decision-making world. You need a strong message, a bold brand, a unique call to action, an invitation for your website visitors to inquire with you, and the ability to be found on search engines, such as Google. But you can’t just throw this stuff up haphazardly. You need to understand who it is you are talking to online. We can help you get the results you expect.
- A mobile-responsive design that's easy to use on any device.
- Attractive, easy-to-read fonts.
- Colors that represent your brand and are easy on the eyes.
- Relevant, original images that represent your brand.
- A user-friendly menu and navigation that make it simple for visitors to find what they need on your website.
Sometimes, we'll work with an accounting firm and be able to make an immediate improvement in their lead generation simply by updating the design template of their website. Think of your website as a road map to your business. If people can't easily find, read, and navigate it, they'll look somewhere else for the accounting services they need.
3. Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
Search engine optimization is a complex specialty within digital marketing. It's easy for accounting firms to fall short in this area because it's not their area of expertise. At Titan Web Agency, it is our specialty, and it plays a key role in marketing for accounting firms.
Let's talk about why SEO matters. As of 2019, more than 4.33 billion people use the internet. That's a huge audience, and only a tiny fraction of them are in the market for accounting services in your area. You've got to find a way to define your audience and lead them to your website.
Local SEO is a great way to target people in your area that are using a search engine to find accounting/financial information.
Local SEO starts with individual pages for each service you provide. Each page should be targeted to local keywords such as:
- [Your town] accountant
- [Your zip code] CPA
- [Your neighborhood] tax services
Follow SEO marketing for accounting best practices and include your target keyword in:
- Your page title
- Your page URL
- The text on your page
- Your image alt text
- Your anchor text (hyperlinks)
You’ll also need to set up a profile with Google My Business. Without a profile, your firm won’t appear in Google’s “local pack” search results that appear above organic listings:
Make sure your Google My Business profile shows:
- Accurate office hours
- Your address and phone number
- Photos of your business
- The right business categories
Google uses all this information to return results for location-based services. If someone searches for “tax services near me” and your profile doesn’t have an address, it won’t appear in results.
You should also check how your business listings appear across the web. Are your name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistent on Yelp!, local directories, professional organizations, and review sites.
It’s important to keep your NAP consistent because Google uses this information to determine the legitimacy of your business. If your business appears as “John Smith, CPA” one place and “Jones Accounting Associates” another, Google will trust your business less and reduce its rank in search results.
While local SEO is undeniably important, there's another search trend that you'll need to address as well. Virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are extremely popular and becoming more so. In fact, as of 2020, 50% of all online searches are voice searches; and that means that a significant portion of your audience is likely using voice search to find the services they need online.
Optimizing for voice search, then, is a necessary component of marketing for accountants. Voice search keywords tend to be longer than text search keywords. For example, someone looking for an accountant to help them prepare their taxes might search "tax accountant near me" if they were using text to search. A voice search is more likely to look like this:
Siri, where can I find a tax accountant near me?
Include question words such as who, what, where, why, when, which, and how can help you improve your ranking for voice searches.
Here are some other key components of voice search optimization:
- Focus on long-tail keywords that complete questions.
- Include filler words such as of, and, of the, in the, to and for to make your questions more conversational.
- As much as possible, focus on questions that the people in your target audience are most likely to ask.
Whatever keywords you use, make sure to include them in important places in your content, including:
- In your title tag
- In your headings
- In your text
- In hyperlinks
- In alt tags for images
- In your meta description
These technical aspects of SEO might seem nitpicky, but they're essential if you want to make sure that your potential customers can find you online.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing is an essential component of any digital marketing strategy. To illustrate the point, let's look at just one type of content: blogging.
Websites with blogs attract 55% more traffic than websites that don't have blogs. There are many reasons for that, but one is that a blog ensures that the content on your site is constantly refreshed.
Of course, blogs aren't the only form of content that can be used for marketing. You may also try:
- Guest posts
- Case studies
- Social media posts
In most cases, content marketing isn’t about promoting your business directly. Instead its goal is to answer people's questions about accounting and finance. By providing valuable and actual content, you position your accounting firm as a trusted authority. Take a look at Peterson Sullivan LLP’s “Thought Leadership” section of their website for accountant marketing inspiration:
Content marketing also helps your business build trust and gain interest from potential clients who have yet to decide if they need an accountant.
For example, you can host a free webinar inviting people to ask finance-related questions. People are likely to respond to this because it offers them something of value for free. On your end, it shows prospects your skills and expertise without marketing to them directly.
Content marketing improves SEO as well. The more pages you have on your site, the more opportunities you have to rank in search engines. Optimize your blog posts for local keywords and market your content other places around the web. Blog posts are ideal for voice search optimization. You can use common questions as headings to attract more traffic to your site.
5. Social Media Marketing
It can take a long time to build a strong online presence, but one area where you can see a big improvement quickly is on social media. And while we recognize that some accounting firms are reluctant to make social media part of their digital marketing strategy, we recommend it because we know it's one of the best ways to reach your target audience.
Choosing Social Media Sites
The first step is to identify which social media sites your audience uses, so you can include them in the digital marketing for your accounting firm. For example, Facebook is the largest social media site and is extremely effective for direct-to-consumer marketing. LinkedIn is best if you're on of the firms that specializes in business accounting.
For quick messages, insight, advice, or updates about things such as tax regulations, Twitter may be a great choice for connecting with your audience and potential customers. And let’s not forget the clients you already work with. It's essential to maintain contact with them and keep them engaged throughout the lifetime of your contract with their business or family.
It's a waste of time to maintain a presence on every site. For marketing accountants, it's unlikely to be worthwhile to build a presence on Instagram or Snapchat. Those sites are largely visual and don't lend themselves to the information-rich marketing most common for accounting firms.
One of the things we do at Titan is to help our accounting clients to develop an ideal customer persona representing the customer you most want to serve. When you know who you want to serve in your CPA firm, it becomes easy to find those people online and create content that will appeal to them.
If you only have the time and budget for one social media site, we suggest Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on the audience you want to target. Remember that social media marketing requires constant monitoring, so it's better to have a strong presence on one site than a weak one on several.
Set Up Your Profile
Before you get started, you'll want to make sure you set up your social media profiles completely. This includes a profile image, a cover photo, a description, a link to your website, and basic information about your accounting firm, including your address and hours of operation.
If you do maintain more than one social media account, make sure to use the same profile picture for each one. Consistency will help people find you online and recognize your content when they see it.
Share the Right Kind of Content
One of the keys to digital marketing for accounting firms is knowing what kind of content to post on social media. Digital content can take many forms, but not all content is suitable for social media.
Best practices indicate that 80% of what you post should be informative or entertaining, while only 20% should include a direct sales pitch. Your accounting firm should be seen as an authority presence, someplace your clients can turn for valuable information and answers to their questions. The goal of social media content is to attract your audience to your website, where you can continue the conversation offline.
Sharing moments such as volunteering, wins, celebrations, or promoting workshops for tax filing or company events are all easy ways to reach your target audience across all social media platforms, not just Facebook or LinkedIn.
On an important note: when dealing with sensitive information, such as financial planning, taxes, and regulations, your social media posts need to be compliant with SEC regulations. We can help you understand what this means online.
Another social media best practice is to curate content from other sources. Articles from the newspaper or financial authorities is a good place to start. It's a good idea to add your own take to any content you post.
Every piece of content you post on social media should include a visual, whether it's a photograph, an illustration, a chart, or a video. Research shows that people who read a piece of content will remember only 10% of it three days later. But, when an image is included, they remember 65% of what they read.
You should track the results of the content you post through Facebook Insights. You'll notice which content gets the most attention and you can use the data you collect to refine your digital marketing strategy.
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing is an essential part of any digital marketing plan. While it might not get as much attention as other marketing strategies, it's cost-effective, efficient, and a great way to build trust and authority with your audience. It's also a good way to turn casual subscribers into new clients for your firm because you can use it to explain your services and demonstrate why they should choose your accounting firm.
Email content can be written or visual. Each email you send should have the following attributes:
- A compelling subject line
- A personalized greeting
- Clear, direct language
- Plenty of white space (short paragraphs broken up with images)
- A call to action
Your emails can be used for lead nurturing or to promote specific services. You may want to start a monthly newsletter and promote it on social media and on your website. Email has an average ROI of 4400%, meaning that when you spend $1 on email you can expect to earn $44 in return.
7. Online Reviews
It's not possible overstate the importance of online reviews as a component of digital marketing for accounting firms. And the best thing about reviews is that they amount to free marketing. Your job has three parts:
- Claim your listing on review sites as part of your digital strategy.
- Encourage your clients to leave reviews of your accounting firm.
- Respond to positive and negative reviews.
Claiming your listing involves verifying that you're the owner of your firm and then updating your listing with accurate information, including your hours, services, and location. You should look at your review listings as part of your overall digital marketing plan. Make sure to write keyword-rich descriptions of your business, include photos and other relevant information, and keep your listings up to date.
Encouraging reviews is something that we believe is best done offline. While our focus is on digital marketing, there is an offline component you shouldn't overlook. Having your staff ask clients to leave reviews at the right time -- meaning when they're happy and satisfied with your services -- is essential.
The final element is responding to reviews. You should empower a staff member to monitor and respond to reviews and think of negative reviews as an opportunity to demonstrate your authority and compassion.
Need Help With Digital Marketing for Accounting Firms?
When it comes to creating an internet marketing campaign that matters, you want somebody you can trust. Somebody that will only recommend what they truly believe will work and that is in your best interests. Working with a reputable marketing agency that specializes in internet marketing for accountants can make all the difference in your efforts and bottom line. While not everyone is going to be your client, we can help you accomplish your marketing goals by working side by side with you to develop, plan, and implement your digital marketing strategy.
Digital marketing for accountant firms is essential if you want to grow your business and attract new clients. And while digital marketing can be a complicated affair, remember that you can always hire a company that provides marketing services to help you.
Need assistance with digital marketing for your firm? Click here to learn how Titan Web Agency can help!