Getting Started With Inbound Marketing for Accountants
You’re a professional. You keep up with the latest changes in your field, and you work hard to give your clients the best advice.
But being the best-kept secret in town doesn’t earn you any money.
Time to adopt a new strategy.
Using inbound marketing for your accounting services may seem complicated, but it’s not as hard as you might think. Here are 5 proven steps you can take to add high-quality clients to your roster.
Why Inbound Marketing for Accounting Firms?
So, you might be wondering why inbound marketing for accountants is such a big deal, and how it can be so effective.
Just think about how people search for things these days.
How do they find the information they want?
Usually by some type of an internet search.
If somebody was searching something along the lines of:
"can i turn my primary residence into a rental property?"
Then, assuming you can answer that question for them, that is an opportunity for you to get in front of a potential client using content marketing, and get new, inbound leads to your website.
How do you do that?
Create content, whether it be on your website, through blog posts, answering questions on Quora, with a podcast, the ways are countless.
More specifically, here's how it can work:
Create content--->Be seen as an expert--->Get people on your list--->Build a relationship through email marketing--->Close as a new client.
So, let's explore five steps of an effective inbound marketing strategy that your accounting firm can start implementing today.
1. Be Present
Build your website
It seems obvious, but you can’t use the power of the Internet to find new clients without having an online presence. Being present means, first and foremost, having a corporate website. Today’s websites are the business cards of the past. They spell out who you are, what you do, and where you are.
It may sound harsh, but without a web presence, you might as well not exist nowadays.
A website is by far the most important part of connecting with online consumers
“When it comes to online marketing, think about a wagon wheel. Social media, local citations and everything you do online are the spokes of the wheel. But a website that you own and control should be the hub of your online activity.”
A great website takes potential customers by the hand and walks them through a journey of discovery about you and what you do. Think about what you look for when doing research about a company or service. After all, you’re also a consumer. Then apply these same principles to designing your website.
It doesn’t need bells and whistles either. Looks can be deceiving, and the most modern websites aren’t always the best. A simple, clear and informative website is all you need.
Optimize your website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something we hear a lot these days, but what does it mean exactly? Optimizing something means making it more efficient. When your website is search engine optimized, it means that it’s been designed to rank higher on search engines like Google, for example. This should translate into more traffic on your website.
Fully optimizing your website should probably be left to the professionals but here are three simple things you can do to optimize your website for search engines:
- Make your content shareable: Linking to quality websites and being linked to quality websites helps you rank higher on Google.
- Fill your social media pages completely: The more information you provide on social media, the better. Complete the About, Information and Category fields. Don’t forget to include your full address to make sure you can be found locally.
- Use keywords: Write the 5-10 words that best describes what you do and use them as much as you can, whenever appropriate.
2. Think Locally
While the Internet is a global tool, it’s particularly well suited to reach potential clients locally. Let’s face it, unless you’re at the head of a large national or multinational accounting firm, chances are most of your clients are local already.
In fact, when they use search engines like Google to look for an accountant, most potential clients will type the words “accountants” and “your locality.”
So remember that your “localness” is one of your greatest assets.
“You already have a product or service that’s proven in the marketplace,” says business adviser Jeff Steinmann. "The great news is that you just have to put it in front of more people and you’ve got more business.”
Thinking locally means getting to know your market well. For example, if you're a tax accountant living in a neighborhood with a lot of self-employed people, you need to tailor your services and marketing strategy to reach those potential clients. Promote your expertise about the topic. What tax deductions can you get for the self-employed? How can you help them manage their business during the year so they pay less tax?
Using the power of recommendations
Thinking locally also means ensuring you have a good reputation because many new clients will come to you through word-of-mouth.
Every day, Americans talk about brands and:
“More than two-thirds of those conversations involve a recommendation to buy, consider or avoid the brand,” explain Ed Keller and Brad Fay in their book The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationship Rule in a Digital Marketplace.
The following infographic, produced by Flowtown, shows just how important recommendations are. The two marketing tactics involving peer opinions, “Consumer opinions posted online” and “Recommendations from other people,” were trusted “somewhat” or “completely” by more than 70% and 90% respectively.
If you need more convincing consider the following statistics:
- Two-thirds of new business comes from referrals.
- People are four times more likely to buy something recommended by a friend.
By now you see the wisdom in thinking locally. But what can you do to ensure that all your great work equals a top-notch online reputation? It’s time to move on to the next step and learn about customer reviews.
3. Get Reviewed
A survey by BrightLocal shows that on average, more than 90% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 55+ read online reviews to decide if a local business is good.
Moreover, 87% of potential customers won’t even consider your business if you have low ratings, the survey says.
The “mental gap between reading a review and making a decision to purchase is ridiculously small,” explains Humayun Khan from Shopify. “So as a small business, your online reputation can directly influence your bottom line.”
So what can you do to collect reviews about your firm or services and, especially, ensure that you get good reviews?
A majority (61%) of SEO experts polled by Brightlocal agree that the best way to do this is to be proactive and ask your customers for reviews. After all, they know you the best, and if they’re satisfied, they should be your best advertising.
“Make review acquisition a part of both your online and offline marketing strategy,” suggests online marketer Robbie Richards. “Have a section on your site dedicated to reviews or send emails soliciting reviews.”
The next time one of your customers compliments your work, why not:
“hand them a tablet and ask if they wouldn’t mind writing a review,” suggests web strategist Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media.
Handle bad or fake reviews with care
A survey by Dimensional Research shows that negative reviews have an impact on the purchase decisions of a majority (86%) of respondents, so they matter. What should you do if you get one?
First of all, remember that in:
“most cases people don’t expect you to be perfect,” says Krista Neher from Boot Camp Digital “but they do expect you to care and fix things.”
“Don’t argue when defending your point, as that can escalate into an ugly online argument,” explains Samantha Pena from Hubspot. “Instead, honestly apologize to the person and rectify the situation.”
If you act professionally and show that you’re willing to fix the problem, you have a better chance of keeping that customer, she adds.
If you’re worried about malicious or fake reviews, you can also get your reviews third party verified. For example, an association like TruWeb Verified can check the source of the reviews and claims it makes. Once the reviews have been authenticated, they can display the TruWeb Verified logo lending them a lot more credibility.
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4. Consider Blogging
Another great way to attract new clients is by blogging. Are you an expert in tax accounting? Have you built a reputation for your work in forensic accounting? Why not share your knowledge with others?
A blog is an excellent way to connect with people. Your readers will appreciate the free advice and will see you as an expert they can trust. Blogs are also a great way to generate traffic to your website and to keep it fresh and dynamic by adding content regularly.
Marketing News, the publication of the American Marketing Association, spoke with 12 influential creative minds. Here’s some of what they had to say about the future of advertising and content.
“The proliferation of screens in our daily environment demands more quality content from marketers,” says Tom Bernardin, from media agency Leo Burnett.
Adding a blog to your online presence means you’re offering something extra, something that can be useful to your clients or potential clients.
“The content will need to be increasingly honest, relatable and contextually relevant,” adds Melissa Rosenthal from Buzzfeed.
The key, she says, is to create content that continuously speaks to the customer, rather than content for the sake of content.
Are you convinced? Then remember to follow some simple rules when you blog:
- Focus on your specialty: You want potential clients to see you as an expert in your field.
- Focus on your potential clients: Your blog won’t be successful unless it provides your readers with information they can use.
- Pick the right topic at the right time: It’s not useful to your clients to read about tax season in October.
- Be realistic about the frequency of your blog posts: It’s better to write every two weeks consistently than to write several blogs in a week and not come back for the next six months.
- Keep it simple: If they can’t understand what you’re saying, there’s almost no chance you’ll convert your readers into clients.
- Encourage your readers to share: You want the most mileage out of your posts as possible. Break up the content into small chunks and add sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
- Optimize: Optimizing is easier than you think. All you have to do is add tags and keywords. The more focused and recurring your keywords are, the better.
According to Stan Swartz from the Toronto firm Sloan Partners LLP Chartered Accountants, one of the top tips to find a great accountant is to look for one who keeps you informed.
“Look for an accountant who will provide you with information when [they] come across an idea, concept, article, etc. that could be of interest or benefit to you.”
Writing a blog gives you that opportunity. So remember the 7 rules for a successful accounting blog.
5. Hire The Professionals
You’ve read the first 4 steps and you’re wondering how you can possibly do all that yourself. Well, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Just like you’re the best at what you do, why not hire professionals to ensure your message is heard loud and clear by your potential clients? Pick an agency that specializes in online marketing tailor-made just for accounting firms like yours.
Hiring an agency to set-up or oversee your online marketing ensures you’re projecting a professional image, conveying the right message, and are easy to find by potential clients. Because in the end, you can build the most beautifully designed and useful website but if no one sees it, you’ve wasted your time and money.
This is why online marketing for accountants is so darn important!
Why waste all your time and money and resources with your website if it can't bring back a positive return on your investment?
Finally, with the help of professionals, you can launch an SEO campaign aimed at your target audience that’s sure to help you get more clients.
Are you convinced now that online marketing can work for your accounting business? Have you already had success in growing your business using any of these techniques? Share your experiences in the comments below. If you can think of a friend or colleague who might need a little help in this department, why not send this blog post along to them!