How Accountants Can Get Started with Inbound Marketing
*Originally published June 17th, 2016, Updated January 29, 2019.
As a professional accountant, you know how important it is to keep up with the changing times and ensure your business is at the forefront of your industry. But it takes time and effort to do that, and for many accountants, sparing that time and energy on more marketing doesn’t always pay off. While it’s easy to blame outside sources, the economy, or even the number of other accountants in your area, the truth is that with a little effort and the right strategy, your business could grow exponentially. There’s no point in being the best-kept secret in town. Let’s help you get your business found online with inbound marketing strategies that are proven to work.
At Titan Web Agency, we know that business owners are often reluctant to invest the time and energy it takes to create a marketing strategy that works. There are many things to consider and a lot to figure out if you choose to go it alone. As experienced inbound marketers, we’ve put together a proven system to help you get higher quality clients for your accounting firm.
Why Should You Invest in Inbound Marketing for Your Accounting Firm?
Inbound marketing can help you accounting firm grow and reach more customers. It’s highly effective. It’s designed with your company in mind. Your customers get the information they want and need from you and, as a result, they come to trust your accounting services. The number one way to find a business or service these days is by conducting an internet search. Searches are generally conducted as questions or queries. People ask questions. It’s how we learn about the world around us. When you answer these burning questions, you are more likely to be found.
If someone was searching for information about taxes, they might search, “how can I save money on my taxes?” When you answer this question on your website, your chances of being found have just gone up. Each time you solve a problem, you have another opportunity to turn that lead into a customer. This is called content marketing.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
When you create content for your website, blogs, or answer questions on public forums, post articles to Medium, or any other outlet, you provide another avenue for your customers to find you. When you create content, you are seen as an expert in your industry, people will sign up for your email list or opt into a feature or offer on your website, and you get to build a lasting relationship with them through email marketing. It creates a virtual loop through which you can continually provide content and opportunities to work with your accounting firm.
Now that you have a better understanding of how content marketing works let’s review the five key strategies for getting started with inbound marketing for your accounting firm.
To be found, you need to show up. It sounds obvious, especially in the tech-heavy world we live in these days, but many professionals still don’t have a website. Finding new clients without an online presence is very difficult, if not impossible these days. And even if you have a site, it’s not enough to publish it and forget about it. You need to give it a lot of love and attention, updating it on a regular basis, and ensuring traffic makes its way to you. It might be hard to hear, but without an online presence, your business will suffer the consequences. You won’t even know what you are missing out on if you don't get online.
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.”
To compete in today’s world, you don’t just need any website. You need a great site. 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 researching 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 site is all you need. Don’t get fooled into thinking you need a website that has a lot of extra features. At Titan Web Agency, we work with simple, educational sites that provide insight and advice to your audience so that they feel comfortable reaching out to your accounting firm.
Optimize your website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something we hear a lot these days. If you aren’t sure what it means, you are not alone. A lot of web development and marketing agencies will try to make it seem like it is difficult to explain, but the truth is that at its core, SEO is very simple. The execution of it, however, can be a bit more complicated. But it’s nothing you couldn’t learn with time and effort. Unfortunately, most business owners, like professional accountants, don’t have the time and energy to devote to learning such things. Even if you are never going to attempt to provide SEO for your website, it’s important to us that you understand what it is so that you know what it is you are signing up for when you work with an agency.
Optimizing something means making it more efficient. When your website is search engine optimized, which means that it’s designed to rank higher on search engines like Google, for example. This should translate into more traffic on your website. There are many things you can do to optimize your website, and at Titan Web Agency, we can fully optimize your site.
If you want to do some optimization of your website, we want to provide you with some strategies for doing that.
- 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.
Don't Forget About Local Opportunities for Your Accounting Firm
Despite having the ability to carry your business far and wide, the internet also makes it easy to reach your local customers. Chances are, a lot of your clients are already local. Often, those clients come to know you through referrals or traditional forms of marketing, such as television ads, newspapers, or signage. If some of your clients have found you online, they likley searched for “accountings + the name of your region.”
Being local is a great asset. It provides a foundation to build your accounting firm upon. And it should not be neglected once you get your online presence up and running. Accountants have a useful service to offer small businesses, corporations, and even individual citizens. It’s just a matter of getting your business in front of more people.
“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.”
Marketing on a local scale goes both ways: you should get to know the people and businesses in your area that you might serve and that might help you. 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 to pay less tax? Write about and promote those services in a way that makes sense for your customers. If you think there is an opportunity to work together with other business owners, look into it. You never know where those connections may lead.
Using the Power of Recommendations to Grow Your Accounting Firm
Thinking locally also means ensuring you have a good reputation because many new clients will come to you through word-of-mouth. It’s essential to project a professional image so that people know what they are getting when they work with your accounting firm.
“Word-of-mouth communication is a critical part of the brand choice process,” says Gordon Wyner a contributing editor for the American Marketing Association.
There’s nothing you can do to stop people from talking about your business. Ensure that your customers have something good to say about you and your services. 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.
Recommendations are vital to the life and longevity of your accounting firm. There are two marketing tactics involving peer opinions with which you need to pay attention. The first is consumer opinion. You can’t control what people say, but you can influence it a great deal with high-quality service and products. Another tactic is to recommendations from other people.
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.
It’s easy to see how thinking locally provides inroads to your business. 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.
Get Your Accounting Firm Reviewed Online
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. Can you see the far-reaching power of those kinds of statistics? That means that if you aren’t managing your online presence and showing up for your customers, you are losing out on potentially a 90% increase in revenue.
Moreover, 87% of potential customers won’t even consider your business if you have low ratings, the survey says.
These are the kind of numbers that can be damaging to any business. Consider how reviews make a positive impact on your accounting firm.
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.
When you have a positive interaction with a client, don’t be shy about asking them to review your services in a public forum. Satisfied customers are more than happy to provide a review online. It’s easy, it only takes a few minutes, and they know they are helping your business.
Of course, when things go sideways, disgruntled customers are also going to take the time to let the world know that you let them down, or describe in great detail what happened. When negative reviews are shared, it’s hard to recoup from that if you don’t engage those reviewers in a positive, friendly, and solution-focused way.
“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? It can be disorienting to hear that your services don’t meet the expectations of accounting clients.
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. Customers trust this kind of source, and it lets you rest easy knowing that your reviews are accurate. If by chance, you get a bad review, you can approach it with kindness and compassion and engage the customer in a way that shows your business in a positive light.
Blogging Helps Grow Your Accounting Firm
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? Blogging provides insight and advice for your audience and helps establish your ongoing presence online.
A blog is one of the most effective ways to connect with people who may be interested in your services. 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. SEO can be improved through the use of keywords, tags, improved meta descriptions, and more when you publish a blog on a regular basis.
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. What’s more, blogs are no longer seen as a bonus of doing business; they are considered par for the course. It is expected that if your company operates online - and it should - that you will also provide information and education in the form of a blog on a somewhere regular basis. How often you write blogs is something that depends on your content marketing goals, but at least once a month is a general rule of thumb. The more you blog, the more traffic you will drive to your website and the more likely you are to convert visitors to your site.
“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 creating content. In other words, you need to providing value at every turn to keep your customers coming back for more.
It’s a pretty convincing argument, and when you think about it, content marketing is not difficult when you have a plan, follow some fundamental rules, and be consistent.
- 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 seven rules for a successful accounting blog and come back to it when you are feeling lost for direction and ideas.
Hire The Right Professionals for the Job
As a professional accountant, you understand the importance of hiring the right people for the job. Now that you’ve read about how to get started with inbound marketing consider how you might do all of this work yourself. Taking away from your accounting career to learn about SEO and blogging is not a good use of your time. When you work with professionals, such as the team at Titan Web Agency, you can rest easy knowing that your content is in the right hands.
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 accounting 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. Inbound marketing efforts for accountants are not lather-rinse-repeat. It’s about finding the right combination of content and promotion that works for your business.
There is no point in wasting all your time and money and resources with your website if it can't bring back a positive return on your investment, right?
You can launch an SEO campaign aimed at your target audience that’s sure to help you get more clients when you work with the right professionals.
Let us show you how online marketing can help bring your accounting business to life online. 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! They’ll appreciate the referral, and we will too!