Are You Online? Or Do You Just Have A Website?
The internet started out as a billboard for information. It was enough for any website to simply exist. But times have changed and we now live in the age of Inbound Marketing that brings a whole new bunch of toys to the business playground.
A website that only states your contact information, your list of services and the firm’s history is unlikely to be viewed by anyone but your staff and a few current clients. How would anybody else find it? It’s the equivalent of printing a load of leaflets and only leaving them on your reception desk. By the time anyone sees them, they’re already on board. Those leaflets would need to be handed to your prospects by a knowledgeable member of staff who would be able to answer their queries and close the sale. It’s impractical and old school.
Even though Inbound Marketing tactics like blogs, social media or Search Engine Optimisation produce three times more leads per dollar (source: Eloqua), it costs 61 percent less than traditional marketing techniques (source: Mashable) such as letter drops, telemarketing or advertising.
Inbound Marketing with a serious online presence is the equivalent of having an on-the-road sales rep working for you 24/7/365, in an infinite number of places at once. That salesperson has access to a wealth of data on your prospective clients so they know exactly where to find them and how to press their buttons. This is because the internet doesn’t just allow us to post information about our business. It allows us to embark on a two-way conversation with prospects and clients. To be online doesn’t mean you have a stagnant website.
Here are six simple Inbound Marketing tactics to help you become visible and present online:
1. Your Website is Your Generator
If your website is just an electronic billboard that lists the who, what and where of your firm you’ll probably find your business will never achieve its full potential. Your website should be a communication hub; connecting to your blog and social media sites, providing free resources, encouraging comments and discussion, and having Calls-To-Action on every page to steer prospects through to booking an appointment and joining the firm.
Of course, not everyone who lands on your website is ready to buy so different offers and calls to action are needed for prospects at different stages of their buying journey. For example, for members of the Accountant’s Accelerator Group we build calls to action for lukewarm leads to subscribe to their newsletter, an invitation to download an e-book for leads that are a bit warmer, and for those prospects ready to change accountants, they’re invited to ‘Contact Us’ to book a free consultation. Once you build your calls to action, they are designed to gather prospective clients’ contact information and send leads directly to your inbox. Your marketing operates on auto-pilot.
Remember, your website is an investment, not a cost, and you need to monitor your return on investment. Members of our Accountant’s Accelerator Group are generating six figure returns from their lead generation websites and you can read about these case studies on our home page.
2. Brand or Bland?
In our blog, How GST Disguised the Need for Marketing, we discussed how the majority of firms took their foot off the marketing pedal in the post-GST boom. They now have an ageing client base that is eroding and their referral engines have seized up. To regenerate their ageing client base these firms now need to be laser focused in on Generation X and Y business owners.
This demographic includes people aged between twenty and forty and clients in this age bracket have different expectations of what they want from their accountant. A recent survey suggests they expect you to have a modern and unique look with a clean reputation. They grew up with brands like Apple, Facebook, Xbox and Netflix that have created spectacular brand loyalty and an amazing user experience. Frankly, they get bored by anything less. If your current branding doesn’t appeal to this demographic it’s time for a makeover.
If you associate branding with just the physical artefacts like your logo, letterhead, colour scheme, slogan, and signage – think again. Branding is considerably more complex and every interaction with a client or prospect affects your brand image. Think of your brand as your firm’s “personality”. In this case, if Generation X and Y business owners had to sum up your firm in one word what would they say?
Modern or old-fashioned? Current or out of date? Technologically savvy or out of the loop? Bland or sleek? Boring or exciting?
Ideally, you want your brand to be memorable, modern, unique and attention grabbing. To build this type of brand, you should address the following questions:
- Who are your ideal clients?
- How do they like to be communicated with?
- What are they interested in?
- What are my unique selling points?
Next, map out your client touchpoints - that’s every interaction a client or prospective client could have with your firm, from viewing your Yelp page, to reading Google Reviews to walking into your reception area. Then tailor every one of those experiences to reflect your answers to the four questions outlined above. You then have a brand that appeals to your ideal clients and reflects your unique selling points. It should explain why they should do business with your firm and nobody else.
3. Climb to the Top of Google
Google has the answer to everything. It is why it is the first place people turn to when looking for… well, everything. So, every time somebody searches on Google for an accountant in your area or your niche industry, you want to be at the top.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of ensuring your website appears high on the list of results for a particular search term. In essence, it is done by researching what words your target market use when searching for your services (try www.wordtracker.com), then strategically using those same search terms in the building and writing of your website. When Google finds those terms repeatedly used on your website, theoretically it will raise your web page in their rankings.
Google’s algorithms constantly change and many of them are not easy to understand. It is therefore recommended that you talk to an SEO expert when building your website and content. While SEO is one of the more complicated digital marketing strategies, it is also one of the most efficient and essential.
4. Blog Your Way to the Top
Maintaining a blog provides numerous digital marketing benefits:
- Increases your SEO as described in the point above – the more you write about topics that your ideal clients are searching for, the higher you will potentially appear in the Google results. Google also takes the amount of content on your website into consideration, and blog posts are a good way to add content and pages to your website in a structured and relevant way.
- Positions you as a thought leader in the industry - By commenting on relevant issues that are of interest to your clients and prospects you will build trust and loyalty before even having met them. Remember, business owners don’t want to do a “Masters of Taxation by Correspondence” so don’t bombard them with the latest tax law changes. Write about things they’re interested in – namely, how to grow their business, their profits and their wealth.
- Supports Social Media and Email Marketing - A blog provides relevant and interesting content to include in your social media posts and email marketing campaigns. This ensures your social media and email campaigns don’t become too promotional and therefore uninteresting.
Again, a blog is easily implemented as you can have an industry professional write the content for you, and automation means you don’t need to worry about remembering to post consistently and on time. Members of our Accountant’s Accelerator Group have their blogs posts written by accounting and marketing professionals, and uploaded to their website and social media channels by our automation tool.
Like your blog, video plays a big part in SEO. In fact, you’re 53 times more likely to get a page one listing on Google with video content on your website. But it’s not even all about Google anymore; YouTube is now the second biggest search engine behind Google. So, it’s clear that video content is critical to prospective clients finding your firm.
Video is also crucial to converting those prospects into paying clients. If a website visitor doesn’t see something they like in 8 to 20 seconds they’ll move onto another source. The market like videos, particularly Gen X and Y prospects.
As they say, a picture paints a thousand words. Impressive, right? Not really, when they say one minute of video is statistically worth 1.8 million words!
We offer a Video Production Service which includes:
- 20+ topical scripts to choose from, which you read from a teleprompter
- Professional recording studio and equipment
- Post production work including branded intro’s, outro’s and graphics
- Done For You uploading to your website, YouTube channel and social media
Here is a sample from our Video Production Service:
6. Email Newsletters
Newsletters are one of the most valuable touchpoints a firm can have with clients and prospects. The benefits of newsletters include:
- Remind clients of your full range of services and educate them on new services
- Build trust by providing useful ideas and tips
- Build loyalty by genuinely helping business owners with their biggest issues
Furthermore, by moving your newsletter online you gain several additional benefits:
- Easily forwarded and shared material leads to increased online referrals
- Out on time, every time – Automation means you don’t need to worry about remembering to post consistently and on time.
- Connected Content – Using hyperlinks you can drive traffic back to your website ensuring that if the reader wants to learn more or get in contact, they are only one easy click away.
We have developed a standalone newsletter service that does all the hard work for you. On The Money is a client newsletter service that is designed to help you nurture your clients for enhanced retention and market to prospects and referral sources effectively, without costing you valuable billable time. The newsletter is written and designed by accounting and marketing professionals and sent to you one week before the end of each quarter – all you have to do is send it to your contact list.
Implementing each of these steps will propel your firm into the modern digital age. While new technology and digital strategies may seem daunting, the important thing is, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Too often, accountants assume digital marketing is difficult and time consuming but in reality there are automation tools available that make implementation very simple.
Digital marketing is an investment, with an extremely high ROI - on average, ten times more than traditional strategies. If you’re unsure, begin by contacting us to discuss your digital plan and strategy.