Digital Marketing for Accounting Firms – Part 1: Digital as a Business Tool

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In the recent 2015 Digital Strategy Benchmark Report completed for the top accounting firms in Australia, results indicated the changing business landscape and particularly the growth in digital is putting some firms under threat. The rapid growth in digital has left many accounting firms behind, especially those following what are now perhaps outdated legacy practices.

The report shows that an alarming 84% of accounting firms don’t use marketing automation, 51% don’t blog, 21% don’t use social media and less than 30% have a responsive website. For those firms willing to take the plunge into digital – these numbers represent a real opportunity. With the vast number of accounting firms not investing in digital, creating a strong digital presence and owning this space could act as a strong competitive advantage for you.

In this article, we have provided some key digital opportunities and areas for accounting firms to investigate further to assist in climbing in and cementing themselves with a good digital presence.

This series will be broken into three parts: (1) Digital as a Business Tool, (2) Digital marketing opportunities and (3) Time-Saving practises for your digital presence.

Digital as a Business Tool

Back-in-the-day, websites were really only useful for presenting a company’s contact details. While there may have been an “About Us” or “Services” page somewhere on the site, the idea behind the site was really to provide customers with the phone number or location of the company. While these details are still critical to any accounting website, there are some other important inclusions that are now expected from today’s savvy customer. Your objective is to create a digital presence that not only meets (and possibly exceeds) customer expectations but also works as a business tool for you – and helps your company meet your business objectives.

Changing Customer Expectations – Mobile & Desktop Use

Let’s first look at the changing expectations of customers – and this works for both B2C and B2B customers.

A study completed last year (adweek.com) illustrated the growing use of the internet for research purposes. The results showed that over 80% of people research online before buying. Another survey conducted by Dimensional Research across both B2B and B2C companies indicated that 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews.

When it comes to offering a mobile-friendly digital presence, recent studies have shown that over 80% of internet users are now choosing their smartphone to search the internet. Just under 50% of internet users use tablets. This indicates the huge number of internet users choosing to search with mobile devices.

The first thing to take out here is that it is highly likely that your customers (or potential customers) will research you on the internet before getting in contact with you. And many of these will do so on their mobile devices.

Of course, you have probably heard of “mobilegeddon” which relates to the most recent Google update which now punishes websites that are not mobile friendly. This can critically hurt your search results. Read more about mobilegeddon and what it means for you here.

It’s not secret how important having a mobile optimised website is. You have the opportunity to own mobile search results, and rank better than larger and more established firms simply by having a mobile presence.

Health Check 1: Is your website mobile responsive? Is it easy to navigate and does it look great or outdated and difficult to use?

Changing Customer Expectations – Education

Another big thing to consider is what your website offers your viewers. Most customer nowadays won’t have loyalty to a certain brand when they first start their research. They will take a look at you and yes – your competitors.

While also good for SEO purposes, content that is regularly updated to help educate and inform your viewers is fantastic. Don’t just educate about your services and what you can do for them (this is more a sales pitch than education!). Instead, provide really useful content that customers can read and consider the implications and ideas for them or their business. While they may not act on contacting you straight away, giving them regular content to read and educate keeps you top-of-mind, begins building a relationship and may even begin the pathway to customer loyalty. The chances of them choosing you when they do need your services is much higher as they already have a connection (and a non-sales one) with your brand.

The good news is most accounting firms have an abundance of internal knowledge about the industry and can easily provide tips, ideas and educational pieces to assist their customers. Time can limit this from taking place which leads some accounting firms to invest in a digital partner who will create this content on their behalf, among other digital activities. Whichever way you decide to go about it, it’s important to know that customers today hate getting to a website that is all about “selling” with no form of education. Give customers something that helps them without selling, and give it to them regularly to keep them regularly coming back to your website.

Health Check 2: Does your website have a blog or news section? How regularly are you creating content? Where are you sharing it (how are you ensuring it gets read)?

Meeting your Business Objectives

The number one thing you need to consider when reviewing your website or designing a new one is your objectives. What is the number one thing you want visitors to do when they get to your website?

For most accounting firms, this will be lead-capturing. The content of the site may offer customers a range of information from self-education and informative article within your blog to information on the services and clients you work with, but ultimately what you want visitors to do is provide their details to you; to become a warm lead.

It is therefore critical that your website is designed and structured in such a way that allows for easy lead capturing. Is it easy for visitors to know what is expected of them? Is there any “carrots” you can offer to assist in capturing leads? Objectively view your site in the eyes of a visitor who knows nothing about you – where does the website lead you, and what does it encourage you (or not encourage you) to do?

We will touch further on the next step of lead capturing in both Part 2 (Digital Marketing Opportunities for Accounting Firms) and Part 3 (Time-Saving Digital Practises). Part 2 will consider ideas on how to capture leads on your site while Part 3 will look at how to save time by integrating technologies, such as your CRM, into your site.

Health Check 3: How well is your website set up to capture leads? Do your visitors know what is expected of them when they reach your website (how effective are your call to actions)?

In summary, your website can be a powerful business tool and lead-capturing engine if you allow it! Having a non-performing website is like having a sales or account manager that brings no work in. Don’t let your website slip by the wayside. For a small investment in your site, you can turn from having a platform that does nothing to an incredibly useful business tool that helps generate leads and assists in meeting your business objectives. It’s time to take the lead in your industry and get moving in the digital space – always better to be a leader than follow and play catch-ups later!

Arcadian Digital are experienced website developers and digital marketers. With experience in the accounting and finance industry, we can help create a digital solution that meets your goals and budget. From small WordPress sites to highly customised Ruby On Rails or Sitecore sites, we can get your website responsive, customer friendly and capturing leads. Ask us about our digital marketing solutions as well; we’re a trusted partner to many businesses and provide various channel solutions to grow brand awareness and increase leads.

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