There’s no doubt that more and more prospective clients of accounting firms are seeking information online as part of the process of choosing their accountant and advisor.
Whilst referrals still remain the dominant source of new clients for most firms, an increasing number of accounting firms are turning to digital marketing activities to help drive new business and connect with existing clients.
However, there’s still a long way to go as a recent survey of top 100 accounting firms in Australia by Talking Brand confirmed:
- 66% of firms don’t have a clear value proposition
- 50% don’t provide blogs to their online audience
- 21% don’t use any form of social media
- 84% don’t use marketing automation
- Only 28% of firms have a mobile- responsive site
For a copy of the survey report, click here
The survey also highlighted that most firms that do have some digital marketing activity don’t actually have a strategic plan around this and tend to do things in an ad hoc way, generating ad hoc results.
So, what can accounting firms do to improve their digital marketing performance?
#1 – Define your brand and value proposition
The first action is to have a defined brand and value proposition which is clearly differentiated in the marketplace. In a sea of ‘me too’ value propositions, this is not as difficult as it first seems. Rather than saying that you provide accounting and advisory services, make an effort to really engage your current and prospective clients by showing them that you understand their needs and will work closely with them to achieve their objectives. Use stories and case studies to support your claims.
#2 – Develop a formal digital marketing strategy
The second action is to develop a formal marketing plan incorporating digital marketing strategies. According to a recent report on online marketing by Hinge, the top 5 digital marketing tools used by high growth firms are blogging, search engine optimisation, Linked In, Twitter and email marketing. So, there’s your starting point.
#3 – Identify internal or external expertise to drive your strategy
The third action is to identify expertise to drive your digital marketing strategy. This should incorporate knowledge of the available tools and how to effectively use them as well as capability to write engaging content. If you don’t have this expertise in-house, then look for external support.
#4 – Measure the results consistently and refine your strategy
The fourth action is to measure the results of your marketing activities in terms of clicks, tweets and leads. Objective reporting can be developed for all of the tools shown above. Obviously there needs to be a clear ROI, but allow for time to get some momentum.
How to use blogging, SEO, Linked In, Twitter and email marketing
Start blogging as soon as you can afford the time and people it takes to do it on a regular basis (at least once a week). This is a long-term initiative. It can take 6 months to a year before you see results.
SEO is an ongoing process, but you should start working on it as soon as possible. Don’t expect to see significant results for about three months. And because search engine algorithms change frequently, you will need to make adjustments over time.
Once you are able to create blog content consistently, LinkedIn gives you a place to share it. Join a few industry groups and begin joining the discussions. Expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day on LinkedIn if you are looking for a substantial presence.
If you are consistently creating blog content, you should start spending time interacting with others on Twitter. Don’t expect much from Twitter unless you can devote 30 minutes to an hour per day using it.
Like blogging, you should begin email marketing once you have the resources to write valuable content. Some firms have success with a monthly email, while others with more resources achieve better results sending two or three emails per week.
Do you have a digital marketing plan in place for your firm? Where should your firm start?
In August 2015, Training Beyond Accounting is running a special 2 part online program ’How to generate more client leads through digital marketing’
Specific topics will include:
- How to develop a simple and effective e-marketing platform using Mailchimp
- How to use landing pages to convert online visitors into leads
- How to develop a content strategy that draws prospects and clients into your sales funnel.
- How to write and post engaging and effective blogs with a minimum of fuss
- How to use social media including LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter to generate leads
- Why mobile-responsiveness is essential for any commercial website
Dale Crosby, Director, Training Beyond Accounting