The candle of traditional accountancy practice is burning at both ends, and digital transformation is accelerating the process. What’s more, there’s no escaping it.
Where reputation was once enough to attract and retain new business, it alone can no longer guarantee long-term success. As first movers thrive in the new accountancy marketplace, those still choosing to ignore the importance of digital and having an online presence, are doing so at their firm’s risk.
In fact, resisting the change that’s sweeping the industry is the surest way for firms to fail because these changes are being driven by the clients. According to them, searching for accountancy solutions online is now the easiest, fastest and most convenient option, and allows for more choice over a greater geographical distance.
These factors make 2017 an ideal opportunity for accountancy firms to start leveraging digital tools to build their online presence. Compared to traditional techniques, online marketing (which includes search engine marketing and optimisation, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing) is the most effective way to listen and respond to changing client behaviour and needs. As well as being a powerful way to get your firm name in front of the public, it’s also:
- More measurable… which means firms can better account for their spend, and identify when their marketing and client generation efforts amount to more than just a series of small expenditures with little to no cumulative benefit
- More intuitive… which means firms can easily implement self-managing, automated marketing processes to respond to and nurture their prospective clients’ needs
- Less expensive… which means firms have greater financial freedom to develop more than one area of their practice
- More extensive… which means firms are able to get in front of a larger pool of prospective clients for a fraction of the cost
If you want more visibility on what’s working (and what isn’t working) for your business in the new year, get your foundations in place with these five considerations:
- Ensure your brand is consistent and up to date across every online channel…
Brands change and grow organically, but not everything gets updated along the way. This means links on your site may be broken, team photos outdated, or the most recent activity on your social media accounts dates back to 2015. Audit your entire online presence comprehensively. Your digital footprint should be consistent, as it’s the single, most effective way to build trust with people who’ve never heard of your firm before. To improve your enquiry-to-sale conversion rate, make sure all client-facing information clarifies how your service solves their problem AND does it better than the competition.
- Know your audience and determine your firm’s niche…
Knowledge is power, which means in order to deliver a solution that meets demand, you must FIRST understand your audience’s needs. Although your clients share the same type of problem, the specifics will likely differ. To ensure your messaging is always relevant, it’s worth segmenting your data based on variables like location, budget, and gender (where applicable). Without research and careful planning, you risk attracting the wrong people to your offering, and wasting marketing budgets by getting lost in the shuffle of similar messages.
- Use search engine marketing and paid advertising to reach your audience…
There’s no point in having a great service if no one knows who you are. Start driving right-fit enquiries to your website using Google Adwords, keyword optimisation, and original content that search engines can index and rank highly on their results pages. Couple this with Google Analytics software, and not only will you be able to see what people are searching to find you, but you’ll be able to respond to their metaphorical hand raise with highly relevant content that drives them to get in touch.
- Draw prospective clients to your offering with free and educational materials…
Staying front of mind is key to outpacing your competitors in a digital world. That’s why it’s crucial to nurture your relationships with new enquiries and existing clients. Do this by keeping in touch with your audience via monthly newsletters, competitions, incentives, opinion-led articles, and new blog post alerts. Keep in mind that not every client who’s searching for what it is you do will be ready to buy at that moment – but you want to be the obvious choice when that time DOES roll around.
- Leverage attractive graphics to communicate more effectively…
Using social media for business purposes may be unchartered waters for accountancy firms, but you should embrace the trend sooner rather than later. With the modern audience showing a preference for visual communication, ensure your posts are attractive, informative, and digestible if you want maximum engagement. HubSpot says that Facebook posts with images see 2.3x more engagement than those without images, and the number will only rise. Whether your clients and enquiries prefer to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, by showing up on the channels of their choice with the type of the content they like, you’ll stay front of mind for your widest and best audience.
A bold step into the unknown will likely seem counterintuitive to local high street firms or smaller regional firms whose resources and time are in limited supply. Understandably so, if it’s collectively felt that finite budgets could be invested into other areas of the business…
But, without new enquiries, these firms will struggle to grow. Since it’s a consumer’s world, and competition stakes are at an all time high, having a solid online presence will be the cornerstone to success in 2017.
If you need help implementing any of the online marketing strategies mentioned above, take a look at our Marketing Foundation service. We specialise in helping firms like yours build and maintain the type of online presence that will see them through 2017 and beyond. Alternatively, talk to Jessica at Propero about your specific needs on 020 3369 6844, and start the new year as you mean to go on.