How can accounting firms best-tailor their website content and services for an ever-changing marketplace?
That's the question that BKR International asked a panel of some of the best accounting marketers in the country. The panel was held in conjunction with the Association for Accounting Marketing Annual Summit in Austin, Texas. Putting their smart brains together, they agreed on 10 best practices for building the reputation and visibility of accounting firms in a high technology, but still high touch industry.
1. Responsive Design
Responsive design is an approach that crafts websites and other content for an optimal viewing experience on any device. It provides easy reading and navigation with minimal resizing, panning or scrolling. “Any new content should be oriented toward responsive design, not just accessibility on a mobile device,” noted Wendy Nemitz, BKR panelist and principal of Ingenuity Marketing Group, St. Paul.
2. Calls to Action
This is the biggest thing missing from most CPA firm websites, content and collateral. Tell people what to do next once they review the material. If it’s on social media, “it needs to be amusing and say things in 140 characters,” said Annette Esposito with BKR member firm Albrecht, Viggiano, Zureck & Company in Long Island, New York. “That’s working for us.”
You don’t need an expensive corporate video. Quality videos can be done through Google Hangouts or a flip cam. The goal is to present your professionals and clients in personal ways that attract views and interest in the firm. “It’s authentic and helps people get to know us better,” added Esposito, who uses video on the firm website and social media.
Not everyone wants to write a blog, but everyone can help with and benefit from one. Blogging improves your search engine ranking and convinces people of your expertise. “Some professionals are writers, some are reviewers, some are approvers – everyone has a part in it,” said Irene Valverde, panel moderator and Chair of the BKR Marketing Practice Group with BKR member firm Gumbiner Savett in Los Angeles.
5. Gated Content
When content is tied to your sales process, it should be gated by requiring an email address for download. It helps qualify more serious prospects and gives firms a specific reason to follow up. Whether or not you use gated content, you should have a designated person to field business queries that come in from the website. “I collect the information and refer it to the appropriate partner so the prospect hears directly from the experts at our firm,” said Tomoko Beytien with BKR member firm Lindquist, von Husen & Joyce LLP in San Francisco.
6. Accountable Prospecting
One of the biggest missed opportunities is a lack of follow-up with prospects. To help the firm stay on top of it, marketers can send principals and partners a friendly reminder and track results. “We keep track if the partners ask us to help them manage their time effectively,” said Marsha Oliver, BKR panelist with BKR member firm Mize Houser & Company P.A. in Topeka, Kansas.
On average, buyers use 4.8 techniques to find experts, and LinkedIn is one of them. “Show the partners how many people see their skeleton profile every day and who is exactly looking at it. They will quickly get the point of why they should be active on LinkedIn,” said Lisa Tierney, BKR panelist and owner of Tierney Coaching & Consulting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
8. Strategic Small Talk
Everyone at the firm needs to know how to talk with clients about additional needs by having some questions ready. “Most are not good at small talk. When they are wrapping up business, they need to talk to the client. They can listen and show they care, and that’s often when service needs some up,” Oliver said.
9. Emotional Content
Why are cat videos so popular? Because they make people laugh and feel good. “It’s the personal photos that people are interested in on Facebook and Instagram, not always the tax updates. Mix in some content that shows your human side,” Nemitz said.
10. Competitive Search
Based on search ranking research, some firms don’t even rank for their own names on Google. Research the best key phrases for your firm and find out the phrases your competitors are using. “Every page of your site should be searchable in some way,” Tierney said.