By Matt Bowen.
Tax season is already in full swing and accounting firms across the country are working non-stop to meet the April filing deadline. However, many firms will struggle to keep their existing team busy when May rolls around and the last return has been filed.
The industry’s extreme seasonality can significantly hinder growth. Firms often don’t have a sufficient year-round client base to support the staffing levels they need during tax season.
As a result, they’re forced to turn away new business in the spring. This conundrum creates a need for marketing strategies that deliver high-quality, revenue-generating leads long after tax season ends.
Dimov Tax Specialists’ Growth Strategy — A Case Study
Our client, Dimov Tax Specialists (Dimov), faced this same challenge. As their online advertising partner, we were tasked with helping to generate year-round tax business. Marketing and accounting both share a passion for data, so our new strategy focused on feeding Google’s algorithm as much high-quality information as possible so it would deliver higher-quality leads.
Improved Data Capture
Lead generation used to be a volume business: Bring in as many leads as possible, and you’ll eventually find new customers. However, one of the undesirable byproducts of high volume is sifting through bad leads to find gems. So, our first order of business was to improve the quality of the client’s incoming contacts.
In the past, it has been difficult for advertising tools like Google to differentiate between good and bad leads because the system didn’t know which leads became paying customers. But a new Google tool called offline conversion import (OCI) helps solve that issue, allowing us to harvest data from Dimov’s customer relationship management (CRM) software. Once we began feeding that information into Google’s system, the algorithm gained a more complete picture of which leads engaged Dimov’s services and at what level.
Smart Algorithmic Bidding
Armed with this new dataset, Google’s Smart Bidding system was able to allocate ad dollars toward audiences who were more likely to deliver revenue, rather than leads that would never result in a sale. OCI data also enabled Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) to allocate ad spending toward more valuable tax services.
Not only did this strategy bring Dimov its best tax season ever, but it also won Logical Position a Google Premier Partner of the Year Award in the Lead Generation category. Moreover, with leads increasing by more than 800%, Dimov was able to hire more staff to accommodate the new growth.
Moving out of tax season, it was critical for this campaign to deliver sustained year-over-year lead growth so that Dimov could retain its newly hired staff. To accomplish this, we expanded our targeting and reallocated the online advertising budget to emphasize year-round tax services like bookkeeping and business accounting. Thanks to this strategy, leads during the critical post-tax season increased by more than 400%, enabling Dimov to retain the staff it needs to grow sustainably throughout the year.
Tips for Sustainably Growing Accounting Firms
If your business struggles with similar challenges, here are strategies you can use to generate higher-quality leads.
- Get your customer data in order. The more information you can give Google, the better. Examine your pipeline to find out who’s hiring you, where they’re coming from and their value to your business. A sound CRM system will do this for you, but a spreadsheet will work just as well. Connect that data with the customer’s email address or Google Click ID, and you’ll have all the information needed to provide the algorithm with high-quality customer data.
- Stop optimizing for lead volume. You could easily double your business’ lead volume without impacting your revenue if a majority of those leads don’t close. So, shift your advertising focus to optimizing for the services that bring in the most money.
It’s important to note that Google’s algorithm needs sufficient volume to recognize ideal customers. So, this approach is best suited for mid-sized or large organizations that can feed Google more information.
If you’re a small business, continue tracking leads and volume, and send Google as much OCI information as possible. Then, carefully monitor your lead and revenue volume. If your lead volume increases but revenue doesn’t, you’re likely targeting the wrong people.
Redefining a Lead
Lead-generation campaigns are a critical part of a service provider’s sales pipeline. But to counteract the seasonal nature of the tax preparation industry, accounting firms need to prioritize generating high-quality leads that will bring year-round revenue over achieving maximum volume. Tools like OCI and AI automation make it easier than ever to harness existing customer data to target potential future customers more effectively.
Sustainable Growth is Achievable
Accounting firms will likely always have to deal with the natural ebb and flow of customers during tax season. But after putting the right lead-generation strategies in place, these firms can drive the stable revenue they’ll need to achieve lasting growth.
Matt Bowen is the associate director of enterprise client services | strategy at Logical Position, an Inc. 500 company headquartered in Oregon with offices nationwide. The agency offers full-service PPC management, SEO, and website design solutions for businesses large and small, and was ranked as the third best place to work in America by Inc. Magazine.