Think Beyond Your Backyard: Digital B2B Marketing for AccountantsMarch 21, 2023 | Marketing, Strategy, They Ask You Answer, Website
Marketing for accountants requires specialized considerations. Your business is unique, and your marketing strategy should reflect those differentiators. The reality is that your competitors may (or may not) be leveraging marketing tactics for accountants. However, marketing tactics won’t convert leads into business if they’re not underscored by a custom marketing strategy that informs and directs those tactics.
Additionally, the digital age has widened the market significantly. You’re no longer limited to generating new leads in your geographical backyard. And by the same token, potential customers who are searching for accounting services aren’t limited to local or regional choices. Referrals are helpful and powerful, however, word-of-mouth alone is not a sustainable pipeline for substantial growth. If you’re looking for leads, you cannot ignore the importance of deploying a marketing strategy to grow your business.
We get it—numbers are your thing, and marketing may be a bit of a mystery; not to mention that your plate is full of keeping up with tax laws and changing regulations. Or maybe you’re struggling with how to clearly communicate what your brand is about. When it’s not your wheelhouse, and there are so many options, it can all be overwhelming. And the last thing you want to do is spend time and money on tactics that don’t work.
Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of helping CPAs successfully grow their businesses using proven marketing strategies. This post is for those who are new to marketing for accountants, as well as those of you who have been using some marketing tactics with lackluster results. We’ll cover the key elements of a successful marketing strategy.
Define Your Brand: Marketing an Accounting Firm in the Digital Age
Start by asking yourself the following questions about your firm.
- Who are you? What defines your firm? What is your firm’s personality?
- Do you serve only your local community, or do you have the expertise to serve clients in different states?
- What services do you offer? Tax preparation is just the beginning for many accounting firms. What other expertise do you have that prospective clients might not know about?
- What’s your mission?
- What problem do you solve for your clients?
You can’t engage others in your brand if you don’t know who you are, so start here.
Define Your Audience and Ideal Client
When it comes to leads, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but they are not all your ideal clients.
Defining your audience and developing customer personas is critical so you can use your clients’ common goals, behaviors, and motivations to inform your messaging and strategy.
One of the best ways to target future customers is by talking to your existing ones. Here are some questions to ask.
- What are your pain points?
- What were your most common accounting-related questions?
- Why did you choose us?
- How do we make your job easier?
Increasing your lead generation doesn’t just mean more customers. It means you can be more selective in weeding out those who might not be the best fit for your business.
Develop a Brand Story: Content Marketing for Accountants
Great content that engages your readers starts with a good story–in this case, a hero’s journey. However, avoid the temptation to make your brand the hero! While claiming that your firm is “here to save the day!” may feel like an easy grab, it’s more effective to position your business as a guide. And not just any guide. One with both authority and empathy.
To demonstrate empathy, you must address your client’s (the hero’s) fears and frustrations. And, with authority, clearly communicate a plan for how you will guide the client (again, the hero) in solving their problem. Your authority can be bolstered by testimonials, statistics, and awards.
In the case of marketing for accounting firms, maybe your prospect is a construction company that is struggling with tax planning. Their bookkeeper is confused about how to keep compliant with the changing tax laws and is understandably in over their head when it comes to tax-saving strategies. This is where your firm can a) acknowledge their frustration and b) offer guidance (a plan!) for how to tackle this challenge and help the bookkeeper (and their business) win the day.
Pro Tip: StoryBrand offers free BrandScript templates to help you flesh out your story. Or if you need some help, our CEO Steve Phipps is a StoryBrand-certified guide.
Online Marketing for Accounting Firms: Design a Website
Are you using your website as a 24/7 sales tool? If not, you’re missing an opportunity! You likely already have a website but it may be serving the role of a modern Yellow Pages listing. Or maybe you have a website that’s visually appealing but is overwhelming to navigate.
Your accounting website is not simply a place to list your services and contact information. It’s likely where your prospects develop their first impression about who you are and how you can make their lives easier.
Here are our top tips for boosting your website’s performance:
1. Apply Your Messaging
All of your marketing materials should have a cohesive message. Your website is where you take what you’ve defined about your brand, audience, and brand story and bring it to life through easy-to-understand messaging supported by text, images, and video.
2. Try the Grunt Test
Remember those Geico Commercials, “So easy, a caveman could do it?” Could a caveman go to your website and in 8-10 seconds figure out 1) what you do, 2) why it matters, and 3) what to do next? If not, you’re losing leads.
3. Evaluate Your User Experience (UX)
Website visitors do not have the patience for confusing site navigation. Visit your website and evaluate the experience from a phone, tablet, and desktop. Or better yet, ask a friend or family member to find something on your site. If it takes too long or they are overwhelmed by the options, you may need to revamp the UX.
4. Answer Your Customers’ Questions
Internet searches often start with a question. Write down your prospects’ top questions about your industry and what you do. Solicit help from your peers. Now answer these, along with your clients’ questions.
Don’t keep all of this great information to yourself! Share your expertise on a topic (such as LLC deductions) in a blog on your website and a video clip on LinkedIn. Create content that attracts organic (unpaid) search traffic and nurtures your relationship with that prospect. Even better, you can then remarket to your website visitors through paid advertising opportunities.
5. Include a Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)
Calls-to-actions help move browsers into buyers and give you information that helps you learn about your prospects and continue your engagement with them. CTAs can be banners, buttons, links, or pop-ups that invite visitors to act.
If the prospect is a first-time visitor to your site they might download a free guide containing frequently missed tax deductions. If they are further along in their buyer’s journey, the CTA could be “schedule a call” with a CPA to learn about outsourced accounting.
6. Optimize for Search
Even the most cleverly-written content, polished videos, and beautiful images won’t help if your website and content are buried several pages deep in an internet search.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, increases the chances of your website ranking on page one of the search results. Factors that impact your ranking include keywords, backlinks, and technical aspects, including the speed and security of your website.
Optimization is not optional.
7. Install GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
GA4 is Google’s newest web measurement tool that allows you to learn more about your customers and their buying journey and pivot your marketing strategy accordingly. GA4 collects data from places such as your website, mobile apps, and CRS tools and compiles it into a report. If you’ve been using Universal Analytics, it’s time to switch to GA4, as Universal Analytics will no longer process data as of July 1, 2023.
Marketing Strategies for Accounting Firms
A website that’s easy to navigate and optimized content that answers your customers’ questions are baseline tactics when it comes to marketing for accountants. With those elements in place, the next steps include social media engagement, sales funnel development, and paid advertising.
- Social media engagement: This allows you to engage clients, post videos, share lead offers, and direct visitors to the content on your website. Once you know your personas (and your firm’s personality) you’ll be equipped to pick which channel (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok, to name a few) is the best match for your business!
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising: allows you to pay for better real estate on search engine results pages (SERP) as well as remarketing opportunities.
- Video marketing: According to research by Vidyard, “sales pros report buyers are 50% more responsive to messages sent via sales engagement platforms…when at least one video is included…” Videos are a great way to explain your product and answer questions.
- Webinar: Offer free online webinars to address your ideal customer’s questions, generate leads, and showcase your authority.
- Email campaigns: Drip campaigns send emails to clients and prospects based on a schedule, say day 1, day 4, and day 7. In a nurture campaign, emails are activated by behaviors such as downloading a free ebook and then visiting your site a second time.
- Account-based Marketing (ABM): These campaigns use tactics and messaging to reach a highly-specific audience. You can target ideal clients by company size, job title, location, or industry through emails, content, or online ads.
Networking: “In Real Life Relationships” Still Matter
Marketing your accounting firm doesn’t happen only online. While the world is your oyster, you still need to keep local opportunities a top priority.
Strategic marketing activities work together, increasing your brand awareness and creating multiple interactions between you and your leads across different platforms.
Marketing and sales complement one another, and ideally, your marketing efforts will equip your sales team with even better tools to engage with clients.
So, stay active in your local chamber of commerce, seek speaking opportunities with professional organizations, and meet face-to-face with your client’s neighbor.
Remember, even if you get a referral from friends or a speaking engagement, that referral will likely go straight to your website to learn more about you. Have a website that continues to build the relationship you’ve started and grows trust.
B2B Referral Marketing for CPA Firms
91% of B2B purchasers said that word-of-mouth influenced their purchasing decisions. Your customers can be an effective (and cost-effective) way to grow your leads!
A B2B referral program is a more formal way to encourage your best clients to recommend your brand to decision-makers within their professional or personal network. These programs track referrals through a streamlined referral page where clients can input a contact’s information that your sales team can follow up with.
When considering a client to invite to your B2B referral marketing program, consider one who is already:
- a brand advocate (maybe they’re a raving fan or have reviewed your company online)
- a loyal, long-term customer (Don’t reach out to a new client. This is tacky.)
If your lead makes a purchase, you then reward your client. These can include gift cards, a temporary upgrade to a premium service, or a free webinar.
Accounting Firm Marketing: Numbers to Watch
Now for the numbers, which we know are incredibly important for accountants. First, we always remind our clients that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. While it would be awesome if optimizing your website resulted in skyrocketing to the top of the search engine results page overnight, it just doesn’t work that way. It takes time to build your brand and digital footprint.
That said, it’s wise to be tracking your progress so you can pivot your marketing strategies accordingly if they’re not converting. (Or direct more resources into the tactics that are.) Some useful metrics for measuring the performance of marketing strategies for CPA firms include
- Increases in clicks on ads, organic traffic, and conversation rates. Monitor your analytics and CTAs such as webinar registrations, downloads of educational materials, or subscriptions to your email newsletter.
- Cost savings such as decreased cost-per-click and cost-per-lead (person who gives you their contact information)
- Increased engagement such as shared content, new followers, and likes on social media
- Decreases in unsubscribes, unfollows, and other opt-outs can suggest you’re offering more valuable content.
- “How did you hear about us?” We’ve all completed these surveys. That’s because they impart valuable information. Make sure all of the gatekeepers of your accounting firm–the people (sales team and reception) and online forms– have a place to record how clients found your firm.
If you want to learn more about how we were able to help one of our accounting firm clients rock their marketing check out: Tennessee Accounting Firm Marketing Strategy Has 2,400% Boost in Organic Search Traffic.
Results-Driven Marketing for Accountants
Marketing can be confusing. And we know you don’t want to spend time and money on tactics that don’t get results.
We love helping B2B companies grow their business and have a proven track record of success developing and implementing marketing strategies for accounting firms. Prefer to keep your marketing in-house and just need some guidance? We are trained in both the StoryBrand and They Ask, You Answer frameworks and offer marketing coaching for your internal team. Let’s talk about how we can help you grow your leads with clarity and confidence. Schedule a call here.