Whether you run an accounting firm or are a self-employed accountant, delivering your services is only half the battle – you also have to market them. The process of marketing is far more complex than it used to be, and this pace of change is accelerating, so keeping up can be a job in itself. We’ve put together a list of the 14 best marketing strategies that every accounting firm should know.
The traditional way to engage with potential new customers is through outbound marketing. Intrusive methods like cold calling are now firmly out of favour, replaced by softer approaches such as advertising on community pages and in relevant local publications. If you’re a local firm – some lateral thinking can often pay off. For instance, sponsoring a local kids’ football team can be relatively inexpensive, but think of all those parents on the touchline at every match. How many of them might need an accountant, or know someone who does? If your name is on their child’s shirt, you’ll probably be their first choice.
One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways is to regularly post interesting content on your social media pages. As a bare minimum, make sure you’ve got up-to-date contact details and a link to your website so people know where to find you.
But to make your social media a more effective marketing tool, you could post news updates, thought leadership content that shows off your sector expertise, and share customer success stories that raise awareness of your services. LinkedIn is a great platform to start with. It attracts a professional audience, and clients can leave you valuable recommendations that are publicly visible.
Pressing on with your marketing efforts without a clearly defined strategy is what they call a ‘rookie error’. You might be struggling to find the time to sit down and work out your marketing plan for the month, quarter or year, but it’s one of the most sensible things you can do.
Plan out how you’re going to market your business, making sure to consider:
If you’re trying to get an idea of how effective your current marketing efforts are, make sure you’re tracking key marketing metrics. Basic metrics like website traffic and engagement will show you how many people are engaging with your business online. And to find out if these visits mean more customers, you can take a look at your conversion rate to see how effective your marketing is at getting you more paying clients.
Keen to avoid in-your-face advertising? You could try inbound marketing instead. Rather than overtly shouting about your services, inbound marketing draws new customers in by offering them a genuinely useful resource. As we explain in our dedicated article all about inbound marketing, it’s like a tasty bait for potential clients that hooks them in to find out more about what you do.
For example, you could share your accountancy expertise in a blog post on a topic like ‘how to fill out your self-assessment tax return’. Once you’ve enticed people to click, you can then direct them to find out more about your services. Even if they choose not to reach out for help this time, you’re still raising brand awareness for when they may need help in the future.
Content marketing is a key area of inbound marketing. If done correctly, it’s mutually beneficial for both you and your reader; you’ll give them an interesting piece of content to read and, in return, they’ll want to find out more about what you do. You can stick to accountancy-focused topics or share your thoughts on a wide range of subjects in the form of blog posts, newsletters, Facebook posts, listicles, Q&As and quizzes, to name just a few forms.
If you’re not a confident writer, you could enlist the help of a freelance copywriter to produce content for you. They’ll make sure you’ve got plenty of insightful, well-written and SEO-focused content to publish on your website, social media and to use as a teaser in your newsletters.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is one of the most powerful marketing tools. Essentially, it’s about getting your content to appear higher up a search engine’s results, with the aim of making it one of the first results people see. And, considering 75% of people never click past the first page of Google, it’s a vital part of making sure people can actually see your marketing efforts.
Try and include keywords that your customers are searching for, like ‘accountants in [your town/city]’ and ‘help with payroll’. You can find out more by using sites like answerthepublic.com to identify useful terms that will help people find your business.
The good news is that by listing with Unbiased, you can piggyback on the powerful SEO of the Unbiased website without having to do anything more.
There are lots of intuitive lead generations platforms out there, including OptinMonster, HubSpot and MailChimp, that can help you simplify the process of finding and converting new leads. You can track marketing metrics, create newsletters, find other relevant contacts and keep an eye on blossoming client relationships, among many other services.
Some offer a complete customer relationship management (CRM) service, allowing you to send emails, schedule follow-up meetings and check in with lapsed clients in one place. Others offer specialist services to address specific issues, which may be more effective if you’re struggling with one particular aspect of your marketing.
Keeping people in the loop about what you’re up to is a great way to make sure you’re the first name that pops up when they need an accountant. A newsletter is a great way to keep brand awareness among existing and potential customers high.
You can share any business updates, special offers or topical news stories or advice (such as during the stressful year-end period) and encourage people to visit your website to find out more. Make sure you include a call to action at the end of your blog posts or news articles to encourage people to sign up, so they’re always the first to hear your insightful take on the news.
It’s important to try commit to a regular flow of newsletters for consistency. That said, people’s inboxes are already overflowing, so if you don’t have anything genuinely relevant or valuable to add in a particular week or month, give it a skip. Your goal should always be quality over quantity, so that people aren’t searching for the ‘unsubscribe’ button. Again, paying attention to your newsletter metrics will help you figure out what works best.
While helping out local charities or good causes is rewarding in itself, you can use your kindness as an effective marketing tool as well. According to Forbes, 88% of consumers want to support brands that have a positive impact on the world around them, so showing potential customers that you’ve got a big heart is likely to help you win them over.
You could also sponsor fundraising events, grassroots sports teams or community initiatives to spread the word about your company and have a positive impact on your community. Make sure to share the results of your work on your social media pages and blog/news section of your website, with some high-quality images of what your donation or hard work has gone towards.
According to research by Adobe, 38% of users will stop engaging with a website if it looks unappealing. And if you’re spending lots of time, and potentially money, on filling your website with interesting content and information, putting your readers off with a confusing or ugly layout seems counterintuitive. You may have also set up your website before the mobile-browsing boom, meaning it’s not designed with non-desktop users in mind.
There are lots of free website building resources out there that can help you spruce up your web presence. Alternatively, you could enlist the help of a web designer to make sure your website’s layout is fully optimised for all devices and is appealing to visitors.
When it comes to something as sensitive as our finances, trust is an invaluable part of the accountant-client relationship. A simple and free way to boost your profile is getting previous clients to leave positive reviews about your business. They could write a review on Google or Trustpilot, or provide a testimonial that you can place front and centre on your website.
Marketing isn’t just about finding new clients. Making sure your existing clients are happy and establishing yourself as their only go-to for any accounting services is important too. Take the time to check in annually in a way that’s friendly rather than business-focused to show your clients they’re more than just pound signs to you.
Upselling is also a way to get more value out of existing customers. For example, if a client mentions they’re having difficulties with their company payroll, you could offer to take it off their hands in addition to the services you already provide. If you’ve built a strong relationship, there’s every chance they’ll agree or politely decline without impacting your current services.
If you’re struggling to get your name out there, signing up to an accountancy directory is a great way to connect with new clients. The Unbiased directory is only one of many benefits of an Unbiased plan, which also includes direct and automatic matching with suitable clients. This can provide a steady stream of new business via one simple, affordable marketing solution.
Find out more about how Unbiased can help you find new clients in your area and allow you to continue building your accountancy business.