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What your website needs to increase traffic and sales

It can be hard for accountants with little or no web experience to know if they have everything they need on their website for it to truly be successful.

A truly successful website is one that gets continual traffic, can grab visitors’ attention and convert visits to sales. Here are some features accounting firms need on their website to attract more traffic and bridge the gaps to achieve some returns from their online presence.

A mobile version
With the majority of people now accessing the internet on mobile devices than personal computers, firms need to ensure their clients’ mobile visits to the website are seamless. Google has expanded its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal providing another reason for firms to ensure they have a mobile version of their site.

A fast loading time
Slow websites often result in potential clients leaving before they get to have a good look around. Many free sites provide the opportunity for accountants to test their website’s speed. If you discover an issue, find out what needs to be fixed and fix it.

An email signup form
Not having an email signup form means new visitors arriving to a firm’s website means the firm isn’t able to collect their email addresses to engage them with promotions, announcements or newsletters. Firms can easily embed a signup form on their website to collect email addresses and additional details from your customers.

Social media icons on the website
If your firm is having a hard time building your social media following, make it easy for clients to follow you by adding social media buttons and icons to your website. Having easy-to-spot social icons on your website may result in an increase in followers, likes or retweets.

A phone number and physical address
Firms should post their physical address and contact number on their Contact Us page or at the bottom of their homepage. Most people feel more comfortable if there’s a phone number they can call with questions or concerns.

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What do clients want?

It is more than likely that every accountant has asked himself or herself this every time they fail to sign a prospect or lose a client. What is it that the client is looking for, and what else can I do to attract or retain business?

On the surface it may seem that all a client wants is a good product delivered at a fair rate. Of course, this is generally true, but it is only part of the picture. Whether it is apparent or not, people weigh up a number of factors when deciding whether or not to engage or leave an accountant.

Since different clients have different requirements, it is not possible to say that one factor is more important than another. The point is to be aware that with each client or prospect any number of these factors could be influencing his or her decision and try to respond accordingly. To get an idea of why your clients have chosen your firm, just ask. This can be done on an informal or formal basis and may help you define key characteristics (or not) that attract clients to your firm.

Accessibility

Hard as it may be from your side, clients expect you to be available when they need you. Mostly this means returning calls promptly, but it also means giving the client quality attention from time to time. Remember, most of your work for clients is invisible to them and so has very little impact on their evaluation of you. This makes the time you spend in direct communication with them all the more important.

Industry background

Most business owners are absorbed in their field and tend to assume it is much more complex and difficult to understand that it really is. Moreover, because of the most part they do not understand accountancy they often overestimate the importance of the accountant’s being familar with the industry.

Whether or not this is a significant factor from your side, the important thing is that it is often perceived to be so from the client’s side. If you want to win major clients, therefore, you must demonstrate at least a basic familiarity with their sector.

Future orientation

One of the main reasons accountants seem to be living in a different world from their clients is that while the client is concerned with what is happening now and what will happen in the future, his or her accountant is busy producing reports on what happened in the past. Most clients would prefer their accountant to help them understand what dangers and opportunities lie ahead and advise them on possible courses of action for the future.

Location

It is surprising what a difference an address can make. I know one firm located just inside a small town that is adjacent to a large city. He tells me that he has virtually all the business in that town because local business people would rather work with someone from the area than with a large city firm. Conversely, another firm that recently moved its office from an expensive inner city location to a less expensive site in a nearby town still retains the city name on their letterhead so as to continue to attract more affluent clients.

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Quick and simple LinkedIn tips for accountants

If your firm is looking to promote your online content, LinkedIn is the place to be. With around 414 million users, it’s full of active working professionals, providing plenty of opportunities for your firm’s content to reach a wider audience.

However, it also means that it can be tough for small accounting firms to stand out in the crowded news feed.

Increasing reach and engagement on your firm’s LinkedIn page can take a lot of trial and error. For those looking to make an immediate impact on their performance, start with these three quick and easy tips.

Use large images
Using images on social media improves the effectiveness of social media posts, which is particularly the case on LinkedIn. Adding large images to posts (as opposed to using a link’s thumbnail image) can substantially improve a post’s performance.

Larger images draw more attention to the eye which is extremely beneficial when posting content on LinkedIn. This is probably because large images take up a lot of space on LinkedIn and colours tend to stand out against the grey-blue background.

Leverage group announcements
If your firm has its own group, be sure to use LinkedIn group announcements. Group announcements can be sent once a week to group members. If members have email notifications turned on, they will receive a notification in their inbox. The announcement will also appear in the group so all members are aware of and can join the conversation.

Involve your entire team
Social content promotion is a team effort, and LinkedIn is no exception. Sometimes a boost from a firm’s team is all their LinkedIn content needs to take off. For example, firms should communicate with their team when they need a social boost by sending out a regular email that includes click-to-share links so everyone can easily share the right content with the right messaging.

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Five ways firms can increase Facebook engagement

Facebook now makes up a significant piece of the social media marketing puzzle for most accounting firms. It is a social platform where accounting firms can organically reach their target audience fairly quickly (without using paid ads).

However, since the engagement a post receives now determines whether or not it will appear in a person’s newsfeed, firms need to find ways to boost their posts’ engagement levels. Facebook tracks posts that receive a high number of comments, shares and likes and shares them with users who are likely to be interested in that content.

The problem this poses for accounting firms is that it is harder to get those likes, comments and shares when posts aren’t being seen by a large portion of their target audience. Firms need engagement to show up in their followers’ newsfeeds, but they need to show up in their newsfeeds to get the engagement.

Luckily, there are ways firms can reach their audience and boost their Facebook engagement, despite the new newsfeed changes. Here are five tactics firms should try to start getting more likes, comments, clicks and shares on their Facebook posts.

  • Post at the right time

As more people join Facebook, the more posts there are for firms to compete with. The trick is to post when engagement is the highest, not necessarily when the most users are logged in. And although most people check their Facebook during the day, most engagement happens at night between 10 p.m. and midnight. At night time, fewer posts are published so users have more time to go through and engage with each post.

  • Share content followers want to see, not what you want them to see

If firms want people to engage with their Facebook posts, they need to share content people want to see. Often, firms assume just because they’re in a certain industry, all of the content has to be directly related to that field. The problem is that most users don’t want to read about the same thing every day. To balance it out, firms should broaden the type of content they share.

  • Reply to people

Don’t just publish a post and move on. Firms should check their comments throughout the day so that they can reply as quickly as possible. The majority of people who leave comments for your firm posts do so because they resonated with what was published. Firms that make these users feel heard and appreciated are likely to see the same engagement for their future posts as well.

  • Shorten your posts

People don’t visit Facebook to read long form content so firms need to make sure their posts are short and sweet. Facebook posts that are between 0-50 characters long receive the most engagement. The more characters a firm adds after that, the less engagement they can expect.

  • Create blog posts specifically for Facebook

Since links have more reach on Facebook, firms should start creating content on their blog specifically for Facebook and share this on Facebook. Firms should begin by searching for keywords they’d like to write about or look at content about topics that are highly shared on Facebook.

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Seven reasons why every accountant needs a website

With 94 per cent of Australians now using the Internet daily to search for information and compare prices prior to contacting an accounting firm, having a professional website has become a key necessity for today’s accountant.

Most accountants are accustomed to building their business through referrals. But in today’s market, that network can only take you so far.

As more consumers turn to the Internet to gauge a company’s legitimacy, a website now provides one of the first chances accountants have to make a good impression on potential clients.

However, accountants must have a professional-looking site if they want to be taken seriously. A well-designed site will project the image and professionalism of an accounting firm. But a website that is visually unappealing and hard to navigate around will lose the firm’s chance at making that good first impression.

Having an online presence has become an important part of an accountant’s business. Here are the top seven reasons why:

  • It reaches potential and current clients

The emerging generation has never known life without a digital world of connection. Considering the rapid growth and popularity of social media and blogs, it is evident that without a credible web presence, accounting firms don’t exist for an expanding segment of their target market.

  • A website communicates with clients 24/7

Even during times when your office or practice is closed, your website remains open to the public. Online viewers can get to know your firm and the services it offers through the information provided on your website at their convenience – no need to set up a meeting or interview.

  • Improves firm marketing

Printed marketing material, such as business cards, newsletters and other stationery is static and often given to potential clients after a first impression has been made. A website is dynamic and can help firms make that good first impression on clients. It can also help reinforce the messages of a firm’s printed marketing material.

  • Increases a firm’s brand awareness and recognition

Websites can reveal a personal side of a firm that prospective and current clients won’t usually see through standard marketing techniques.

  • It expands your reach

People no longer have to travel to your office to access your services if you have a website. An accountant’s website provides access to the public from the comfort of their own space.

  • Increases a firm’s online visibility

A well–built website can increase its visibility to search engines, like Google, which people use to find information online. A firm with strong online visibility, therefore, can drive more traffic to their website.

  • Keeps firms ahead of the competition

With potential clients basing their decisions on the standard of a website, an engaging and usable site can help level out the competition between your firm and your competitors.

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How to write a compelling marketing email

No matter how eye-catching, colourful or unique an accounting firm’s email newsletters or campaigns look, if they lack well-written, high-quality and relevant content, subscribers (clients and potential clients) will stop opening and start deleting and unsubscribing to the messages.

Plain-text emails that are well-written have the power to perform just as well as highly designed emails, decorated with photos and links.

For accountants struggling to write an engaging email, it is best to break it down to a few writing practices that can be applied to both the subject line of an email and the email’s main message.

  • Use actionable language

Incorporating verbs like ‘take’, ‘ask’ and ‘buy’ in an email lets readers know exactly what they can do in the email. Accountants should use language that makes it clear to readers what they can do with the information in the email if they open it.

  • Personalise the content

Segmented emails tend to have higher performance levels than emails that aren’t personalised. The more segmented an email list, the better accountants can personalise the subject line and provide relevant content to a large number of email recipients.

  • Deliver on what the subject line offers

Emails must also deliver on the subject line’s promises. When a firm’s readers don’t get what they were promised in the subject line, the firm’s email click-through rates will fall.

  • Be brief

One of the worst mistakes an accountant can make in an email is squeezing in as much information as possible into the email message. Readers are more likely to scan emails for important points to glean the overall message and decide whether they want to take any action.

Sending an email with hundreds of words of copy makes it more difficult for readers to decide whether they want to click through for more. Accountants should try to summarise their content in a compelling way and provide readers with the option to click through to their website for more information.

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Top tips for marketing on Facebook

For accountants who want their online marketing content to reach consumers and potential clients, having a presence on Facebook is a must.

Facebook continues to dominate the social marketing landscape, with over 1.09 billion people logging in daily. However, for accountants to make the most of a Facebook page i.e. attracting and engaging visitors, they need to optimise their Facebook presence first.

Since learning the ins and outs of various social networks is time-consuming and often confusing for accountants who are not ‘social media savvy’, here are ten simple tips accountants should follow to make the most out of their Facebook marketing:

  • Create a business page; don’t use a personal profile

Accounting firms must create a business page for their firm to accurately represent their brand. Business pages look similar to personal profiles, but they include unique tools accountants can use to market their firm. Followers can ‘like’ the page to receive updates in their news feeds (something that can’t be done with personal profiles).

  • Upload a recognisable profile picture

Upload a profile picture e.g. firm logo, team photo that visitors will easily recognise. A firm that can be recognised easily is more likely to be found and ‘liked’ by visitors.

  • Include a call-to-action button

Firms can place a simple call-to-action button at the top of their Facebook page to encourage visitors to take a certain action e.g. ‘contact us’. Accountants can choose from pre-made button options like ‘book now’, ‘sign up’ and ‘contact us’ and link that button to any homepage, landing page or contact sheet that aligns with the firm’s marketing goals.

  • Prioritise sharing quality content over quantity

Unfortunately, posting your firm’s content frequently on Facebook does not guarantee that you will reach more people. The visibility of Facebook posts in others’ newsfeeds depends on the quality of the posts. Facebook algorithms filter out irrelevant and poor quality posts so the highest-quality content is shown to users. Therefore, firms should spend time creating better Facebook posts instead of simply posting a lot of Facebook posts.

  • Post more visual content

Facebook posts with images can see up to twice as much engagement than posts without images, which is why posting visual content is one of the best ways accountants can improve their Facebook strategy. Try uploading a mix of visual content, including photos, videos and infographics.

  • Attain the ‘responsive to messages’ badge

Businesses that respond quickly to users via Facebook messages earn a ‘very responsive to messages’ badge below the page’s cover photo. For businesses that aren’t very responsive to messages, nothing will appear. While it may not seem like a necessary feature to have on your firm’s page, the badge does inform users that a business is listening and cares about customer needs.

  • Add Facebook buttons to your firm’s blog and website

Adding Facebook social media buttons to your blog and website can help encourage website visitors to also connect with your firm on Facebook.

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How to blog better in less time

Blogging is one of the best ways accountants can improve their website’s SEO rankings, increase traffic to their website and regularly share high-quality content on social media.

However, the above results can only be achieved if accountants post content to their blog on a regular basis. While the idea of blogging regularly can seem daunting to the time-poor accountant, there are ways they can speed up the process and still see the same results.

  • Read other blogs

If time spent brainstorming or researching ideas is taking up too much time, have a look at what other industry professionals or your competitors are writing about. This can help accountants see what topics or subjects resonate with their target audience, and also help find new ideas or material that can be built on.

  • Write about what you know

Rather than wasting time researching a topic or subject that you don’t know much about, focus on your professional expertise to provide clients with information they can use. Sometimes the things that seem simple to you are far more interesting and valuable to those looking for more information on that subject.

  • Keep yourself accountable

When you have a firm to run and clients to attend to, ensuring that your firm’s blog is consistently updated doesn’t usually find its way to the top of an accountant’s to-do list. Nevertheless, maintaining a consistent blogging schedule is key to a firm’s online marketing strategy. Share your blogging deadlines with colleagues who can help contribute to the blog or edit posts when you don’t have time.

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Publishing social content to your blog

A common struggle for accountants, and indeed, most online marketers is finding and producing content that will engage their target audience.

Most accountants work hard to publish informative and helpful content for their clients and online readers. However, this can sometimes be perceived as boring by some as it doesn’t make an emotional or social connection to the reader.

A solution to this kind of situation is social content; content which is a cross between social media and online content marketing.

The purpose of social content is to pull a target audience into the content creation process, making the content more personable and relatable to readers.

Here are three ways accountants can work more social content into their online posts:

  • Post client stories

Client stories can be engaging to readers, as gets them involved with your firm. Client stories share clients’ insights, feedback and emotion during their journey with your firm. Since they are focused on an individual, it emphasises a social connection.

To include these kinds of stories on your firm’s website or blog, ask clients to share their success with your firm. Flesh out stories and create regular posts that highlight the biggest achievements your clients have experienced with your firm.

  • Use blog comments to create social content

Blog comments from clients are a great source for sourcing ideas for blog posts that address topics of interest to readers. If your blog doesn’t receive many comments from clients, try posting questions to your firm’s social media channels on a particular topic, and compose a blog post based on the response received. These social content strategies involve a firm’s audience, and can help make it more likely to spark future engagement.

  • Include links to resources in your content

Publishing blog content that includes links to resources that support an accountant’s ideas can add authority make the blog a more trusted source of information. Content is much more impactful and resonates with audiences when it is supported by information from experts within the industry.

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Increasing organic reach on social media

Amping up your organic reach on social media does not have to be difficult or complex.

Although organic reach has significantly declined over the years, sustaining social traffic is still possible and just requires some good search and content practices. Here are three ways to improve your business’ organic reach:

Keyword research
Explore both broad and specific terms that your target market are looking for in your industry. When you discover what keywords are driving traffic to your content from search, make sure to include them throughout your posts.

Monitor competitors keywords
Not only is it useful to know what keywords your business is searching well from, it’s good to see what keywords are helping out your competition. Monitoring social media engagement and conversations is helpful for this. Look beyond the obvious competitors to other brands that may offer adjacent products that are taking traffic for your keywords.

Vary content types for each platform
Consider creating content in multiple formats for a trending keyword or topic and mixing up which content is shared on each channel. Creating a variety of content formats such as blog posts, videos, images, webinars etc. will help engage with your existing audiences while attracting new targets.