Having worked with many accounting firms over the years, some immediate things seem to be commonplace across accounting marketing activity:
- accounting marketing isn’t even near the top of a firm’s priority list; and
- there’s a heavy reliance on driving partner leads through traditional networking and referral networks.
While some accounting firms focus on marketing, we generally find that the strategy is poorly planned, and the accounting marketing activity serves no apparent purpose or value to their audience.
For example, there’s usually a sprinkle of social media. Maybe a few blog posts. And typically only a quarterly email newsletter with the latest tax updates.
Most firms understand the significance of accounting marketing in their firm’s growth development but don’t necessarily know how it should be used.
Traditional accounting marketing usually focuses on mainstream advertising, be it on the radio, on a billboard or even on social media, hoping to reach as many people as possible.
But, given that we live in an age where all attention revolves around the internet, it’s impossible to ignore digital marketing when creating your law firm’s overall marketing strategy.
Imagine no longer needing to go to BNI networking events and receive a minimum of 12 – 15 bookings into your calendar for potential leads who want to hear from you and have you as their accountant!
Now, digital accounting marketing offers an excellent approach to targeting a specific audience who will find you have to say as relevant and helpful.
So, we’ve created this accounting marketing guide to show you the exact content marketing strategies we deployed to help our clients achieve anywhere from 2x to 4x the amount of inbound (yes, inbound) leads in under 12 months.
So, What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves creating and sharing educational material in the form:
- email and much more.
Why Should You Use Content Marketing In Your Accounting Marketing Strategy?
Have you ever thought about why referrals work so well? The answer is pretty simple: trust.
It’s because these clients have been told by someone they trust that you can solve their problems. And by doing so, they see value in what you provide.
It’s the exact reason that businesses hire business development team members. Building trust and relationships are the cornerstones of a business’ lead pipeline.
Content marketing does the same thing.
As a professional service-based business in a highly competitive space, you need to differentiate yourself from your competition. So trusting that your services will help them rather than another accounting firm’s services – that’s what it’s going to get you ahead.
By creating different content assets to help answer clients’ search queries, pain points and knowledge gaps, you’re essentially building trust, authority and expertise.
Whether it’s through social media, a YouTube video or a highly ranked article on Google, the goal is to be found by your targeted (potential) clients so that you can build trust and drive them to the next action you wish for them to take.
Rather than using “push” marketing tactics such as in advertising, content marketing expands on “pull” tactics to build captivation and trust.
By doing so, you can grow an engaged audience, which will help increase leads, provide valuable customer insights and create advocates for your brand and service.
People like working with accountants they know, like & trust.
How Should You Position Content Marketing in Your Accounting Marketing Strategy?
Over the years, we’ve perfected our 3-step framework to generate our accounting firm clients’ hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue.
Step 1: Attract
Many of our accounting firm clients had no existing database, and many started with zero online presence, so the first step would be to attract an audience by building your online presence.
Step 2: Educate
Once you’ve optimised your online presence and have started attracting an audience, you need to create content that educates the audience and how your accounting firm can help them.
Step 3: Convert
Through attracting and educating, you’ll have organically grown a substantial audience. Now you need that audience to become your client base. So this step requires nurturing with content such as case studies, emails and more stories.
Types of Content Marketing
If there’s one thing you should be doing, it’s video.
Online videos help professional service businesses, such as accountants, a position as likeable authority figures and is one of the single highest converting assets you’ll create.
Video content that focuses on education and entertainment (what we are now calling “edutainment’) is one of the best converting mechanisms available for accounting marketing.
That’s why video is still considered one of the best performing mediums of content marketing – especially with service-based businesses, as there is a need to focus on nurturing and building trust with potential clients.
For an accounting firm, video content is a great way to convey complex accounting and tax concepts in a simplified manner to engage with prospective clients and prove to them that you’re knowledgeable and trustworthy.
Your video content could focus on various topics around:
- Pain points – a specific problem that prospective clients may be experiencing and needing an accountant to solve
- Frequently asked questions – these can be common new client questions, for example.
- Upcoming changes to tax law that may impact your clients
- The “why?” behind the accounting firm and who you serve
- The firm’s origin story – storytelling is an essential part of creating that “human” connection with potential clients because it evens the playing field. You don’t want your clients to feel inferior to you. You instead want them to see you as just another one of them.
Some topics can include:
- Sole Trader vs. Pty Ltd Company structures – pros and cons
- How to minimise tax for your business
- How to register and enrol for the JobMaker program
- Why [INSERT FIRM NAME] serves [IDEAL CLIENT]
- X Mistakes business owners are making on [TOPIC]
- The X best accounting tools for your business
Once you know who your audience is and what information you should be putting out there, the next step involves writing a script.
You’ll want to base your video style according to the service you offer and the clients you’re offering it to.
There are also various styles you can shape your videos on, such as:
- Talking head
- Presentation recordings
- Behind the scenes
- Day in the life
- Onboarding/welcome videos for new clients
You don’t need to involve a professional agency like us to produce your videos. A simple phone camera video and a space (like your office) with enough natural light will get the job done well.
At the end of the day, sharing valuable information that is entertaining and educational is most important – not the production of that information.
We find that most of our clients underestimate how difficult it is to think and deliver in front of a camera simultaneously, so, depending on your confidence, you should either script before presenting in front of the camera or have notes as prompts.
We also suggest using the “chunking” technique – in other words, breaking things into bite-size pieces. Rather than trying to do the complete delivery in one take (which professionals can’t even do), deliver the script in chunks and piece it together when it’s edited.
Once your videos are ready to go, upload them onto your YouTube channel, embed them onto your website, share them on social media, email newsletters and any other forms of client communication to gain maximum reach.
Some tips we suggest when it comes to creating your video content:
- As difficult as this one may be for accountants, we find that dropping the corporate look for videos makes the content more relatable to the everyday audience. At the end of the day, you want to engage with potential clients, so you’ll want to be personable without looking silly.
- Keep things short, sharp and engaging. Don’t say anything more than you need to.
- Think about who your exact target audience is and what they need to hear.
- Incorporate story-telling and case studies rather than just facts.
- Avoid jargon – explain it as you would to a 5-year-old.
Accounting Marketing SEO – Blogs and Articles
Regardless of what kind of business you run, search engine optimisation (SEO) is still one of the best performing digital channels.
So, what is SEO?
SEO is short for search engine optimisation – it’s a way of improving your website’s search result rankings on Google.
The stronger your SEO efforts are, the higher your accounting firm’s website will rank. A high ranking website is essential for accounting marketing because a high ranking website with the correct search terms is a great way to increase conversions considerably.
This is because of SEO’s search intent nature – people are looking for answers when using Google.
And with more and more people preferring to have their pain points and accounting questions addressed via online articles, having quality written content will go a long way in establishing that growing your accounting firm’s awareness, building trust and demonstrating your expertise.
But achieving rankings on the first page of Google is both a science and an art form.
You have to be great at writing, understand how the algorithm works and ensure you cover everything Google’s bots want to see to give yourself the best chance of success.
So how do you ensure you give yourself the best chance to rank?
a) Research Accounting Marketing SEO Keywords:
Research keywords and search queries that people are entering into Google with problems your accounting firm solves. For example, “sole trader vs company”.
The foundation of optimising your blog articles are SEO keywords. You should generate content for your accounting blog based on what problems your accounting firm can solve.
You can use free tools like UberSuggest or Google’s Keyword Planner to research a keyword’s monthly search volume per month.
b) Write Better Content than Your Accounting Firm Competitors
Once you’ve got your keywords, you need to find out how you’re currently performing compared to your competitors.
Many variables could affect an accounting blog post’s rankings, but we find that the accounting firms ranked on the first page have great quality articles written using the skyscraper technique.
c) Build Links Back To Your Website
Accounting marketing backlinks (links back to your website) are viewed as approval of your website’s viability and trustworthiness.
They play a significant part in Google’s algorithm because the more quality links you have back to a web page, the more authoritative Google assumes it is, and the higher you’ll rank.
The opposite is also true – if you have black hat, spammy websites sending you links, you may find that your rankings fall due to this.
One way to generate quality backlinks is to create “share-worthy” content, like:
- helpful visual content like infographics;
- explanatory video content;
- referral companies who post about your accounting firm on their website;
- internal links; and
d) Track Your SEO Data
SEO is not a stagnant accounting marketing strategy. You need to analyse and track the accounting content you’re creating to determine which pieces are performing well and which aren’t, then optimise accordingly.
While SEO is entirely feasible to do in-house and not as complicated as you may think, it won’t work if you don’t measure, track and analyse the data. Most of our clients don’t realise that the most significant SEO success variables are effort and consistency.
Writing when you have time or going months without producing content will negatively affect your existing content. Google enjoys fresh and relevant content and has progressively made more in-roads toward this with their recent algorithm updates.
We find that many of our clients come to us for SEO when they can’t consistently produce content or simply want an expert in the space with proven results.
Despite SEO not being as ‘sexy’ as social media, it’s still, by far, one of the two best performing channels (YouTube being the other) to generate leads for professional service businesses.
One of our accounting clients generates an average of 180 – 250 leads per year through Google alone from a handful of articles we wrote for them. When you think about each file’s average value, this can exponentially impact your accounting firm’s revenue.
Email marketing is dead, they said.
Some accountants still doubt the power of email marketing. Many industries do – not just accounting firms.
And yet, year after year, we see incredible performance with email marketing in nurturing and driving enquiries. I know of hundreds of companies who have built their entire business revenue growth off the back of email marketing.
- It’s inexpensive – according to DMA, the average return from email marketing is $42 for every $1 spent;
- virtually anyone who has a smartphone or computer with access to the internet has an email; and
- you can automate and personalise your email campaigns.
This is your database to own, while all other digital marketing channels are at the mercy of an algorithm or provider.
It’s easy to assume that email marketing has to be a constant stream of aggravating advertising tactics. But, it doesn’t have to involve spam and nor should it.
What most businesses that use email marketing get wrong is that they ‘blast’ their database. The term “email blast” sends out the wrong connotations for email marketing best practice.
Successful email marketing strategies involve well-crafted, personalised, and highly segmented emails that maximise conversions.
So, what kind of emails should you be sending as part of your accounting marketing strategy?
To put it bluntly, no one cares about your latest company updates. Nothing puts someone to sleep faster than the latest company updates.
Seriously, no one cares.
What your clients do want to read is content that directly impacts them. Instead of reverting to boring old newsletters, sharing helpful content that addresses the specific pain points of a particular segment in your email list will yield better results.
The key to email marketing is segmentation.
For example, someone who subscribed and indicated that they were interested in tax returns isn’t necessarily going to want to see the content you publish about directors fees and vice versa.
Essentially, you want your clients to feel like you understand their specific needs and can help them with their problem.
Not only will you be creating engaging email campaigns, but you’ll also be driving more traffic to your various other marketing channels like your website, YouTube and even your social media.
While there has been an increase in social media presence when it comes to accounting marketing, it’s still a relatively new concept and isn’t being leveraged as well as accountants could.
This is a significantly and often missed opportunity due to inefficient use of the platforms. Effective social media marketing for accountants can help you attract prospective clients and build valuable connections.
It’s not just accountants, though. So many companies use social media the wrong way.
Most accounting marketing strategies treat it like a billboard when instead, you should be using it as a communication channel. And that means two ways of communication.
Most accounting marketing strategies involve posting content but end up not engaging, which is the #1 of losing your audience.
Because social media gives your accounting firm a way to directly interact with your target audience through comments and direct messages, you can engage potential clients to continue to nurture your relationship with – it’s a great way to “talk” to potential clients and build trust and expertise before they enquire.
Social Media is a place to build connections and to move people through their buying journey.
The content you create should drive them toward your website or prompt them to enquire.
For example, help your clients interpret any new schemes (like JobKeeper). Got a calculator or a tool people can use? Send them to your website.
Consider using the following social media platforms for your accounting marketing strategy:
- LinkedIn (you’re crazy if you’re not on this already)
- TikTok (yes, we’re serious – in the world of instant gratification, people LOVE any kind of 60-second tips and tricks. EVEN accounting advice)
Creating the Content Machine
Now that you know the forms of content you should be using in accounting marketing strategy, we want to share how it all works in practice.
Here’s the content machine we build for our clients.
It’s a strategy that we call the Pillar Cluster framework:
What ultimately stops accounting firms from executing a consistent content marketing plan is precisely in the term itself: a lack of a plan.
Using the Pillar Cluster Model, you’ll have limitless formats across all digital channels that will ramp up your digital presence and, ultimately, grow the awareness of your accounting firm.
With a single video topic, you can potentially re-purpose it into a limitless amount of other types of accounting marketing content without coming up with a new topic every time. You can:
- Upload the video onto your website, YouTube and embed them onto your blogs
- Export the video in an audio format and create a podcast
- Transcribe the script and turn it into show notes
- Re-purpose and cut your video into many smaller videos to be posted on social media
- Extract the best quotes and turn them into graphics or infographics
- Turn the topic into a full-blown article/blog
- Share your video or article to your email list every week
- Create an eBook lead magnet out of it
That’s at least eight ways you can repurpose one piece of content through all available accounting marketing mediums to generate as many leads as you can!
On the other hand, given the short-sighted nature of most business owners when it comes to accounting marketing, they believe ‘buying’ attention through Facebook ads will yield them better results, which we’ve found merely untrue:
- Initially, you’d have to create an offer page and find as many targets on the Facebook ads dashboard that you think would be relevant to your ad.
- Then you’ll have to add them to an adset based on the audience you would like to target. This is usually based on very general characteristics such as location, age and gender.
- After that, the ad is expected to drive traffic to your offer page.
Here’s the traditional way of doing things:
You’ll have to hope that the combination of interest targets, ad images, ad copy, and landing page converts a small percentage of the people into potential leads and continue optimising from there.
Unless you have a limitless budget, this can get expensive, really fast.
While you could drive traffic through Facebook ads, it’s worth noting the following points:
- People generally don’t go on Facebook to be sold accounting services and tax advice. Think about why you go on Facebook (or any other social media platform).
We log on to see what our friends and family are up to and interact with like-minded communities.
- You have no statistical idea of how much interest the ad actually targeted because Facebook ads targets are based on who you would like to be offering your service to and based on a hypothesis that you need to prove or disprove.
Traditional advertising and social media advertising can work – businesses have built and generated leads with no problems at all.
But we prefer to opt for a marketing strategy that focuses less on luck and more on certainty.
That’s why it’s not hard to believe that, according to Demand Metric, content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
It’s often too easy to just resort to Facebook ads because essentially, “it does the content work for you.” As we’ve seen, though, it doesn’t necessarily do the lead-generating work for you.
However, with content marketing, all the work is being done for you – content generation AND lead generation. You could say that it’s the equivalent of having a sales team working for you online, 24/7, on-demand.
If you can deliver evergreen, trustworthy and authoritative content that addresses the pain points of your targeted audience, then you can expect there to be enquiries for your services.
Hence, why we recommend our methodology for content marketing:
Rather than sending them to a sales page immediately, we look to build trust, expertise and authority while simultaneously capturing the audience through retargeting and email capture.
This is done through the traffic generation strategies we spoke about earlier onto a blog, podcast or video – an educational or value-based piece of content.
Email capture allows us to continue nurturing whenever we have new content published. At the same time, we’ve set up retargeting pixels that will enable us to set up retargeting ads on social media and search engines where we eventually drive them to an offer page.
Given the maturity and sophistication of the modern-day internet user, we see far greater conversion rates with law firms when trust and expertise are built first rather than going in for the sale.
What are the Next Steps?
Gather your team and get brainstorming on your law firm’s marketing strategy:
- Map it all out and set up a project management tool – you could use calendars or spreadsheets, but these management tools are a great way of managing all your tasks and time.
- Decide on your publishing schedule and channels – what will your preferred content be? Is it videos and blog posts? Podcasts or Ebooks? Or is it all of the above? And then decide when you’re going to publish it.
- Assign roles – if you’ve got a big team, you can have one person look after each channel.
- Build the content creation approval process – what is the production line? Who is going to give final approval?
- Start creating and publishing! There are various tools you can use at this step:
- Engage with your audience – reply to your comments, answer your direct messages and make sure you focus on building that personal client relationship on all platforms.
Once you have a well-oiled content marketing machine working, content creation becomes effortless, and your accounting marketing is virtually automated.
All of this is entirely possible with the resources you have on hand without spending much more time or money in creating the content.
Of course, if you prefer to have someone like us at Social Wave take care of it all, get in touch with us today to find out more.