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Online marketing ideas for accountants

marketing ideas for accounting firms
Last Updated August 31, 2022
 - by Kathryn Yanchycki, CPA

For your accounting firm to survive and grow, you need to continue attracting new customers. But customers won’t even know about your business if you don’t get it in front of them with marketing.

While traditional advertising is still relevant, online marketing thrives and has endless possibilities. Accounting firms must showcase their expertise and specific services to gain new clients, retain them, and, in turn, have a successful accounting firm.

So whether you have already dived into digital marketing, have only used traditional print advertising, or have never marketed your business before, these options will help you market your accounting firm online.

Online marketing ideas for your accounting firm

  1. Professional website
  2. Google business profile and reviews
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  4. Paid advertising
  5. Blogging
  6. Social media marketing
  7. Email marketing
  8. Webinars
  9. Asking for referrals through email
  10. Video marketing
  11. Pitch to online publications

What is digital marketing for accounting firms?

Simply put, digital marketing is marketing that occurs online. For accounting firms, this means marketing accounting services and building trust by showcasing your knowledge through online channels such as your website, social media and email.

Marketing has evolved from being geographically limited and primarily through print or radio to endless opportunities online to reach people worldwide. Your accounting firm’s marketing plan should include a digital marketing strategy because 5 billion people use the internet today. Nearly everyone is online, including your ideal clients.

Why is online marketing important for accounting firms?

If almost everyone is online, there’s a good chance they will look there when searching for a new accountant. If you don’t have a digital presence, your prospective clients will find someone who does.

Online marketing allows you to reach potential clients outside your geographical area, which is great if you offer virtual accounting services. And also allows you to grow your network to drive referrals in the future.

An online presence lets you showcase your expertise and educate your clients and leads. This will build trust as they can see how knowledgeable you are in the industry and teach your client, so they will eventually become better clients with insight into their books.

Digital marketing, as opposed to traditional print marketing, encourages two-way communication with the people you are targeting, as they can interact and communicate with your accounting firm.

It also allows you to create targeted campaigns to customize your marketing based on specific demographics or where the audience is in your sales process.

You can also measure your efforts more easily by tracking views, engagement and more.

Ideas for marketing your accounting firm online

Professional website

A website is key for establishing an online presence. It can be the hub for your professional services, share important information about your firm and educate your clients and prospective clients anywhere in the world through a blog.

Just having a website won’t cut it, though. You must maintain your website with up-to-date information, such as accurate business hours, and high-quality content, such as relevant industry information and tips.

Not only will online leads head to your website, but offline leads will as well. Most prospects will check your business out online first to make a snap judgment. You really want to have a well-designed and clear website for them to find to make that first impression because design is such a huge indicator of trust.

Having this information will build trust with your potential clients showing that you know your information and will therefore feel comfortable with you handling their accounting needs.

A website can also showcase client testimonials from current and previous clients and any relevant awards and certifications.

Google business profile and reviews

Establish a Google business profile that will allow clients to rate and leave reviews of your business. It is free, easy and allows you to personalize the information shown about your business. Add necessary information such as your hours of operation and your contact information.

Customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider your business reputable if you have a complete Google Business Profile. They are also 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with a complete Business Profile.

Encourage existing clients to leave reviews and be sure to respond to all reviews, good or bad.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization, or SEO, drives leads to your website by optimizing your website and content for keywords that your prospective clients may search on Google. It is a great long-term marketing strategy but does not usually generate immediate traffic.

For example, your client may search for “tax deductions small business owners should know,” They will look at the search results on the first, maybe second, page of Google to find their answers. The goal is to rank your content on the first page of Google, which depends on many variables, including the quality of your content compared to others for that target keyword.

You can do simple keyword research to determine which keywords in your industry have high search volume but low competition to make it easier to rank. While SEO is important, it is also important to create content that your clients and potential clients want to read.

While SEO may not generate immediate traffic, paid advertising does. The downside? It costs money, you need to make sure you are targeting the right audience for your business, and you need to be able to convert those leads with a good sales process.

Google ads allow your content to be shown at the top of Google, distinguished by the word Ad in front. Whereas social media ads in which you pay to have your organic posts be shown to your target demographic can also be used as a part of your marketing strategy.

Blogging

After getting your website in place, you can add a new element to your marketing plan - a blog. By utilizing SEO strategies, you can write blogs focusing on keywords your potential clients are searching for on google.

For example, Your potential clients may be searching for information on tax deadlines for self-employed people. 

Keep in mind that if there is lots of competition for a keyword, you will likely not show up on the first page.

Social media marketing

Social media is a great way to build your online presence and, like everything, takes patience and consistency. Which social media platform to use depends mainly on your target market. 

For example, Linkedin is a great place to connect with professionals, and you can consistently share and interact with content to build relationships. 

These relationships may lead to potential clients, client referrals or connections in the industry.

Email marketing

Email marketing is another way to communicate with your target audience to get clients. Once you get potential clients on your email list, you can implement email sequences that build trust and expose them to what you offer and how you can help them.

A great way to get leads on your email list is to provide a lead magnet. A lead magnet is an incentive you give in exchange for the contact’s email address. The lead magnet must be relevant to the target market you want to attract, as you do not want an email list full of people not needing or wanting your accounting services.

An example of a relevant lead magnet for a tax accountant would be a checklist of business expenses and tax deductions for real estate agents if real estate agents are your target market.

With email marketing, you can send different emails to different targeted lists, such as one newsletter for current clients and one for leads. 

Webinars

Webinars are a great way to get in front of a large audience online and showcase your expertise. The best way to get in front of your target audience is to get featured on webinars in your niche.

For example: If you provide accounting services to not-for-profit organizations, partner on a webinar at a not-for-profit conference offering financial reporting advice specific to those organizations.

Asking for referrals through email

Referrals can be incredibly helpful to attract clients. Having your referral opportunity right in your email signature allows it to be on autopilot and keep it top of mind for clients receiving your regular emails.

Send an email specifically asking for a referral. You might not get it unless you ask, and it's something we often forget to do or avoid altogether. A specific email shouldn’t be sent too often but create a template and work it into your email workflow, such as right after a new client signs up, in your quarterly newsletter or in a follow-up email.

You can also add your referral opportunity to your email signature, which allows the client to see it often but not have it in their face.

Consider offering an incentive for referring a client, such as one month of bookkeeping free or a gift card. It is essential to establish the terms and conditions of this offer and review them with the referrer.

Video marketing

Educating through video is another excellent way to showcase your expertise. Video platforms, such as YouTube, allow you to upload videos to educate or entertain current clients or potential new clients. YouTube is free to use and is easy to upload to.

This can be as simple as explaining a few tax deductions that small business owners don’t want to miss while sitting at your desk.

These videos can be repurposed into other content such as blogs, emails and social media posts.

Pitch to online publications

Another way to get your firm out there by offering value is by pitching and writing articles to online publications to be read by potential clients.

Here are some online accounting publications accepting pitches for accounting-related stories:

Journal of Accountancy is accepting articles on tax matters and feature articles focusing on practical problems and solutions, corporate finance, technical, professional issues and the future.

CPA Journal is accepting news briefs or updates on developments in the profession, reviews of books, software, technology and other professional tools, perspective pieces, as well as specific technical interest and general interest manuscripts.

Establish yourself as a thought leader by offering your perspective on changes in the accounting industry or showcasing a solution to a recently-held client issue in your office. And better yet, if the publication links back to your accounting firm’s website, it is great for SEO (which means extra brownie points from Google!)

Mistakes often made when marketing online

Not hiring a professional

As an accountant, your specialty is accounting. Not only is that where your skills and expertise are, but you also probably don’t have much free time to focus on marketing. Not only that, but digital marketing is constantly changing and it is hard to keep up if you are not fully immersed in the space.

While there are definitely areas of digital marketing that you could likely DIY, other areas will get a better ROI by using a professional.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional just yet, you can DIY for now and invest in the future.

Relying on a single marketing channel

If you are new to digital marketing, start with one marketing channel and then branch off when you feel comfortable with the first.

Another way to easily spread your marketing across multiple channels is repurposing your content.

For example, you could create a YouTube video of the top tax deductions small business owners miss, repurpose that into a blog post, repurpose it into multiple social media posts, and repurpose it into email content for your newsletter.

Focusing on too many marketing channel

There seems to be a sweet spot between too few marketing channels and too many. Focus on 2-3 platforms that fit well with your target market and are working well for your firm.

You do not need to (and it’s impossible to) market your firm on all the available marketing channels and you will burn out so it’s important to keep it simple.

Not tracking results

Without tracking the results of your marketing, you will be unable to evaluate its effectiveness. Knowing what is working for your firm and what isn’t so you know where to invest your time and money. 

You can track a variety of ways, including asking your new clients how they heard about you, if you don’t already know. This will give you a good idea of how well each marketing strategy is working for bringing in new clients.

Not every effort online will bring in clients immediately and it is a long-term game, so you can also track results such as engagement on posts or positive reviews on Google.

Ignoring your competition

Don’t copy your competitors, but it's important to keep an eye on them to differentiate your firm from theirs. Emphasize your company's unique value proposition and implement appropriate marketing strategies that showcase them.

Not setting goals

Setting goals is the most important part of any marketing campaign. It helps you stay on track and measure your success. Without a goal, there is no direction for your marketing efforts.

Not marketing online at all

People who don't market online often do so usually because they're afraid of the unknown. They're worried that they won't be able to make it work, or they simply don't have the time to sit down and figure out a marketing strategy.

The good news is that you can use plenty of marketing strategies to get started without having to spend hours and hours on Google or in the library trying to figure out what your next step should be.

It's important not to let fear keep you from marketing online. The internet is an easy way for businesses of all sizes and shapes to reach their customers worldwide.

How to create a digital marketing plan for your accounting firm

A digital marketing plan is a strategy that helps your accounting firm grow through digital media and social media. It can be used to promote your firm’s accounting services and increase brand awareness.

Determine your marketing goals

You can look at both your short-term and long-term goals and use the SMART method of determining your goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Your overall goal may be to get more clients, which is relevant to growing your accounting firm but vague, hard to measure exactly and has no time attached

But if you change your goal to be wanting ten new clients before the end of the year, it becomes specific, measurable and time-bound.

You can also determine if this goal is achievable based on your previous growth and the implementation of your marketing strategy.Now ask yourself how. It could be a combination of different marketing ideas such as updating your website, creating a lead magnet, sending out an email newsletter and posting weekly on Linkedin.

Determine your budget

Suppose you are just starting and don’t have much marketing budget. In that case, there are lots of digital marketing options that are free or very inexpensive but just take time and effort, such as social media or pitching to online publications.

When you are in the position to spend a little more, you can look into paid advertisements and outsourcing your content that is optimized for SEO.

Identify your target audience

Your target audience is who you ideally want to work with. That may be small business owners in a particular industry, a specific demographic, or people in a particular life stage. 

Either way, it is important to become clear on who your target market is so you can understand where you can reach them, their needs and their pain points, and connect with them through your marketing and help them.

Based on your target market, choose your favourite online marketing ideas 

Determine which of these ideas is most likely to attract your target audience and then determine which seems achievable for your firm. If you are new to marketing online, start with one and diversify down the road.

For example, if your target audience is young professionals, you may want to begin with Linkedin and implement other social media platforms later.

Monitor, measure and manage

Once you have created your digital marketing plan, it is important to review it regularly and evolve with the changing digital environment and your firm.

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Creating an effective web presence is fundamental to establishing a good brand. Marketing online allows you to reach and connect with your ideal clients in a space that allows communication both ways.

If you can take some time to understand who your target market is and where to find them, as well as make online marketing a priority, you will be miles ahead.

The future of marketing lies in digital marketing, and so does your accounting firm.

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Kathryn Yanchycki, CPA

Kathryn is a Chartered Professional Accountant with over 7 years of experience in both public practice and industry accounting. She has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of individuals and companies, which gives her a unique perspective on what it takes to be successful in the industry. Kathryn loves all things business and productivity and has been able to combine her love for creating content into writing for accounting firms looking to improve their businesses.

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