The present economic climate has contributed to the accounting industry’s desire to capture new business opportunities. E-marketing can provide a more cost effective way of generating this activity than traditional initiatives. As the marketing arena evolves into an extensively online experience, continue reading below for three ways your firm can take advantage of the lead generation capabilities that online and electronic marketing provides.
1. CPA Email Newsletters – Consistent Communications Ensure Top of Mind Awareness
Creating an electronic newsletter is an approach that typically fits into the methodology that many firms use to go to market.The majority of accounting firms today prefer to reach their client base with some type of newsletter. An electronic delivery system can provide a means of not only reaching existing clients, but also increasing prospect exposure.
Prior to undertaking email newsletter distribution as an e-marketing initiative, it is first necessary to understand the rationale that drives business owners or individuals to seek out a new accountant. There are three main motivators:
- They follow their favorite. A preferred point of contact or favorite partner leaves a firm, and the client is not at ease with the transition. Once their ideal working relationship is lost, it becomes difficult to build rapport with other members of the firm. If a client does not feel comfortable and trust the changeover, they will seek services elsewhere.
- They feel a mistake was made. The client feels that there was an error made by the CPA, perhaps even resulting in unexpected penalties, and they are disappointed with the services provided.
- Their needs are greater than the resources the firm can provide. Clients who have outgrown their existing CPA will be on the lookout for a firm that can meet their specialized needs and provide expert service.
There is no way to predict when one of these events will occur. Effective marketing demands that your firm stay in front of prospects and referral sources with enough frequency to be present in their minds during any transition. When one of these events do occur, e-newsletter marketing ensures that your firm is top of mind.
CPA email newsletters regularly delivered with solid business and financial education material combined with information that touts the value of your firm will not only help you remain top of mind, but also provides value to your recipients. This type of communication can also provide a means for clients and prospects to frequently review your firm’s accomplishments and get to know your key team members. E-newsletters can reach beyond traditional business advisory topics to also deliver compelling messages from your firm that help to grow relationships by building trust and establishing credibility prior to the initial face-to-face contact.
This type of marketing works well for all CPA firms, but especially for those who wish to market in a more passive, less ‘salesey’ manner.
2. SEO – Enhance Prospects’ Ability to Find Your Firm through Search Engines
Word of mouth referrals still play a role in the CPA search, but prospects will often further research a verbal recommendation through search engines to see if a firm’s online endorsement, at the very least, matches what was spoken. This is the moment where the online search becomes a ‘first test’ of the strength and worth of your firm. If a prospect has to wade through thousands of search results to find you, the credibility of your firm may begin to wane in the mind of your prospect.
Additionally, a prospect choosing a ‘cold’ online search without the aid of a referral is even more heavily reliant on the page one results. As more and more firms begin to crowd each other out of the online search, it becomes imperative to actively ensure that your firm can be easily found among its competitors – ideally on that first page. The hard reality is that most of us only look at the first page. Which page does your firm show up on when a viable candidate looks for a new CPA firm?
Keywords and metadata embedded in your website’s code could help determine what page your firm will appear on, as (of course) would dedicated pages that discuss these services. If you are a CPA firm in Rockville, Maryland that specializes in services for government contractors, your website should have verbiage on your site that repeats these key words. Another huge factor that improves your search listing is fresh content. Regularly adding content on topics that are in line with your services will help raise your website’s search rankings, making it easier for prospects to find your firm.
Once prospects find their way to your website, you need to have some form of a ‘call to action’ to get them to take that first step and reach out to you. Examples of a call to action would include a free whitepaper, access to an analytical tool, an e-newsletter sign-up form, webinar registration or perhaps even a free initial consultation. When you successfully drive someone to visit your website, it is critical that this opportunity does not go to waste.
This type of marketing initiative can work for CPA firms interested in either passive or aggressive marketing solutions. Accountants at any stage are usually quite excited at the chance to follow up with a prospect who virtually raises his or her hand and says, “I’d like to get some more information from you.”
3. Metrics & Reporting – Use Click Activity Data to Warm Up Cold Calls
This approach is for firms that want to be more aggressive in their marketing efforts. To undertake this more proactive approach, you should understand how e-newsletters and telemarketing can work together. When your firm sends out an e-newsletter to your existing clients, prospects and referral sources, you inherently generate data from people reading articles in more detail. This data, or click activity, can then be gathered into comprehensive reports. The metrics generated illustrate the most active readers on specific topics of interest. This information can then be used to gauge the interest and needs of a prospect and warm up the initial phone call.
These are people who know about your firm. You have established name recognition and have an understanding of their potential needs based on the information they are actively reading in your e-newsletter. There are two ways to follow up on this data. Many firms have rainmaker-oriented partners who would be willing to make a few phone calls every month to high activity readers. The verbiage is simple: introduce yourself, site a particular newsletter topic that has had high readership overall (indicating that you’re calling because it might of interest to them as it has been with others), mention that you have a strong expertise in that area, and ask if they would be interested in meeting with you. Do not mention specifically that you know what they have read. If a rainmaker calls just 36 people every year, generating six meetings, it is likely that some new business would result from this effort.
Whether looking for a passive or more proactive approach, leads can be generated with an active and engaging e-newsletter campaign, enhanced search engine optimization and effective telemarketing based on capturing powerful data. No matter which avenue you choose to enhance your presence and drive new business, e-marketing offers a variety of strategies that any firm could easily employ as a cost effective means of increasing new opportunities.