What is accountant lead generation?
Online lead generation for accountants is using the internet to gain social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers, in order to turn visitors into customers.
These can come through to a variety of sources, such as your business phone number, your accountant firm website, your email account and your social media accounts.
What’s most important when growing leads?
Let’s start with mindset.
It might seem like an odd place to start, but it’s the most important element of your resolution to grow your accountancy firm online. Too often I see accountancy firm blogs which have been worked on for about a year, but then it all just stops.
It appears like it’s not working and therefore a waste of time, but typically their competitors continued on and now they’re benefitting. When it comes to blogs, they were usually writing on the wrong topics, and never promoting them.
Keep going! And be consistent!
The most important elements of growth of any business are consistency and persistency. Don’t give up. Keep trying. Keep learning. Keep spending time or money.
How to generate leads for accountants?
Below are the lead generation techniques discussed later in this article.
- Blogs; choose topics your audience care about
- Website; a UX website which defines your brand
- Social media; LinkedIn / Twitter / Facebook
- Email marketing; including A/B testing
- SEO; how to develop an effective strategy
- Testimonials & reviews; improving trust
- Business directories; determining traffic level
- Webinars & video; a modern approach
- PPC; driving ROI withConversion Rate Optimisation
Choose a few, and be consistent
It’s important to choose only the ones which you will really keep going with, or pay someone else to keep going with.
For example, if you love LinkedIn but hate Facebook, don’t bother with Facebook at all. Don’t even have a Facebook page.
A few modern digital marketing terms and concepts
Before we get to the actual tips and practices, there are some important online marketing concepts which you should understand.
These will help you to understand at a deeper level why these work.
If you’ve been on any blogs about lead generation recently, you’ll have heard of funnels. They’re incredibly important because most people don’t just decide today they need a new accountant and go and find one immediately.
Most qualified leads begin passively.
An example might be something like this: they’ll hear about you on social media.. and then they’ll hear about you again on a webinar, so they sign up to a lead generation magnet (defined next!), then a few months later something you say online reminds them they need a new services, and they start searching on SEO, and you come up, so they make contact through your website.
Marketing funnel for accountancy
You can see from this, there are an enormous amount of stages which need to be working effectively in order to be successful.
However, slowly, you can introduce these into your business.
Lead generation magnet
Mentioned above, a lead generation magnet is offering something of value for free to the customers and potential customers of your accountancy practice in order to encourage them to sign up, usually to a newsletter.
A lead generation magnet we set up with Leonherman accountants
A newsletter allows you to create campaigns – maybe twice a year each for two services you offer – as well as keeping your audience interested inbetween with information relevant to them.
Brand is totally misunderstood. It’s way more than your logo.
It’s your promise to your customers.
It’s every piece of communication someone has with you.
Typically, a brand begins when someone first hears about your firm. They percieve it as connected with certain other concepts: in your case accountancy, but also specific services like bookkeeping, tax specialist, business consultancy and corporate finance.
Brand is a personal connection in a single mind; one person for example may perceive McDonalds purely positively, and yet another completely negatively.
You can’t please everyone so it’s really important to know who your accountancy practice is attempting to court.
Client avatars & personas
The number one common mistake that businesses make in lead generation is not understanding their customers. This often leads to a very vanilla and dull view of the business, which attracts no one.
You don’t have to turn off anyone you want in your business in order to turn on the people you do want. You just need to understand their commonalities.
Who is your audience? A different content & visual style will appeal
Our client avatar questions
This is where building personas is so important. We always take the time to get to know your audience. You can see the questions we ask to understand your audience in more detail.
Inbound marketing vs outbound maketing
Inbound marketing is designed to create content which pulls visitors in, rather than creating direct sales messages.
It is more of a two-way communication since it focuses on understanding the needs of the customer, whereas outbound marketing is typically closer to selling directly.
Inbound marketing is the approach we favour.
Typically inbound marketing is seen on blogs, websites, newsletters , social media and SEO. Outbound marketing disrupts someone from their current thought process and is more popular on TV, billboards, telemarketing and in magazines.
1. An effective blog
Every single business should have an active blog writing around the subjects which matter to your audience. Taking this approach ensures you are working on softer and more helpful inbound marketing rather than outbound.
How do you know what to write on your blog though?
That’s where things really go wrong.
I did some deep analysis on a news site within the finance area and found only 3% of their blog posts were receiving traffic. It wasn’t anything to do with the strength of their site – they were just writing on topics no one cares about.
Using SEO tools to determine topic interest
We use tools such as answerthepublic and more advanced tools – along with Google itself – to determine how to write on topics which your audience will be interested in around the services you offer.
Data from SEO tools improve ROI
For example, if you offer specialist tax services, a topic I know people search for is “can I claim financial advice on tax”.
2. A great UX website
As you’ll note from the funnel above, your website features at every level of your funnel. There are no other elements which are more important to your business in converting potential clients into customers. There are many elements to creating a great website, and a few are below.
UX – or User Experience – is the feeling someone experiences while using your website. Are they excited at having found the right person, or are they annoyed and frustrated at not being able to find the information they need?
You can find out more information about UX and websites, as well as how we approach the problem.
What makes a great accountant website?
As a service based business, you must eventually lead people to individual or multiple services to solve their problem.
Focus on visitor problems, as well as accountancy services
However, if you only focus on services, you’re leaving the visitor to need to understand how to turn problems into services themselves. What seems obvious to you might be impossible for them.
I like to approach a website from two angles then: common problems and key services.
Calls to action
No website should leave visitors hanging and wondering what to do next.
Call to action links and buttons which meet the next action someone would want to take will ensure that visitors find the information which they want, and progress on a journey towards your contact form.
Visual design for your website
The visual design of your site leads a visitor to determine – subconsciously – whether it suits their needs.
The right visual design for your accountancy practice website is essential
This is why client avatars are so important. An accountancy practice which meets the needs of a man-bun millenial entrepreneur is totally different to one which appeals to a grey-suited businessman who has been working for 30 years.
3. Social media (LinkedIn / Twitter / Facebook)
Marketing 101 suggests that you should hang out where your audience are, and there’s a huge amount of truth in this. Growing and engaging with your network should be on everyone’s list.
Which social media channels do your customers use?
Your accountancy audience are almost certainly using social media, but which one? The best way to find the answer to this question is to ask them; send out a questionnaire to your current customers.
How can you make best use of social media?
Social media strategy is a huge topic and there’s a lot to know, but there are few important principles:
- Find out the content they want to consume, not what you want to deliver.
- Post consistently since the social media algorithms promote businesses who do this. You can use tools like SEMrush (affiliate link & special offer) to schedule posts, which helps tremendously.
- Engage on others’ feeds. This is probably the most important single lesson. Don’t just post .. follow & engage!
Direct messaging on Linkedin
If you are directly messaging people on LinkedIn, you should be prepared for a very low conversion rate and the sales message is incredibly important. It’s also essential to follow up the enquiry a couple more times at different times during the day, because people are busy and they forget.
It’s also important to connect to the decision maker – often the business owners – to ensure your aren’t ignored by the wrong person.
4. Email marketing
Email is still one of the most relevant forms of online marketing. If you can build a large amount of engaged followers and provide them with useful emails, you can build successful campains to sell.
However, it is typically done extremely ineffectively. Here are a few tips to improve the email marketing for your accounting practice.
Offer value to get signups
However, getting people to sign up can be hard. Businesses think putting an email address in is “zero cost”. It isn’t. It costs time in reading the emails which are sent out, and unsubscribing if they’re worthless.
This is why a lead magnet is so important.
A/B testing to find the content people like
About 15 years ago someone realised you could show two different versions of a web page to difference audiences and see which converted into customers more effectively. They called it split testing, although A/B testing is the more common term these days.
I asked Simon Jacobs who specialises in email marketing in fitness, but also works with accountants, what his experience has been
You can do the same with emails. Here’s how to do A/B testing on Mailchimp for example.
This will help you test and understand which types of content and layout are most effective with your audience.
5. SEO plus an effective strategy
SEO is the golden egg among lead generation since, once you have plenty of traffic coming in from search engines like Google, that typically remains consistent with less ongoing effort.
I own another business which generates 1.2 million visitors a year with little ongoing work. It’s a fantastic position to be in. In fact, it’s how I started with online marketing.
However, it’s also like pushing a boulder uphill initially and can be costly in the first year or two while you’re growing. It’s the long term choice. For a small business, it can take even more time to grow since budget is likely to less available.
SEO strategy for accountants
However, few accountants have managed to hit the right notes for an effective SEO strategy.
Initial improvements to Leonherman SEO
Typically there are 3 key elements:
- Content. Creating high quality content on your blog that your audience care about. This is discussed above.
- SEO essentials. It’s important to have the right content on your pages that Google will expect and which demonstrate expertise. Plus, it should be linked together correctly and there should be no technical SEO errors.
- External links. The links other people give to your website are incredibly important. This is the most difficult part of SEO and I oftenaim to gain some low hanging fruit using PR, but it isn’t always necessary for accountants due to the low amounts of competition.
6. Testimonials & reviews
Reviews & testimonials can be a fantastic lead generator. People are still incredibly swayed by social proof – where they believe that what other people value is also going to be your experience.
Honesty vs. fake reviews
However the review industry is plagued by false and fake reviews. People typically believe reviews from sites othe than your own, so some sites use Google reviews, Facebook reviews and independent sites like Trustpilot.
These can then be screenshotted and shared online. This is typically believed by more visitors.
A review left for us online
Making it easy for visitors to leave reviews
The other element of receiving reviews is making it incredibly easy. We have a link which redirects directly to Google reviews in order to leave us a review.
We make it very easy for people to use this.
If you just ask people to leave you a review, you’re asking them to do mre work than just leave the review.
7. Business directories
Often ignored by businesses, directories which receive useful amounts of traffic can be great sources of new visitors to your website.
However, which should you add yourself to?
Tyically the rule of thumb I have is, if I search for a service and see a business directory in the first two or three pages of Google, I would add myself. Otherwise, I would ignore it for a variety of reasons.
8. Webinars & video
One of my favourite modern lead generation techniques is using audio and video.
People have the opportunity to listen to you, and hear what you focus on in your accountancy practice.
Starting a channel
You can setup your own YouTube channel (but I don’t recommend it unless you’re committed) or your own webinar, and promote your business though this. With webinars it’s usual to find topics to talk about, and invite peple onto the webinar.
Other methods of releasing video and audio
You can piggyback off other peoples popularity too, of course. If the webinar or channel has a significant amount of listeners, you often will pick up some business.
Video particularly can go anywhere of course. You can add it to your social media, or your website, or a blog post. It’s grown hugely over the years.
However, which webinars and YouTube channels should you apply to?
Well, first off, I’d suggest approaching some of the smaller ones. They are more likely to say “yes”. You will need to get to know your industry and also the industries of your visitors in order to choose correctly.
9. PPC (Pay Per Click) & Conversions
Paying for a single visitor to your visitor might seem expensive, but done well, it can be extremely effective.
I typically don’t recommend Facebook PPC to accountants, but Google ads are effective. You can bid on terms like “Accountants Brighton” and suddenly be top of the list.
This is the most immediate form of lead generation. You could literally turn it on tomorrow.
Conversion Rate Optimisation
The essential second step though is the landing page – which is a term for the page displayed when someone clicks the advert.
It’s essential that the page you send your paid visitors to converts as many visitors as possible, either to making contact, or at least subscribing to your newsletter. Otherwise, you’re burning money, and accountants as a group aren’t a fan of this!
I use landing page generators (like Lead Pages) to build landing pages which are what a visitor from a search term would want, and then test them further with A/B testing to further increase the ROI.
If you are relatively new to lead generation, it can seem like a minefield. There are a millon different options and when you try them, they’re often unsuccessful.
However, with learning, practice and patience, they can begin to grow your business so you don’t only have to rely on your traditional approach to leads.
If you are looking for content, SEO or a new effective UX website, please get in touch.