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Marketing Channels for Your Accounting Firm

Gusto Editors  
Woman siting at desk smiling while reviewing marketing channels in front of her

Do you want to know how to reach new customers through your marketing?

Introduce your clients to payroll they’ll actually love.

In today’s evolving marketplace, there are more ways than ever to expand your firm. While this is exciting, it can be tricky to figure out which channels to use, how to use them, and where your customers are. With more marketing opportunities comes a need for a more nuanced approach. So, whether you’re doing marketing yourself or vetting professionals for your team, it pays to have a good grasp of marketing processes.

Gusto is committed to helping you in every aspect of your business. We hope that, once you’re done reading this article, you’ll approach multi-channel marketing with a new lens.

Gusto partnered with CPA Academy for the webinar “What is Marketing, and Why is it Important for Accountants?” featuring Gusto’s own Caleb Newquist. Besides being an exceptional writer and editor, Caleb was the founder and editor at Going Concern, a leading accounting news publication. Before Going Concern, Caleb worked as a CPA for nearly six years and brought his editorial eye, content expertise, and accounting background to this webinar topic.  In discussing marketing platforms, how to market on social media, and brand marketing, he answered the common question—what is channel marketing? 

What is website marketing?

First off, take a look at your website. Is it mobile-friendly? Are the services you provide clear and easy to find? Do you have a way to capture customer contact information?

According to Caleb, your website is the most critical marketing tool you have. It’s the first thing customers see when they find you, so you need to leave a good impression.

Cluttered websites, distracting titles and fonts, clashing colors, and an overabundance of imagery are major don’ts. Well-designed, functional pages and great content are all do’s. The importance of mobile optimization cannot be overstated. Not only do search engines penalize websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, most of the traffic worldwide is coming from mobile.

“So, as you may have noticed, there are lots of people walking around, looking at their phones. This is mobile traffic that is happening. So when people are walking around, looking at their phones, looking at your firm’s website, hopefully, it’s a very nice experience. But if it’s not, then they will probably go to another website that is giving them a better experience. That’s just the reality of how people surf the web and how they find information and navigate that information.”

– Caleb Newquist

Another important component of a website? Including short forms to capture information. You should have strategically placed forms embedded which customers can fill out quickly. You don’t have much time before a reader abandons your website. 

“If they’re clicking around, tapping around, you’re going to want to strategically place call-to-actions so they can get in touch with you. So imagine someone who’s on your website, and they like what they see, and they’re interested, but they can’t figure out how to get in touch with you, or it’s really difficult for them to find how to get in touch with you. They might get frustrated and just bounce out.”

– Caleb Newquist

Not only do short forms get client information, but they also provide a way for you to track leads. Additionally, you’ll want to have systems in place to track leads.

“If those leads become clients … that pay you money, then all of a sudden … you’ve discovered … how a website makes you money. And therefore you can calculate the return on investment that you’re making on your website.”

– Caleb Newquist

So what should be on a short form? Not a whole lot. Just a name and an email. You’ll want to incentivize customers to leave their contact info with a free trial or a free piece of content, such as a mini e-book. 

Creating an SEO-optimized website

Ideally, you’ve optimized your website for search engine optimization or SEO rankings from the very beginning. But if not, it’s well worth hiring an expert to begin the process. To put it simply—if you don’t have an SEO-optimized website, it will be difficult for people to find you.

Marketing team sitting around a table reviewing items with smiles

This isn’t always such a straightforward process. SEO optimization requires nuanced keyword and competitor research. Strategic placement of these keywords throughout your website requires a good eye and knowledge of the industry. 

One way that you can get started, however, is through a blog on your site. You’ll want to craft high-quality content on this blog in a process called content marketing. Your posts should showcase your expertise and proactively solve problems for customers. The purpose of content marketing is not to pitch offers to your customers. Let them take a step toward you. Take your step toward them with great content that shows you understand their needs and concerns.

“When those people are searching for answers to those questions, those problems, and solutions to those problems, you have given yourself—by virtue of creating content around those things—a good chance that those people will find your content and discover who you are.”

– Caleb Newquist

How to market on social media

There are so many great options for social media marketing. Not only is it a highly effective platform for sharing content, but it’s also a great place to connect and engage with prospects and even potential recruits.

Yet, choosing which platforms and methods you’ll use can be tricky. Before you launch into a campaign, ask yourself who you want to connect with.

“Do you want to use social media to market your firm’s industry specialization or its services to potential clients? Maybe you want to use social media to find new employees? Or maybe you just want to engage with clients and your peers about current events and trends and things? By answering that first question of who you want to connect with, that leads to the next question of, ‘Okay, we know who we want to connect with. Where are those people? Which platforms are they spending time on?’ “

– Caleb Newquist

Once you’ve determined which channels to use, create a content scheduling plan and stick to it. There’s also no need to overdo it—as Caleb shared, less is usually more. You don’t need to go after every single platform and post all the time. If you’re successful on one platform, double your efforts there. You’ll know you’re effective if the conversation and engagement you’re having online are being brought offline, where the real engagement begins.

What’s the original social media platform? According to Caleb, it’s email. It’s a great way to capture those leads that filled out forms on your website. Emails should be engaging to read, informative and interesting. Craft emails that customers want to open and read.

“The key to email newsletters is the content. So if you like email newsletters, you like reading them, think about how maybe you could emulate those for your own purposes. … The feel of them is a little bit more exclusive, so if that’s something that you’re looking for, if you’d like to provide your clients with a little bit more of exclusive behind-the-scenes kind of feel, an email can give them that much more so than anything on social media.”

– Caleb Newquist

Additional marketing channels

Networking and referrals

With so much being online these days, don’t forget about face-to-face contact (whether virtual or in-person). Scheduling regular networking events in which you can connect with potential new clients is a good idea. When selecting where to go, consider general business events instead of accounting events. You’ll have the chance to meet with representatives from industries you might want to target and gain a better understanding of those niches.

Young employees standing around glass white board reviewing sticky notes

Next, referral programs are a great way to connect with clients and your employees. Leverage the loyalty they have for you by asking them to encourage like-minded businesses and people to work with you. Offer incentives such as bonuses to do so. As an alternative, you might ask clients to leave a review for you on Yelp.

Brand Marketing 

Traditionally, accounting firms have presented themselves with minimal brand flair, opting instead to showcase the names of the partners with a minimalist or formal approach. However, things have changed a lot since these traditions were instilled, so you may want to consider rebranding with the help of a professional.

The goal of brand marketing is to create an impression on the viewer that is long-lasting. Prospects should immediately recognize you based on the visual, written, and spoken communications you put out. You’ll want to showcase your values, mission statement, culture, expertise, and what makes you unique. For example, you might be the accounting firm that caters to those in most elite or wealthy segments. You might craft a brand identity that focuses on exclusivity. Or, maybe you’re a small firm with a mom-and-pop feel, great customer service, and great rates. You’ll want your branding to reflect that approachability, friendliness, and accessibility.

Branding is a complex process that factors in both your company’s values and the audience you are targeting. It’s arguably one of the most important facets of your business, so it’s well worth putting time, energy, and resources into it.

Great marketing includes a combination of long-term and short-term strategies. Paid search marketing is one such short-term strategy.

“One of the easiest ways to get some quick exposure is to invest in paid search marketing, and that is just simply … using a search engine like Google and focusing on some keywords so that when people search for those keywords, your firm will appear high in those rankings.”

– Caleb Newquist

PPC or Pay-Per-Click is a common type of digital paid search. It works by displaying text or shopping ads on search engine results pages. You’ll need to pay Google for the ads, and you’ll receive your ROI when a customer clicks on an ad.

PPC ads are great in that they target customers who were already searching for a product you might be offering. As opposed to digital banner ads or print ads, which will run regardless of the audience, those who read your PPC ads are more likely to buy your services. This means you have a greater chance to boost your ROI significantly.

Creating PPC ads requires research into keywords and phrases. You’ll need to select keywords based on several factors, including competitor analysis and the likelihood of cost-per-click. The exact phrasing of the keywords is also essential.

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Learn more about marketing for accountants

Studies show that most accounting firms struggle to understand marketing processes. Given how essential they are to your growth, it’s worth taking the time to learn about them. You’ll be better equipped to vet and evaluate the experts you may hire, and you may even take on some of the marketing yourself.

A great strategy starts first and foremost on your website. It’s essential that your site is mobile-friendly, easy to use, and an overall pleasant experience for the user. Don’t lose customers because they didn’t like the experience on your site. You’ll also want to optimize the site for SEO rankings so your prospects can find you!

Engaging in multi-channel marketing means you’ll be doing outreach on various digital and print channels. Social media marketing is an excellent tool and can land you new clients through engagement. Among the many other marketing branches are digital marketing, email marketing, face-to-face networking, branding, and referrals. Find the channels that work for you and focus on those rather than spreading yourself too thin.

Here at Gusto, we want to support your firm in every way we can, including helping you reach new customers. Be sure to check out our previous article based on the same webinar “Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Accounting Firm,” if you haven’t already.

Our goal is always to create a world where work empowers a better life. Becoming a partner with us means you can earn CPE credits through CPA Academy, which hosts a variety of live educational webinars

Joining the Gusto Partnership Program, you’ll also get tools to help you expand your accounting practice and offer your clients new insights, plus a free payroll subscription for your own accounting firm. Sign up today! 

Updated: October 25, 2021

Gusto Editors
Gusto Editors

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