Accountants and accounting firms are facing more competition for business than ever before–and not just from competing firms! Now, you have to compete against big-box companies and fully automated online services like Quickbooks and TurboTax. And while you certainly understand your competitive differentiators and the services you can offer, which no software is currently capable of… people searching for your services online don’t.
That’s where digital marketing comes in. Developing a comprehensive digital strategy for your accounting firm can help you increase brand recognition, increase qualified traffic, and–ultimately–increase client acquisitions. We’ve gathered these digital advertising tips for accountants to help you grow your online presence and your business!
Advertising Trends and Insights You Need to Understand
When digital marketing was still relatively new to corporate America, about ten years ago, having a regularly updated website and Facebook profile was enough to put you ahead of 90% of the competition. As businesses watched their customers complete more and more of the customer journey online, the internet became inundated with brands ready to compete for their attention.
According to the Pew Research Center, the average American spends over 6 hours a day online. 85% of Americans are online on a daily basis, while 31% say they are online almost constantly during waking hours. 5.4 of those hours are generally spent on smartphones and other mobile devices.
This statistic may have been surprising to some of us even a few years ago. But in 2020, many of us cycled from “bad screen” (work computer) to “good screen” (phone and TV) pretty much constantly. Industries that were already offering online and remote delivery options for their services increased sales while others scrambled to catch up. Even as we return to “normal” the reality is that a large portion of our lives is now completely lived online. And we won’t be going back.
This means there is more opportunity–and more competition–than ever online for small businesses. The average person is exposed to over 5,000 online ads per day. If this number feels high, slow down and try to notice all the ads as you work and play online today. Sponsored Facebook ads, remarketing ads on news sites, ads that play before YouTube videos and that interrupt your Spotify playlist, ambient ads in your podcasts, product placement in Instagram and TikTok influencers’ videos… the exposure is so constant that we’ve become numb to it.
Research shows that as digital users become more savvy about advertising practices, it takes more time and effort to reach them. On average, someone searching on Google comes across five ads, eight influences to research, and 4 providers during each stage of the buying cycle. That’s 1.7 million targeting possibilities.
This means that to stand out and reach your audience, you have to find a way to capture their attention. Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t have the full-time marketing department and enormous budget that give major brands the advantage.
But before you panic and give up, remember that you do have several advantages over the big guys when it comes to digital advertising. As a local accounting firm, you can localize and specialize your SEO efforts, ad targeting and spend, content, and messaging in a way that is difficult for national corporations and huge brands to imitate.
You know your local client and audience better than anyone. Use this to your advantage to tailor and deliver your advertising campaigns at the right time, in the right place, and with the right message. All of our digital advertising tips for accountants are based on this philosophy.
Your Digital Advertising Options and Platforms
Remember when Facebook was the only social media platform you had to worry about? Those days are long gone, and now there are dozens of platforms to which you can devote your attention and marketing budget in search of new clients.
Social Media Platforms
Social content and advertising allow you to build your brand voice and persona, while directly connecting with your community. Offer discounts for following your page, keep content engaging and valuable with specials and frequent updates, and ask people for their comments, reviews, and opinions to better inform your services.
For accountants, we recommend Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube as the platforms with the highest ROI. These all allow you to post long-format content that directly engages the customer by answering questions and educating. How-To and FAQ posts and videos are very helpful for people who are researching accounting and tax services. LinkedIn is great for networking and recruiting.
SEO and Content
- Google My Business
- Google Reviews
- Directory Listings
- Website Schema
These tools are best used to organically draw people to your website. Produce high-quality content that answers real queries. Make sure you’re doing your keyword research and writing to those terms. Fill out your Google My Business profile completely and become verified so people who need your services right that moment can easily access your information. Clean up your directory listings to ensure that when people do find you, they’re able to contact you easily.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Display Ads
- Retargeting Ads
- Search Ads
- Video Ads
SEM is all about supporting your branding and organic efforts with paid advertising. But instead of major commercial campaigns, as a small accounting business, you should focus on finding the people who are looking for your services, in your area, right now. Spend your budget on highly targeted and geofenced ads based on keywords like “accounting services near me” and “best accountant in Albuquerque”.
All of these platforms and tools work together in a holistic, symbiotic relationship to aid one another. Social and SEM drive people to your site where your content should engage and convert. Your SEO efforts make your social presence and content more visible in search results and increase your quality score with Google, making SEM ads cheaper.
The Best Digital Advertising Tips for Accountants, CPAs, and Financial Planners
#1 Set Clear Goals for Your Campaigns
What are your marketing goals? Are you looking for more sales and client acquisition? Are you trying to increase brand awareness or improve your online reputation? Are you trying to engage and delight your current customer base?
It’s vital to understand your own goals because this will impact everything from which platforms you use to how you allocate your budget to your target audience. Setting goals help you organize your campaign and maximize your ROI.
#2 Know Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience is one of the most crucial elements of the right time, right place, right message campaign. Look at your current or desired client base and make sure you have a firm grasp on their demographics–age, income level, geographic location, political preferences, interests, etc.
Building a complete client profile will inform everything from your keyword research to your location targeting in ads. The more detailed you get, the more qualified your traffic will be. And the more qualified your traffic, the more likely that the people on your site will convert!
This also allows you to maximize your budget by only spending money on the exact people you want to reach in the moment you want to reach them.
#3 Refine Your Messaging and User Experience
While your goals and targeting are important for you, what your potential clients care about is your messaging. Make sure that your words, images, and landing pages all convey a cohesive and attractive message that explains exactly how you are going to solve their problems or answer their questions.
Make sure that it is easy and intuitive for your clients to get the access they need. For example, if they click on an ad after searching “tax preparation near me”, they should be led to a landing page about how you help with tax preparation complete with Contact Me form and/or Call Now button.
Speak directly to your customers using your goals and targeting data to refine the message appeal to the client.
#4 Track Everything and Dig Through the Data
Once you have released your campaign, the most important step is tracking and reporting. You could get all the interactions and clicks, but if you have no data, you cannot improve your future campaigns or get a sense of your true ROI.
Data also helps us better define the customer journey. We tend to focus on macro-conversions like the final sale or contract being signed. But all the little steps leading up to those moments are what make them possible.
Tracking micro-conversions like site traffic, brochure downloads, form submissions, and phone calls all paint a broader picture of your specific customer journey. This allows you to refine your targeting and increase your return on investment by putting money and effort where it has the most impact.
Remember, today’s interactions are tomorrow’s conversions!
#5 Don’t “Set It and Forget It” – Optimize Constantly
Launching a new campaign feels like an end, but it’s really only the beginning. With good tracking, you can optimize your campaigns not just in the future, but in real-time. Noticing that people are responding to a certain display ad more than others? Use the same or similar images in other areas.
Adjust your targeting and audience based on the demographics reported on your interactions. Change your keyword bids if people aren’t searching for the terms you thought they would… the opportunities to optimize and tweak are limitless.
And use the information you gather to create even better campaigns next time! This makes your money go further and increases client engagement because you are refining your content to match their interests and responses.
# 6 Invest in Your Success and Expand Your Reach
As engagement and conversions increase, you’ll have more to pour into your efforts! This is the most exciting stage because you’re seeing results. Make sure that you build on your momentum by expanding your efforts and budget with your success. This keeps you from stagnating and should snowball into better and better results.
If you start with search advertising (a very good place to start) and see results, the next step is social advertising. When that goes well, display ads are the next layer. And when you have the bandwidth and production value, video ads add a lot of value and engagement to your campaigns.
Scale your efforts up as you grow and reap the rewards.
Surefire Local for Accountants
Looking for more digital advertising tips for accountants? Schedule a demo with Surefire Local. Our all-in-one digital marketing platform is designed to help you create, distribute, monitor, and optimize all of your digital marketing efforts for your accounting firm.