How Small Firms Can Establish a Strong Online Presence
The marketplace for CPA firms is continuously changing as large firms seem to dominate the online accounting space with their broad range of services and significant resources. It is imperative that small firms develop a brand and an online presence to position themselves competitively in the marketplace. Establishing a brand and consistently promoting your online presence makes your firm look larger and allows you to effectively target specific niches and services. Moreover, having a user-friendly, easy-to-find website allows you to showcase your services and expertise to a larger audience of potential clients.
Improve Your Site’s Visibility and User Interaction
To generate maximum benefits from your website, consider these useful tips to improve your site’s visibility and increase user interaction:
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Think about how many people use their smartphones on a daily basis to find information “on-the-go.” If someone can’t find your firm on their iPhone, you may lose an opportunity for their business.
- Improve your search engine ranking. Add keywords about your firm to your homepage to improve your rank on search engines. To determine what keywords to use, try a quick Google search for what a potential client might enter to find your firm and your services, for example: “CPA in your City and State.” Your firm’s niche specializations should be clearly described on your homepage, too.
- Submit your website to online directories for CPAs in your region. It is very beneficial to have many links to and from your website, because your site will rank higher on a Google search, which is vital. People will most likely not look beyond the first few search results and rarely beyond the first page. A good place to start is the NJCPA’s Find-A-CPA directory.
- Include a blog section on your website. Develop a strategy for your blog, including an overall theme regarding the type of posts you will write about, and a memorable name or title for your blog posts. Also consider writing commentary in response to relevant news articles and legislative updates effecting your clients. A word of caution about the frequency of your posts is to not over-commit to how many of how often you will publish blogs.
- Write content for accounting blogs. In addition to your own blog, look for opportunities to contribute useful information such as “how-to” guides and numbered lists to industry blogs. Cover topics such as how to stay compliant, save time, or mitigate taxes and always include links to your website and services. Consider contributing to the NJCPA’s blog, NJCPA Focus.
- Ask for testimonials. To build trust, ask several top clients to write testimonials and publish them on your website and social media. It is also effective to post a variety of testimonials for different services and niches specializations to demonstrate your areas of expertise.
- Offer a free consultation. Consider offering a complimentary consultation or a “second opinion” to new clients on your homepage. This “call to action” can motivate prospective clients to reach out to you.
- Provide your firm’s history and background. Include an “About Us” section and describe what makes your firm different from others.
- Showcase your staff. Create a team page that presents your partners and key staff and their areas of expertise. Potential clients want to see and get to know the professionals they will work with, and their background and experience.
- Make it easy for clients and prospects to reach you. A highly visible contact page is crucial to your website. It should include a contact form for site visitors to submit questions or comments, and a variety of methods to reach you, including a general email address and phone number, office address and directions, and your firm’s social media URLs. The footer of your website should also include your contact information and social media icons with hyperlinks to your social media presence.
- Create an events tab. List upcoming and past conferences and speaking engagements. Event listings show that your firm is active and provides networking opportunities.
- Review your website stats. Download Google Analytics to review statistics and reports regarding site visitors. This free tool provides helpful insights regarding the site visitors you are attracting and helps you make informed decisions regarding future site changes.
Strong Social Media is a Must
It is vital that your firm has a strong social media presence. If you are going to invest time and resources into one social media platform, it needs to be LinkedIn. It’s the most popular and effective professional platform, and it’s user friendly. In addition to your personal LinkedIn profile, creating a company LinkedIn page can serve as a template for your website. Your logo should be clearly and prominently displayed. LinkedIn’s free analytics tools can provide helpful insights regarding the individuals who visit your page and “like” your posts.
Link your partners’ and staff members’ personal LinkedIn profiles to your company’s LinkedIn page so everyone can represent and promote the firm to clients, prospects and referrals.
If your staff are already active on LinkedIn, encourage them to follow your firm’s company page and join LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups are a great way to network with professionals in your target markets and industries and provide opportunities to post insights and discussions on topics related to your areas of expertise.
Keep in mind that prospective clients are always gathering information when choosing between one service provider and another. By adequately showcasing your services, benefits and story, you’ll positioning yourself to gain more traction (and more business) in the online marketplace.
Nancy A. Damato is the co-founder and president of Accountants Advisory Group and the senior consultant of marketing and business development.