Rise of the AI Marketing Machine — Driving Growth in Accounting Firms

by Becky Livingston, Penheel Marketing – March 30, 2020
Rise of the AI Marketing Machine — Driving Growth in Accounting Firms

According to an MIT-Boston Consulting Group survey¹, more than 80 percent of executives believe artificial intelligence (AI) leads to a competitive advantage, and 79 percent believe it will increase their company’s productivity. What does that mean for CPAs and accounting firms? Are there pain points or opportunities that AI and machine learning (ML) can solve or create? The answer is yes.

There are three essential firm-growth goals AI and ML resources can assist with: marketing campaign performance, sales and revenue impact, and customer loyalty.

Marketing Campaign Performance

AI and ML tools can be used to help analyze existing online content for gaps and opportunities; construct buyer personas based on needs, goals, intent and behavior; and adapt audience tar­geting based on behavior and lookalike analysis.

Each of these areas help to increase content effectiveness and relevance for the intended audience; drive lead generation and ad and social media campaign success; and create buyer personas for desired target markets.

What tools can help you accomplish those goals?

  • HubSpot, Dynamic Yield and Reputation.com help to create and to develop a sound brand strategy with a target market focus.
  • Wordsmith, Alibaba AI and Rocco assist with content optimization. Some of these AI tools can scrape existing website content and generate new content for a blog, social media and ad channels based on trends, audience engagement and more.
  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and advertising tools like Google Ads allow companies to create tar­get audiences based on an existing audience, such as an email list.

Sales and Revenue Impact

When it comes to return on investment, there are no worse words to hear than, “I don’t know.” Paid marketing efforts should provide a clear return on investment number. However, if the ads are not well made, or the target market is incorrect, the return could be very low.

What’s available to advertisers now is the ability to optimize ad campaigns to reach specific goals, e.g., sales conversion, leads, website visits and more. Several social media platforms and online ad tools use an objective-based, goal-setting algorithm that automatically adjusts ad placement based on established goals and the audience’s response to those ads.

That doesn’t mean it should be “set it and forget it.” Reviewing the campaigns at least weekly is important to pause under­performing ads or to adjust ads based on engagements. Ads may need to be rewritten or new creative may need to be designed until a successful combination is found.

The AI is optimizing the information provided to help reach a goal. When a campaign is effectively optimized, it does that while minimizing budget impact.

Customer Loyalty

In 2018, Salesforce’s State of Marketing² reported that 52 percent of consumers were more inclined to change brands if a company didn’t offer personalized communication. What does that mean for B2B companies? Should they ignore customer service when it comes to clients, leads and target markets? Of course not. Firms can gain customer loyalty by providing the services needed and solutions desired by clients. In some cases, that could be a chatbot that answers FAQs when the office is closed, using an online portal for document sharing or leveraging a virtual assistant to help schedule client meetings and free consultations. Email leveraging name personalization or interest-based content is also a good way to engage with leads and clients. Here are some tools to consider:

  • Drift, Automat, WhatsApp offer chatbot solutions.
  • X.ai, Astro and Clara provide online scheduling tools that automatically update your calendar tool.
  • Boomtrain, Phrasee, MailChimp, Constant Contact and Motiva AI offer personalized email solutions.

What it boils down to isn’t the tool you use, but rather the experience you create. An effective AI- or ML-related suite of tools can increase productivity and move the bottom-line arrow into the black.

¹axios.com/executives-say-ai-will-change-business-but-arent-doing-much-about-it-1513305300-e041775d-a56b-4db7-be1f-47d69b060427.html

²c1.sfdcstatic.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/assets/pdf/datasheets/salesforce-research-fourth-annual-state-of-marketing.pdf


Becky  Livingston

Becky Livingston

Becky Livingston is the owner of Penheel Marketing, a virtual CMO for CPAs and small business owners. She can be reached at becky@penheel.com.

More content by Becky Livingston:

This article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.