How Accountants Can Use White Papers as Lead Magnets

by Hugh Duffy, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Build Your Firm | June 27, 2019

Email marketing is the most effective marketing tool for any business, particularly an accounting firm. Regardless of the undeniable popularity of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, more people use email than any other online platform. In the US alone, there are nearly 250 million email users. That number consistently grows at a rate of over two percent annually. As an accounting firm owner, building a robust email marketing list should be a top priority when it comes to growing your client base. Cultivating a quality email list allows you to target your marketing efforts to an audience with a genuine interest in your services. That type of laser-focused marketing leads to conversions.

A lead magnet is anything you offer prospective clients, free of charge, to incentivize them to share their information with you. The exchange of their email address for your lead magnet bears the understanding that you intend to market to them in the future.

3 Basic Criteria for an Effective Lead Magnet

Keep these criteria in mind when creating a lead magnet. The content should:

  • Matter to your readers and prospective clients.
  • Provide immediately useful information.
  • Offer a viable solution to a problem your potential clients might have.

One way to cover those criteria and provide prospects with high-value content is with a white paper.

What is a White Paper?

A white paper is a formal, solution-focused document that targets a specific issue. White papers rely heavily on research for support and employ an authoritative tone. Because they delve deep into a topic, white papers educate readers and provide them with a complete view of an issue. This, along with the necessary facts and recommendations, allows readers to make sound decisions about a topic. By authoring a white paper, you showcase your expertise, educate your readers and contribute to your industry.

Accounting Industry White Papers

When selecting a topic for your white paper, keep current and focus on a specific subject in which your prospective clients have a strong and immediate interest. For example, even though the IRS tax code is complex and ever-changing, that’s too broad a topic for a white paper intended to offer a solid solution in a relatively brief document. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write about tax code. Hone in on something specific. Right now, small business owners are interested in Trump’s tax reform plan, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and how this legislation impacts them. Dozens of white papers can be written on this topic from new deductions to credits to changes that impact small business tax liability. Once you settle on a topic that suits your niche, it’s time to research, write, format and share your white paper.

How to Write a White Paper

There are three primary types of white papers: (1) the case history, (2) the 10-step paper and (3) the thoughtful analysis. Regardless of type of white paper you create, these documents are typically no more than 2,000 words long, about four pages. The white paper is not a sales pitch, but a valuable compilation of information on a clear-cut topic, providing readers with practical insight.

Although it isn’t blatant sales copy, you should mention your firm in the paper. First, attribute a byline to the author. This should be you or a partner in your firm. Next, mention your firm’s services as related to the paper topic. Another mention should come in the form of a quote or attribute from you or a partner in your firm. These are meaningful ways demonstrate your expertise on the subject without overtly selling.

Once your white paper is complete, format it into an attractive downloadable file and link it to your email subscribe box. Be sure to let people know that by opting into your email list that they will receive this valuable document and that it’s the only way to receive it. Also remember, a lead magnet’s value doesn’t cease with gaining an email address. Take advantage of the broader-reaching implications by using email marketing to continue to drive interest to your accounting firm and ultimately boosts sales by converting readers into clients. 

Hugh  Duffy

Hugh Duffy

Hugh Duffy is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Build Your Firm, a website development and marketing company for accounting firms. He can be reached at 888-999-8900 Ext. 151 or

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