Accounting professionals today face an ever increasing number of new challenges thanks to the online economy.
Challenges Accounting & Financial Firms Face Online
Accounting businesses today must work harder than ever before to remain competitive. Not only do they have to become actively involved in the communities and industries they serve, they must also develop and maintain a strong presence online. This includes having an effective website and learning how to better promote your business online.
In addition to spending money advertising offline on local newspapers, ads in industry publications and magazines, radio and television spots, etc., businesses in the accounting industry are also finding that they will need to delegate a bigger amount of their marketing budget to develop and manage a website that will drive prospects, engage users, outrank the competition in search engines and help give their business a wider degree of exposure online.
This means that your site not only has to look great, your web pages have to be fast-loading, and be easy to navigate, but even more importantly, the needs of the website will change over time and sections will need to be updated frequently. This requires the implementation of a well-planned website and content management strategy.
One other difficult challenge that CPAs face, as other businesses do for that matter, is that your site has an average of 30 seconds or less to provide users with what they are searching for or they will go elsewhere to get their needs met.
“Websites have evolved into central information hubs where service information is still present but enhanced with web portals, hyperlinks to state and federal sites, and a variety of free tools.”
Opportunities For CPAs In The Digital Economy
As well as facing many new challenges, there are also loads of online opportunities available to businesses in the accounting sector that are willing to evolve to meet the challenges of the digital economy and who can think outside the box about improving their online business marketing skills.
In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about new ways and opportunities to drive more traffic and improve your business results online.
As well as providing practical tips and information on ways to improve your accounting web presence, we also focus on the benefits and advantages of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your accounting website or blog.
To learn more about the benefits and advantages of using WordPress, see these articles:
- Why A Poorly Constructed Website Can Lose You Customers And What To Do About It
- The Small Business Owner’s Guide To Using WordPress
Practical Tips For Improving Your Accounting Or Financial Services Site
This section explains ways to improve your website and get better results online. We show you what pages your site needs, what content works best, navigation structure, etc.
If you need website planning assistance, see this detailed step-by-step guide: The Web Site Planning Process Explained – A Cost-Saving Guide For Non-Technical Business Owners
All websites need some basic web pages. Let’s review these.
Products And Services Description Page
You need to include a page that explains your services and any products that you offer.
It will include all the services and products you offer, such as:
- Business accounting – planning, company formation, accounting, payroll, financial statement compilation, book keeping, budgeting, financing, forecasting, strategic planning, consulting services, etc.
- Taxation – preparing, planning, reviewing, auditing, advice, problem resolution
- Investment strategies
- Corporate finance
- Wealth creation
- Superannuation/retirement plan (401k) advice
- Audit risk assessment and assurance
- Quickbooks – setup, training, tune up, and support
- Specialist services – mergers, acquisitions, information technology, secretarial, rentals, trusts, fiduciary accounting, succession planning, selling a business, transfers, etc.
- Lending and leasing
Make sure to list all of the services you provide, not just the ones you specialize in. Provide your visitors with information that will educate them about what these services do and direct them to your contact or appointment booking page.
The ‘About Us’ page should give a description of your business and what it stands for, its unique approach, sponsored community projects, etc.
It should also include any awards, recognitions, accreditations, certifications, associations, publications, etc., that you can use to promote the company and set it above the competition.
(List all of your professional awards recognitions, certifications, accreditations, publications, associations, etc. in the About Us page. Screenshot image source: deloitte.com)
If you are looking for ideas to sell more products online, then help your visitors get to know you, your team and your organization better.
Prospects need to relate to your business. A great way to do that is to have a page that introduces your team members. This page should include a photo and a brief bio. Since most visitors are probably not very well-versed in accounting terms it should tell who they are and what their specialties are. It should also explain what those specialties mean. This page should also include social buttons so your site visitors can follow some of your team members on their social networks.
On this page, don’t be afraid to show the human side of your team members with personal stories, hobbies, etc., but make sure to outline each person’s expertise, why they are an asset to your team, and more importantly, how they can help add value to your clients’ business.
(Add a page that introduces your employees or team members to prospective new clients. Image sourced from: deepsky.com)
We have written a detailed tutorial on how to create and add an easy-to-update list of staff members in your site using a free WordPress plugin here: How To Easily Create A Simple Staff List For Your WordPress Site
This is a listing of career opportunities available within your company. This page can include training, employee benefits, professional development, social activities promoted or sponsored by your firm, etc. It should include information such as the job outlook and career opportunities in the accounting and financial services industry.
Maintain a positions available section in your page. If there are no positions currently available, consider inviting people to return periodically to the page, subscribe to your contact list, follow your social pages, etc.
Case studies and testimonials from previous clients are a great way to show potential clients what it’s like to do business with your organization. Adding a web page with reviews from clients and case studies also helps your accounting website to establish social proof.
(Add a web page with client reviews and case studies. Screenshot image source: pcg-services.com)
We have written extensively about using client case studies and client reviews to grow your business online. For more details: Learn How To Improve Your Visitor-To-Sales Conversions With Standout Testimonials
Having a clean contact page is absolutely necessary.
Your contact page should provide:
- Company Name
- Email address
- Web URL
- Contact form
- Contact name
- Links to social media profiles
- Chat (optional)
If you operate from several locations you want to make that clear when displaying your address and contact information.
You can also include a few links for the most commonly asked questions, frequently-visited pages, special offers, support area, newsletter, blog, etc.
Add An Accounting Blog
A blog is a powerful business marketing tool. Blogs typically include a content management system that is simple to use and allows you to easily promote your business using timely content such as news and events, product releases, training information, informative posts, promotional videos, infographics, etc.
If you already have an accounting website, then consider adding a WordPress blog to promote your organization.
If you don’t have a website yet, or your existing site is very hard to keep updated or not delivering you the results you want, then WordPress can be used both as your business website and business blog.
Something few businesses know about, is that an expertly-configured WordPress site can become an automated traffic machine that can instantly begin to drive targeted visitors to your web site, simply by publishing new content on a consistent basis to your website.
(WordPress can automate your traffic generation)
For more info, see this article: Web Site Traffic Blueprint – Discover How To Attract More Traffic For Your Business With WordPress
Legal Info Pages
It’s crucially important for accounting and financial services businesses to make sure they have a website that complies will all legal requirements online, not just for establishing credibility with visitors, but also to ensure that no laws and regulations are being breached wherever you service clients.
Adding some or all of the legal pages below to your accounting site will help keep you out of trouble with most regulatory authorities, third-party service providers, and other potential sources of threats and legal inconveniences:
- Contact Us
- Terms And Conditions
- Website Disclaimer
- Affiliate Agreement
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- DMCA Notice
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Linking Policy
- Health/Financial Disclaimers
- Refund Policy
- Video/Audio Terms
We have written a detailed article on adding legal pages to your site. Go here to learn more: What You Need To Know About Adding Legal Pages To Your Website
Improving The Content On Your Site
In today’s fiercely competitive global economy, the earlier you begin to publish great content on your site, the sooner you will begin to differentiate yourself from competing businesses.
You will want to provide great content with advice and tips that will get your visitors sharing your web pages and coming back for more. Using content is a great way to educate site visitors and prospects about your business.
For example, for an accounting or financial services business, topics could include:
- How balance sheets work
- Profit and loss statements
- Directors’ duties and legal responsibilities
- Presenting accounts for non-profit activities
- Business cashflow planning tips
- Business insurance
- Risk prevention
- Structuring a self-managed retirement fund
- Things to look for when … (e.g. purchasing insurance, claiming business expenses, etc.)
You can also create a series of educational articles that will help your your prospective clients understand your accounting services, such as software accounting, small business accounting, business auditing, reducing debt, understanding accounting concepts, etc.
Remember to use specific keywords and terms in your articles that readers will be searching for.
Improve Visitor Engagement And User Experience
Improving your site’s user experience (generally referred to as UX) will help keep visitors coming back and engaging with your site. This section will show you ways you can improve visitor engagement and user experience.
Using RSS Feeds
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds provide lots of benefits for your site.
If you provide useful information, other sites may want to syndicate your content to their visitors.
Some of the benefits of having other businesses syndicate your content, include:
- All of your updates are kept in one place
- your content distribution doesn’t rely on email
- Your feed can be shared online
- Users can subscribe to your RSS feed
- A feed provides a way for links to point back to your site
- Feeds can be submitted to RSS directories
- RSS provides several ways for readers to receive your content (e.g. subscribers can read your content on their mobile device using a feed reader)
- RSS is built into WordPress
There are also a number of benefits to adding syndicated content to your website from other websites, such as the fact that you don’t have to write, manage or update the content.
To find useful RSS feeds for your website, visit sites of relevant government departments or key industry bodies.
For example, here are examples of RSS feeds containing useful information that you may want to consider adding to your website:
- Taxation Policy Center: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/press/rss.cfm
- Australian Taxation Office: https://www.ato.gov.au/RSS-news-feeds.aspx
- Canada Revenue Agency: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/rssfeeds/
- UK HM Revenue and Customs: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rss/rss.htm
- South Africa Revenue Service: http://www.sars.gov.za/Pages/RSS-Feeds.aspx
(Use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds to provide your visitors with a better user experience.)
Add Online Checklists
Checklists and forms are a fantastic way to increase visitor engagement, add value to your readers and set yourself apart from the competition. They can provide visitors with useful instructions and resources to complete a task. Checklists and forms are great planning tools.
You can provide a range of forms and checklists (or links to these) covering subjects such as:
- How To Set Up A Company
- Rental Property Worksheet
- Non-Profit Activity Checklist
- Disclosure Requirements
- Company Tax Checklist
- Trust Tax Checklist
- Income Tax Variation Forms
Add Unique Tools
Providing unique tools and applications for businesses (or links to these tools) is a great way to increase visitor engagement and add value to potential clients. Calculators, such as loan and tax calculators, are useful tools for accounting websites. Other tools would include time cards, and retirement and interest calculators.
In part two, we look at a number of WordPress-based tools you can use in your website that can help to improve search engine optimization, increase user engagement and drive more web traffic to your business.
This is the end of part 1 of this guide on ways to build your accounting business presence online.