By understanding how potential clients define value, you can steadily target your audience growth strategies
Because I travel to so many financial conferences and serve on an assortment of professional committees, I’m fortunate to talk to a lot of CPA firm owners. One common challenge I hear them address is marketing. Some firm owners admit that they’re scared of it.
While the “Know, Like and Trust” factor can be achieved through traditional networking, it’s time for digital marketing to augment your marketing techniques.
Clients often prefer to interact with you the way they met you. For instance, clients who find you on Facebook are more likely to utilize your online client portal rather than ask to sit down with you in person to file their tax return. If you’ve noticed that the number of virtual or “distributed” firms has been increasing, you’ll realize that a digital marketing strategy can serve two purposes: 1) it augments your existing marketing and networking tactics, and 2) it’s the most logical method for virtual firms to obtain clients.
Is digital marketing as simple as hiring someone to write blogs and post on social media for you? No. Hiring a Search Engine Optimization expert might work, but how would you know?
Let me share with you some ideas based on how my firm operates and how we determine why some things work – and some don’t.
If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your firm’s website, you should (and not just because it’s free). Google Analytics provides you a wealth of marketing metrics for CPAs — how many people visit your site, when they are visiting, how long they are browsing and what they are looking at. While all that is helpful, the most interesting datapoints relate to visitor affinity and referral sources.
I learned that the majority of visitors to my site, and consumers of my content, are female. All my visitors are under the age of 44. The bulk of my traffic comes from social media: Facebook, LinkedIn and Quora. Based on Google Analytics’ affinity data, I know that my site’s visitors like to travel, have interests in health and beauty, are well-read and are technology natives.
Interesting, right? This is even more powerful within the context of my firm’s specialty: We provide virtual CFO services to marketing and creative agencies.
YouTube Average View Duration
Video is the new frontier, particularly live video. Does this mean you must have a YouTube channel or be on Facebook Live? It doesn’t, but I do see a lot of young firm owners utilizing these channels.
For starters, video – especially live video – is a great way to build the “Know, Like and Trust” factor because people get to see who you really are. Additionally, YouTube is the second-largest search engine behind Google. (Food for thought: Google owns YouTube!)
Once you post content, how do you learn if it was any good? To answer that, I like to look at average view duration by video. While it’s great to collect views for my videos, is it doing my firm any good if someone only watches for 3 seconds? No. In order to cater my content to the average view duration, I must understand what my viewers are seeing when they decide to quit watching. I can then adjust future content to maximize my message.
Additionally, I want to understand all the trends in total watch time. This can signal if my content is getting better – and, most importantly, if it’s resonating.
Facebook Page Likes
With 1.59 billion average daily users, Facebook is by far the world’s largest social platform. If your firm doesn’t have a Facebook page, create one. It’s free, and social media isn’t going away. In marketing, it’s always easier to go where the people are than for them to come to you.
I like to track how many “page likes” my Facebook presence has over time. The higher the number of fans I have of my page, the larger my audience. The larger my audience, the more people will hear my message. As I mentioned, this drives more traffic to my website. There will also be a greater potential for my message to be shared to people outside my orbit.
Customer Relationship Management is a database or software platform that tracks prior interactions with clients and helps to manage future interactions. A properly managed CRM system can be a treasure trove of client data and marketing possibilities.
Hubspot is my firm’s CRM. Each time a new contact sends me an email, downloads a lead magnet or books a meeting using my online web link, Hubspot creates a new contact. The goal is to grow the number of contacts over time and to look at that number in the context of revenue. As a simple exercise, I have found an overlay chart of gross revenue and the number of new CRM contacts to be informative.
Search Term Page Rank
Do you know what search terms your ideal clients are looking for?
Or what search terms your competitors are ranking for?
Or what search terms your firm currently ranks for?
If not, it’s time to do some research. The answers might not be what you think.
Good tools to start with are Answer The Public, Google Trends, Ahrefs and Small SEO Tools. As a first step, research what your ideal clients are looking for and what competitor firms are Google ranked for. Then, create content around those search terms. Finally, track how your firm’s web page ranks over time for those search terms. Once you get near the top of Google’s search results for that term (assuming the search volume is high enough), it should start to translate into higher revenue.
Make the Best of Your Options
Digital marketing is a foreign idea for many CPAs – and rightfully so, it’s not what we do every day. However, effective marketing ultimately leads to a greater number of ideal clients, higher firm revenue and increased employee satisfaction. Once you understand how your potential clients define value, you can steadily target your efforts to increase your audience.
I hope you will consider these marketing metrics for CPAs that your firm should be tracking. Yes, you will be up against an almost infinite number of options, but figuring out the right ones will help you see the bigger picture of what works best for your firm.