Usually we would start a blog discussing how marketing for accountants has changed.
Well, it hasn’t. The end goal of most marketing campaigns in the financial services sector is still leads, conversions and increasing fee levels.
What has evolved is the method and tactics we use to achieve that ROI for our accountancy clients.
Gone are the days (at least soon to be gone - May 2018) when Traditional ‘Outbound’ methods like Direct Mail were a way to drum up business for practices. GDPR regulation is about to put a complete stop to unsolicited emails and newsletters through letterboxes
Because of this, more professional services firms are turning to targeted inbound content as the alternative to base their marketing strategies around.
When we then introduce these firms to inbound marketing and tell them their whole accountancy Marketing and Sales strategy can be replaced by it, we generally receive a look of confusion around the room.
“Sales AND Marketing? Aren’t they separate?” we hear.
“Nope. In fact, we call it smarketing. They’re fully integrated while using Inbound.”
More confused, but intrigued expressions.
What's Inbound Marketing for Accountants?
Firstly, it’s important to understand Inbound Marketing has been around for a while. It’s only the last few years that forward-thinking firms in the professional services industry, such as law and accountancy practices have started to take notice.
What we’ve discovered is there are a few key benefits to inbound that attract these types of businesses (and probably will interest you too):
- It’s a long term strategy that focuses on generating warm, qualified leads for a sales team.
- Inbound gives insight into the behaviour of prospects and how they interact with the firm before anyone speaks to them.
- Once a touch has been made, it also provides resources to nurture high-value leads through to conversion.
Inbound marketing is designed specifically as a framework to increase visitors to your website and encourage them to interact with your firm in measurable ways at every stage of the sales and marketing funnel- changing them from visitors to qualified leads; in order for your sales team to convert them into customers and eventually, advocates.
How does this work? Well, here’s a very simple explanation.
In basic terms, inbound marketing works by identifying a single section of your revenue stream (for example, Corporate Finance clients) and creating a ‘buyer persona’ for your ideal Corporate Finance customer.
This is a detailed profile of everything you know about your ideal client; including their age, average wealth, position, gender, location and most importantly, their goals, challenges and pain points.
Once we have a working buyer persona for the campaign, we then create a content strategy around addressing and helping them with their problems and goals. This will include blogs, webinars, Ebooks and white papers, among many others. The main goal is to provide useful content in return for a form submission of some kind.
This exchange of details for problem-solving content is then picked up within a CRM (we prefer HubSpot) and the lead nurturing process can begin.
Why is Inbound Marketing Right for Accountants?
Inbound marketing is driven by a business imperative created by the rise of the web; with so many sites competing for attention, you have to create the ideal conditions for prospects to find your website before all your competitor firms.
Once people have found you, the aim is to keep them coming back beyond that first touch. With so much choice on offer, it’s very easy for visitors to take their attention, and their potential fees elsewhere if they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly.
This is especially important for accountancy firms. You’re a high value service. Your prospects aren’t impulse buyers - they aren’t going to make a decision about who they place their fees with at the drop of a hat. Your client base is built on trust that you’re credible.
So, inbound marketing is also about capturing those prospects’ attention, building their engagement, creating that trust and loyalty in your firm’s brand, which will drive repeat touches and eventually custom (with the efforts of a proactive sales team.) That's where the quality of content, and how well you play the SEO game, comes to the forefront.
SEO Inbound Marketing
The whole process of inbound is built on a solid understanding of how Google ranks for search terms. Especially in the most recent set of updates, search engines have been proven to value informative, in-depth and well researched content that keeps their searchers attention for longer.
This is because Google ranks your page higher if it has the most intellectual authority over the keywords in the search terms.
Essentially, if you build a library of SEO optimised, well researched and well written content around a search term, Google will sense you know what you’re talking about and rank you higher; getting your website in front of more potential leads.
Need some convincing? Let’s look at some stats.
So, judging by the numbers, your first goal with any strategy is to rank on the first page of results, as your prospect’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter.
These potential clients are all constantly asking questions when they use Google. Your firm needs to answer those questions if you want to rank higher on results pages, whether it’s in content on their homepage, inner pages, resources section or through insights on your blog.
It’s all about providing the most relevant solutions to your visitor’s pain points.
Blogging - Accounting for Growth
One of the first considerations in any inbound marketing strategy is where the blog will sit. In addition to providing insights and keeping customers and prospects engaged in what you have to say, a blog can also seriously boost your SEO prowess, as well as being a valuable resource when upselling on fees.
Again, let’s view the stats:
Once prospects are viewing your content, then the quality of the blog and the premium content (the ebooks, webinars, white-papers we mentioned above) will convert them into qualified leads for your firm to score and nurture down the funnel.
From an accountancy marketing perspective, an informative, well researched and optimised blog is an essential sales & marketing channel.
Even if you don’t subscribe to the inbound methodology (we hope at this point you’re at least interested!) it’s just as important to maintain a good working relationship existing clients as it is to attract and convert new ones.
Constantly creating helpful content to aid your existing clients through inbound Marketing tools such as blogging and targeted emails will keep the conversation going and help you retain fees long term, while also aiding your sales team in the up-selling process.
So, you mentioned Smarketing, What's that?
Good question. So, we said that inbound marketing can replace your marketing and sales strategies. Let’s explain how that works.
Basically, smarketing is the process of integrating the sales and marketing processes of a business into one system.
For an accountancy practice, in our experience, this is about setting shared goals about what your marketing people are delivering for the sales people, and vice versa.
With traditional marketing methods, generally the divisions between sales and marketing teams start when sales aren’t happy with the quality of leads that are being generated and the marketing team aren’t happy with conversions from the sales team.
Inbound helps align the two teams and avoid these problems by:
- Getting rid of intrusive and interruptive marketing tactics like mass emails and cold calls that create leads that are too cold for the sales team to convert.
- Creating a shared CRM hub that tracks leads according to what they have interacted with and when. This helps the marketing team to identify warm leads for sales to follow up.
- Providing premium content in return for prospect information, which helps sales to determine what services the prospective client is interested in before they speak to them.
- Creating an automated system and smart workflows for the sales team to use in their follow up process.
The goal with inbound is to have measurable targets (we like to call it a SLA, or service level agreement) that each team agrees to hit so there's mutual accountability between them.
For instance, marketing might have a mutually agreed upon leads number to hit, and Sales must agree to follow up with a certain amount of those leads every month.
Let’s look at some inbound sales stats:
Inbound marketing represents an excellent opportunity for UK based financial services businesses to achieve both their sales and marketing goals in the new web and mobile oriented business environment in a more efficient and a cost-friendly way.
New generations of business owners and high wealth individuals appreciate thoughtful approaches and inspirational, educational content more than intrusive and unqualified sales pitches.
With the power of the internet, prospects are spending more time researching and educating themselves about you and your competitors, so marketing for accountants needs to take a more agile and targeted approach to lead generation over the long term.