This is an awesome guest post from Matt Wilkinson, Founder and CEO of BizInk - who specialize in creating websites, online tools and online marketing for accountants. Matt is here today to share his tips for lead generation for accountants online.
Most accountancy practices want to grow. But growing means finding leads, and that's pretty much the most difficult part about doing business. In the past, lead generation for accountants was an expensive undertaking - direct mail or hosting events being popular tactics.
But in the online world we operate in, generating leads needn't cost the earth. Often the only investment you'll need to make is time.
Here are three ways to generate leads for your firm without a massive marketing budget.
1. Give something away
Modern marketing is about pulling rather than pushing. Some call it inbound marketing, others content marketing. Whatever you call it, it's a valuable tool to gather leads for your services.
The key is to change the way you view marketing online. Instead of shouting about the services you offer, focus on demonstrating your expertise. You can do this by giving something away that prospects will find valuable.
It could be as simple as advice: one accountant I know wrote a blog post about GST on second-hand goods. This is a great topic that many small business owners would be interested in learning about, and a question someone might plug in to Google if they didn't know the answer. He gets three or four enquiries every month from it.
If you've got more time, consider running a webinar, writing a report or whitepaper or creating a financial tool in Excel. Engaging content like this triggers conversations with website visitors - conversations that can lead to them becoming clients.
And whatever you do, don't forget to promote your freebie! We recommend spending 20% of your available time creating the content and 80% promoting it.
If you’d like to try content marketing but don’t know where to start, download BizInk’s Ultimate Content Marketing Kit. It’s created especially for accountants and contains the guides, tools and content that will help you start generating inbound leads.
2. Network on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. And with over 250 million worldwide users, it's a great place to find leads. Step one is create an engaging personal profile with a good photo. You can find a great tutorial on that here:
Once that's sorted, create a Company Page for your practice. Start your networking by asking all your clients to connect with you. You can also ask them to recommend you. These testimonials appear on your profile so other people can see them.
Also try to connect with everyone you have a meaningful business connection with - such as people at your local chamber of commerce group - but avoid connecting with people you don't know. Quality is much more important than quantity.
A massive benefit of LinkedIn is that it's an up-to-date contact list. Usually, when people move jobs or change details, you're unlikely to find out until you ring up asking for them and can't find them any more. But they will change their LinkedIn profile. So if you're connected you'll have accurate information for them.
Next, aim to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Two ways you could do this would be:
Post to your profile
Posting updates to your profile with useful content. This can be content you've created or something shared from another source. Beware of sharing content just for the sake of it - LinkedIn is full of posting 'great' content that's trivial or dull. Quality again trumps quantity.
Get active in groups
LinkedIn groups are powerful as they are full of people looking for answers. Look for groups around areas where you’re the expert and become known as a source of useful information. Don’t try and sell your services. Offer detailed advice and you’re sure to get people interested in what else you can offer.
Groups you might want to join would be local business groups or those based around industries or vertical you wish to target. You might also look at software you use. For example, there’s a group for Xero users.
Once you’re sharing content and getting involved in group discussions you’ll start drawing attention to yourself and your practice.
That in itself might create some leads but you can help the process along with some subtle updates. Posting an update directly asking for more clients will turn people off. But reminding people who you are, what you do and how you can help them is fine.
Say you’re an accountancy practice in Newcastle. Something like this would work:
This month we helped ABC Widgets in Newcastle save $600 a year and hours of data entry by moving to Xero. Drop me a line if you’d like to see if we could do the same for your business.
Just don’t be too spammy or make updates like that too often and you’ll find LinkedIn can be a great source of new business.
3. Build a targeted mailing list
Email is the most effective form of online marketing and research shows it outperforms everything else by some distance. Knowing this, lots of firms send an email newsletter - but not many send the kind of targeted emails that lead to new business.
To start harnessing the massive power of email, build a list around a topic you're an expert on.
It might be rental property accounting, Xero add-ons or pricing strategies. Don't aim too wide - there are 1000s of people giving general business tips, many of them very good. You don't want to try to compete with them.
So be specific - it's better to have 100 super-engaged readers than 1000 who ignore your emails. This could mean a very local focus. Nothing wrong with that, especially if most of your clients are local.
With the topic decided, now it's time to build your list. First create a sign up form on your website and feature it prominently. You'll need to choose a mailing list company - there are so many options here, but a lot of people love Hubspot, or Aweber, or Mailchimp.
Also consider having a pop-up on your website asking people to sign up. Although people say they hate pop-ups - they're proven to work.
Next, promote your email sign up in all your other marketing. From your email signature to your LinkedIn profile - make sure there's a link to sign up. Over time your list will build and of course, you can give it a head start by asking clients to sign up.
Now it's time to start sending emails to the list. Actually, it's better to think of your list as an audience. They're real people, not just entries in a database. Imagine you were sending an email advising one client who you knew very well. Aim to adopt that tone and style and your emails will be effective.
Try sending emails weekly ... or monthly at the least. Any more than that and people will forget about you. Some email marketers send daily but you'll need to be a great writer with plenty to say and lots of time to take that on.
Your main task is to engage your audience. But that doesn’t mean you can never sell. In your email template, it’s fine to include links to your website and the odd promotional message.
But always remember that your readers have signed to get expert information from you. If you deliver that, you’re certain to be contacted about business opportunities down the line.
I hope you find these low cost lead generation tactics useful. If you’d like to chat about using your website and online marketing to get more leads, please reach out to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org