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How self-directed websites boost CPA leads

By Christine Nelson, Ingenuity Marketing Group, LLC

Recently, I wrote an article for the Association for Accounting Marketing magazine, Growth Strategies, to persuade CPA firm leaders to take a lesson from today’s self-directed retail marketplaces. I emphasized that our buyers are also online shoppers who regularly research their purchases. It’s high time for professional service firms to create a more self-directed and satisfying online shopping experience that allows buyers to play a more active role in their own referral and buying process.
Suspects and prospects will almost always check out your firm online before they call. Start the sales process there. Make it easier for them to act, not just confirm your existence.
I know that selecting a professional service firm is more complicated and riskier than buying a pair of shoes and, of course, the buying cycle is longer. That’s why it’s so important to make a great first impression through your website and keep your firm on the short list of referrals. Often, more than a dozen touch points are required to engage and persuade leads before they are ready to receive a proposal and go through the handwringing of switching CPAs. You have an opportunity that lies in making the online experience more comforting and buyer-centric.
Rethink your navigation
Consider how marketers have traditionally laid out the online experience since about 2005 (yes, that is about 13 years ago):
  • Homepage
  • About Us
  • Services
  • Industries
  • Resources
  • Careers
  • Contact Us
Give today’s online consumers more credit. They know you operate an accounting firm. What they really want is help with their cashflow or assistance with a business transition. Get to the point.  
Try these ideas to shift your website toward a buyer-centric mode of shopping and decision-making:
  1. Shop your own site. Ask a third party unfamiliar with your firm to “shop” your site on a laptop, as well as on mobile. How easy is it to navigate the site and find what you want? How long does it take to find what you want? Are there broken links or pages that load slowly? What is the overall experience in terms of first impression and a feeling of security and credibility? Is the visitor invited to take an action? Can they easily find your phone number and call if they want?
  1. Promote high-demand content. Based on that analysis, look at the most viewed pages on your site and the least viewed through your website’s Google analytics (if you don't have Google analytics connected to your site, that’s a whole other blog post). Do visitors bounce off what you consider to be main pages? Then why is it a main page? Are important pages buried and hard to find? Give that information an upgrade to your homepage. The homepage experience should direct visitors to all the content that visitors want immediately, from phone numbers to work examples and your people.
  1. Emphasize results. Social proof is so important to today’s buyers. Don’t ignore it.   Marketing has always provided third-party validation through case studies, testimonials, reviews, success stories, portfolios, etc. Most people want to know: Do other people trust this firm and why? Put this information front and center. Make sure it’s from the past year or so, not from five years ago.
  1. Make it easy and fun. Add email boxes, quick-dial phone numbers, scheduling tools, downloadable content, interactive infographics, podcasts and videos. Make your website a playground that buyers can click, explore and enjoy. 
Moving ahead

Follow these steps to take a tighter look at what’s working and not working on your site and, ultimately, your practice. You might be surprised by what a little fine-tuning does for overall business.
Christine Nelson is a senior communications consultant with Ingenuity Marketing Group. You may reach her at 651-690-3358 or christine@ingenuitymarketing.com.