Accounting firms that are not visible online can miss out on attracting potential new clients. This came home to me recently when I set about engaging an accounting firm and found it surprisingly difficult to identify suitable firms in my local area. It’s not that the firms don’t exist. There were actually quite a few listed in various directories but these listings provide little information and, like most people these days, I do my homework online before making that initial phone call.
Accountants are trusted advisors and it is important to find someone you can get along with. Being in the content business, I wanted someone who understood digital media and marketing and I also wanted someone younger than me because I hope that the firm I choose will continue to look after my needs until I retire.
Whatever the combination of factors likely to influence a potential client’s choice, the chances are the first place they’ll look for a service provider is online.
So, how easy is it to find your firm?
One way to check your accounting firm’s online presence is to ask a friend or neighbour to run a Google search and see where your firm’s website shows up. If you made it on to the first page of the search results, congratulations! If you didn’t, you may need to look at your website design and content. (Those are topics I will discuss in future blog posts).
For now, let’s assume that the potential client found your firm, clicked the link and they’re now on your website. What they see may depend on whether they are using a mobile phone or tablet, a laptop or desktop computer. Unless your site is easily readable on each of these devices, you risk losing your potential new client. Responsive sites display correctly on all devices and with more web searches now done from mobile devices, it’s really important that your site is mobile friendly. You may have heard of Mobilegeddon earlier this year when Google introduced a change in favour of websites that are mobile friendly. So, if your firm’s website is not responsive, you again have work to do.
Assuming that your site is responsive, your potential client is now browsing your firm’s content and is likely to be interested in a range of details such as location, services, recommendations, personnel, qualifications and regulation. It is worth checking that you have covered the following:
- Does your site provide your address, telephone number, email and social media links?
- Does your site list – and describe – the services that your firm provides?
- Does your site provide testimonials from satisfied clients?
- Does your site provide an ‘About us’ page with photos and biographical information about your firm’s partners and key staff focusing in particular on their qualifications and individual areas of expertise?
- Who regulates your firm and have you included the relevant details on your homepage?
- Does your website provide an easy means for clients to contact you? If your website provides a contact form, is the inbox for messages from that form monitored and responded to on a timely basis?
- Are your social media links easy to find and have you included links to the LinkedIn profiles of your key personnel and your business’s LinkedIn page? Potential clients may be more likely to contact you if they find that you have contacts in common.
It is useful to provide some additional options since not every potential client will be ready to call you following their first visit to your website. You can improve the chances that they’ll come back when they’re ready to talk if you provide an option for them to subscribe to your firm’s newsletter, request a free report or ask to join the mailing list for your next client briefing.
Finally, while this article has focused on websites, remember that potential clients are also likely to search for you and/or your firm on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. So, if you have a presence on those platforms, it’s worth considering whether the information you provide is sufficient to meet your potential clients’ requirements.
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