Why accountancy firms should embrace new forms of digital marketing

Why accountancy firms should embrace new forms of digital marketing

New technologies are changing the way accounting firms market themselves so how can your firm utilise this to its potential?

Why accountancy firms should embrace new forms of digital marketing

When it comes to digital marketing in the accountancy industry, a shift in perception is taking place. Ignore it and your firm risks being left behind but embrace it and your firm will reap the rewards—in gaining new clients, building your firm’s brand, and having a larger online presence.

New technologies and marketing methods, which help firms engage with clients, can still leave some businesses with an uncertain feeling: where should they spend their money and when they’ve invested in the technology, how do they best utilise it?

Traditionally, firms relied on word of mouth or referrals, but in a competitive industry relying on these methods of generating new business—without coupling it with digital marketing—will lead to firms being left by the wayside. Research has found that referrals alone don’t generate enough enquiries in a marketplace overladen with choice.

One of the biggest issues for many accountancy firms is the growing gap between sentiment and activity. In a survey of accountancy firms by Propero, 84% of respondents understood the need for firms to embrace proactive digital marketing strategies to get ahead. The data suggests that most accounting firms are unhappy with the results they are currently getting from their marketing efforts.

Only a small percentage (six per cent) believe that digital marketing is extremely effective and it’s not down to spend, as around 60% have a dedicated marketing budget. This can be attributed to a lack of understanding around which type of marketing methods best suit the firm’s objectives and target audience.

One innovative digital marketing method making waves with accountancy firms at the moment is the chatbot. These little pop-up Q&A boxes powered by artificial intelligence are increasingly used by consumer websites, but they are also gaining traction in the professional services sector and could revolutionise the way accountancy firms interact with potential clients.

Chatbots could be seen as an extension of a firm’s customer service offering, which can help instil the brand’s personality, as well as providing helpful information. For example, when used on a firm’s home page, chatbots can converse with a first-time visitor and answer questions or point them in the direction of the information they need.

This ‘conversation’ is much more engaging and memorable for a potential client rather than just trawling through a website—signposting information in this way results in a better-quality user experience. Chatbots can also serve a purpose when the office is closed, if a client or potential client has an out-of-office hours query.

Working alongside any good chatbot is high-quality content. However, due to a lack of time or resource, some accountancy firms struggle to maintain the standards they set out initially, and there is often a confusion around how to utilise content properly, e.g. how and where to distribute it.

According to our research, accounting firms are integrating more marketing channels into their strategies compared with other professional services industries—but this could still be improved upon.

And while it’s positive to see accounting firms utilising paid-for digital marketing methods like online advertising, many firms are still struggling to extract the maximum value from newer digital marketing methods. More education is needed as real opportunities for gaining new clients are being lost, and referrals are being actioned and converted at a higher rate than new enquiries.

This is due to the fact that, often, we see large hierarchical firms failing to come up with an effective approach to marketing and sticking with the traditional ways of doing things. They struggle to make a decision and end up treading water without maximising on the huge potential for new enquiries they’ll find online.

It’s essential that firms modernise their marketing strategies, consider newer methods like content marketing working alongside chatbots, and learn lessons from the different types of digital marketing methods well-used utilised by other industries. They need to force themselves into the modern marketplace, utilise digital marketing and act on enquiries, or they risk being eclipsed by those that already do.

 

This guest post was written by Melissa Hernandez, senior marketing executive at Propero Partners

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