In today’s digital world, the first interaction many customers have with a business will be its website. Websites have rapidly moved from being static tools that showcase basic contact information to having become an essential part of the digital marketing mix.
For accountants, the right website can not only be used to establish themselves as a trusted thought leader and attract talented staff but also generate quality leads that result in long-term clients.
A majority (58%) of SMEs say it is important to see proof of expertise on an accountant’s website. Yet, despite the well-studied benefits of websites, there is growing evidence that many accountancy sites are outdated and generic.
According to research from Moneypenny, the leaders in outsourced calls, live chat and more, 72% of UK accountancy firms’ websites did not stand out positively from others. Only 38% were scored ‘very strong’.
In an increasingly competitive and crowded accountancy market, simply offering clients and potential customers with generic content that lacks any distinct voice is not enough to differentiate a firm from rival businesses.
As the old adage goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Accountants who fail to recognise the true value of websites and their digital presence risk losing potential clients who view a poorly developed website, and make a judgment that the firm is not the best choice for a digital-first world.
Most SMEs (88%) believe that it is important for their accountant to understand tech, with two-thirds saying they would pay more for a ‘tech-savvy’ firm.
By showing, rather than telling, well-branded modern websites can showcase a forward-thinking outlook.
According to Louise Walpole, Head of Finance Sector at Moneypenny, the entire accountancy sector has faced challenges, including adapting to remote working and dealing with recruitment issues, in recent years that have made focusing on other issues difficult.
“Brand awareness and digital customer experience have not been top priorities for many of them – but those that give them the attention they deserve now, especially focusing on websites, stand to really reap the benefits by boosting first impressions, reputation, new business and recruitment,” explains Louise.
Many accountancy websites have remained traditional and have not moved with the times to embrace modern tools, including social media platforms and review platforms.
Lacking website functionality can make it more difficult for new clients to find out more about what services an accountant offers and if a working relationship would be a good fit.
Like any other industry, clients want to be able to trust their business partners. Review platforms, such as Trustpilot or Feefo, provide accountants with a perfect opportunity to show potential customers that current clients are satisfied.
Independent reviews have a high level of authority and carry more weight than simply including written testimonials.
Yet only half of accountancy firms integrate services like Trustpilot on their websites, despite some 13% of people immediately checking reviews when searching for a new accountant.
Including client reviews on a website is a powerful way to demonstrate successful client relationships and let clients themselves speak to why they value their accountant.
Talent & retention
The benefits of an informative website go far beyond just helping attract new clients. In the competitive job market of today, job seekers are firmly in the driving seat and deeply research potential employers.
Company websites are often one of the first places those looking for jobs go to in order to find out more, with weak websites reflecting poorly.
Creating a strong website can also lead to increased visibility in search results, further helping to attract and retain top-quality talent.
“Google delivers the vast majority of traffic to accountants’ websites – yet our research found that 10% of practices don’t come up at all when their business name is typed into Google. If accountants are not ranking organically for their own brand, what chance do they stand of ranking for anything else?” says Louise.
The most representative websites that offer a true sense of a firm’s culture, values, and services can boost brand perception and employee engagement.
These factors added together enable accountants to achieve improved recruiting efficiency.
Back to basics
So, what can accountancy firms do?
First and foremost, accountancy practices need to understand exactly what their clients want and need. When thinking about the website user experience, everything from branding, usability, content, and ways to get in touch need to be considered.
It should be simple for new clients to get in touch and ensure live chat is an option to enhance accessibility and give a more human touch, with research finding websites with live chat achieve 40% more conversions than those without.
“Crucially, 46% of the web chats we handle are outside of traditional office hours, which helps to show how clients don’t feel constrained by the 9-5 and want answers on their terms, whatever time of day or night,” says Louise.
Up-to-date service offerings and branding are essential to effective accountant websites, with high-quality videos and images clearly communicating exactly what potential clients should know about the firm.
To find out more about MoneyPenny’s Live Chat features, pricing or set-up, give Moneypenny’s team a call on 0333 202 1005 or arrange a chat here today.