I am delighted to welcome Helen Wilkie as this month’s guest blog writer. Helen is the author of: ‘Make Your Words Count: a Short Painless Guide to Business Writing for Accountants’ as well as being an accomplished copywriter.
In marketing your accounting services today, your website plays a key role. If someone is considering using your services, they are likely to check out your website as part of their research before calling you. And if the website doesn’t do its job, you’ll never hear from them and you’ll never even know you were in the running.
So what is your website’s job? Twofold: to provide enough information to let readers know you can help then, and to offer it in a way that makes them want to know more. Unfortunately, many accounting firms lose a lot of business because their websites don’t meet these two criteria.
Does your website make one or more (or even all!) of these 5 deadly mistakes?
Mistake No. 1: Too Many Words
Reading a sea of words on a computer screen is really hard on the eyes, so most of us have learned not to bother! If we arrive on a web page that has more than one paragraph of text, unbroken by some kind of graphic device, we’ll look for the nearest link to get out of there.
What to do
Break up blocks of text with charts, graphs, photos, videos or other visual relief for the reader. This also makes the lines of text shorter and easier to absorb. Bullet points can often get your message across in a few words that jump off the screen and into your reader’s mind as fully formed ideas. In this age of online communication, everything needs to be fast and easy, so make sure your website complies.
Mistake No 2: Focus on You Instead of Them
Yes, I know you need an About Us page, whether it’s called that or some variation. People expect it. But that doesn’t mean you have to puff out your chest and talk about how wonderful you and your services are. Nothing turns readers off faster than that, and it’s amazing how many accounting firms do it.
What to do
Write your About Us page so that it’s really about your clients. Your long experience is important only if your prospect believes it will help you serve him or her better.
Mistake No. 3: Difficult (or Impossible!) Navigation
Have you ever tried to find specific information on a site that was full of images and boxes and links and headers and animated gizmos? Frustrating, isn’t it? The design of your website should be functional, letting readers find their way around the site in the way they want to go.
What to do
Work with a designer who understands marketing, not one who is focused on how stunning or cool the design is.
Mistake No. 4: No Information Capture Mechanism
Who’s visiting your site? Who’s looking for the services you provide? Who didn’t hire you today but might tomorrow? If you don’t have a way of capturing contact information from visitors to your site, you’re missing a big opportunity. Of course, you’ll never get the names of everyone who visits, but those who have at least some interest in your services are the ones you really want to know about.
What to do
Offer something of value to them in exchange. That means readers perceive it to be valuable to them, not just promotion for you. The names you capture this way can build over time into a valuable list of people who could well become clients.
Mistake No. 5: No Visual Interest
We live in a visual world. In this age of more and more visual stimulation, words by themselves no longer hold our attention. We want pictures; we want video; we want something more than just words. If your site doesn’t have them, readers may find you but they won’t stick around long enough to learn anything about you.
What to do
A picture paints a thousand words, and a video beats everything. Don’t think that accounting services don't lend themselves to video. On the contrary, there are many ways to use video, slide presentations and more to add interest to your site and your message. Using them creates an impression of a forward thinking firm with current ideas. Not using them……well, I think you can figure it out.
In marketing your accounting services, you need to use every tool in the box, and you can’t afford not to have a dynamic, compelling website at the heart of it all.