Embracing the Internet as a marketing tool

Every CPA firm has a Web site, but how many of them are using technology to their best advantage in the marketplace?

Firm leaders need to ask whether their Web site helps them attract potential clients and keep them, or does it do little more than list services in a boring way that discourages interaction.

Russell D. Francis, CPA, of Markiz and Francis in Beaverton, OR, wrote in the Practicing CPA, that he learned a few things about Web sites after a marketing consultant helped him upgrade his. First, he said he found that his CPA practice really took off after the upgrade to a site that was easy to navigate, useful, and full of well-written content. The main goal should be to provide clear information about your business: particularly the experience of your firm in the industry. He noted that visitors will come back to your site if it includes practical information, such as white papers, articles on developments in the field, or links to other Web sites.

At the same time, he says, make sure to use keywords that will allow clients to find you. That means using search engine optimization — a method of ranking a Web site at the top of the list of Web sites that pop up on search engine lists. (Most people look at only the first page, studies say.) Make sure the important keywords are in the title, the short description of your Web page, and the first 200 to 300 words on your home page. Check out the keywords your competitors are using, or use Google Analytics or other Web analytic tools to find out search terms that people are using to get to their sites.

Brian Swanson, a member of the Association for Accounting Marketing, helps CPA firms use e-mail as a marketing tool. "Few firms have embraced the Internet as a marketing tool outside of a standard Web site," he said in CPA Technology Advisor. "Beyond 'canned' e-newsletters, firms have not been taking advantage of the immediate response and communications process of sending custom, frequent, and educational e-mails to their client base and the potential referral partner world."

E-mailed newsletters are one way to stay in touch with your clients, but make sure they provide meaningful content, they are short, and they are sent on a regular basis. Summaries of articles, with clicks to the full content on the firm Web site, brings readers to your site where they can read about the services your firm provides.
 

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