7 Things Potential Clients Want From Your Website

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It's well-established that having a website, no matter the size of your firm or practice focus, is essential for basic information but you need it to win new business as well.

All too often accountant websites are not used to their potential and in the current environment it has become imperative that your site is not only informative but is able to have features and content that can help bring in a potential client. This doesn't mean your site needs all kids of bells and whistles, it all starts with, quite simply, giving them the information they want to see.

Here's some insight into the seven most important things potential clients want from your website:

1. First impressions. Don't forget the basics. Consumers now expect to see a “modern” looking website, which means responsive, sleek, clean, fast load time, and high-resolution imagery. These are all key elements of the potential client's first impression of your firm and brand, so make them count. Don't overload the page with too much text, and separate out your site into sections, such as About, Services, Contact, and Resources.

2. Locality. Certain services have a strong connect to locality, and accounting is definitely one of them. Google recognizes which search queries are best served by local results and will serve those results up first — make sure you're there! Make sure your practice has a Google Page has all the essential information potential clients will expect to see: address, phone, email, website, a short bio, and photos. Sharing timely, industry relevant news articles on your profile won't hurt either! Business owners are also increasing searching for accountants while on the go, during informal breaks, which Google now calls “micro-moments." Google search interest in "near me" has increased 34X since 2011 and nearly doubled since last year. The vast majority come from mobile—80 percent in late 2014.

3. Contact options. Business owners highly prioritize being able to reach their accountant with questions, especially as more businesses are now utilizing accountants beyond tax season for a variety of financial consulting projects. B2B customers consider contact information to be the single most important factor in their website and service evaluations. 51 percent of recent B2B researchers found that “thorough contact information” was most lacking on websites. More than half (54 percent) indicated that the lack of thorough contact information reduced a vendor's a credibility. Also, list emails, phone numbers, and a physical address. An actual mailing address is known to boost a business' credibility amongst consumers. Potential clients will search for information about just how available you are. Not surprisingly, they will prefer a firm who emphasizes their availability for questions or concerns. Pro Tip: With the proliferation of online appointment scheduling, it's a hot tool to include on your website. Such a tool is very mobile friendly, and takes less time on the researcher's part than composing an email. Low commitment call to actions lead to higher conversion rates!

4. Showcase expertise. A tried-and-true rule for the accounting industry is that small businesses look for firms with proven or demonstrated expertise. This can be conveyed on your website with badges, accreditations, certifications, affiliations, membership to professional organizations, or even just by explaining your education and merits. The more professional associations that recognize you as an expert and professional, the more confidence business decision makers have in either suggesting or selecting your practice. The trend of adding website badges to represent one's expertise has begun to take off amongst accountants, so consider adding such visual representations of your expertise to your website footer. When adding information to demonstrate your expertise, don't forget your years of experience or any awards you may have earned over the years. Also be sure include your technology expertise. Increasingly, small business owners are utilizing cloud-based services and prefer accountants who are at least familiar with such businesses and practices.

5. Specialization. As with expertise, business owners will feel more confident in your firm's ability to handle their business if you already have experience within their industry. In short, if you specialize in any niche your site should reflect this fact. Your website should either have a specialization section or list out your niches and industry experience right on the homepage. Younger accountants and firms need not fret, even listing “small business” or your region as a specialty will fulfill this consumer expectation. Giving examples of your current clients is another excellent way to convey your industry experience.

6. Bios and About pages. Selecting an accountant for oneself, or one's business is often characterized as a personal decision. Given how much “inside” info one shares with their accountant, this isn't surprising. What is surprising is how little most accountants share about themselves or their firm on their websites! Customers want to “meet you!" KO Marketing found that 40 percent of recent customers researching for a new service provider said having an About page and team bios establishes credibility.

7. Reviews. Don't be shy about sharing. Nielsen found that 68 percent of consumers trust online opinions from other consumers, which places online opinions as the third-most trusted source of product information. Including a testimonials section of your website is a great way to cultivate more trust with potential clients.

About the author:
Diana Mackie is the chief content officer for Funding Gates, a receivables performance management software company.

About Diana Mackie

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