Creating a Robust Content Marketing Program for the New Normalby
Every industry is busy right now trying to figure out the “new normal” and what they need to do to operate successfully – and for many, profitably – as the economy opens back up. Accounting firms will need to rethink their marketing strategies as some of the traditional approaches such as personal networking fall by the wayside, replaced by virtual outreach strategies that require a much more robust digital presence on the Web and in social media.
Every industry, business, and organization is busy right now trying to figure out the “new normal” and what they need to do to operate successfully – and for many, profitably – as the economy opens back up.
Accounting firms will need to rethink their marketing strategies as some of the traditional approaches such as personal networking fall by the wayside, replaced by virtual outreach strategies that require a much more robust digital presence on the Web and in social media.
If you don’t already have a digital marketing strategist on staff, you would do well to get one, because chances are good that your competitors are also gearing up for what’s next. This person should know the principles and techniques of search engine optimization, marketing automation, and social media. He/she should also know what makes a good, high-performance website because you’ll likely need one in the near future. Even if you outsource your website design and development, you’ll need a good project manager to lead the project.
As you develop the capabilities to deliver on the digital marketing front, here are some key tips for refocusing your efforts:
Boost the value and quantity of your content
Effective digital marketing is content-driven so you need to take a closer look at what you have – and don’t have – and what you can do to make it as effective as possible. Think “from the outside in.” Does your content mostly boast about your firm or does it look at your practice from your target audiences’ points-of-view and address client questions and concerns? The most helpful content wins, so create more of it to provide prospects with a steady stream of valuable information that will pique their interest in your firm and help start a dialog that can lead to a relationship.
Supercharge your search engine optimization
Armed with all that new, valuable content, you have the perfect opportunity to boost your visibility in the marketplace. If you are not showing up on page one of a Google search, your articles and webpages are not being seen. Even making it to page one might not be enough. Spend time regularly monitoring your keyword rankings and try different tactics to move up. As long as you’re moving up, you’re making progress. Your goal is to have your content be the #1 or #2 listing associated with a keyword or words based on the expertise you want to sell and what your target audience is looking for.
Analyze and optimize your blog
Kudos if you’ve already established a blog as part of your marketing strategy to boost the visibility of your firm’s expertise and build its brand value. But now it’s time to do even more. Use your analytics to see where engagement potential lies. Adjust your calls to action and internal links. Perhaps some posts are out of date and need to be refreshed. Other posts may have served their purpose and can be quietly put to rest, especially if they no longer align with your business goals.
Clean your database regularly for more effective email campaigns
Without regular cleaning, databases can quickly lose their value and fill up with the deadwood of out-of-date addresses and no-longer-relevant names. Optimize the opportunity presented by a clean, up-to-date list with scheduled, targeted emails to segmented lists based on industry, job function, market demand, geography, or other key factors. Personalize and customize each message as much as possible.
Establish a “lead triage” system to score prospects
In medicine, the term “triage” refers to treating patients in order of need. In marketing, you want to focus your attention and efforts first on the highest-quality leads that will provide the best ROI. To do this, you’ll need a fast and consistent way to score leads and prioritize activities, behaviors, and profiles. You may need to adjust the lead-scoring process a few times in the first year before you get it right—but once you get there, you’ll be thankful you made the effort.
Learn where your leads come from and how
Analyze your leads to learn where they’re coming from and which activities are the most effective for attracting them. How many touches does it take, on average, to close a deal? Where should you be building more campaigns to generate qualified leads?
To make your lead processing even more effective, tie your marketing automation and customer relationship management platforms to your website for a seamless, end-to-end view of the entire contact-conversion-client process.
Research: The Secret Marketing Ingredient
Research is a win-win situation that provides value to your firm as well as to clients and prospects. You can use it to determine or adjust your target audiences and optimize your marketing messages – then you can offer the study to current clients and prospects to showcase your subject expertise and reach new markets.
While your firm can – and should -- do its own research, the most valuable and objective research comes from professional third-party research firms. If you hire an outside research firm, produce a co-branded webinar with them based on the study results and co-promote it. You’ll reach a larger, more diverse audience and increase your firm’s visibility exponentially.
For a faster, less-expensive approach, consider licensing research already done by an outside firm. This enables you to access and promote original research without waiting months to produce your own.
Study results, whether they’re your own or licensed from a third party, can be put to further good use repurposed as blog posts, eBooks, videos, social media messages, and more. All of this adds up to more mileage from your marketing.
The economy may be slow in opening up as the pandemic progresses, but this is no time for accounting firms to sit still. As businesses get back to business, accounting services will be in demand more than ever. If you’ve made the effort to build out a robust digital marketing program, ready to address the “new normal,” you’ll be ready to jump start your own business and grow it more rapidly.
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is managing partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to...