Online marketing has become way too easy to pass up. Imagine having the ability to market your services to thousands of clients simultaneously, interacting with them quickly and efficiently, and creating a repeating client base, all for pennies on the dollar.
Sounds like a fairy tale, right? Well, it isn’t. The exploding growth of Internet technology combined with the entrepreneurial spirit of accounting firm owners has created a cadre of tools making it easy to market and sell your services online.
Some firms are already using the Internet to their advantage while others are taking their first steps. Whether you’re on the verge of getting your business online or have been online for years, here are some ways you can easily take your online presence to the next level.
Network with pros
Because the Web changes quickly and you’re likely to have specific questions, increase your knowledge of online marketing techniques by joining an online forum, such as WebMasterWorld. You’ll instantly be able to tap into expert advice on how to market products and services via a Website.
Search engine optimization
Search engines such as Google and Yahoo! are the most popular and convenient ways for Internet users to find firms that offer the kinds of services they’re looking for. The trick is to use keywords and other factors on your Website so that it comes up near the top of the list in an Internet search.
Search engine optimization takes time, so consider paying for a sponsored ad on a search engine. Google’s AdWords and AdSense programs are a good place to start. You pay only when someone clicks on your ad, so such campaigns can be very cost effective.
Improve on your metrics
If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Come up with a list of key metrics for your site and monitor them regularly. More important, take steps to improve your results.
Have a “hero” on every page
In Website design, every Web page has a hero. That’s the item on the page that initially draws the eye, the thing that stands out from the crowd. Make sure that every page on your Website has a hero that sells — the hero should promote your services and tactfully “ask for visitors to take an action.” By being more direct in asking people to do business with you, the potential will be greater for increasing your profits.
Emails are another great online option for getting the word out about your offerings. However, it can also be a tricky marketing method to potential clients. Spam marketing (sending mass amounts of unsolicited emails) is restricted by law, and will generally result in annoying your prospect base.
A better approach is to build your email database by soliciting email addresses from existing clients, referrals and voluntary enlistment. This will not only keep your firm on the good side of the law, but also ensure that your emails end up in the hands of people who are genuinely interested in your products.
Blogs can also be effective tools for stirring up business online. A blog is simply a journal posted on a Website that’s updated frequently (often daily). It contains a variety of information ranging from opinions, news, ideas and links to other relevant sites.
The advantage of a blog is that it gives you the opportunity to interface with your clients on a regular basis and “creates a buzz” for your firm. This is especially helpful if your services aren’t very well known or if they fit a niche need in the marketplace. Another benefit is that, as your blog grows, your search engine ranking will increase by leaps and bounds, positioning you as an expert in your field.
Stand out from the crowd
In marketing, it’s important to differentiate yourself from your competitors. The same thing is true of Websites. If your site looks like every other Website, you’re missing the opportunity to do something special that can grab prospective clients’ attention and make them stick around. What’s eye-catching these days? Try putting video or audio testimonials on your Website.
Be a client
Because you work for your firm and are likely active in building your Website, it can be hard to view the site objectively in terms of how well it attracts new clients and up-sells/cross-sells to existing clients. Try to forget everything you know about your firm and pretend you’re a prospective client visiting your site for the first time — would you take action?
Remember, the key is to continually improve your results. Your competition isn’t standing still, and neither can you. It’s unrealistic to develop the perfect online marketing plan in your first iteration. Learn, measure, improve and refine — that’s the path to success.
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