SURVEY: Clients find most accountants' websites useless | AccountingWEB

SURVEY: Clients find most accountants' websites useless

We conducted a potential client survey to see what parts of an accountant's website are most useful, and least useful. Many premium features we pay for like online monthly newsletters are a waste of money. What do you guys think?



Ben Hobson | | Permalink

What you say about newsletters is interesting. It would be hard to argue that the promise of a newsletter is going to be a big hook when chosing an accountant. Having said that, with marketing options for accountants such a tricky subject, I wouldn't say they should be discounted or are a total waste of money. Ongoing client comms, gentle reminders and interesting updates are surely going to be a valuable client-retention tool (I think your research concedes this). The nature of the newsletter - and whether it says anything new about you or is simply a template affair that is almost identical to that which is fired out by lots of other accountants - is another matter. 



angusbruce | | Permalink

Thank you for doing the survey and linking the results.  I am in the process of building my website, so this is really useful to me.

petersaxton's picture

Ben is right

petersaxton | | Permalink

A genuine personal newsletter is appreciated but a template newsletter is ignored.

MarkAOrr's picture

The question has driven the answer

MarkAOrr | | Permalink

I like the survey but the question is about the three most important things on a web site when choosing an accountant.  Therefore the fact that a email newsletter comes so low is not at all surprising.  The other problem with most accountants email newsletters that I have experienced is that they are too long, too diverse and trying too hard to appeal to too many people all at the same time.

The clue is in the name, NEWS letter.  Is the content really news?  Usually, it is very poorly disguised marketing male bauvine excrement.

Research shows that most people have a quick scan of an email and if something doesn't grab them within less than 3 seconds it gets deleted.  The average time recorded is actually less than one second.

Funnily enough, proper hard copy real printed newsletters have a far great chance of being read and responded to.  I have no idea how many clients the average accountant has but I suspect that it is not numbered in the thousands.  If you have say 100 or 200 clients a proper printed hard copy newsletter is not just affordable it is a profit centre.  A well written and well designed newsletter delivered directly to all of your clients should generate real revenue beyond its meagre cost.

I don't have personal examples in the accounting industry.  We have produced two newsletters recently for a Rolls Royce dealership and on both ocassions they can link them directly to selling cars.  Their customers did not respond to emails in the same way.

In the end, whether you deliver your message by email or in print the most important ingredient is the words backed up by design that helps you to read them in the right way and encourages a response.  If you use a good professional copywriter who asks loads of questions and then get it designed by a good professional graphic designer who also asks loads of questions you are guaranteed to get a good return on your investment.

Good luck and please remember that these things are investments, not expenses.

Quality Impact Marketing's picture

Ben and Peter are spot on!

Quality Impact ... | | Permalink

Client retention is the main point of a newsletter. Apparently over 70% of clients that leave a firm leave through indifference. They simply feel under valued and unimportant and so when another firm contacts them claiming to be proactive of course the temptation is there to leave. A newsletter is a good way to help ease this situation. And as Peter points out, a personalised newsletter is far more effect than a generic one.

I have seen newsletters work to gain clients though. A couple of our clients have tried referral schemes, which they have advertised on their newsletter and seen reasonable results. Another client did a presentation at a national event for his client base. We suggested that he write about the experience and we would include it in his newsletter, which he did, we then Tweeted the newsletter and he got a client on the back of it.




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Steve McQueen's picture


Steve McQueen | | Permalink

Over the course of 7 years I tried a variety of newsletters. The full clour glossy 1/4 years templates badged up as me we a complete waste of time, but a 1-2 side A4 letter, personally addressed and hand signed sent out every 2 months very strictly edited to be short and sharp and include some business news, not just tax and accountancy, went down a storm and were read by clients, prospects and contacts alike... I would actually have phone calls if I was late sending them out asking where the update was!


This is a very cheap and very effective marketing tool that is very very easy to put together in 1-2 hours every other month.

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