Findings of the 2014 Wolters Kluwer marketing survey of UK accountants

Traditional Business-Building Methods Hold Sway Among Accountants - but Sophisticated Online Marketing Techniques are Gaining Ground

London, 30 June 2014 -Accountants in the UK are starting to adopt more sophisticated marketing methods to grow their business but many fail to measure the effectiveness of their efforts, according to new research by Wolters Kluwer, the global information services company.

The survey of 137 UK accountancy firms reveals that one-half never or rarely assess how much extra fee income is produced by a marketing or business development campaign, or measure how many possible new client leads are generated and ultimately converted into new business.

The research also uncovers the lack of precision in measuring the return on their marketing investment: almost two-thirds (63%) never or rarely carry out a formal assessment of ROI.

In spite of an uptake in the use of new business-building techniques such as social media and online marketing, a large number still rely on referrals from existing clients and other professionals such as financial advisers and banks to find new business. Yet a quarter of the survey's respondents have no list of prospective clients, implying that they have a stable client base and, presumably, see little need to seek out new clients on a regular basis.

Any marketing by these firms is likely to be informal and driven by circumstances rather than by strategic development planning. For many, at most they carry out limited email marketing or stage events like local business briefings.

Very few see forms of engagement like advertising, 'cold-calling' or telephone marketing as essential to their business growth plans.

However, a sizeable percentage of Wolters Kluwer's survey respondents see the value of online marketing activity - mainly through their websites (70% see these as essential or useful) and using social networks like LinkedIn (almost 50%).

A small proportion have adopted sophisticated online advertising, 'pay-per-click' online ads and online events such as webinars - around 15% regard them as essential or useful business-building activities.

Simon Crompton, Wolters Kluwer UK's tax and accounting executive director, says: "Outside the traditional business development activities of referrals and professional introductions, accountancy practices are most likely to value direct mail, emails, events, websites and social media.

"Unless these activities are being conducted on a very small scale, it's likely that professional firms will benefit from dedicated customer-relationship management software to help them implement, manage and measure their efforts."

A copy of the Wolters Kluwer report, Effective marketing for accountants: a survey of marketing and business development activity, is available as a free download at http://bit.ly/CRMmarketing