Mark Lee shares his tips to help you gain maximum benefit from your website, without spending a fortune.
Whenever I have cause to speak with an accountant for the first time, I look them up online and check out their website. If it stands out positively in some way I often compliment them on this. All too often however I find myself offering constructive observations.
As I frequently find I’m saying the same things, this article focuses on what I consider to be the seven most common mistakes. This list is longer than a similar one I shared a few years ago and which is referenced in the related reading list at the end of this piece.
Before I offer my view on an individual firm’s website, I typically ask if it’s doing its job. My view is of no value as compared with the real target audiences. These will typically include prospective clients, influencers and, sometimes, prospective staff.
In the vast majority of cases an accountant’s website is a key way of attracting new business. And if it doesn’t do this they sometimes give up – assuming that no website could work for them. I doubt that is true. Equally, if you are already getting as many new clients as you want, and they are agreeing to pay your fees and asking you to do the sort of profitable work you enjoy, then all is well. Don’t change anything.
Here then are the 7 most common observations I make and which can help explain why an accountant’s website isn’t doing all you want it to:
Failing to make it easy for prospects to find what they want
I don’t agree with those marketing people who claim you need to keep people on your website for as long as possible. They encourage you to include far too much content which can be confusing or distracting.
I believe you need to make it as easy as possible for the right people to recognise quickly whether or not they want to contact you. And then make it easy for them to do this using whatever approach they prefer – so offer them a choice eg: phone, email, live chat or appointment. It’s what THEY prefer that matters, not what YOU prefer – unless you can afford to be choosy.
Failing to say who YOU are
So many accountancy sites have an ‘about us’ page that contains a pretty generic description of what could be almost any other firm in the UK. All too often the websites of smaller firms don’t say anything about the person running the firm. Why not?
Most people are more likely to get in touch if they know who to ask for or who they are contacting. My pet hate is contact@ or firstname.lastname@example.org style email addresses.
‘We ing’ all over the site
Visitors need to know if they are on a website that offers services to people like them. And then they can decide whether you are the type of accountant they want to engage.
It’s much easier to engage visitors to your site if you talk about them first rather than if your home page talks about you and your style, approach and background. That’s all secondary. So check out how often you say ‘We this’ or ‘we that’ on your site. Experts tell us it should be less frequent than the number of times you address readers through referencing them as ‘You’.
Leaving a website untouched for years
I’ve seen dozens of accountants’ websites that were fine back in the day. But they are now probably generating less business than they did previously. That may be fine if you less need for the website to pull in random enquiries. The question though is whether you are missing out on referrals and recommendations as people checking you out online are not enthused by what they see?
It’s much less expensive these days than it used to be to get a freshly designed website (eg: using a wordpress template). This has the potential to better engage visitors who otherwise give up or quickly ‘bounce’ off to a more modern looking and easy to use accountant’s website.
Listing too many ‘specialisms’ (in alphabetical or random order)
Better to list them in order of interest and expertise. And to keep the list short. By definition it is rare to ‘specialise’ in a dozen or more services and across all the sectors in which you have clients. Such a claim only really has any credibility if the firm has a number of partners with different specialisms. If that’s the case then why not make this clear so that the claims are more credible?
Pretending to be bigger than you are
If you are a sole practitioner or small firm what sort of clients are you keen to attract? Big companies that need larger firms? Business people who want to engage a firm where there is adequate backup when their partner is on holiday? Anyone who can be easily misled into thinking your firm is bigger than it is? That doesn’t strike me as a good start to a business relationship.
If you are a one-person firm, why not say this up front? What are you afraid of? You’re not alone as the vast majority of accountancy firms in the UK are one-person practices. Build on this and evidence your promises of personal contact and attention. Include a decent quality headshot so that prospects can see the sort of person you are.
Omitting to clarify ‘why you?’
I referenced this earlier. We are all different. It’s such a shame that so many firms’ websites read as if the names of the firms are interchangeable.
Why do clients choose to engage you (rather than another firm down the street)? What do clients like about the way you service them? How do they benefit from your style and approach? What makes you stand out and how does this benefit clients? Can you share stories and case studies that prospects can relate to?
Prospective clients may be searching online and have just stumbled across your site which they then compare with others that came up during their search. Other prospects may have been recommended or referred to you. These people are simply looking for confirmation of what they were told. Does your site provide this?
- The top five accountants’ website mistakes
- Website lead generation for accountants
- SEO secrets for accountants
Mark Lee FCA is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and helps individual accountants who want to be more successful in their practice or career. He is an author, speaker, mentor and debunker. He also facilitates The Inner Circle group for accountants and created the Successful Practice Pack for accountants. His website is: www.BookMarkLee.co.uk