KeithDean
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Hello Everybody

Hello Everybody

I am the founder of an established Accountants practice here in Barnsley which is my main business. Most of our clients are from local advertising, referals, recommendations etc. We have a new website (about 6 months old) and are looking for ways to attract more business online. I have tried Google Adwords which has worked partly but overall has turned out to be a rather expensive way of sourcing new clients. I am just starting to get into social networking and beginning to think I should leave pay per click well alone. Overall we seem to have initial difficulties in souring online clients and wondered if there is another way.

Dean & Co Accountants, www.deanco.co.uk, [email protected]

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By plummy1
26th Feb 2011 19:32

Social Networking etc

Hi,

Mine is not an accountancy firm but a capital allowances firm but we probably face the same issues in terms of advertising. We do use google adwords but i'm not sure we would if we didn't work nationally. I take it you have registered with google local which is free and would list you if say somebody had typed in say accountants in Barnsley.

A couple of other things we are trying is as partners we have registerd on linkedin which is a networking site for anybody with a business. It allows you to establish a virtual network and then join groups and start discussions etc.

We have now joined a local BNI Group which although seems relatively expensive at first has already started to produce results in terms of referrals. You also get the pleasure of reffering people yourself to other professionals which feels surprisingly good. Its not for everybody I know but you just need to find a group whicdh doesn't as yet have an accountant. We are also looking at twitter, facebook, attending local business conferencs, trade fairs and thinking of booking a stand in the near future.  

As a firm we are obviously interested in talking to accountants so I have started to post on this website as a means of getting contacts but then you would have already guessed that anyway!

I hope this is of some use.

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27th Feb 2011 14:47

Thanks for the info

Like the tip about linkedin. Have already signed up and will give it try.

www.deanco.co.uk

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27th Feb 2011 16:33

Depends on the type of business you want to attract

Hi - I've been in my current office 2 & a half years and having had more general enquiries from the web than I had in the previous 5 years, there's no doubt that the number of people using the web is increasing.  For the reasons set out below I pay hardly anything to keep a presence on Yell.com and anyone searching Google for "Accountants - mytown" find me within a few seconds.  One of my clients has just gone out of business paying a third of his turnover to Google and so, given how many people are now on that bandwagon, I think you are wise to discount it.

Over the years I've explored every sort of way to attract new clients but, no matter how you wrap it up, potential new clients arrive either "cold" ie from adverts/web/cold referrals or "warm" ie from recommendation/warm referrals and in my experience the latter beat the former many times over.  In fact I've now reached the point where the former effectively have to convince me they are going to be worth my while, rather than the other way around.

I know that this is a generalisation and "mass" marketing might be good for specific compliance services (eg bookkeeping) but gaining clients who want an holistic service and where fee rates are not the primary concern is best achieved, I think, by the old fashioned approach of marketing to the existing client base and close contacts.

I joined Linkedin and had to "unjoin" 6 months ago just to get away from all those who wanted me as a contact just to market to me.  I also have a problem in general cold referrals, ie I wouldn't recommend a client to anyone who I had only "met" online (no matter how good their Facebook page was) and wouldn't want to receive referrals in that way.

As I say, I'm generalising here and I'm sure that if you manage to attract 20 potentials a month there is likely to be a gem in there somewhere, but I prefer to get one gem recommended to me and save the wasted time.

 

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27th Feb 2011 18:33

Stock photos

Keith

I like the text in your website but the stock photos really put me off. Why don't you dispense with them and put your photo up?

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27th Feb 2011 19:38

Keith

I disagree, the text is not good. It is poorly worded, unconvincing and full of grammar and spelling errors.  This is not a good first impression.

I do like the style of the site, it is clear, uncluttered and welcoming.

The primary reason that you are not generating much business from your site is that there is no incentive for the reader to contact you.  Do you offer a free consultation to new clients?  If so then let them know! Put it on your site.  Address this issue first.

Other thoughts:

 - When first logging in it is unclear what you do - are you accountants or bookkeepers?  Put the word 'Accountants' under your name and get rid of the red text, your services should be found under services;

 - Don't use red text anyway;

 - It is unclear who Wakefield Accountants are;

 - In the about us section you state that you exceed expectations without anything to substantiate that.  How about some examples, some guarantees and / or some testimonials?  Otherwise it just reads like empty boasts.

 - HMRC referred to as Inland Revenue, gives the impression of being outdated;

 - The Limited Company examples don't wow.  Have you thought about some basic examples that the reader may identify with?  Tax comparisons by bands of profit?  Sole traders that you have incorporated and purchased goodwill, etc etc.

So basically the site just needs a bit of tweaking, word it for the benefit and information of the reader, look at it from a prospective client point of view, make it stand out from the crowd and you will see more of a return.

Good luck with it.

By the way, your prices look on the cheap side to put it mildly, this may also be putting clients off, business owners are keen to cut costs but not many want a cheap accountant.

Jason Dormer

Seahorse (UK) Ltd - For Accountants and Bookkeepers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27th Feb 2011 20:49

Spelling errors?

Although I don't disagree with most of your comments how about this:

“It is poorly worded, unconvincing and full of grammar and spelling errors.”

Can you tell me one spelling error?

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27th Feb 2011 22:44

How about this one?

"We can also provide further accountanct services to include"

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27th Feb 2011 23:12

As well as Jasons suggestions -

 

 

It's a bit "dry" and impesronal.

Photos of you and your staff would help, but for God's sake dont do what so many do and stick passport stye photos on it.  How boring.

For several years we had a brochure (pre web site days and indeed pre internet days- yes I've been around that long) and on the front we had a group shot of myself and some of the staff, outside the office, with our dogs.  It immediatly made us "more human".

You want to be approachable, someone potential clients can trust, and, someone they can relate to.  It was amazing how often we would get calls from potential clients who would quickly say something like - "we've got a Collie/Rottweiller etc just like the one on your brochure".  Two minutes chatting about dogs - instant sign up.

People might be in business - but they are human too, and they respond to being treated as a person and want to deal with a person.  There are a million salesmen out there trying to convince them that their life will never be complete without whatever rubbish the salesman is pushing, you need to sell YOU, not your promises.

 

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28th Feb 2011 07:36

True

"you need to sell YOU, not your promises."

That's a good answer to FirstTab's recent query. Even if there's more than just him working in the firm he should take responsibility for all his staff's actions.

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28th Feb 2011 07:39

Spelling

I missed that one.

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28th Feb 2011 08:24

In defence

I'd  stand up for the use of Inland Revenue over HMRC.  To a fellow professional this might seem slightly out of date (though personally I still refer internally to "The Revenue", "Customs" and "Newcastle" to refer to the Revenue's three, er, income-streams).  

Fact is, Joe Public thinks 'Inland Revenue'  rather than HMRC and using the former makes that side of things easier to relate to.

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28th Feb 2011 09:34

Great tips. Thank you you all.

I have read all your comments with great interest. While I do not agree with everything that has been said I have decided to make some minor changes to the website ASAP.  Some of the grammar errors are deliberate in the interests of SEO. I have learnt that sometimes it is neccesary to trade of good grammer for SEO.

While I understand this is not always a good idea someone else wrote "Depends on the type of the business you want to attract". And, most of my clients are market traders, lorry drivers, builders, care workers and taxi drivers.

Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate everybodys time and effort. I have taken all your comments on board and will be making some changes shortly. Thanks to you all.

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By maxxy
28th Feb 2011 11:52

Agree that it depends on who you want to attract!

I agree with the comment that it depends on who you want to attract. Now you have told us lorry drivers, construction, care workers and taxi drivers I have to say that not many of these will be available to connect with via social media. 

A quick test would be to look at a sample number of target companies websites, see how many of them have a twitter, linkedin, or facebook badge. Then see how many of these pages are one-way streams of information where they are not actually connecting or engaging with anyone. See what % is left.  If it's not very high then I would expect a different approach to work better. Perhaps a target ad, telemarketing (I can say that as it's what we do). 

It's a good idea to have specific landing pages too for these market segments so that when they land on your site they can see for themselves how your service brings benefits to them in particular over and above other accountancy firms. 

Hope that helps :)

Maxine

-- www.maxxy.co.uk www.find-me-an-accountant.com Twitter:@maxinemaxxy

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28th Feb 2011 12:10

Whats in a name -

 I still refer internally to "The Revenue", "Customs" and "Newcastle" to refer to the Revenue's three, er, income-streams).  

Posted by MarionMorrison on Mon, 28/02/2011 - 08:24

 

I also have names I refer to HMRC by - but I don't think you could use them on a web site :) 

 

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28th Feb 2011 18:45

SEO

If there is a trade off of good grammar for SEO purposes, I'd expect the site to be found easily throught it's optimisation, though if you key in Barnsley accountants, Wakefield accountants, or even Royston accountants the site is not even on the first page of Google, let alone the top.

The SEO doesn't seem to be working, and I am also at a loss to understand how the grammar can improve SEO anyway?

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28th Feb 2011 20:09

SEO

I entered "accountant barnsley" which is what I would try if I was looking for an accountant in barnsley and Dean & Co. came on the 6th page.

I thought that was one of the ways to do SEO - enter text that gets searched on? Rather than use flowing prose you mention what people will seach on.

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02nd Mar 2011 10:45

PPC, SMO, SEO (and the wonderful world of web initialism)

PPC (pay per click): PPC is definitely something I would consider doing, if your website is successful at converting cold leads. PPC will allow you to target dozens of very targeted keywords for a few pence per click (searches on your keywords turned up a high bid of £1.29 per click, but many others below 10p). To convert cold lead, I would offer some incentive to visitors.

SMO (social media): can be very time consuming and you do need to put in the time to generate warm-ish leads from there. I would guess than a majority of the successful (for whom social media works) accountants on Twitter spend a minimum of an hour a day tweeting. There is no shortcuts, time needs to be spent working on your social media connections.

SEO (search engine optimisation): I think I said it here before but SEO is 80% links and 20% keyword on your websites, so adding misspelled words or specific key-phrases would not help you greatly (especially since google is now clever enough to either dismiss the misspelling or offer the "right" spelling). Your website should be written to convert people - so misspelling is probably not the way to go. If you rely only on SEO to drive traffic to your site (and really you shouldn't), then work on getting links from other website to yours (called inbound links). At the moment you are not on page 1 for your main keywords (make sure that "personalised results based on history" is disabled when checking website rankings). You also only seem to have a handful of links, so getting more (slowly and steadily) would be my priority.

SEO tip: The "Welcome to Dean's" in your homepage Title is costing you ranks. Words at the start of the page title tags have more "weight" than words coming later. In your position I would either delete this and use what's left, or use something like "Barnsley & Wakefield Accountants | Dean & Co | Tax Accountants and Business Advisors in Barnsley & Wakefield".

SEO tip: when getting inbound links get a mixture of anchor text (anchor tet is what makes the link ie. the "website design, SEO and SMO tips for accountants" in my link below. What you want - especially if you haven't done so before, is a ratio of 50% on your practice name, 25% on Barnsley keywords and 25% on Wakefield keywords. Once you get a few dozen of those, move the ratio to 33% on all and then 20% on name and 40/40 on keywords.

Web design tip: your navigation is quite hard to read. Most people use a screen resolution of 1024px or higher (less than 3% use a lower one), so I would make your site wider to be able to have bigger buttons.
I also agree than the images might look a bit dated and "just dropped" in the design, but most people shouldn't notice too much.

 

NetAccountant (my blog) where I discuss website design, SEO and SMO tips for accountants

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02nd Mar 2011 10:59

Networking......................

In the 40 years I have been in practice we have tried all sorts of different ideas, with varying results.

With Google Clicks and the like, many tend to be looking for a fast and , virtually, free or cheap service.

With Networking, especially if you have active bank manager, solicitor and IFA members and you make a good impression on them and their initial recomemdations, this can be very rewarding.

You need to choose your Networking group carefully. Some, one based in California comes to mind, charge many hundreds a year for membership. Others are much more competetive.

Whatever route you take, be a farmer and not a hunter. Farmers sow seeds and repeat the harvest. Hunters grab and run.

 

 

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