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How to run an MTD communications campaign

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With time running out before Making Tax Digital for income tax self-assessment is due to roll out, keeping your clients up to date with new announcements on the scheme is critical. 

1st Aug 2022
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It’s no secret that the Making Tax Digital (MTD ITSA) scheme, and HMRC’s handling of it, has split opinion across the accounting profession. 

For some, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity: to convert more clients to digital processes, to take a more active role in advising them on accounting technology, and to expand to new advice and services. For others, it’s a costly and complicated exercise, hampered by delays and confusion along the way.

Wherever you stand, the fact remains that unless further changes are announced, MTD ITSA is still due to take effect from 2024. Keeping your clients informed is essential – especially in the face of uncertainty from HMRC.

For those accountants who do want to proactively help clients prepare, there are several different ways to go about it.

To reach as many people as possible, we recommend using multiple channels to spread the message, as part of a targeted campaign.

Make use of social media

When new changes to MTD are announced, social media is one of the most effective ways to get the word out to a wide range of people. Regularly sharing links to recent news articles or blog posts from your own website can help to keep the topic at the forefront of your followers’ minds. 

It’s also a great way to share your professional opinion on the scheme, engage directly with your clients about it, and reach new audiences. 

Remember that consistency is key when it comes to a social media campaign. Content moves quickly through these platforms, and can quickly disappear under new updates, so it’s best to schedule multiple MTD-related updates over a sustained period of time if you want your message to be seen. 

Reach out over email

Compared to social media marketing, email can sound a bit old-fashioned. But as a cost-effective way to reach a targeted, curated list, it has several benefits.

By segmenting your client base and setting up different email lists, you can make sure you’re sending the most relevant information to the right people. If some of your clients have been operating under MTD for VAT since 2019, for instance, you’ll need to take a different approach to those who are completely new to the scheme. 

Email marketing software also allows you to get more out of your campaign by integrating with your website, or providing insights on how your content has performed.

Build a dedicated content hub

If you’ve been communicating with your clients from the early days of MTD, the chances are you’ve built up a wealth of information in the content you’ve produced for them. 

Again, it’s easy to lose this content if it’s buried under blog articles on your website, or if you sent it once in an email then forgot about it. Content distributed this way can be difficult for clients to find unless they go digging for it.

If you’ve spent time and money producing good quality content, it’s a shame to let it go to waste – or to spend time producing the same thing again. 

A more efficient solution is to create a section on your website that’s dedicated to MTD. This can be populated with content of various formats – explainers, updates, videos and so on – making all the key information on the scheme available for anyone who needs it.

This should also make it much easier for you to revisit and update your content, keeping it relevant and improving its longevity.

Set up an MTD landing page

If it’s doing its job, your content should inform your audience about MTD and help to answer some of their questions. But if your clients or prospective clients want to know more, you’ll need to point them in the right direction. An MTD landing page is a great way to do this.

A landing page is a type of web page that’s designed for a specific purpose, as part of a marketing campaign. It’s where people will ‘land’ on your website when they click through from a campaign email or social media post, and it should give them a clear ‘call to action’ (CTA) on what they need to do next.

In most cases, this CTA will be to contact you for more information on MTD, so your landing page should display your contact details, and perhaps a contact form, in an easily accessible way.

Need help?

We won’t pretend any of these methods are a quick and easy fix to informing your clients about the complexities of MTD. Producing a targeted campaign takes time, and requires sustained effort to really work.

We know that not all accountants agree with MTD, or think it's their responsibility to communicate it with their clients. There's no right or wrong, and it's ultimately a decision for you and your practice to make. 

But, if you're in the camp of those who do want to communicate MTD and aren't sure how best to go about it, PracticeWeb can help.

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Replies (13)

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By Hugo Fair
01st Aug 2022 16:31

Wouldn't it be simpler (and probably no less effective) to hire a few of your local bobbies ... who are already well drilled in repeating "Nothing to see here ... move along please ... nothing to see here"!

Thanks (3)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By paanjii2
02nd Aug 2022 13:31

Insert the ignition key into the starter. ...
Push the choke lever to "Full" and press the primer button three times to draw gasoline into the mower engine. ...
Plug the snow blower into a power outlet. ...
Push and hold the "Starter" button until the engine starts.

Thanks (1)
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By Geoff56
01st Aug 2022 17:36

"It’s no secret that the Making Tax Digital (MTD ITSA) scheme, and HMRC’s handling of it, has split opinion across the accounting profession."

What's the split then? 2% in favour, 98% against?

Thanks (8)
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By GHarr497688
01st Aug 2022 22:20

I didn't realise that it was the Accountants role to deliver communications on the Government implementation of a new tax system. I thought that was what Government are employed by the electorate to these in the same way the NHS is heavily advertised on all channels.

Thanks (7)
Replying to GHarr497688:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Aug 2022 09:55

We will all know how successful HMG's marketing approach has been when the nation stands outside their houses banging saucepans for HMRC as the pigs do an acrobatic fly past.

Thanks (2)
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By Jane Wanless
02nd Aug 2022 10:30

Alerting clients to MTDSA risks the clients responding and requesting more detail - which we still await from HMRC. Until HMRC provide the detail, we risk looking foolish as we can't set out what the client will need to do, recommend software etc.

I don't think it's down to the accountancy profession to do HMRC's work. And HMRC need to remember that there are many taxpayers who do not use an accountant. It's HMRC's responsibility to let people know that (or if) MTD ITSA is coming.

Thanks (11)
Morph
By kevinringer
02nd Aug 2022 10:34

For a good example of how NOT to run an MTD communications campaign, see HMRC.

Thanks (4)
Morph
By kevinringer
02nd Aug 2022 10:40

"Reach out over email"

About half of my clients are digitally excluded and do not have email. The other half do have email but most don't read emails. If I want them to read an email I have to phone them to tell them.

I have been including MTD in my periodic newsletters since 2017. Only last week in mentioned MTD to a client who claimed to have read my newsletters, but it was the first she had heard of MTD. So my newsletters had been a waste of time as far as communicating to her.

"Build a dedicated content hub"

I reckon that at best only 2% of my clients would visit such a hub, and they're the same 2% that already keep digital records so they're already as prepared for MTD as they can be. The other 98% would never visit the hub, so a waste of time.

Thanks (5)
Replying to kevinringer:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Aug 2022 15:39

"Build a dedicated content hub"
Agree your comments
Hubs are for clients that have already been converted

Thanks (2)
Morph
By kevinringer
02nd Aug 2022 10:44

MTD is HMRC's initiative, so isn't it HMRC's job to communicate to their "customers"? Why should I spend my time and resources having to make up for HMRC's inadequacies?

Thanks (3)
By kenny achampong
02nd Aug 2022 10:54

How many times over the years have you told clients about something and then the rules changed ? eg corporation tax increases next year will probably go if Liz Truss gets in. I'd still say MTD is only 50/50.

And we won't know how much of a mess HMRC will make of it until we start filing the first return. eg MTD for VAT, the first step was enter the company number, and got the message 'that company is not registered for VAT'. When the message should have said 'please enter an 8 digit number with the prefix 0 if it is 7 digits' A very simple muck up by HMRC, but with the phones never being answered, made it unusable until you'd cracked the code.

I'm keeping all my clients informed by telling them we will not be able to file the 150 returns in a month so they will have to do it themselves using bridging software. And if in the unlikely event that it does gets up and running smoothly, I will email them a link to the bridging software. Most of them will be on holiday anyway so not expecting many to be filed on time.

Thanks (4)
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By MCV71
02nd Aug 2022 15:00

Based on how far it's progressed since the 2015 announcement, the only thing to communicate is a sheet of blank A4 paper

Thanks (3)
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By Open all hours
02nd Aug 2022 22:21

You wrote this on 1 April but just published on 1 August?

Have you sent a copy to HMRC who don’t seem able to communicate in any meaningful way whatsoever to the thousands of unrepresented self employed. September now is it? Far, far too late already.

As for ourselves, we’ll suck eggs the best way we know how and we’ll give our clients an honest opinion of the state of play re MTD, HMRC and those who will benefit most from it and they will listen to us because we have one thing which HMRC, Aweb, and the software companies lack - trust.

Thanks (2)