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Marketing tips to maximise your online profile

6th Aug 2013
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Marketing and PR are seen by some accountants as fluffier aspects of their work. But to to sell your services and win clients, you’ve got to be good at both. Rachael Power collected some tips from a recent Xero webinar.

Cloud accounting software house Xero is currently running a series of free summercamp webinars to teach practitioners across a range of topics, including marketing.

AccountingWEB joined Xero marketing manager Nina Michell and PracticeWEB’s senior client adviser Chris Arnold in a recent webinar and gathered a multitude of marketing and PR tips.

Improving your PR

Michell began with a series of simple steps accountants can take to raise their profile through better media relations (PR), including:

  • Build relationships with the media. Michell advised accountants who want media coverage to create a list of publications they want to appear in, followed by a list of editors and other contacts within the organisation. Then get in touch, forward press releases and keep in contact with them.
  • Connect appropriately. “If the person you are trying to get in touch with is an avid blogger or tweeter, get in touch with them that way, and share their content,” Michell advised. That way, they’ll be more likely to share yours, too.
  • Focus on content. Once you’ve built the relationships, focus on content creation - the most important element of any PR opportunity is having something interesting and useful to say. “At Xero, what we consider to be a great business story might not get the publication excited. What they do like is personal stories, human interest angles, case studies and always add in a photo and/or video,” she said.
  • Make your content topical. A new story that strikes a chord with what's being covered at the time is more likely to be featured by a publication that not.
  • Comment on, don’t create, the news. Show off your expertise in an area by providing expert or insider commentary on different issues or news articles. Subjects like taxation and company policy are great opportunities to demonstrate your expertise.

PracticeWEB’s Chris Arnold supported these points with a session devoted to maximising your website.

To create a website that works for your audience you need to understand who they are. For accountants, the audience will include prospective clients, existing clients, partners and staff.

When planning or redesigning your site, Arnold advised asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who do you want to appeal to? Are they clients with particular services or within a certain sector?
  • What interests them, what are they looking for? Try to build up a profile for each individual type of client/audience member you’re trying to reach.
  • What do you want them to see? Good, relevant content in blogs, guides, event calendars and seminars can help keep them on your page.
  • Where do they hang out online? What social media sites are they using - are they in certain groups or communities? Don’t be self promotional, but seek them out and get involved with the communities. Offer gently useful advice in these forums to build your credibility.
  • How will they find your services? The majority of clients will come via referrals, but some may seek out relevant information on IR35 or another tax issue specific to their industry. It’s worth thinking about. How people find your website and the pages they’ll look at should influence its structure and design. Make sure to load those pages with links to other high value areas of your site that might appeal to your target audiences.

How does your website sell your services?

After you’ve done the analysis, Arnold advised that the pages you create for your target groups should aim to answer all their questions. For example, someone thinking about starting a business will have basic tax and company law questions, so build in hooks around these topics to draw this group further into your content. When it comes to showing supporting material and resources, “the more targeted you can get, the better,” said Arnold.

A website should give visitors strong directions about how to find their way around. Users shouldn’t need to dig around; relevant content should be handed to them on a plate. Make sure to guide them to other areas of the site through big, strong buttons that clearly communicate the benefit of clicking on something.

Content is king!

The best practice for creating good web copy is to “write with your client profile in mind”. This approach will help attract traffic from search engines and will create a good sales story that will influence prospects as they make their minds up.

So, use language your audience will identify with, keep content short and have clear calls to action visible on the page.

Keep content interesting, too - blogs that get the most attention tend to show a bit of personality, are obscure and off the wall. Stories that can get a smile from people are the best read.

A content calendar can help you make the best use of all the available resources, both internal and external; ask partners and contacts to contribute a blog every month.

Rewrite and reuse content where appropriate, and inject your own opinion on important issues and current (relevant) affairs.

Broadcast your website content

E-marketing can attract a wider audience to your site. Just as AccountingWEB does, create an email bulletin, using the content title and synopsis with a link back to the full article. Send this to all clients or prospects, or even segregate your database into targeted groups.

Make sure content headlines are eye-catching and attention grabbing. Headlines with numbers tend to attract readers along with how-to guides and “top tips”.

Make bulletins more personal by getting partners to send them to their clients rather than in bulk from one account. Clients are more likely to read an email from their personal accountant, than the general firm.

Keep on top of click-through rates using tools such as Google Analytics, which is free and easy to use.

You can also use social media to broadcast content and link back to the original article on your website.

Arnold encouraged firms to practice “social prospecting” - some might call it cyberstalking - to look for target audiences you want to reach. Rather than just pumping out puffs, however, try to strike up conversations with your prospects and respond to other people on social media.

Search engine marketing

“I can’t remember the last time I used a phone book,” Arnold said, “I go straight to Google and your prospects will do too.”

Online marekting is often driven by search engines, for example with search enging optimisation (SEO), which is something you can do at the outset to make your site more relevant and visible. The principle is very simple: use keywords that will appeal to your ideal users (such as "accountants in Derby") - but don't write for search engines. If you flood your site with keywords, search programs will sense that something is up and ignore them. Use Google’s keyword tool for accuracy and suggestions.

Building in links to and from other sites can be beneficial in the long term, but assess the quality of sites you’re linking to. For example, Google frowns on paid-for links. and can drop pages using those links several pages down the search rankings.

Avoid cheap SEO and ‘guaranteed results’ solutions, as they aren’t good for anyone.

Paid for advertising is an easy route to take. It’s not as cost effective as SEO, but can get you some quick returns and you can pay for your site to be featured within Google, such as at the yellow box at the top.

Monitoring performance:

Benchmark your start point and monitor activity on your site - see what differences are made as you do work on site.

Set objectives for yourself, such as a minimum number of enquiries, visitors, document downloads, increased newswire subscriptions and so on.

Defineyour benchmark or what your idea of a good or perfect website would look like and then use the right tools to measure the key performance indicators (KPIs) you've identified to see how close to the ideal you can get.

For more information on marketing and PR for accountants, see: 


Replies (6)

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By FirstTab
06th Aug 2013 22:02

Revamping my website

Thanks for the article. I intend to revamp my website so I am looking for some guidance. 

I just have not grasped the guidance on how I can make my website effective. Probably it is just me. The only point I have got is content is king. 


Thanks (0)
Mark Lee headshot 2023
By Mark Lee
07th Aug 2013 10:08

What a refreshingly hype-free article

Great advice here especially re accountants' websites.

Ironically the only point with which I might quibble a little concerns the idea that 'content is king'.

I absolutely agree that your website needs to talk to each group of target clients and staff etc. To this extent there needs to be varied content. And I also accept that updating this content - when there is salient news related to specific target sectors - also makes sense.

What I am less convinced about however is the real value of having loads of detailed content on the site and the benefit of this keeping people on the site for longer. I doubt many accountants are looking for clients who want to spend a long time reading technical material on their website (or elsewhere). More common targets are those who have a problem and who have found that the accountant has the expertise to resolve the problem and provide the service that is sought. Your site then needs to make it as easy as possible for visitors to get in direct contact with a real person. And to let them choose whether to do this by email or phone - as different people have different preferences.

I am well aware that I could dramatically increase the traffic to my Tax Advice Network website by increasing the free content there as so many people search for this online. But I have no desire to attract anyone who is looking for free tax advice. 


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Replying to rjoconnor81:
By carnold
07th Aug 2013 10:47

Couldn't agree more

Hi Mark, thanks for your great feedback.

I totally agree with you, I wouldn’t advocate large volumes of technical content, (unless it really was necessary in some extreme cases).  The key here is to keep it short and relevant to the user and using their language and terminology which will grab their attention more so than industry jargon or an overly forward sales pitch. If you can master this you are more likely to convert visitors who find their way onto your website into enquiries instead of seeing them leave. This is the act of keeping people on your site through good and considered content, more-so than keeping them on one specific page.

There is a great example of how important it is to get your wording right on a site that shows the results of A/B testing (also known as split testing or multivariate testing):

If you note the difference between the two tests, the change is within the title, of which one was more focused around the user – “YOUR business”, and has a clear and definite call to action – “create a webpage”. This version was much less indifferent to the user than the first example, and there was almost 100% improvement in traffic viewing the pricing plan.

So I wouldn’t try keeping people on your webpage by throwing lots of words at them, but having supporting material such as downloads, videos, guides, events, webinars etc will keep people on your site. And higher levels of engagement correlate with higher rates of enquiry.

Thanks (2)
By FirstTab
07th Aug 2013 10:14


If I came across as not appreciating the article Rachael. That was not my intention. 

It is more my lack of understanding rather than the content of the article. 


Thanks (0)
Replying to johnt27:
By carnold
07th Aug 2013 12:41

Revamping your website

Hi FirstTab.  Whilst I’m on a roll with commenting on this article, I might be able to give you some pointers if you're thinking of revamping your website.

Firstly, the Xero summercamp webinar that is referred to in this article is open to anyone to register and are being run twice every Wednesday this month (Aug 2013). Sign up and it may give some clarity to this article -

If you’re thinking of revamping your website, your first port of call is thinking about your target users and your USP. On paper, accountancy firms are largely very similar, but after consulting with hundreds of accountants I know the majority of them do have USPs. If you’re unsure of what it is, do a SWOT analysis, Google your target key phrases “accountants yourlocation” or “IR35 yourlocation” and spend a few minutes on your competitor sites which might give you some ideas around your positioning. You’ll likely come out with a list of things you need to promote and a list of things you want to avoid.

There’s obviously a lot more to it, but that coupled with compelling user focused content should see you through to a website that performs well.

As well as the Xero webinars, we at PracticeWEB run webinars and workshops which cover a range of topics which may also give you some pointers: - Message me if you want to get on one of these for free.

Thanks (2)
By FirstTab
08th Aug 2013 07:08

Thank you for your help and your offer of a free workshop. I will contact you.

AW is great I got a free Air Con unit from Paul Scholes and now a free workshop!

Thanks (0)