By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
Once you get used to the idea that your business card has jumped from your wallet into cyberspace, you’ll be ready to look at the website that’s taken its place in a new light.
If you’re new to the internet marketing game, you need to be aware that the game itself has changed and having a website means that you’re going to need a different perspective. While the basic motivation in getting new clients is still the same, you’ll need to learn how to work some new tools or at least hire some experts to do some website tinkering for you.
Dangle That Baited Hook Online
Accountants and consultants can make the big mistake of putting up a website and thinking that they don’t need to do anything else but dangle that baited hook online to attract all kinds of fish. The schools in the Internet oceans are large and full of competition looking to land the same big ones that you are after. That said, here are a few pointers to help you put together a website with a good ROI and an online business card that stands out in your target market.
If you meet a potential client on a street corner or conference in the old days, you gave them a business card. If you made the right kind of first impression, they’d remember something positive about you later when they found the card in their wallet that would make them want to give you a call.
Today, the Internet is quite often the first point of contact for potential customers and that’s where you need to make an excellent first impression. Various studies have pointed out the fact you only have a few seconds to captivate a potential customer and that means you don’t want to clutter up a website with anything that’s unnecessary.
Keep It Simple
There’s an unlimited feast of bells and whistles to choose from but a clean, sleek-looking site with fast response times and an interactive element is always the best route. Too much information on the landing page scares possible clients away and simple navigation with tabs to click on across the top or left hand side should provide all the choices for where visitors need to go to satisfy their questions. These tabs can be as simple as About Us, Contact and Services for good starting points.
Here’s a good example of a landing page that makes a great first impression by staying simple and getting right to the point—Folding Bike Reviewer isn’t industry specific to the accounting/consulting profession, but taking a look at the site provides a fine example of how the direct navigation route and clean lines captivate prospects.
Extending a Hand Online
A recent study found that over 52% of respondents complained that thorough contact information was lacking on the websites they visited. If you consider that more research has found you have under eight seconds to interest a visitor before they click away to the competition, you’ll see how important it is to make sure they can get in touch with you if they find your accounting services interesting.
Hence the need for excellent contact information. Everyone in the industry knows that business owners prize being able to get in touch with their accountants and the study mentioned above also found that 54% of respondents noted how lack of contact information reduced the vendor’s credibility.
Translation? The days of putting up an email address are long gone if you want your accounting business to grow on the Internet. Although it might sound like a blast from the past, listing your actual snail mail address boosts credibility among your clients. Here’s another excellent example of a company that’s taken the time to put together an online form while supplying a phone number and Google map to cover all the bases.
Finally…show off a little
It’s no secret that business startups and even established companies are looking for experienced accountants to handle their needs. It’s one thing to suggest that you have a good education and other credentials with well-written content that is optimized properly. It’s quite another to have your affiliations to professional organizations and website badges front and center so that business can see you have the necessary expertise.
Don’t be afraid and back off from the more credible social media avenues. Putting together a Facebook page is an excellent way to point interested parties back to your website and you can even market by offering special deals to the new and returning clients who “like” this part of your online arsenal.
Facebook pages should be an important part of your Internet marketing tool chest when you’re an accountant looking to expand your business in cyberspace. While other social media tools like LinkedIn are great for networking in professional circles, Facebook has a further reach with the general public.