The 5 C’s of Successful Websites

Woman designing a websitePlus 4 components to build credibility.

By Sandi Leyva
The Complete Guide to Marketing for Tax & Accounting Firms

The power of a website over many other marketing methods is its potentially enormous reach. When you can market to many people at a time, your costs are generally greatly reduced.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: How to Maximize Online Profile Sites | Make the Most of Trade Shows | Track Your Online Reputation | Partnering: Referrals on Steroids | Measure Client Retention … Against Yourself | Take Your Client’s Pulse | How to Determine Your Ideal Client
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For accountants, their website is one of the prime ways to get business without having to do much interaction. If you’re highly introverted, you may not like serving on committees and attending networking events. If that’s the case, then it’s all the more important to work on your website and maximize its message.

A website can serve three purposes:

  1. A brochure that you send prospects to whom you’ve met through other marketing channels
  2. A way to service clients through question-and-answer pages or private client areas
  3. A source of leads in itself

It’s always cool when you get a call out of the blue from a stranger who saw your accounting website. This is a prime way that accountants can get business, but your website has to have just the right content.

When I speak and teach on websites for accountants, I share my 5C formula, which is what you’ll need to focus on when building your site.

1. Caffeine factor. This means you have three seconds to capture the attention of your web visitor before they click off your site. You MUST put your best stuff right there on the home page. Don’t bury it somewhere else, because most people will never see it.

2. Credibility builder. Every single item and word on your website should drive your credibility up. You want to build trust, create a connection and be likable while demonstrating expertise. There are four essential components to a website that works:

  1. A well written bio of the founder, owner or president and the team
  2. A photo of you
  3. Testimonials, case studies or other social proof
  4. Marketing copy that connects with the problem that the prospect is having, that you can solve. This should be on your home and services pages.

Because 95 percent of accounting practice websites don’t have these items, when you add them, you will be way ahead of the game.

3. Calls to action. It’s essential to let prospects know what to do next if they are interested. The bottom of every single page should suggest an action your visitors can take. For example:

  1. Sign up for my newsletter
  2. Call for your complimentary consulting session
  3. Add to cart
  4. Read about our team
  5. Enter our contest
  6. And so forth

4. Charm the search engines. An important component of your website maintenance is making sure you do everything that’s affordable to be found by the search engines. There are thousands of companies that will take your money and claim to optimize your site. There are just a few things you can do that will make a huge difference.

One is to update your <TITLE> tags in your website. Enter keywords that are identical to the first question that prospects ask you. For example, if they need QuickBooks help, your title tag keywords should be “QuickBooks Help City” with City being the nearest, largest city you serve. If you are not sure where your title tag can be updated, check with your webmaster.

The other things is to keep adding great content that is rich with your keywords like CPA, accounting, tax return preparation, tax representation, bookkeeping, controller, loan package for bank, and so forth. Add your industries and geographic locations, and you will get plenty of traffic to your site.

5. Crowd control. These are all the things you can do outside your site to drive traffic to your site, including developing your profiles as mentioned earlier, writing articles and getting them posted online, posting in discussion groups or commenting on a news site, social media, video, and even offline materials that mention your website such as postcards, business cards and letterhead.

If you have any content that does not meet these goals, it should be taken off. It’s a distraction and an added cost. These include things such as financial calculators, cookie-cutter pages that don’t really say anything, too many service pages (making you look way too complicated to do business with), under-construction pages and anything else superfluous that doesn’t contribute toward getting your lead to reach out and do business with you.

One more tip on design and graphics: It’s a little hard to swallow, but the best sites reflect your clients’ tastes and not yours. The goal is to attract your client and not necessarily other accountants. A great webmaster will be able to get into their clients’ clients’ shoes to deliver the most effective website.

Reputation Management

One last thing: Take a look at your online reputation. Google your name, and if it’s common, you might need to put it in quotes, add CPA or bookkeeper to it, or otherwise qualify it. You’ll want to know what comes up because this can be someone’s first impression of you.

Working at home has spoiled me. Before I attend any event, I Google their name and check out their website. If I don’t like it, I don’t go. I imagine your prospects could be making the same harsh judgments about you. So it’s important to know what comes up when your name is Googled.

You can learn all sorts of things when you do a name search. The social media sites and photos will come up first. That’s why I recommend you do a great job on your LinkedIn profile. Take a look at all the sites that come up, and do your best to improve whatever comes up. If possible, you might want to hire a search engine optimization specialist (and we do this) to get certain sites to rank higher than others who have your name. It could very well be worth it. If there is something unpleasant that comes up, you can look into it to see what you need to do to deal with it.

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