The Three Phases of a Great Accounting Website (Part 1)

You might be happy to hear me say all the things a brand new business does NOT need when they first start out:

A logo is not necessary

  • A $5,000 website is not necessary
  • A bunch of social media accounts is not necessary
  • A blog is not necessary (although a blog could replace the need for a website)

So what is necessary?  Let’s take a look at the big picture first, then we can see what’s needed at each level of business maturity.

My three phases of websites are named based on how they are used:

  • Brochure
  • Lead generation
  • Interactive community


When you first start your business, all you need is a website that you are proud of and that you will refer people to so they can investigate your further.  A lot of your sales will be done face-to-face in local networking meetings and meeting with potential referral sources until you can get your referrals going (which generally takes 1-3 years).

How It Saves Money

From a marketing standpoint, the goal that a brochure site accomplishes is to make it easier for future clients to decide on you.  This is called “conversion” in marketing-speak.  A good brochure site will increase your conversion ratio, which means more prospects will say yes to doing business with you.  This is good because it lowers your marketing costs; you need fewer prospects coming into your funnel to make your numbers.

Important Features

One of the biggest mistakes I see at the “brochure” level is that there’s not enough customization to make the site work.  Here’s what must be included for a site to act as a good brochure for you:

  • A professionally written bio that highlights the best of your work
  • Testimonials of clients, and if you are just starting out, get character testimonials from previous bosses or earlier work
  • A professionally-lit headshot with good eye contact and you smiling or at least looking approachable.

A lot of accountants are shy and don’t want to do this.  But think about what the prospect thinks if you don’t: it looks like you have something to hide.  It’s super-hard to get people to trust you these days; we’re all so skeptical, so these items above help to make you a “real” person as if you were meeting your prospect face to face.  (And you can thank Facebook and social media for the need for pictures; it’s not my favorite thing to post either!)

How Much?

How much should you expect to pay for a good brochure site?  It depends on how many services you offer and how many team members you have.  If you have just a few services and are a solo entrepreneur, you should be able to get a great starter site for under $1,000.  If your business is more complex, the cost will range from about $1,000 to $4,000.

If you have all the referrals you can handle and have no desire to grow your business further, there is no reason to spend the money to go to the next level.  However, you do want to keep the site updated and fresh so that future clients are impressed.

Your Site

How is your site performing?  Your site ranks in the “brochure” category if:

  • There is no interactivity (or only spam activity) such as posts or comments on your site.
  • You are not getting leads from the site during your peak season for your service.

To drill down a little further, you can have three types of brochure sites:

  • Out-of-date brochure
  • Passive brochure
  • Active brochure

An active brochure site is where you are actively giving out your website address to people you meet through other marketing activities.  Out-of-date is self-explanatory (and a waste of money), and a passive brochure site is one that is the opposite of active.  It’s just sitting there and you have not actively integrated it with your other marketing activities (also a waste of money).

The Payoff

Guess which of the three brochure sites is the only one that pays back for you?  Of course, it’s the active brochure site, and if you do have a brochure site, you’ll want to make sure it falls into this category!

The payoff for a brochure site comes when you do two things:  keep it updated on at least a quarterly basis and actively integrate it into your other marketing activities.

In next week’s article, we’ll cover the next two levels:  lead generation and interactive community.