The Three Phases of a Great Accounting Website (Part 2)

Lead Generation Sites

Last week we covered the first phase of a website which is to be a brochure for you.  This week, we talk about a site that brings you leads.  Most accountants want a website that will bring them leads.  And many accountants have been very disappointed in past attempts to get this marketing channel working for them, and I’d like to give you some ideas why that might have happened.

The Good News

The good news is that you CAN get business from your accounting website.  As a matter of fact, you can get big business.  Every week, clients tell us that they had someone fill out the contact form, call or email, or sign up for their newsletter.  Some leads have been really big too:  mid-market, franchises, multiple locations, and many more.

How It Saves Money

From a marketing standpoint, the goal that a lead generation site accomplishes is to bring you future clients in various stages of readiness.  A good lead generation site will fill your pipeline with qualified prospects.  This is good because it becomes a producing marketing channel for you in which you can measure how many clients you get from your site on an annual basis.  You can also measure your ROI (return on investment) in this specific channel compared to other marketing channels so you can see where to spend your marketing dollars smarter.

The Variables

There are a lot of factors in getting a website to generate the right kind of leads in what’s now a very mature marketplace.  Here are just a few:

  1. How much your competitors in your geographic region have spent on their websites.
  2. The quality and quantity of your “social proof.”  Social proof is marketing-speak for content such as testimonials, credentials, a well-presented bio, proof of a current client base, and anything that builds your credibility as someone who can do the job that the client needs.
  3. How often you update your web content and whether your website is a blog or a website. (Blogs rank higher.)

Unfortunately, you (or your webmaster) cannot completely control all of the variables but the key is to maximize the ones you can control for best results.  Too often I find that accountants fixate on their competition without focusing on increasing their social proof, which is completely in their control and where the super-high payback is.

Jumping the Gun

One of the biggest mistakes I see at the “lead generation” level is spending money on social media channels and search engine ads before the site content is maximized.  This also happens when you skip the “brochure” stage and go straight into the “lead gen” stage, expecting it to work.   One way to save money is to stop spending on social media and Google ads until you have your site content done right.

You might have heard me say (for years now) that your site is not about what you like.  It’s about what your client likes and is attracted to.  And in the accounting industry, this can be a very big difference!  When you have someone design your site, it’s important to design a site with your clients in mind.  We call it “designing for our clients’ clients.”

How Much?

How much should you expect to pay for a good lead-generating site?  It depends on your business complexity as well as some of the items I listed above.  We have seen sites priced in the $1,000 to $2,000 range return great leads that paid for the site’s costs within six months, but not always.   We have seen sites do great in the $2,000 to $3,500 range.   And these prices are for marketing that is confined to your local geographic region only.

The costs jump when you want to market nationally and if you are competing with popular keywords in a service that’s saturated.  Sites in this category need fresh content monthly (perhaps weekly) and need a monthly budget of $500 – $1000 plus initial development costs to work.

Your Site

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

  • You are getting leads from your site at any time of the year.
  • You are not getting lots of comments or posts on your site.

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

  • Out-of-date lead generation
  • Passive lead generation
  • Active lead generation

An active lead generation site is where you are actively receiving leads into your pipeline and you are working them into your sales process.  If they are leads that are not ready to buy, you are able to work them into your newsletter.

An out-of-date lead-generation site means you are getting the wrong kind of leads because your website has outdated service descriptions on it, and a passive lead generation site is one where you are getting leads but you do not follow up with them on a timely basis.

The Payoff

Guess which of the three lead generation sites is the only one that pays back for you?  Of course, it’s the active lead generation site!

The payoff for a lead generation site comes when you do two things:  keep increasing the quality of your social proof and respond quickly and cheerfully to leads that come in.

In next week’s article, we’ll cover the last level:  interactive community.