The Three Phases of a Great Accounting Website (Part 3)

Interactive Community Sites

Last week we covered lead generating sites, and the week before we covered “brochure” sites.  This week, we talk about a site with an interactive community.  Some accountants do not need a site like this; however, it is definitely beneficial for those accountants and accounting firms that want to make a mark in their community, industry, or specialty area.

An interactive community site can meet multiple company goals and actually become a profit center in some cases.  It’s when clients, future clients, your team, and you interact to generate useful information, create community and forge relationships, and act as a centralized watering hole where people like to hang out.

How It Makes Money

A high-traffic community site can make money from sponsors and ads as well as act as a marketing channel for your company services and products.  The site should be a great brochure and provide you with quality leads.  A site at this level is performing at all three levels we’ve discussed.  It should:

  • Increase your conversions, just like a “brochure” site.
  • Fill your leads pipeline.
  • Build your company’s reputation, generate buzz, and create community among your clients and followers
  • Possibly be a revenue source through ads and sponsorships.

Site Features

A good interactive site will:

  • Contain features that highly integrate all of your social media accounts.  Visitors should be able to “like” your pages, comment on your blogs, read a tweet stream from your Twitter content, and the like.
  • Get people involved by asking them to interact and telling them exactly how to do that.
  • Have a core community of people who frequent the site on a regular basis.  This should increase over time.
  • Give the community a reason to keep coming back.  This could be through contests, coupons, forums, new content, and many more ways.

How Much?

How much should you expect to pay for an interactive community site?  The costs can range from $2,000 up for the core site.

The maintenance budget for a community site will need to have three components:  1) content, 2) activity monitoring, and 3) marketing.  Content curation is a new fancy buzzword for developing and collecting relevant information for your site, and you can accomplish that through a combination of people and technology tools.

Your Site

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

  • You are getting lots of comments or posts on your site, plus you are getting business.

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

  • Out-of-date interactive community
  • Passive interactive community
  • Active interactive community

An active interactive community site is where you have a site with a currently contributing community.  There are daily or at least weekly posts, comments, tweets, and more.  Your community also may know each other in part; it’s actually to you benefit when this begins to happen.

An out-of-date interactive community site means you have old posts (from over 6 months) on your site and no new ones, and a passive interactive community site is one where you are getting comments on your site but they are not being actively monitored.

The Payoff

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

The payoff for an interactive community site comes when you do two things:  actively encourage and monitor the interactivity on your site, and convert the interactivity to business.

I hope this series of articles has helped you determine where your site stands, where you want to take your site, and how to get the most from your web site investment.

I would love to hear what you think. Post your comments, opinions, and questions below.