In the digital age, content marketing should be a key tool in any modern accountant or bookkeeper’s business strategy. With the ability to interact with clients and prospects through multiple social media channels, regular blog posts, monthly email newsletters and ad-hoc digital marketing campaigns, it’s never been easier to create the right touch points with your audience.
But how do you know if your marketing is hitting the right targets? How can you track, measure and gain real insight into your marketing return on investment (ROI)?
The starting point is to know WHY you’re using content marketing, and the different ways that you can monitor the performance of each digital channel.
Why Are You Using Content Marketing?
Let’s begin by defining what content marketing is. In essence, it’s a marketing strategy where your firm produces regular content – that’s blogs, video case studies or social posts – with the aim of sharing helpful, practical advice with your audience.
For accountants and bookkeepers, that means sharing your insight and expertise as a finance professional, in ways that bring real value to your clients and prospects.
Examples of this kind of digital content might include:
- Tweeting regular updates through your firm’s Twitter account
- Posting weekly blogs with your top tips for using the latest fintech apps
- Writing a short email campaign around cash-flow management for small businesses (you could collate your top tips)
- Use video – either by recording a conversation with a client who has advice to share on running an agency, or by hosting a webinar and sharing advice.
Unlike traditional direct marketing, where your interaction is based solely on converting a prospect into a sale, content marketing is more of a slow-burn strategy. It’s not a pure sales strategy, but it will establish you as an industry expert and trusted advisor.
This serves to strengthen your existing clients relationships (increasing your ability to upsell a wider variety of services), and helps position your brand with new prospects (allowing you to attract new clients as and when needed).
Playing the Long Game – Raising Brand Profile
So digital content marketing is NOT going to deliver an instant impact on your sales conversion stats. It’s a long-term process of raising the profile of your brand, positioning you and your team as experts in your field and – importantly – demonstrating value to your audience.
Increasing touch points through smart use of marketing allows you to keep existing clients engaged and to convert a prospect into a client. It’s not an instant transformation, but an ongoing process of sharing valuable content, offering great customer experience and delivering the best possible personal communication to your key audiences.
For a prospect to move from cold target to engaged client, they may first have:
- Met you at an event – where they saw your presentation and liked your approach
- Followed you on social media – so they could get more updates and advice
- Read an article on LinkedIn – having followed a link from your social marketing
- Signed up for your weekly newsletter – putting you in a position of trusted expert
Each of those steps serves to demonstrate your expertise, and warm them up to the idea of partnering with you as their business adviser. And your content marketing provides the communications, interactions and awareness that starts this ball rolling.
Tracking and Measuring Your Success
If you’re going to maintain your client relationships and warm up potential prospects, it’s important to track the performance of your content over time, so you can see the impact that each marketing channel is having on the development of the practice as a whole.
Working out that ROI gives you a high-level overview of past and current campaigns, but (vitally) also helps guide your future marketing by giving you a guide on what content and channels work best, and what the overall costs and budgets are for each kind of marketing.
So let’s look at a few key marketing channels and why you should be measuring ROI in these specific areas:
1. Website traffic and engagement
Your website is the key online ‘shop window' for the firm, and the content hub you’ll be driving an audience towards with your marketing – so knowing the number of visits you’ve had to your website content is an important stat to know.
Using a tool like Google Analytics, you can keep a close eye on how well your site, and your online content, is performing. When a viewer visits your site, that interaction can be measured in three key ways through your analytics:
- Acquisition – or how successful you are in getting people to visit the site. Getting viewers to see your links and visit the site is your initial goal, and reason you need to optimise your keywords and content to deliver the best possible SEO.
- Behaviour – or what these people do once they land on your content page. Are they ‘bouncing’ straight off the page, or are they staying and engaging with the content. A high bounce rate is a sign you need to improve your content.
- Conversion – or how effective you are at getting viewers to click on your call-to-action buttons. That might mean clicking through to your contact page, or clicking on a service landing page that you’re promoting. High conversion rates are your goal here.
Keeping a regular eye on your website analytics helps you grasp which pages are getting traffic, which pages are a virtual ghost town, and where’s there are opportunities to improve the user interface, design and effectiveness of the site.
2. Email campaign open rates
Email marketing is still an important way to interact with your business clients. And whatever email content you’re sending out – whether it’s a regular practice newsletters, or an ad-hoc email campaign – it’s important to know how well these campaigns are performing, so you can improve your targeting and follow-up with the best leads.
Using a digital marketing tool like Boma, you can track your email open rates, measure your audience size and see conversion rates on your key call-to-action. If you’re setting up an email campaign – like the email series on cashflow management we mentioned earlier – being able to track and measure each email in the series can be invaluable.
You can see which emails gain the most traction, who in your target audience is clicking through and if there’s a tail-off in interest during the course of the campaign – all of this information helps you refine, evolve and improve your next campaign.
3. Social media followers and likes
Your social media channels are key tools for driving people to your site and content – as well as a great two-way communication channel with your stakeholders. So it stands to reason that the bigger your follower numbers are, the larger your potential marketing audience will become.
Tracking your social media numbers can be done through the in-app analytics in your social account, or by using a social publishing platform like Boma to track the success of your posts. With real-time access to these social metrics, you see which social posts are getting engagement (likes and re-shares), when and how you’re gaining followers and whether you’re getting decent conversion stats for marketing posts that link back to your content.
4. Growth of your client base
Ultimately, your marketing, brand profile-raising and social activity are intended to bring in more clients. So measuring the impact of your marketing on lead generation, prospects list and client portfolio are key measurements of success.
Having a customer relationship management (CRM) system helps you manage the process of recording your customer interactions and tracking how effective they are. By tracking the emails sent, the phone calls received or the number of introductory meetings held, you build up a picture of where your marketing is driving prospects to get in touch – and where it’s falling short.
5. Feedback from your customers
Getting new clients to complete a customer survey as part of your onboarding process can help you understand more about why you’re now their preferred choice as an adviser – and what part your marketing activity played in that decision process.
A few key questions to ask might include:
- How did you find out about our firm? Was it through a referral, you found us online or through an existing marketing campaign?
- Do you follow us on social media? And if you do, has our social presence influenced your decision to talk to us and discuss becoming your adviser?
- Do you read our blogs and helpful guides? And if you do, did this content give you a favourable impression of the firm and individual experts in our team?
The better you understand the impact of your marketing on your client conversation rates, the more insight you have into how your campaigns and social content are doing their job – and the more practical and refined you can make your future activity.
The More You Know, the More Effective Your Marketing Will Be
Sound financial decisions are made when you have the best possible accounting data to hand – and the exact same principle applies to your firm’s marketing. Effective marketing strategies will be those that are informed by quality data, analytics and customer feedback.
If an element of your marketing can be tracked, recorded and measured, turn it into a key metric. Whether that’s the conversion rate on your latest website campaign, the number of followers to your Twitter account, or the number of new prospects won through email marketing, the key is to have access to the right data – so you can plan accordingly in the future.
Rather than wasting time and money on channels that don’t deliver the right bang for your buck, you can make informed marketing decisions, create sensible marketing budgets that don’t break the bank and be confident that you’re using the most effective marketing channels for the firm.
About the Author: Steve Ash is a specialist in accounting, marketing, business software and fintech apps.