It’s never been more vital for your accounting or bookkeeping firm to have an effective website.
80% of referrals look at a firm's website first when looking for an adviser, so your site must be a ‘shop window’ that quickly and effectively tells business prospects who you are, and where you add value for their company. And as growing numbers of visitors will view your website on a mobile device, your website must also function equally well on their smartphone as it does on their tablet device, laptop or desktop computer.
So how do you go about creating this ideal website?
We’ve identified five key steps that will help you to build a site that’s effective, easy to use and creates the best level of engagement with your target audience.
Step 1: Decide on your target audience and specialisms
Your website should be written and designed to appeal to your ideal business client. So the first step is to consider who this target audience is – and to define whether the firm wants to appeal to a particular niche, or be a more generalist practice that caters to a broad client base.
- Who is your ideal viewer and potential client? – whether you’re a brand new practice, or an established firm, it’s vital to define what your ideal client looks like. Are you aiming at start-ups or established companies that are ready to scale? Do you want to specialise in construction businesses, or are property companies your industry niche of choice? With a clear outline of this ideal client, your site can be built to target these businesses.
- Tailor your services, content and advice to fit your client base – once you’ve drawn up who your perfect client will be, this forms the foundation stone for site content. The way you present your core services, the blogs you write and the advice you share have to reflect this ideal client type – whether that’s a narrow niche industry, like creative agencies, or a broader customer base of local small businesses and sole traders.
Step 2: Write your key page content and consider your value
Central to your site will be demonstrating where you add value for your chosen audience. So it’s important to know the client challenges you can solve. Do your homework, research your target audience and ensure your site clearly explains how the firm helps business to meet their specific issues, challenges and business needs – defining the key value you add for their company.
- Draft your content as rough key points– writing good web content means making the maximum impact with the minimum number of words. Draft ideas in a Word or Google doc gives you a basic idea of your messaging and helps you flesh out your wording, and define which pages you want to include on the site.
- Get a web developer involved early – the sooner you begin talking with an experienced web developer, the easier the process of building your content will be. Building a site using a platform like RocketSpark, gives you basic page templates to work with, coupled with helpful advice from developers and a support team.
- Make it clear what you do – your website viewers have limited time to find what they’re looking for on your site. So stick to the point and quickly explain your core proposition, and make sure your call-to-action (usually your contact page) is very easy to find.
- Share helpful, practical content – remember, your content is not just about you. Your site is also a content hub where you should be sharing blog posts, news updates and business news that’s relevant and helpful to your chosen client audience.
Step 3: Make your design and messaging really simple
Unless you’re already a website expert, there’s huge value in working with professional content writers and website designers when it comes to building your site. They will be able to take your rough page text and turn it into workable layouts that make the most of the content and space.
- Keep it simple! – if you can describe your tax services in 25 words, don’t use 250 words. The more concise and succinct your web copy is, the quicker your viewers can engage with the content and find the pages or advice that they need.
- Make your site responsive and mobile friendly – more people now view websites from a mobile than a desktop machine. So your website needs to be ‘responsive’ – in other words, it must automatically resize and reformat when viewed on a mobile device.
- Bring your branding into your design – if the firm has a logo, brand colour palette and tone of voice, make sure these are reflected in your website content and design. These are are quick, visual representations of your brand’s message. But your brand is also what your firm stands for and why this matters in your target audience’s mind so keep your online presence consistent with this.
Step 4: Ensure your site delivers the best user experience
For your website to do its job, it needs to be easy to use. That means having an effective user interface (UI) – the elements of the site design that viewers interact with to use the site – and providing them with the best possible user experience (UX), so there are no hurdles, confusing menus or slow downloads of images that stop them finding what they want.
From the moment viewers land on your home page, or click through to a blog post, you want to push them to your chosen end point – whether that’s your contact page, your team page or the landing page for your latest webinar.
- Have a simple menu – aim to have around five key areas in your top menu. This makes the site as straightforward and easy to navigate as possible. Having more pages is good for SEO, but a simple menu architecture simple helps the viewer find your key content.
- Put your key message ‘above the fold’ – make sure your main proposition can be seen at the top of the page, without scrolling down. Tell your viewer what they are about to read and help keep them engaged (and less likely to ‘bounce’ off the page).
- Be strategic with calls-to-action – think carefully about the positioning of links, buttons and calls-to-action. If you want viewers to contact you, put this ‘Contact us’ button at both the top and bottom of the page (you can’t be sure people will scroll to the end).
Step 5: Measure performance, customer feedback and return on investment
A website is an evolving and changing beast. So once your site is live, you must continue to update it, post fresh content and review how well your pages are performing. This helps to refine the effectiveness of your content and keep your SEO performing well.
- Use analytics to measure site performance – track and review the performance and ROI of your online content. Use the insights function in Boma on campaign engagement and stats from Google Analytics that allow you to quickly view and analyse how your pages are performing over time – and update the content accordingly.
- Display customer feedback and authority ratings – demonstrate your trustworthiness through backlinks to outside sources, such as independent customer ratings sites e.g. TrustPilot, Choice, Yelp or by including testimonial quotes from your valued clients.
Keep evolving: your website is never finished
Your website is one of the firm’s most valuable assets, so it’s important to nurture it and ensure you’re always looking for new ways to improve effectiveness. Pressing ‘publish’ isn’t the end of the website creation process – in fact, it’s just the beginning.
To make your site truly add value for the practice, it’s critical that you measure your online performance, post frequent new content across the site and do your best to evolve to meet any new online challenges and opportunities.
Boma helps you drive your online marketing – find out more here
About the Author: Steve Ash is a specialist in accounting, marketing, business software and fintech apps.