BOMA + SBA: ‘The Shift In SME Expectations Of Their Accountant’

In this informative session we focus on The Shift In SME Expectations Of Their Accountant – What The Research Says & How To Meet Their Needs. Discover what these changes mean for your firm and how you can respond to ensure you can build and maintain great relationships with clients.

This webinar features Charles Clark, Marketing Director of BOMA and Liz Studholme, Content Marketing Manager of BOMA in conversation with Craig Gardiner, General Manager of SBA.

 

Webinar Agenda:

  • Research insights
  • What do SME's value
  • Top five most important characteristics for accountants in 2020
  • How you can take advantage
  • How to best support your clients
  • BOMA demo
  • Questions

 

 

 

‘The Shift in SME Expectations of their Accountants' Transcript

 

Craig Gardiner:

Again, we'd like to thank Charles, and Liz, and BOMA for doing this presentation to the SBA group. I think the current climate that obviously in Auckland we're still experiencing, but around the rest of the country we've had more exposure to again, with lockdowns. It just goes to show how important it is to get information out in front of our clients. That uncertainty can create anxiety. And what we're really talking about is, “How can we actually leverage good information and good content to help and support our clients, and to share added value with them as well?” So I thought it was really relevant to have another catch-up with the team from BOMA and to talk a bit about email and social media, and how to get better interaction and better engagement with those platforms using the BOMA tools.

Charles Clark:

Well, brilliant, everyone. Thanks. I'm Charles, and I'm joined by Liz. And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get started. If you'd like to join in and ask a question, you can click on the chat button or the Q&A button. We'll either answer them as we go or we'll wait till the end, and there'll be questions there as well. You also should have received a downloadable workbook in an email about 53 minutes ago. I've also just put in a link into the chat. So if you didn't get the email, feel free to just click on that and you can use that to take notes for today's session. But Liz, shall we get started and talk about, I suppose, the new reality in terms of marketing, which is that it has changed? If you think of marketing now compared to marketing 15, 20 years ago, it's not anymore about an ad in the newspaper or a radio, or listing on the phone pages.

Charles Clark:

Not to say that those don't still have a place, especially in the regional markets, but the way that marketing has evolved into the digital age really means that there are more and more places to connect with your audience. And the great thing is, is that these channels, I suppose we'd call them, are now able to be owned by you. So we're talking specifically in this circumstance about email and social media. So what that means is that it's in your hands to portray yourself in the best light possible. And while, of course, that starts with a website and obviously things like making sure that your social pages have your information on them and your contact details, and all that sort of stuff. We're going beyond that, to think about the content that you are putting out there. “What are you trying to talk about, either directly in an email or to a wider social audience about what it is that you do and what you can offer?” I suppose the nice thing about it is that it also means that…

Charles Clark:

The old style of marketing was very broadcast. So you would put out a newspaper ad or a radio and it would be broadcast to a very wide audience, whereas with email and social, you can be much more targeted. And by that we mean you have then a ability to have high relevance to a small audience. And because it's going to be high relevance, it should get higher engagement and then you can really start to, I suppose, build off of that and build that relationship. And I think this is particularly true for accountants, because you have unique knowledge and expertise that your clients need. And if we've seen it at any time, it's been in the last 18 to 20 months, where your clients have really been on the back foot with all the things are going on with COVID. So the expertise that you have to offer them are just so relevant. So I suppose what we're talking about today is how can you get this in front of them, even if they don't necessarily know they need it.

Liz Studholme:

Yeah. So today we're going to look at some good tips for email and social media. And I think, and in general, I guess it's content marketing. It's using information to support, engage, nurture, and interest prospects as well. And as accountants, your expertise is your greatest content, your greatest asset. I think this is quite a good quote, and it's particularly relevant for accountants, “Sometimes people don't know what they want until you show it to them.” So your clients won't necessarily ask for a guide to cash flow or you to explain depreciation, but they will really value it when you offer it to them. So it could be how to get paid faster or a guide to understanding revenue drivers. If you're putting it on social media or sending it out as an email, that's like, “Ah, that's great. That's just what I need. And I actually haven't thought to ask about that, but right now that would be really valuable to me.” It shows that you understand the challenges that they're facing, that you're there for them. And if you're putting it on your social, it positions you as the obvious choice for prospects.

Liz Studholme:

And I think on that point, we often think of marketing as sales. I think we've talked about this in the previous webinar. It's obviously a lot more than sales, it's about anything you do to grow relationships with your clients. And obviously that's retention, but anything that's good for them has a positive impact on your business. When they grow, you grow. So for example, it could be an update on tax legislation changes that you put out on social media. It's obviously useful for your clients, which is good for you, and it builds your profile amongst the other people that have seen that post. So I think in general, a good rule is that 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time you're talking about things that matter to them, you're giving something away. 20% you might be talking about you saying you've talked about that, understanding revenue drivers or cashflow or whatever. And then you may be putting out, “Hey, make a time with us to put a cash flow forecast together,” or whatever it is.

Charles Clark:

Sure thing. It's a really interesting point. A lot of BOMA users, when we talk to them, some of them will say, “Look, we don't necessarily want to grow in terms of getting on new clients, but we want to grow our revenue.” So, that's upselling or telling their clients about services that they maybe didn't realise that they offer. And then other of our clients or other of our BOMA users will say, “Look, we're starting out and we do want to grow our client base.” So, lots of different ways that you can use that. You can use it to upsell, you can use it to grow in terms of numbers. So, just interesting to think about even if you've got a full client, but you can be generating more revenue for your client if that's something that you feel would add value.

Charles Clark:

So, email's been around for quite a long time. I was shocked to hear it's over 40 years. And we all know that as a result, it's the main means of communication that we use, which means that we all get a lot of emails. However, as you can see at that top report by the Radicati Group, is that it is still the most preferred means of communication to any channel. And the great thing is, when it comes to your clients, you already have their email address. The second point to make is that for every $1 you spend on marketing, about $44 is the ROI. And that number I've seen anywhere from $40 to$ 48. It seems that $44 is roughly what people expect to get in return. So the nice thing, as Liz said, is that email is personal and it can be a direct link between you and your client or your prospect, and so it can be tailored to them. So whether it's a direct email, one-to-one, or it's a larger email.

Charles Clark:

So it could be to a group of your clients who maybe have similar needs or requirements, or it could be to your entire database. But then you would, I think as Liz is going to talk about in a minute, make sure that you have a wider breadth of content. If you think about the challenges that your clients have, that you might be able to help on, so easy ways to transact and communicate on a day-to-day basis. And it's also a great place to offer further advisory support. So you may know that your clients are super busy, they don't always have time to pick up the phone, it's really easy to send an email. Or, if you have had that call already, you can then follow up with an email.

Charles Clark:

Also, it's really inexpensive. So, putting an email together doesn't have to be a hugely lengthy, expensive proposition. And if you're thinking of communicating one-to-many, which is one of the advantages of both social and email, it's a really effective way to get your message or messages out there to a wider audience. I was talking earlier about the fact that we get lots of emails, and this is really the point that Liz is going to lead off on the next slide, which is, because you get a lot of emails, you're going to have to make sure that the ones that you send are really relevant to your readers. Because if you're sending irrelevant emails, it's more likely that over time they're going to stop reading them because they're just not worth their time with reading them. So, Liz, do you want to talk about personalisation?

Liz Studholme:

Yeah. I think probably firstly, well, one of the important points is that we look at the data around the emails that are sent in BOMA by our accounting subscribers, and they have a much higher average open rate than the general, I guess, industry average. So that's obviously because of a client's relationship with their accountant. It's a very trusted relationship, you're going to open your emails. But if you're not sending information that's relevant and personal to them, well, that's the quickest way to get unsubscribes or unread. So maintain that preferred status by sending really informative, useful, time-relevant emails, and do it by segmenting your audience. So within a list, you can make sure that you've got segments, and that could be based on… Within BOMA, you can add tags to your audience. So the examples of that could be an industry vertical, it could be they're in retail or hospitality, which right now will be really a hurting, potentially, trade.

Liz Studholme:

And they're going to have different challenges to people in other industries, for example. It could be the relationship they hold with you. So some of your clients might be compliance only, some might be doing more of that whole business advisory work, so full service. So you might be wanting to advise those compliance-only clients about other things that you can offer them. Company positions. So different business owners will have different drivers to employees, for example. Depending on who's opening your email and what position they hold in their business, or if they're not business owners but they have investment properties, or whatever it is. And then, how they subscribed. So did they download a guide to a business health check, for example? And therefore you're going to send them ongoing tips to keep that prospect warm, or sign up to your newsletter. And it might also be location. At the moment, that's going to make a lot of difference if they're Auckland to the rest of the country. But making sure that you tag your email database is just an easy way to make sure that you send things that are really relevant to them. And when they open them, they go, “Oh, this is great. This is exactly what I need right now.” And more likely to open the next email, and the next email.

Charles Clark:

One of the questions that we're often faced with, and this isn't just accountants but it is business owners, especially professional services in general, is, “How do I build up my email list?” And potentially you might be lucky in that, if you come into a business where you buy into one, there might be an existing email list. But if you don't, just, here are a few ideas that you can either use to build one from scratch or you can use to expand your current email list. So, current clients. Whether you have a small number or a large number, they're your first step. You already have implied permission to email them, you probably already have some sort of relationship, and so they're a great place to start. Utilise your website and social media. So, make sure that you have calls to action.

Charles Clark:

So it could be a user to sign up form, it could be a lead capture form, or it could be something on your social page which links through to your lead capture form where they can download something of value. The key here is that, as in the next point, you're offering something of value, and in exchange they give you their email address. This is a really well recognised and understood transaction out there in the marketing sphere. And I do it all the time, and I know lots of other people do. Whereas, if there's some really interesting information, or even a promise of a newsletter or to be kept up to date on things that'll be relevant to my business, I'm going to make that exchange because the value is strong enough. On that point of value, do think about what it is that you can offer that might be a little bit unique or different.

Charles Clark:

So you're at a rural practice, you could be thinking, “Okay. Well, I've got lots of clients who're in the agricultural sector, so I'm going to think about things that are going to be relevant to them.” And equally, you might be in town, and so you might have more retail or hospitality-focused clients. Again, think what would be relevant for them, and then give them the opportunity to make that value exchange. The nice thing about once they've made it, they've given you implied permission to keep on emailing them. It is important that you have a little check box where they basically tick that by downloading this, they give you their permission to contact them in the future with marketing emails.

Charles Clark:

So this is really, really important. Both because it's sets an expectation with the person who is downloading it that you will be in touch and you're not going to spam them. But also, a lot of rules and regulations against spam that we need to look out for. So in BOMA, we really recommend that when you use a lead capture form from BOMA, we've got that box which you can just insert in your lead capture forms. And just by way of an insight, we've got a few of these on our BOMA website and we get about five to 10 leads per week come through, just having downloaded one of our three or four lead magnets. So really, really powerful. And once you've put the time into creating that lead magnet, as long as it's evergreen and relevant, it can sit on your website or your social posts for a long time and keep driving leads.

Charles Clark:

This next one's a little bit offline, even if you did an online event, but running the events and running partnerships. So the event could be something like we are running now, so like a webinar. It doesn't have to be something online. And obviously, for those of us based in Auckland, that would be impossible at the moment. But it could be a Q&A, it could be a webinar, it could be something that's live at your local association, whether that's your legal association or banking. You'll be able to find partnerships where the information that you have would be seen of great relevance to their users, so they're happy to run a partnership event with you. So again, that's a great place to get leads from which you can then put into your database. The one caveat, I would say, just at the end of this, and you might have been approached over the years by someone from the web who offers to sell you a list.

Charles Clark:

And it sounds great and it doesn't sound very expensive, and they'll promise that they'll target exactly who it is that you want to, please don't do this. It's both, in certain jurisdictions, illegal, because there's obviously no implied permission. But also, the quality of the leads that they're going to give you are usually really bad, because they've just scraped the names from LinkedIn and various of these websites and then they give them to you. So the people that you end up emailing on their lists have no idea who you are, and then will usually unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam, which is obviously really bad for your future email campaign. So, please avoid that if you can.

Liz Studholme:

So now once you've got your email list, you need to start sending emails. Here are some, just, little tips from us. We are going to show you a quick run-through of BOMA and how that works. BOMA has a huge content library that helps you kickstart an email campaign, so you can take an article and customise it. If you're writing from scratch, and even if you're using the BOMA content, here are some things, I think, that's worth thinking about. So the subject line's important because it's the first thing they see in their email inbox. And you want it to be compelling, you want it to be something that makes them open their email. So if you can, I always say try to avoid generic headings such as Newsletter, because it doesn't really tell them anything. Obviously, if you are really known for great newsletters that you send out every month or however often you're able to do them, then that's fine. But if you can instead put your email together, maybe write your subject line last, and find the most important thing in that email.

Liz Studholme:

Look, it might be, “Hey, changes to the bright-line test,” or something that's really going to matter to people, and use that as your heading. Even if it's not covering everything in your email, it should be something that's a wee bit descriptive about what they're going to see when they open it. Be honest, try to avoid click bait. I'm sure that you won't do that. And concise, under 50 characters, so keeping it reasonably short. Personality is obviously important. Email is personal, it's your relationship. Make it like a direct conversation so it's enjoyable to read. We often are getting emails, particularly if it is tax technical or whatever, if you can show a bit of your personality. It's about relationships. Short and easily readable. Now we're reading emails in all sorts of various locations. We're reading them on our phone. The way to do that sometimes is to break it up with a numbered or bulleted list. Get your point across as succinctly as possible, keep the main takeouts near the top of the email.

Liz Studholme:

And if you have a really long form content, try not to put that all in the email but use a punchy sort of introductory paragraph like, “What is it? Why does it matter? What do you need to know?” And then a Read More, and that could link back to your website or to the source. If you are including links, just make sure they works before you send it. Click on them and make sure that they still link through, because as you don't want to send them to a 404 error page. Always proofread them, that obviously goes without saying. You can send a test in BOMA, so you can do that and send it to a colleague who've seen it with fresh eyes, or send it to yourself. And send it from you. So don't just say, “From ABC Accounting or SBA Accounting,” you're going to say from you, put your name in there. Actually, part of sending emails and part of what Charlie was talking about previously, it is important that you do do a reply address, your company details, your physical address. Not only does that mean that they can get in touch with you, but that's also just standard practice.

Charles Clark:

Brilliant. So we thought we'd now have a look at social media. And the great thing, I went and actually had a look at a lot of your social media pages, and so all the hygiene factors you guys have covered. So you've got great About sections, you've got all the information in there. There's nothing that I have to go in there and say, “Oh. Look, you need to have what time you open and your contact details on that.” You guys have got that, which is fantastic to see. So I thought what I'd do today is talk about why it's important. Because a few years ago, I think there was definitely some questioning amongst accountants as to, “Sure. Twitter and Facebook is great for me to know what's going on in the accounting sphere, but how useful is it really for my accountants?” And I think, to answer that, is to say that, look, your clients are spending their time on social media as well.

Charles Clark:

And they might be spending it on different channels, and we can talk about that in the next slide, but they are spending their time on social media. I know I am. And they will expect it. So just like they'll expect you to have a website, they will also expect you to have a social page. It just is a natural thing that a business has, especially a service business. And that's great because it means that they can follow you, they can go in and look at your content. It's a really easy way for them to keep up to date with what you're doing, especially if they're not yet a client, if they're maybe a prospect. They can keep an eye on what you're doing by following you, but they don't have to necessarily have that initial conversation until they've been following you for a little bit and feel more comfortable with you as a business.

Charles Clark:

What this does mean is that when it comes to your content, it's a great place to amplify it. So it could be a blog that you've got there, it could be a thought piece. It could be just something that is talking about something that your particular firm was up to. Maybe talking about your clients or something, a birthday, something that you're celebrating. The key there is that it amplifies your content and then can create engagement. And you're obviously wanting to create engagement with current clients and also prospects, to build and strengthen those relationships. And by doing that, if you do have good content on there, what it's going to enable you to do, and I think Liz touched on this before, is start to position you for thought leadership. So if you're posting regularly about things that are your specialty or your niche, and relevant to your clients, they're going to be like, “Oh, great. SBA in Tauranga,” or, “SBA in Christchurch, they really know their stuff when it comes to this element that is relevant to my business.”

Charles Clark:

And so, over time, in their mind they're going to be like, “Great. These guys, they know what they're talking about.” And when it comes to maybe considering getting an accountant or changing an accountant, or even talking to you, the current accountant, about a service that they maybe didn't use in the past but they'd like to use, they're going to look to you first because you've got that presence on social. It's also the new word of mouth. So, obviously your website is key, and even if someone has said, “Look, you guys need to go and chat to SBA.” They will definitely go and look at your website, but they also probably will go and look at your social pages. Especially for the younger generations, so maybe 40 to 50 and under. Social, they are digital natives.

Charles Clark:

This is as natural for them as a website, and they would be surprised if you didn't have one. Especially if you think of them as a business and they see themselves as modern and forward-looking, and they do their business with social media. Whether it's just to talk about their business or they sell through it, it would be maybe a bit of a red flag that you didn't have one. And then the last point is, it's great for networking. So whether that's networking with your clients or prospects and celebrating their successes, or networking with other accountants or other people in the space to, I suppose, enable you to keep up with the latest information on what's going on. Maybe join some groups. And we've got some information on that and the added value.

Charles Clark:

Oh, sorry. Okay. Oh, there we go. Sorry, I missed that one. So you guys are probably aware there are loads and loads of social networks out there. There's Pinterest, TikTok, Reddit, Snapchat, loads of them. But probably, for our purposes here, the four main ones are going to be the most relevant. So we're talking Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And I say that these are going to be the most relevant, because bang for buck, these are probably going to be where most of your clients and prospects are going to be. Yes, they might be on TikTok as well, but you can rest assured that mostly everyone has a Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter account. The nice thing about them is that they do differ slightly between them. And Liz, you might want to talk about, I suppose, the differences because, because they're slightly different, you need to approach them slightly differently as well.

Liz Studholme:

I mean, I think probably we all have a fairly good understanding. But yeah, Facebook is the biggest network. We love and hate it, but it is an effective online window to your business that's easier to update somehow than your website. I mean, obviously, I think, within the SBA, that's not something that you do anyway. But on Facebook, it's fluid. It's also user-generated, so it's your clients talking to you and you talking back to them. So it's a great way to also leverage that network that you've got, because when someone you know engages with your content, it amplifies your post to the people they know. So it has that nice network effect so that you can reach new faces and new customers. LinkedIn's obviously a bit more professional. It's your thought leadership spot, but it doesn't have to be. And sometimes I quite like on LinkedIn when people are actually just sending fun personal stuff, because it's a little bit different from the dryness of LinkedIn, I guess.

Liz Studholme:

You can start conversations there, join groups, improve your knowledge, and there is actually a really nice little tool on LinkedIn. If you've got a LinkedIn business page, in the menu at the top you'll see Content, if you go under Content Suggestions you can actually search for what particular people are reading on LinkedIn in order to get ideas about what to write about. So you can actually go, “Okay, I'm interested in this audience and this particular, perhaps, industry vertical, what they're reading,” and then you can… give you some idea ideas for your content creation. Twitter, it's little posts, it's very fast. You can actually put your tweet up a number of times and see how people engage, because there is so much content on there.

Liz Studholme:

We noticed in BOMA that Twitter probably sits a bit behind Facebook and LinkedIn, but we see a real increase at end of financial year in our region. So, whether that's Australia, New Zealand, or the UK. Where our main BOMA regions are, we see Twitter come up with people making comments, and it might be short quips about the workload or making funny comments about it. And then Instagram, which technically seems to be more of an image-based channel, has actually started to gain traction with news and comments as well. So, usually posted on a tile, but it's engaging with your audience in a different way, and people are swinging to Instagram a bit more. So you can actually tell stories about your business and promote values and beliefs in there. So in terms of personality, Instagram's a nice place to tell a little bit more of the fuller story for your clients.

Charles Clark:

So in terms of how to get started… I know that most of you guys, if not all of you, have social pages. I thought it was just worth talking a little bit about the next step, which is, “Okay, I've got my social pages, but where do I invest my time and my effort, and how do I build my confidence?” So a couple of good ways to do that are, if there are people out there in the industry, whether it's in the accounting industry or related industries that you admire, it's often worth following them to see how they're doing it. So see what they're commenting on, see their tone of voice, see, “Are they posting videos a lot or is it just images or is it text?” It can be quite a good way to learn by seeing how people are doing it well.

Charles Clark:

Another good tip is to, if you're not too sure say “Should I spend all my time on Facebook or should I spend more on LinkedIn?” Think about where your clients and your prospective clients are going to be. So you could do this by going onto their business websites and researching, “Do they have Facebook and LinkedIn? Do they have Twitter?” If they've only got one or two of those, that's probably where they're going to be spending most of their time. You may also be following them personally, so that's another good place. If you see that they're really active on some of those channels, it's a good bet that that's where they'll be spending their time. So you would obviously spend more of your time putting up posts on those channels, because that's where they are.

Charles Clark:

Being responsive is really good. So, when it comes to, say, if you put something up on your website, and that's great and it's a bit more static, but when you put that same piece of content or a video or a comment that you've made on social, be prepared that some people hopefully are going to start to engage with it. And that could be something really low-touch, they might just like it. That's great. Take a note of who likes it, because that means that they might be interested in that topic in the future. They may even give you a comment back, which is even better. And that comment could be hopefully positive or it could be a question, like, “I wasn't aware of this, how does it affect my business?” That would be fantastic.

Charles Clark:

Then you're able to go back to them and demonstrate your expertise, and say, “Look, this is how it affects your business. Why don't you give me a call? And we'll talk about it and I'll see how I can help.” The key there is to be responsive. If you have lots of people commenting or liking, and you only chat socially every once a month, you're going to miss the opportunities that will be presented by people engaging. Just one thing quick to note is that there are people out there on social, I suppose we'll call them trolls. And not that it really is applicable to accountancy, but even on BOMA we've had people coming in and saying, “Oh, we disagree with something.” That's absolutely fine. That is their opinion. The worst thing to do would be for us to ignore it. So if someone on any of the social channels says something that you disagree with, obviously you don't get personal, but it's completely okay for you to respond to it to give your point of view or your business' point of view, but keep it civil. But with-

Liz Studholme:

Sometimes those moments can be the ones where you gain the most kudos. And I think it's probably unlikely to happen, but you see where brands do take ownership and respond, and that's where it shows the integrity of their brand.

Charles Clark:

Yeah, I think that's a great point. Also keep an eye on what's working. And we've got a slide later on about new measuring your campaigns. But if you're doing certain campaigns that are getting lots and lots of great feedback and impressions, that's fantastic. Or, if you're getting some which aren't, then think about, “What is it about the ones that are working really well? And how can I take those learnings forward and put them into my next campaigns?” And it might be something like, they had a really engaging picture or the content was really tight, and I had a great call to action and I was talking about something interesting. Whereas, the ones that maybe aren't performing so well, maybe it was the things I've just talked about, like an unengaging picture or vague, not particularly strong copy. Or maybe it's just a topic that your clients, it's not so relevant for them.

Charles Clark:

So, that's fine. You could be like, “Right. That's less relevant for them, and I'll go and talk about the things that are more relevant.” So, good to learn. And then lastly, you're not alone in this. So if you've got people who work with you, colleagues, or even a partner who can maybe look over your back and you can ask them like, “Hey, does this make sense? Is this giving off the right tone?” Lean on them. Both for a bit of a proofreading, but also if you do have colleagues or a team, say, “Look, as part of your job description, I want you to maybe come up with one social post a week or one social post a month.” They don't necessarily have to post it, but they could at least come to you and say, “Hey. Look, I think this is going to be really relevant. I've been talking to lots of clients about it, we should be talking about this.” So you can use your greater network to come up with ideas on what you should be posting. When to post. Liz, I think this is probably-

Liz Studholme:

Yeah. I think when you get started on social media, and I'm sure that a lot of people on this webinar have been doing a number of posts for a while or whatever, but, well, you can get a bit hung up on when should be the best time. I think really, yes, we can give you some feedback on that, but engaging content is key because that has a longer lifespan. So if you posted it at 10:00 in the morning, and then someone's still engaging with it at 3:00 in the afternoon, your post is living on beyond the time that you posted it. The other thing I'd probably say is, so if you are late at night and it's 10 o'clock at night, then schedule it to post the next day. If you… Now I've just lost my train of thought on that one.

Liz Studholme:

But yeah, the networks differ, and some of them are obviously quite… Twitter, you can get lost a little bit. Things can overtake your post if something suddenly becomes trending. But yeah, post at a time that, I suppose, is good for you, because if you're going to get comments, you want to be around. Don't post it just as you're heading out of the office, maybe have someone keeping a wee eye on it. If someone's going to respond, it would be great if you can then come back and say, “Hey. Yep, we're here. Yes, we heard you. And yes, that's a really good point, we agree,” or whatever it is. And think about your audience. “What's a good time for them? Are they going to be looking at their social channels in the middle of the day? At the end of the day? Is the beginning of the week a better time to post?” So get to know your audience on that, and experiment. But yeah, I think that the general rule is, while you can Google all of that and find out, and we can give you some of those stats, it's going to come down to your business and your clients, and some sort of basic common sense, really.

Charles Clark:

Just to Liz's point on checking and keep an eye on responses, the nice thing is that with your smartphone, if you've got Facebook or the other apps on there, you'll be able to set it up so you get a little alert. So if you are on the way home or you're watching TV after dinner and something pings up, you can just go on there and respond.

Liz Studholme:

And you don't need to respond immediately, but ideally within… What is it, Charlie?

Charles Clark:

I'd say within an hour or two would be ideal.

Liz Studholme:

Yeah, I think Facebook does keep a record of, “This page normally responds within so many hours.” And it's nice to have that up within a relatively short time. And I think probably, yeah, if it's a little bit over two hours, that's fine, but try to be responsive when you can.

Charles Clark:

So what can you share? So I think this is a really critical one, and this does apply both to email and social. So how you might share it might differ, because obviously in an email you have more flexibility in terms of… You can have more images, and so you could be sharing multiple things in the same email. But I suppose, Liz, I think you came up with this list in terms of just things that would be, I suppose, starting points that you could use.

Liz Studholme:

Yeah. It's all fairly straightforward, really. But I think if you're going to start making a concerted effort to do a wee bit more on your email marketing and your social, then it's useful to have a list of, “What can I do this week? Or what can I do this month?” or whatever. So obviously reminding and supporting on compliance is your starting point. Prov tax dates, those sorts of things. Reminding them end of financial year, key tips to make your end of financial year even simpler, those sorts of things. Sharing news that directly affects your clients, whether that's the new wage subsidy or changes to the resurgence payments, those sorts of things. Maybe the interest deductibility, those sorts of things on residential property investments. Comment on changes in the industry. So if you have a particular niche within your client base that are in certain industries, it might be, for example, I don't know, exporting at the moment. Those sorts of things might be something that you can comment on.

Liz Studholme:

And on that, you can look at industry publications. So follow those publications about what they're talking about, what's becoming topical right now. If you're running events or you're going to an event, if it's online, whatever, there might be something coming up that you've learned something from. I mean, there's a lot of stuff on mental health, for example, at the moment. So it doesn't have to be just accounting information, it can be that broader sense of understanding the full business picture. You can boost your clients' brands. You can talk about their achievements, things that they've done, gives them valuable exposure as well. And then obviously sharing news from your firm and promoting your people and their achievements, which gives people another sense of… They may have actually only ever spoken to you on the phone, but never actually met you. I mean, I'm not sure how often that's happening, but giving people a sense of someone new or someone that they may not have come across, and the specific skillset they have.

Charles Clark:

One other thing to note is that this doesn't mean that you can't also share other people's content. So you can see here on the left it's the National Retail Association, and on the right it's information about Hire Purchase. So if you see something good online from an association or a newspaper or something like that, it's very common that you might forward it or share it. And you can see here, in both cases Lielette has given her 2 cents on it and why it might be relevant. So, sharing content is a really easy thing to do. And it's great, because someone else has already written it and then you can just share it and give your 2 cents on it.

Liz Studholme:

I think on that, Charlie, you can also on your business page follow as a business page, follow other influence partners, I guess, to broaden that reach that you have. Whether it's local associations or banks, or legal firms or patent attorneys or something. By following other people's pages, you get to see a bit more of their content and you're also building those connections a bit wider.

Charles Clark:

Great point. A key thing here is to think about hashtags. And so if you're not familiar with hashtags, basically they act as mini search engines to make your posts searchable. And so the great thing about these is if you have them on your post, and you can see down at the bottom of this one, they've got a whole range of things. Everything from their business one to tax chartered accountants, what they might specialize in, peril tax, super, and also where they're located. So the great thing here is that you can use these hashtags. You can attach them to your post, and this is across all the different channels, and then it means that whenever people are searching for specific hashtag, your posts are going to be included in that search. And it works across Google as well. So that really enables your social posts to jump across onto Google's search results, which is a really great thing.

Charles Clark:

So you can see here we've got some examples. So, industry hashtags, brand, this is obviously your brand, client hashtag, this is pretty obvious, awards. So I know at the moment the Xero 2021 accounting awards have just gone out, that might be one. Event hashtags, we've got the SBA event coming up in November, that's another one, or local hashtag. So, whether it's your area or there's a local hashtag that is unique to your town or your region that people would understand. And lastly, a holiday hashtag. So it might be Christmas or Father's Day, or just something that you can pop in there. And people do read them. And you can see in the one that we've got here, they don't actually have any hashtags in their text, they've got it all down below. But you can, if you want to, have #payrolltax. It's tricky. People's eyes are used to reading hashtags now as part of a sentence, so you can actually include them in the body of your text.

Liz Studholme:

Just with those hashtags, just no spaces, no punctuation, but you can put capital letters. So, sometimes you see funny ones like #ImOverIt, or #GettingMyHeadAroundThis, or whatever it is. And just to make it easier to read, you can put some capitals in through there to make that hashtag a bit easier to read. But yeah, they can be amusing, of course.

Charles Clark:

And actually, that's a really great point, because obviously social is a great place to have some fun. And I think, as Liz alluded to earlier, with your emails, it's important that your personality comes through. And so you can see here, you wouldn't necessarily think that accountants have martinis, and dogs and sunglasses, and beer across the weekends. But the point is-

Liz Studholme:

At some point, we've always got to have a cat, don't we?

Charles Clark:

Yes.

Liz Studholme:

Or a dog.

Charles Clark:

But the point is here is that they, this particular… They're actually a BOMA user in Brisbane, and they have both beer clients but also, these ladies enjoy a night out. And so their clients know this. It's a really small town, and so it's a running joke amongst their clients and their prospects that, “Thank God it's Friday, let's go and have a beer,” and they'll go and meet up with clients and friends. And so they're going to have fun, their personalities are coming through. You're not automatons. We're all people, and so just don't forget that. Especially on Facebook and Instagram especially. LinkedIn maybe a little bit less so, but let your personality shine. It could be something like memes, as long as it's not too many. It could be that you've celebrated a birthday in your office or something more personal than that. So it doesn't always have to be, as Liz saying earlier, dry tax or accounting information.

Liz Studholme:

We've sort of covered this, and I am conscious that… We want to make sure that we're making most of your time. So just very quickly, we did include, I think, this slide in our last webinar if you joined it, but as a value-add. So we thought we'd just have a quick run-through. There is a lot of information in your practice that is common sense to you but is highly valuable to your clients. So don't forget to go even to the basics of explaining key accounting concepts in plain English ways, because that's really helpful to the rest of us out there that are not accountants. You can look at frequently asked questions, for example. Things that you often get asked in an email, or just turn that into something and put it out on social, or send it as an email.

Liz Studholme:

There are obviously things throughout the year like seasonal content or compliance dates that you can talk about. News, insight and opinion, obviously that's where you get a bit of engagement. How-to guides on setting up a business, selling a business, succession planning, guides to payroll. Cloud accounting, those sorts of things are useful, and checklists. Those sorts of useful things that people can download and go, “Great. That's going to really help me end of financial year. I've got a checklist, done that, done that, done that.” And then obviously a newsletter, which can be a combination of all of these things, with links back to your blog or links to the IRD content, or something that's going to be relevant for your reader.

Charles Clark:

Or a Contact Us. So, you can actually have a button that sends an email or lands on your Contact Us page, or different ways to do it. Want to see if I can get my mouse… I'm having a few issues driving. So, how to get started. And this very quickly leads on, but it is important to have a bit of a plan. And we're not saying that you have to go and have a big, complex marketing plan. As Liz was saying, just write a few things down. So, important dates in the calendar, and we've got a few examples of what they could be, then you guys will also be aware of other things that are coming up. So end of financial year, general elections, legislation changes. These are all things that are going to be really relevant to either all your clients or segments of your clients. And so you could just have a calendar and you could mark, “Hey, we've got the bright-line test information. Legislation is coming out, this might be relevant to my property investment clients.”

Charles Clark:

And so you just make a note and say, “Hey. Well, I'm going to send out an email and some social posts when that comes out, because that's really, really relevant.” So it doesn't need to be necessarily any more detailed than that. Obviously, you can get a lot more detailed. And we'll share with you a content planner, a campaign planner that you can obviously download and fill in to your heart's content. But it's just important to have a bit of a plan. Decide, I suppose, who within the business is going to be responsible. Is it yourself? Is it someone else within your business? Because if no one takes responsibility, as we all know, then things won't get done. So, important just to, I suppose, have it land on someone's desk as part of their overall, I suppose, set of responsibilities.

Charles Clark:

And when that happens, I suppose the advice that I would give, especially if you're giving it to someone else within your business, is not just to say, “Hey. Look, we're just doing this for no reason.” But it's about the things we've talked about today. So, giving information and expertise to your current clients, and preventing churn, and hoping to upsell them. Plus, yes, it's the marketing element as well, but if you're thinking of improving client satisfaction rate, obviously service comes alongside that, and then that sort of expertise that you can deliver free of charge as well. And that's obviously what we're touching on for today. Okay, so measuring your results. So I won't go into this in too much detail, but I've just got in two columns the things that you should be looking for.

Charles Clark:

So on email, things like open rates. So that's basically, you go into BOMA or whatever email platform you use, and if your open rates are under 20%, then that's not great. You should be hoping that 30 to 40% of your emails are getting opened. I think we touched on why they would get opened or why they wouldn't get opened. Because you might be sending them too many, you might be spamming a list you don't have permission for. You might not be using great calls to action and have good information in there, or it might be segmented to the wrong people. So those are all things that you can do to improve the open rates. Click-through rate and clicks. So clicks is just the number of people who clicked on it, and then click-through rate is the number of people who opened it divided by the number of clicks. So if you have a click-through rate of anywhere from three up percent, that's pretty good. You might also want to say, “Oh. Look, did it drive traffic to the website?” I'm not sure how traffic to the SBA website is handled, but that might be something that you could tell from Google Analytics. Or it might be something like, you might say, “Look, how many signups did I get or registrations through our contact page?” Or when you're running the promotion, how many talked about-

Liz Studholme:

Charlie, sorry to interrupt. I wondered whether we should have a quick look at this in BOMA. Just conscious of time, and helping people see the impression data and that sort of thing. That they can access account information.

Charles Clark:

Sure. Do you want to share screen?

Liz Studholme:

Yeah. So I am.

Charles Clark:

And while you're doing that, while you're setting up, I'll just answer Ashley's question, which was, “As a general rule, how often should branches post on Facebook and send out newsletters?” So, look, I don't know if you guys have a… Craig, is there any sort of specifics from your end in terms of a rule, yourselves?

Craig Gardiner:

Not necessarily. When we're doing newsletters, we try and do them on a quarterly basis. Social media posting, we post, I think, through… Ashley posts probably once a week, that sort thing. So, that's more branding-specific stuff cross the line. Just keeping it in front of mind, because we've got a lot of clients that are annually geared. So, having more touchpoints with them more often is valuable. But we do encourage our branches to use local content so it actually has a connection between the local people in the community and the service provider and their community as well.

Charles Clark:

I think one thing on just the option of posting, especially when it comes to social, is one once a week is great. And I know lots of accountants who post once a week or less, but I know equally some who post two or three times a week. I think the important thing here is, what is the cadence that you as a business are comfortable doing? And so that might be a couple times a week, or it might be once every couple of weeks. The point is, if you have a cadence in mind and you've got good content going out, that's the key thing. There's nothing worse than saying, “Great, I'm going to post 10 posts over the next two weeks,” and then it all gets too much and then you don't do anything for six months. So just think about what is realistic for your business, and then just try and be consistent in your posting.

Liz Studholme:

And it may be dictated by what's happening in the world out there. So we're on the platform at the moment. I am very conscious people's time. I'm sorry that we've gone a bit longer than we intended to, but I think it's worth having a quick look at BOMA and how that can really help with your emails and social posts. In here, you can create a lead form. Now, I know someone has asked about downloadable guides. So lead forms don't necessarily need to be the place that you just have a newsletter signup. If I look at one of the lead forms I've created before, “Sign up to expert advice and news.” We've created that newsletter signup form, and then you can use that URL or the HTML code to embed it on your social pages. But you can also use it for a downloadable guide, so download our free checklist. And then when they submit that, the post-submit will send them to a custom page, which is your website where they can download the guide. So that's another way, and you've gained their email.

Liz Studholme:

Now, obviously I'm going through it far too quickly, but we would really encourage you to set up a time with us, with Joanna, our customer success person, for some training and a little bit of a one-on-one. There's obviously no commitment there, but you get a sense of how BOMA will work for you and whether it's the right tool for your firm. You can create an email or social post from scratch here, but today I'm just going to show you the Content Library. So if we click into the Content Library, you can see all the content here. And it is regional-specific, so it's only going to be information that's valid in New Zealand, for New Zealand accountants. You can search by global categories here, you can also search by libraries, depending what your subscription gives you.

Liz Studholme:

So everyone gets BOMA, other partners include some free content from Wolters Kluwer, MyHR, Spotlight, Vend. But there are also some premium libraries by The Gap and Wolters Kluwer Premium, and all Xero partner clients get Xero library as well. If we just go into All Libraries, you can go in, you can choose a piece. We're going to look at this piece from Wolters Kluwer. This might be a Premium piece, actually. I'll just go into something… There's a compliance reminder. Okay, interest rates rises are on the way. “Where can I send it?” Well, you can actually share this one on your website as a blog, as you'd like. That's not all content, but quite a lot of content is. You can send it via email and social. You can see we've written the social post for you. We've written an email for you, and you simply, if you're happy with it in general, you can decide to send it and then you can customise it as you deliver.

Liz Studholme:

So, send it via email or social, or let's send it to both just to let you know how that works. Title it, so that that will be relevant to you. No one else sees that, but you might say, “Well, I'm going to send this on email to particular clients with investment properties,” or something. And send it slightly differently written to some other group within your audience. There I can see my social post. Actually, I'm going to add a bit of content there and go through, and then start editing on each channel that I've connected. So when you set up your account, it's simply a matter of connecting to your social channels, uploading logo, and BOMA will pull out a template that is brand-specific for the SBA network.

Liz Studholme:

Then across each channel, we can edit and we can preview. So that's LinkedIn, you can see that little bit of text that I added in there. Facebook, I might want to do something different, or Twitter. Twitter will obviously only allow you to work within the character limit. Facebook, just a little bit different. I copy and paste, and that's because Facebook has fake news rules to stop a third party posting on your behalf. I'm going to take that out. I might add a hashtag. I'm probably spelling it wrong. And preview that one, and I can see my hashtag's gone in there. On email, so obviously talking about personalisation, really important that you use tags. Within BOMA, you can select manually. So that might be when you've had a meeting, you're going to follow up with that person by sending them an individual email. I'm in a test account, so I haven't got many contacts here, but I can filter using tags. And those tags are created by you so that they're really relevant to your audience. So, trade, for example, I'm going to send that to my trade clients.

Liz Studholme:

Once we've selected who we are sending it to, look at your subject line, your preview description. All of that you can change, but it's written for you just to make it easier, and then select your template. Now, you can select a template using something you've sent before and you really like the way that looked, or you can use BOMA's easy templates as well. So, let's select one. This is the instant template. It's using your logo at the top, it's got your contact details at the bottom. So everything's set up. It looks professional. It's got an unsubscribe button and your address, and your links to your social pages. You now get an option to send your content in a number of ways. So if you were creating a newsletter, you could, for example, send that one in and then go back into the Content Library and add more content.

Liz Studholme:

I'm not going to do that. I'm going to send the full content, because I think it's a really relevant issue that I want them to read on its own, and I want people to contact me at the end. So I've decided that's the content, I can then go in and change it. Add a personal greeting. Using merge tags, I'm adding a first name so that it pulls that name so it's really personal to the person I send it to. I'm going to go back into Content and add a button at the bottom, because I want people to contact me about this, “Contact us.” And then over on the right-hand side you can see, “Where do you want that button to go?” Do you want it to send an email? Open a web page? If it was to send an email, for example, it's me@SBA, et cetera, et cetera.

Liz Studholme:

I'm not sure what your emails look like, but let's imagine that it looked like that, with a subject, which is interest rates, and a body. Let's say, “Yes, I'd like to make a time to talk about interest rates and how that's going to affect my investments,” for example. So when you're happy with your email, you can also preview that. Just going to move our faces out of the way. You can preview that, save, and close. And obviously I didn't change anything for efficiency sakes, but you can change all of the content in there if you like. You can then come down here and send a test email to yourself or someone in the office, and then you can schedule. So if it's got a bit late in the day and you want to send it tomorrow, then… I'm not sure why it's set in Australia, but let's set it back to New Zealand. And we're going to send it on Thursday at 11 o'clock, and schedule.

Liz Studholme:

Once you've sent your campaign, BOMA also collates all the campaigns that you've sent under the Campaigns tab. You can see where they were sent to. So this one went to email, Facebook, LinkedIn business, personal, and Twitter. And then you can go in, and look at… Let's have a look at another one that's successfully gone out. Social Media Update here. Now, again, test account, no detail in here, but you will be able to see figures in here. And they'll show you how many impressions, clicks, shares, likes, and comments you got. If you sent it via email, you're actually able to click on some of those buttons where people opened it, and see who opened it and see who clicked on the links in it. Because this campaign didn't go via email, I don't have that there, but I can show you that as well. I think that's probably enough right now on that demo. But yeah, we will give you a link to set up a time to demo one-on-one so you can ask questions that are really specific to you.

Charles Clark:

So, please do ask any questions. I think, as I said, we've gone over a little bit with time. I just wanted to add one more thing just before we go. So if you do want to trial BOMA, we've got a special deal with SBA through Craig, which is great. And you get 25% off for life if you sign up before 30th of November. After that, there's still a discount, and that's 15%. We've also got some added value slides for you here as well. Having a regular plan of action, and then the last one is just a little bit of information about getting involved in social groups. If you do have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them before we-

Liz Studholme:

Oh, sorry. Just one here. “What if I'm already a subscriber?” Perhaps we'll follow up directly with you, Mike, on that.

Charles Clark:

Mike, could you just pop your email address in the chat? And we'll follow up with you directly and we'll give you the discount code. Thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate it. And we'll see you next time.