Your chance to make a good impression with potential clients comes long before the first appointment. That’s why a strong web presence is vital for you and your firm.
Did you know that up to 76% of a customer’s purchase journey happens before they engage a provider1? Think about it — whether you’re finding a restaurant for dinner or you’re in the market for a pair of shoes, chances are you’ll do some online research before you buy. And it’s no different when people are looking for an accountant or financial adviser: the more credible and professional you come across online, the more likely you are to attract new clients.
But with so many digital platforms available, it can be hard to know where to focus your time and energy. Here are 7 tips to help you get started.
1. Understand your audience
First, you need to work out the kinds of clients you’re hoping to attract. By understanding your target market, you’ll be able to tailor your online presence accordingly.
Next, think about the journey your potential clients might take to find you online. For example, if a potential client has been referred to you by a friend or family member, they’re likely to Google you or your firm as a starting point. And if they’re highly engaged with their finances or know exactly what kind of services they want, they might check out your LinkedIn profile as well.
For potential clients who haven’t been referred to you, if they do a basic web search for a local accountant or adviser, are you easy to find?
2. Make a good first impression
Before making their first appointment with you, a potential client will probably look at your profile page on your firm’s website. So it’s important to get it right.
Your page should feature a clear, recent photo — one where you look both friendly and professional. The image filename should be just your name and your firm’s name, as this will make it easier for people to find you online.
There should also be an ‘about you’ blurb outlining your skills and experience. It should also explain your client value proposition — what sets you apart from your competitors — but be sure to avoid using technical or industry jargon.
3. Take advantage of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s leading social media site for professionals, with over 7 million active users in Australia alone. It’s therefore a crucial digital asset for representing yourself, because your LinkedIn profile will rank highly when someone Googles you. Plus, LinkedIn is a great way to expand your professional network and build contacts to generate business leads.
When creating your LinkedIn profile, use a headline that demonstrates the value you can provide —potential clients care more about this than your job title. Make sure your profile and company page links to your firm’s website ― and remember to regularly update your profile and interact online with others in your network.
4. Try out local directories
Local directory listings on sites like truelocal.com.au — which are like modern versions of the trusty phone book — can also help boost your online presence in your local area.
There are plenty of directories out there and it can be tempting to add your business to all of them, but it’s best to do your research first. Low-quality directories that generate spam can hurt your search Google ranking.
5. Create a My Business profile
Google’s My Business service can connect your firm to a range of Google tools like Maps and Google+, which will also improve your visibility in Google searches.
Take time to fill out your My Business profile ― the more complete it is, the better your chances of attracting potential clients. Visit google.com.au/business to get started.
6. Embrace feedback
Having an extensive web presence gives your clients plenty of ways to rate and review your services online. This can be a daunting prospect at first, but online reviews can provide valuable insights into how your clients perceive you.
Each positive review is an opportunity to publicly thank a happy client for their support. And if you receive a negative review, you can reassure your disgruntled client that the issue they’ve raised will be resolved as soon as possible. Once you’ve fixed the problem, you can also contact the client directly to tell them the good news.
7. Track your progress
There are plenty of good reasons for being digitally active — from promoting your services and boosting your reputation to generating leads and expanding your professional network. These opportunities grow as more people find and connect with you online, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your progress. Platforms like My Business, LinkedIn and industry directories automatically keep count of visits to your page, so you can collect useful data about how you’re tracking.
Maintaining a strong web presence isn’t a case of set and forget. By regularly tweaking or refreshing your online content, you can find out which types of content work best for you and your firm.
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1 Today's Affluent Consumer, Oechsli Institute, https://www.oechsli.com/research