Need a new website for your accounting or financial advice firm but you’re not sure where to begin? These simple steps will start you off on the right foot.
In today’s digital world, your website acts both as your business card and your brochure. That’s why it’s so important to have a strong online presence that reinforces your brand. But with so many businesses vying for attention in cyberspace, how can you create an engaging website that stands out from the crowd and turns visitors into new clients?
The good news is, you don’t have to enrol in a coding class to develop a killer website. Instead, here are 5 steps to get you started.
Step 1: Work out your budget
First things first: are you planning to build your website yourself or enlist the help of a web designer? While any DIY project can be satisfying, don’t underestimate the value that a professional can provide. A great web designer will not only bring your vision to life; they’ll also take the time to understand your business and your clients so they can tailor your site to best suit your needs.
But if you do hire a professional, make sure you find out about all their fees upfront, both for the setup and the ongoing maintenance of your site. You’ll also need to weigh up any other services they offer – like training, analytics and technical support – to see if your business can justify the extra costs.
A more affordable alternative may be to get a free website template via a subscription from a provider like Squarespace or Wix. These are generally easy to use – but you may want to invest in a good photographer, videographer or copywriter to create some eye-popping visuals and text that will bring your website to life.
Step 2: Choose a domain
Your domain name should clearly represent your brand, so pick one that’s easy to find and remember. Although it’s simple to register your domain name online, many site-building services such as GoDaddy offer this service as part of their packages – so be sure to check the package inclusions first before registering the name yourself. You can also do a quick check via their own sites to make sure your preferred domain name isn’t already taken.
You may want to consider purchasing the .com domain name extension as well as the .com.au extension that’s only available to Australian businesses. Or if you want to go another way, a new .accountant extension has recently become available, which could give you a funky edge over your competitors. The good news is that even if you purchase all three domains, you only have to set up your website on one, and you can redirect the others to link to the same place.
Step 3: Tick off the basics
Before your site is up and running, there are a few basics that should be clearly visible:
- What you do. Explain clearly and concisely the services you offer, including any specialty areas, so potential clients can quickly and easily get a sense of how you can help them.
- Who you are. Clients want to work with someone approachable who they can connect with, so be sure to use personal and engaging language and images.
- Why they should choose you. Use case studies and testimonials to demonstrate your expertise and highlight the value you add to your clients’ lives.
- How to get in touch. Give a range of contact options such as your phone number, office address and email address, links to your professional Facebook or LinkedIn profile, and an online form or a self-service tool that clients can access 24/7 to make appointments with you.
Step 4: Add in the extras
Now that you’ve created the foundations of your professional website, you can add further layers to make your site even more compelling. One way is to build in dynamic content that helps your clients organise their finances – such as articles, calculators and other tools. And don’t forget to update these regularly to keep your site fresh and relevant.
As a starting point, ask your clients what sorts of things they search for online when they have questions about financial matters. By adding content to your website that answers these and similar questions, you’ll be providing value to your clients and positioning your business as a thought leader within the industry.
There are other ways of engaging your website’s visitors, like creating a sign-up form so they can subscribe to your regular e-newsletters. This will give you an additional touchpoint with your clients, while also creating a communication channel with potential clients who aren’t quite ready yet to book an appointment. Tools like Mailchimp can be easily integrated into your website to capture a visitor’s details and automate this feature.
Step 5: Direct traffic
Once you’ve got all this great content on your site, how can you get people to see it? That’s where social media channels come in, so make sure your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are each set up to drive traffic back to your business website.
Just say you’ve written an article about the recent superannuation reforms, which you’ve posted on LinkedIn. By linking the article to your website, readers can find your site with a simple click. Once they’re there, they can learn more about what you have to offer – and if they like what they see, they may even end up becoming your client.
Have you heard of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? If not, don’t let the techie-sounding name put you off. It simply refers to how search engines like Google rank their search results according to relevance, which is something to keep in mind when writing article titles and content tags. By using common search words, it’s more likely that people will find their way to your website. Your site will also perform better in Google search rankings if you update it regularly with fresh content.
And remember, every time someone visits your site, it’s another opportunity to showcase your services, knowledge and expertise to a potential new client.