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Digital Accounting Marketer – Changing Role

     -     Mar 4th, 2013   -     Accounting Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing   -     0 Comments

Accounting marketing has changed significantly over the last 10 years. The focus used to be on what is now known as traditional marketing techniques, such as direct mail marketing, collateral material development, event marketing, networking, and the occasional dose of media exposure.

However, the advent of social media, website marketing, and search engine optimization has significantly changed how firms are marketed today. It’s not that goals have changed; generally speaking those have remained the same. It’s the techniques that have undergone a radical shift, requiring accounting marketers to be skilled at
website management, blog promotion, content development and management, online advertising, and the coveted search engine rankings.

What makes the situation more challenging is that most partners are unable to quantify how digital marketing is helping meet practice growth goals.

In the rare circumstance where the value of the approach is accepted, the credit for success is often attributed to the website or other digital media tool and not the marketer pulling the strings.

So what’s a marketer to do?

How can you get the partners to see the real value that you, as the marketing professional, are bringing to bear through digital media assets? The answer is analytics.

Analytics Is the Key

This is the most important component in your digital marketing efforts because it’s a tangible measurement of the success of each campaign. Whether you want to assess general website traffic, conversion from an email campaign, or clicks for an online ad, analytics is the key. It’s important to remember that accountants are “numbers people” and in order to communicate success you are going to need to talk in a language they can understand. This means a regular review of key measurements to identify successes, areas of improvement, trends, and opportunities for the future.

Delivering the Message

Once you have a firm understanding of the numbers, you need to present the information in a meaningful way to the partner group. Below are a few suggestions to guide you
along, including:

  • Monthly reports. If you are not already generating a monthly digital media report to the partners, start immediately. Provide both global and platform-specific information appropriately. Global items may include variations in total traffic, traffic per campaign, number of conversions (clicks), and resulting number of leads. Platform-specific items may include most popular content, most searched terms, most popular keywords, and number of conversions for the website, blog, etc. Also include commentary about the results each month and, if necessary, provide some discussion about how you will adjust your approach to generate more favorable results in the future.
  • Develop a leads report. There are often times partners forget where leads come from and don’t give it a second thought. For this reason, it’s important to document each lead generated through digital marketing efforts. At the same time, work with partners (to the extent possible) as an advocate in moving the opportunity through the sales cycle. This will allow you to garner support from individual partners and solicit their sponsorship for new campaigns or promotions in the future.
  • New business. The most important metric to any partner is new business. For this reason, it’s essential that you identify which leads have closed and for what fee amount. It’s incredibly powerful to sit down in a partner meeting and tell them that through our digital marketing efforts the firm has generated $15,000 in new fees for this year. EVERY partner in the room will understand the significance of that statement.

In Perspective

Each firm is different. The level of reporting detail and sophistication required in a firm with 250+ professionals will be very different from what is needed for a firm with 10 professionals. You need to exercise discretion based on what is practical and the preferences of your partner group. In some cases, the foundation will already exist in which you can integrate analytics into your weekly or monthly marketing report. However, based on our experience it will be necessary to educate your partner group and other stakeholders on the value of each metric and what it means in relation to the overall marketing. Whatever the case, the best thing you can do is be visible, communicate regularly and demonstrate how your management of the process is driving bottom line value to the firm.

Originally published in the Spring 2013 edition of Growth Strategies a publication of the Association of Accounting Marketing

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