See your site from the search engine view. Sign up for a free website crawl today!

SEO Guides, Tips & More!

Learn from Our Experience
Digital Marketing Insights

Digital Marketing Insights for Accounting Firms

     -     Nov 9th, 2019   -     Digital Lead Generation, Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

Digital marketing has become an important part of many accounting and CPA firm’s marketing practices. However, knowing where to allocate firm dollars to get the maximum return can be challenging. To help uncover where to invest, we asked several accounting marketing experts (including in house marketers), to give us their digital marketing insights most important for accounting firms.

We asked each expert to give us their insights on the top challenges for 2020, how they expect to tackle them and invited them to share other insights “simmering” in their minds. It’s a good variety of the issues and challenges CPA and accounting firms have on their plates.

Top Digital Marketing Insights

Brian Falony
Marketing & Business Development Director
Brady Ware

What are the top digital marketing and lead generation challenges you are/will face in 2020?

I think our biggest challenge is having enough of the right kinds of content to support our overall digital marketing strategy. We need to have the right mix of long-form content like white papers as well as short content for social media posts. We also need to determine what is the right mix of technical content as opposed to content that shows our culture. We are also working to determine the balance between written content versus podcasts and videos.  A second challenge will be getting determining how much of our content to make openly available in order to increase our presence and how much to gate in order to generate leads. Our third challenge will be to get our staff to help push the content out through their social media so we can increase followers and generate more leads.

How will you tackle these?

We are fortunate that two of our partners definitely understand the need for content and are hosting podcasts. One is weekly with over forty episodes in the can and the other is monthly. This is helping to spark interest in a few other staff members so we may be able to expand in 2020. We have engaged two ghostwriters to help with the long-form written content. We also plan to do social media training for all the staff in 2020 to help them understand the value and importance of engaging with the firm and helping to spread the message.

Other insights?

The generational change in business is making things challenging. Older partners (boomers) tend not to see the value of digital marketing and so are less willing to fund it. The reality we all face is that a large percentage of business owners today are digital natives and are using firms’ digital content to evaluate whether or not a firm can help them before they even start to interact on a personal level. We may never know what opportunities we have missed because our digital content did not pass muster with these business owners. We, as marketers, have to find a way to build a fact-based case for our firms to commit the resources, both financial and staff time, necessary to implement the digital strategies necessary to support firm growth plans.


Andrea Sardone
Director of Marketing

What are the top digital marketing and lead generation challenges you are/will face in 2020?

Digital marketing is a content hog. My priority is to develop a content development program that regularly feeds it. After that, it’s segmentation and integration into the CRM. People are becoming savvier when it comes to lead capture and clicks aren’t correlating to conversions. So, my third challenge is conversion. And fourth, is building the marketing organization to support this. Even though I number these, they are all important. And there are probably 10 other things that are not coming to mind right now.

How will you tackle these?

Developing a plan to start and master the basics and then go from there. The disruption in this industry is forcing us to get moving. You can’t get moving by sitting still. So, start with the basics, succeed (or fail), learn, and improve. 

Other insights?

You never go wrong by bringing value to the customer. Be the voice of the customer in the organization and listen to what they’re telling you. Pay attention to them. Keep the conversation going and show them how important they are to the organization.  If you don’t someone else will and then you lose.


Sean Smith
Chief Marketing Officer
Schneider Downs

What are the top digital marketing and lead generation challenges you are/will face in 2020?

Digital lead generation has become the Wild West. There’s a lot of noise out there. Seemingly every segment can be micro-targeted, and every digital interaction can trigger a series of future messages. Marketing automation makes it almost too easy to bombard target audiences with multiple messages over and over again…even when they ignore them. But being able to do that doesn’t mean that we should.  We run the risk of exhausting our target audiences as we add to the noise. That exhaustion reduces the effectiveness of the message. It’s becoming unwelcome.

How will you tackle these?

First, we need our target audiences to find us, rather than vice versa. If they find us, it’s because they are interested, and we’ll then have permission to engage with them. We’ll attract them by continuing our commitment to relevant content, SEO and impactfully driving interest in the services we have to offer. From a lead generation standpoint, we’re addressing our messaging to make sure that it’s relevant for our audiences, and we’re being respectful of not assuming future messages will be welcome without consent. Messages 3, 4 and 5 are of no value if the recipient didn’t want #1 and #2.

Other insights?

Strategy and relevancy are the fundamentals of all marketing strategies. Digital marketing makes it easier to pinpoint audiences, but ultimately it comes down to relevancy. I think the industry is coming back to the realization that those fundamentals still matter.


Nicole Gantz
Chief Marketing Officer
Honkamp Krueger & Company

What are the top digital marketing and lead generation challenges you are/will face in 2020?

The current and upcoming compliance requirements for websites and mass email, such as GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), ADA compliance, etc. will continue to be a challenge for marketing departments running on tight website budgets. As it stands, accounting marketing departments are already continually championing to receive the proper resources to have a current, well-branded, highly optimized website that gets revamped every few years. To add in the cost of compliance will be a huge challenge for marketers to convince the partners of the importance of this and understand what is required of them under these laws. Up until now, we’ve really only had the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 to comply with for email marketing and that required little to no investment since mass email systems pretty much make sure you comply.

This could have a positive effect on lead generation. I would anticipate that websites in compliance with these laws will be favored by Google, leading to higher placement in search and more qualified online leads. Some of the elements naturally help with SEO, such as transcribing/captioning videos on your website. So, marketers need to look at the opportunities within these laws and how they help make their website even better.

How will you tackle these?

Our digital marketing specialist and our intern have conducted research on all website and email laws and have already made prioritized recommendations on what we should be doing to our website to comply – the low hanging fruit we can do ourselves with no additional dollars. As we get through what we can do ourselves, we will then budget for the compliance changes we will need to outsource.

Other insights?

As the next generation of clients (Y and Z) continue to move into decision-making roles, it is critical accounting marketers stay ahead-of-the-curve with their digital marketing strategy. An expectation exists with these generations that your website is up-to-date (and mobile-optimized), your social media is engaging and responsive, your email is custom to them and contextual, your data in your CRM on them is correct, and you offer other digital marketing tools to make their experience with your CPA firm exceptional and part of the value of their investment (apps, video, etc.). The good news is: this is the fun stuff in marketing!


Katie Tolin
Growth Consultant – Industry Leader
CPA Growth Guides

What are the top digital marketing and lead generation challenges you are/will face in 2020?

Too many firms are still struggling with having content – the right content and enough of it – on their sites to drive the leads they are looking for. This has been a struggle for years that requires a dedicated in-house or outsourced writer to make happen. For more advanced firms, it’s all about online advertising and what does this look like in 2020 and beyond. We’re long past the days of Google pay per click and there are more new and measurable options than ever before. When you have the right content to peak interest and convert visitors, this is your next learning curve.

How will you tackle these?

If you can’t get content from your practitioners, invest in a good ghostwriter. As needed, this person will interview your team and do a little research to deliver custom content that sets your firm apart. If you have a strong writer in-house, this person can do the same thing. Just be sure s/he has time to do it regularly or it’s a responsibility that will be too easily pushed to the back burner.

As it comes to online advertising, this will take a lot of self-learning (probably outside of the accounting industry) or the help of a digital advertising firm that can guide and teach you along the way. Compared to the price of print advertising, you can do a lot of very targeted online advertising for the same dollars. The key is doing the work upfront to make sure you’re spending on targets and not just anyone online.

Other insights?

There is a lot of talk today about the client experience. It’s truly an extremely important business function. However, this relationship actually starts before they become a client and most often that is online. Marketers need to work to not just find leads but to begin building a level of trust with potential buyers to set your firm apart. People are what makes a firm unique and buyers most often hire a person over a firm. We need to figure out how to start building online relationships if we want a true competitive advantage.


Hugh Duffy
Chief Marketing Officer
Build Your Firm

What are the top digital marketing and lead generation challenges you are/will face in 2020?

Many of the accounting websites that I stumble upon were not designed with search engine optimization at the onset, and as a result, generate poor search engine placement, low levels of website traffic and seldom generate enough leads. 

To correct this, the search engine optimization is done as an adjunct project which is not optimal in highly competitive markets.  Things like well-written content, keyword research, page loading speed and website architecture should be incorporated as one integrated solution to generate optimal results. 

For those firms that do have a well-constructed website with search engine optimization built-in at the onset, I typically see a different set of problems.  These issues tend to be:

  • Local Search inconsistencies – Search engines like Google are looking for confidence before providing your firm with prominent placement. This confidence comes from consistency across hundreds of small website directories, yellow pages, and review websites.  By consistency, I am referring to the firm name, address, phone numbers and descriptions that match perfectly.  Often, smaller accounting firms will move office locations, change the firm name, or not complete the profile fully.  And many larger firms don’t spend the time to submit all of their office locations for Local Search. 
  • Slow page loading – Improving page loading speed is an issue for all websites, especially with mobile web searches.
  • Inadequate off-page validation – Most accounting firm websites need more inbound links from trusted accounting websites, more Google reviews, and quality social media links (e.g., Twitter, Facebook shares, blog links, etc.).

More Digital Marketing Insights for 2020

What do you think of the information shared above? What challenges is your firm facing? How will you tackle them?

Leave your reply in the comment section below.

Latest Tweets