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How to plan a high-performance, lead-generating accounting website

The websites of most accounting firms adhere to the “basic digital brochure format.” Although there is nothing wrong with this format, the latest website design strategies offer a more interactive and engaging experience to would-be clients — and this can dramatically improve your lead-generation capacity.

Of course, optimizing your website for lead generation can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. This article quickly summarizes the first three steps to planning a modern, high-performance, lead-generating professional services website.

Once you complete the steps outlined below, you’ll have a clear picture of what your website needs, and how to move forward with your lead-boosting upgrades. We will cover the next set of steps in our next article. 

1. Evaluate your current site

In order to upgrade your website into a lead-generation powerhouse, it’s vital to understand what is currently working (and what is not). Start the process by discussing your website with your team — especially your new business development team — to understand what they like and don’t like about the website in terms of design, imagery, messaging and format. 

Then, talk with your target audience — especially your current client base. Approach a handful of clients, partners and industry influencers and ask them what they think about your website. This will give you a lot of ideas for moving forward. 

Next, evaluate the analytics on your website in terms of traffic sources, your most successful keywords and what content on your individual web pages is performing the best (and the worst). 

Finally, create a “usability test” by asking five to 10 people outside your company to perform specific tasks on your website. Make a list of tasks, such as “Find the latest news about our firm,” “Sign up for the newsletter,” or “Schedule a meeting with our team.” Ask them to report on how easy it was to perform each task, and for feedback on the overall process. 

2. Evaluate the competition

This step involves drawing inspiration from your competition. Do a quick Google search on relevant keywords to find your leading web competitors. Your web competitors could be different from your offline competitors. For example, search keyword combinations like “accounting firm in New York,” “accounting for engineering companies,” “tax preparation for Los Angeles businesses,” or something else that your audiences will use to find you.  

Now, evaluate the highest-ranking websites that show up on these Google searches. Answer the following questions about each website:

  • What messaging does the website convey? 
  • How is the website organized and would it work for your company too?
  • Which audience(s) does the website speak to? 
  • Does the website send different audiences down different paths?
  • What are the images like and are they effective?
  • Does the website use specific words and phrases?
  • What kind of educational content, blog articles, etc., does the website offer? 
  • What are the calls to action and offers like? Is there a call to action to request a proposal, download a piece of educational content, or get something for free? Would these strategies work for your website?
  • What else stands out that could work (or not work) for your accounting firm?

Going down the list and answering all of these questions for each website will help you notice key details about the websites of your competitors. By analyzing your three to five biggest web competitors like this, it will help you develop a clear structure and sitemap for your website; differentiate your messaging in a way that stands out from the competition; and leverage the most effective elements from the websites of your competitors to make sure your site is better than all of the ranking competition.
3. Define and segment your audiences

Your accounting firm probably serves a lot of different segments (or types) of clients with varying needs and pain points. It’s essential for you to design your website in a way that speaks to these different segments of your audience and client base. 

While you definitely want to communicate the key message and branding position of your firm as soon as visitors arrive, it is equally important to send different types of visitors down different paths that are custom-tailored just for them. 

There are many ways to segment your audience like this — and no one strategy is necessarily better than the other. Nevertheless, you will probably choose one of the following highly effective audience segmentation strategies for your website:

  • Role: This segmentation strategy considers what job level your website visitors have. The language and messaging to which a corporate vice president responds will be different from the language and messaging intended for a mid-level manager. For this reason, you’ll want to send these individuals down different paths that you design just for them.
  • Size: This segmentation strategy considers the size of the business or client you’re working with. For example, does your accounting firm work with individuals, small and midsized businesses, and large enterprises — or just one of these categories? You’ll want to develop specialized content for each of these audiences and direct them where to go when they arrive at your home page. 
  • Industry: Potential new customers like it when you have a reputation for working with companies in their respective industries. By sending each industry down industry-specific paths on your website, it is an opportunity for showcasing your industry-specific knowledge experience — and this will help you better connect with those industries.
  • Service offering: Another way of organizing your audiences is to segment them by need. This involves listing your services or packages upfront on the homepage. 

To help you select one of the above audience segmentation strategies, consider identifying the various categories of customers your firm regularly deals with. You can do this by meeting with your team to answer the following questions about your clients:

  • What client types does your firm normally deal with (by role, company size, industry, service offering, etc.)?
  • How do you treat each client type differently (if you treat them differently at all)?
  • Which client type(s) deserve the most attention on your website?

Start now

After completing these relatively simple steps, you’ll be well prepared for the next stages of planning your newly optimized website. These stages — as well as the steps summarized above — will be addressed in the next article Those next stages are: defining your goals for conversion; determining optimal search phrases; developing an overall website structure; and developing messaging and content that connects with your audiences, showcases your expertise and differentiates your brand. In the meantime, you may consult this planning guide for details on these and the next stages.

Once you research and clarify your website optimization plan, you can start the next and most important phase of the process: the creation and implementation of your new website. Countless firms have radically transformed their lead generation capacity after implementing a well-planned website upgrade like this. With the right plan and team of experts to execute it, you can achieve the same.



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