If you are just starting out in the accounting industry, finding new clients is your primary concern. The same applies if you have been in business for a while but your practice is still relatively small.
But finding new clients isn’t easy. The accounting landscape is highly competitive, with almost 90,000 practices in the US alone.
With the right strategies in place, however, expanding your client base isn’t just possible, it’s probable. In this article, we’ll cover the most effective strategies accountants can apply to attract new clients.
14 strategies to help you land accounting clients
1. Leverage search engine optimization (SEO)
Having a website where you offer your services is worthwhile in itself, but optimizing it to attract visitors from Google is the next step.
This is where SEO comes in. When a potential client searches for something online, your site needs to be among the top ones Google displays. For example, here are the top results when you type in “certified public accountant” to Google.
So how do you ensure that your page gets seen? Well, there are three main aspects to SEO:
- Relevant, high-quality content: your website should answer your clients’ questions. So when they perform a search and click on your site, they stay on the page
- A technically sound website: your website should be easy for Google to understand, including a proper structure (using relevant URLs and meta descriptions), fast loading times and a minimal number of 404 (page not found) errors
- Backlinking: a backlink is when other websites link to yours. This signals to Google that your website is an authority on the subject
Over 50% of your website traffic likely comes from organic search (i.e. people using Google or Bing), so working on your SEO is probably the single most impactful thing you can do to get clients online. To save you the time, we’ve analyzed in-depth which SEO strategies work best for accounting firms.
Here are some popular accounting-related searches according to Google Keyword Planner:
Social media is effective at driving traffic to your website, but it also serves as a standalone source to promote your services. The advantage it has over a website is that you can post light content, which is easier to consume and connect with.
There is a lot of stuff you can do to resonate with your clients (and potential clients) on social media. You can post short updates, share infographics, conduct polls and surveys — even share memes. Alternatively, you can hold a livestream on important topics.
Here’s an example of social media marketing from Instagram:
This example from bookkeeper MamaCounts uses an eye-catching infographic that grabs your attention. Normally, most people won’t read the entire post, but if you get their attention with an effective banner, they often will.
The social media advertising market is huge. Here are just a few key numbers:
- 4.7 billion people worldwide use social media every day
- Marketers spend a lot on social media advertising: the estimate for 2023 stands at $268 billion
- The social media advertising market is the second largest worldwide — and the largest in the US
- By the end of 2022, impressions (i.e. engagement) generated by social media ads rose by 30% compared to 2021
Given the exposure social media provides, tapping into it is a no-brainer.
4. Attend accounting conferences
Attending conferences improves your chances of landing new clients. You get to engage directly with leads and showcase your expertise. And if that goes well, word gets around.
You’ll also learn about the latest industry trends, witness how large tax firms market their services and discover angles you can adopt to sell your services.
And you can start small too. Find an accounting conference near your home or place of work — going to a local event will help you get a feel for your competition and increase the chances of meeting potential new clients.
Check out the top 20 accounting conferences you can attend in 2023.
5. Throw in Google Ads
Google Ads is a popular advertising platform that enables you to set up paid advertisements that target specific search queries. For example, if you target “accounting services Florida”, your ad could appear at the top of the search results when someone enters this keyword — like in the example below:
But that’s just scratching the surface of Google Ads’ capabilities. You also get access to a broad range of tools and targeting options, including:
- YouTube advertising
- Demographic targeting
- Remarketing tools
- Location targeting
- Audience segmentation
In addition to Google Ads’ targeting options and tools, you also get excellent analytics capabilities, allowing you to monitor, analyze and visualize ad performance. You can even perform A/B testing to fine-tune your ad campaigns.
Check out the official Help page for more detailed information about Google Ads’ capabilities.
LinkedIn is home to 600 million business profiles. A quarter of its audience go there to research brands and products. That’s why your LinkedIn profile should be up-to-date and professional-looking.
And of course, you can use LinkedIn to find clients too. For example, by filtering out posts where people are looking for accounting services.
Being a social media channel, LinkedIn is also a place to share content and talk to your audience. So don’t shy away from publishing posts where you explain the ins and outs of your niche, the services you offer and how they can help your potential clients.
7. Ask for referrals from friends and family
Your friends and relatives are your best marketers — after yourself, of course. By asking them to refer people from their own social circle, you can reach new leads for free.
Word of mouth remains by far the most effective marketing method. People are 90% more likely to purchase from a brand recommended to them by a friend. So encourage the people you know to spread the word about your services.
8. Leverage the power of public reviews
Online reviews of your business are another incredibly powerful way to attract new clients. Nine in 10 people browse reviews before buying, while 8 in 10 trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Encourage your clients to leave a review. You could build this step into your accounting workflows by creating a “please leave a review” email template and then sending it out to clients once you’ve completed a job for them. You could even incentivize them to leave a review by offering discounts or gifts to those that make the effort.
There are plenty of places where clients can leave reviews, including Google, Facebook and Trustpilot. So before you ask, make sure you familiarize yourself with all the options and make suggestions for where clients can leave a review.
9. Start a blog
Your website is your digital business card — it tells your potential clients what you are about and what you offer. A website blog allows you to both answer your customers’ questions and showcase your expertise.
Writing high-quality articles that rank in Google is an effective way to attract new clients. High rankings can be achieved via SEO, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that your articles should answer potential customers’ questions.
Focus on explaining topics you are an expert in — and the ones people search for. That’s where keyword research comes in. You can use Ahrefs, Semrush, SE Ranking or any other SEO tool to identify the users’ intent.
A blog can also help you promote your services by strategically placing calls to action (CTAs) inside your articles. CTAs encourage users to do something: book an introductory call, get a quote or anything else you want.
Here’s an example of a CTA from the Susan S Lewis blog:
Even if your articles don’t promote your services in any way, some readers will go on to explore your site anyway — if they liked what they’ve read.
It all comes down to coming up with quality content. So do keyword research, look at the top accounting blogs to get fresh ideas and go where your clients might hang out on the net.
10. Put your business on the (Google) map
And by that we mean Google Maps. Putting your accounting firm on the virtual map allows you to tap into the local market and raises your credibility as a company.
Concentrate on filling out your Google business profile, including directions, contact information, photos and client reviews. You can also link to your website and use your business profile to attract additional traffic.
11. Showcase success stories
Success stories are like in-depth versions of online reviews, making them a potent marketing tool.
To create a success story (sometimes referred to as a case study), you need to seek out a happy customer, interview them about how exactly you helped them — and then promote the end result on your website and through social media.
Success stories allow you to demonstrate how someone found you helpful, showcase your expertise in a certain area and market your services — all in one neat article.
12. Don’t write off directories
Accounting directories list accountants, bookkeepers, tax preparers and CPAs, alongside their contact details. This makes them a very popular avenue for people looking for accounting help.
The most popular accounting directories include CPAdirectory, CPA Finder, AICPA directory, IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers and TaxDome Advisor. Keep in mind you’ll have to be a TaxDome user to leverage the latter.
13. Embrace YouTube
YouTube is known for providing tons of entertaining content, but that’s still not the main reason people go there. Fifty-one percent of all users visit YouTube to learn something, not to sit back and relax.
Plenty of channels explaining accounting concepts have sprung up in recent years. One of the most popular, with 200k subscribers, is CPA Strength. The channel owner, Jonathan Dorn, has been pumping out videos since 2011 and has almost 600 public clips at the time of writing. Jonathan explains accounting concepts to students, business professionals and fellow accountants too. His secondary area of focus is physical and mental health.
Starting your own YouTube channel can be an effective way to build your personal brand, find your target audience and showcase your expertise.
14. Tap into expat forums
Expat forums are a great place to source and engage with accounting leads. When people move abroad, they have countless questions about how things work — and tax, accounting and finance are often some of the trickiest areas to navigate.
This makes the expat community an effective audience to target. By writing an “ask me anything” post or answering accounting-related questions on expat forums, you can position yourself as an expert to people who need a reliable accountant. And because expat communities tend to be so close-knit, you’ll also benefit from the word-of-mouth effect.
Here’s a post from the r/expats subreddit:
As you can see, this person could benefit from an experienced accountant who understands US tax law and how it applies to US citizens abroad. By answering their question in the forum, not only will you potentially gain a new client, but you’ll also catch the attention of everyone else who’s in a similar position.
Building a client base is the biggest challenge when you are just starting out, but there are some tried-and-tested strategies that will set you on your way.
Today, most of these strategies are online (such as building your website, growing your blog and starting a YouTube channel), but others are more old-school (speaking at public events and referrals). All are geared towards the same goal.
We’ve looked at the most popular solutions — but this list is by no means exhaustive. You can also:
- Get into Quora to answer questions and contribute to discussions
- Place advertisements on niche websites (depending on who your target audience is)
- Partner up with professionals from other industries who might need accounting services
- Go to a coworking space: these are filled with solopreneurs and startups
We hope we’ve given you enough to chew on. Good luck!
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