Monday, March 28, 2011

Off Season Services Make Your CPA Site Pay Off

by Brian O'Connell

I know, it's tax time and your task manager is looking kinda full. You aren't really worrying about accounting website design at the moment. I know you need to find time to do other stuff (like sleep, eat, and use the rest room), but have you ever thought about how much quicker and more effortlessly your company might grow if you could disseminate your work load out over more than just tax time?

The real key to building a CPA firm is getting clients to utilize your off-season services.

This brings us back to your website. There's a number of ways your website can help you sell services beyond tax preparation, but there are three features in particular that can help.

As is often the case the biggest problems are the most obvious, so let's start there. When it comes to selling off-season services the most basic the most obvious feature on the site is all to often designed to appeal to the site owner rather than convert a prospect.

I'm sure you already have at least an "Our Services" page, or better yet; a whole section where each service has it's own page. Personally I prefer you give each service it's own page, but using a single page is OK as long as you are using bookmark links to make it easy for visitors to find what they're looking for. This is nothing new. This feature is pretty much standard even on bad site designs. Unfortunately just having a page isn't good enough. The content on the page has to be good, too. It's less important to explain the service than it is to illustrate the benefits of the service. Long drawn out descriptions will bore the visitor, and if you make them too technical you could even make them feel stupid. All the visitor really cares about is how that service can benefit them, so concentrate on that. Put a contact form on each service page so night owls and users who might be too shy to call have an alternate means to contact you immediately.

Another great tool for cross selling off season accounting services is your online newsletter. Again, almost every accounting website design already has this feature, but there is another fundamental mistake that most accounting and CPA websites make. You don't want to spend too much time on taxes. It's understandable why most newsletters make this mistake: there's a lot of tax news year-round and it's fairly easy to use this information to "fill" a newsletter. Make sure each newsletter has one or two strong articles about your off-season services. Write it using the same marketing style you used on your service pages. Make benefits to the client the focus of each article. You don't need, or even want, to tell them everything. Just explain the benefit and position yourself as the expert to turn to in order to implement the strategy.

The least obvious cross-season marketing instrument on your website may not be as obvious, but it's often more effective. Your website design should include a "free reports" section. You want this to be a large section, and you want to write these articles using the same marketing principles we've already talked about. While these pages won't generate quite as much traffic as your service pages or newsletter, but the leads they generate will be white hot! Not only are people on these pages displaying a huge amount of initiative simply by looking over this information they very likely already use your services to some degree or another, so the accounting professional they turn to will almost certainly be you!

Make sure this section is neatly organized into categories that allow visitors to pursue their interests without having to muddle through a bunch of information that doesn't apply to them. Categories should include topics like "Business Owners", "Individuals", "Life Events", and "Investments". Add a "send this article to a friend" link to every report. You never know when a visitor will discover a report that applies to one of their friends or relatives, and this can become a very robust referral.

The content on an accounting website is every bit as imperative as your design. Take a close look at your website. It's a simple enough affair to examine your content and copy and make sure the separate pages live up to the comprehensive design.

About the Author

Brian O'Connell is the owner and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the nation's leading website companies oriented entirely to accounting website design.