Content marketing is a crucial aspect of any accounting business that wants to grow its client base, increase client loyalty and in turn, improve profitability.
However, it can be hard to know where to start. The information below breaks it down and should help make it easier for business owners.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the practice of sharing useful, relevant or entertaining material online with your existing and prospective clients. The aim of content marketing is to attract new custom, generate leads, and build client relationships. The types of content you could share include blogs, articles, videos, e-books, guides, case studies, stories, infographics, and newsletters.
While the ultimate aim of any marketing is business growth, it’s important to note that content marketing is not advertising. It should also always be more focussed on what you can give rather than receive. This means you should focus your campaigns squarely on what your clients would value rather than on simply generating more sales and revenue.
That said, content marketing can reap some great benefits! See below.
The benefits of content marketing
When done well and in a targeted way, here’s what content marketing can do.
- Helps you to retain existing clients, build relationships, and attract new clients by sharing your knowledge to address their challenges .
- Positions you as the obvious choice when someone is looking for an accountant by showcasing your expertise and knowledge.
- Solves common problems or challenges for your audience. An example might be where someone is searching online for how to forecast cashflow, or for business planning tips.
- Establish yourself as an authority in your field – i.e. someone who knows their stuff!
- Saves you money. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing while generating three times as many leads.
Tips for effective content marketing
Here are the ten ways to use content marketing that we promised!
1. Know your target market
It can never be over-emphasised that your content marketing should have your target audience at its core. This is because when you know who you are talking to and how they tick, you are in a better place to know how to offer solutions to the challenges they face.
Think about what motivates and interests your target market, as well as what frustrates and creates challenges for them.
Getting to know and understand your target market is best done through rigorous market research.
Think about your existing clients and imagine you are talking to them.
- What are the questions you get asked frequently?
- Are there specific conditions that your clients are facing at the moment, based on their vertical or the time of the tax year?
2. Set goals
Content marketing is often done in a random way without any real strategy or clear goal. But this can lead to very mixed and disappointing results.
To set a clear goal you need to determine what it is you want to achieve – whether that’s more lead generations, more sales conversions, increased website traffic, and so on. Having a well-defined goal enables you to determine what type of content to create.
For example, let’s say you are seeking new clients. In this case you might want to create ‘gated’ content - which refers to content that readers can access only after providing their contact information. On the other hand if your goal was to build awareness amongst your existing clients of your expertise on a particular topic you might create thought-leadership articles.
Setting clear goals also allows you to track your success and make improvements next time if necessary.
3. Choose great topics
Choosing content topics isn’t as hard as you might think. One of the best ways is to simply ask your clients about their challenges and what topics they would be interested in. You can also get inspiration online – such as by checking out trending topics online that people are talking about on social media, or what your competitors are sharing.
Some useful tools for finding topics include Keyword Sheeter, AnswerThePublic, and Google Trends. In addition, BOMA has a library of content to choose from that you can use to kick start your content plan. It contains insightful articles that you can customise and share with your audiences via email or on your website or social pages.
4. Make it high quality
Years ago you might have been able to post some very poor quality or scraped written content and get away with it, but not anymore!
Today, creating content of a high quality standard is paramount if you don’t want to risk your site being ranked poorly by search engines. But it’s not only about ranking – your content represents your brand, so the last thing you need is content that is poorly written or lacking in substance.
5. Use keywords, but do so judiciously
Keywords are the terms or phrases people type into the search bar when they are looking for information. Using keywords in content is important, but it should be done in a relevant, useful and sensible way. For example, your keywords should fit naturally into the text and be used only a few times at most in a post.
This point follows on from the previous one in that at one time you could use all kinds of SEO tricks and tactics to rank well on search pages. One of the main tactics was keyword stuffing - the practice of inserting keywords repeatedly throughout your text. However, search engines soon put a stop to that.
For keyword research and planning, a useful tool to use is the Google AdWords Planner.
6. Share on a range of platforms
People don’t all arrive at your site by the same route, so it’s important to consider publishing on a range of platforms. Here are some ideas:
- Your website – you should post fresh content (e.g. blogs) on a regular basis on your website, as this is important for SEO and for keeping your audiences engaged.
- Social media updates – such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. While there are no hard-and-fast rules on when to publish, Facebook and LinkedIn are best updated on weekdays during daylight hours, Twitter in the mornings, and Instagram from 11am onwards.
- Email – email can be a very cost-effective marketing method. According to research, every $1 spent on email marketing generates $38 in revenue on average. You can use email to share e-newsletters, make offers, send invites, or do surveys. Email contact is best done in the mornings as that’s when most people tend to log in.
7. Include Call to Actions (CTAs)
CTAs tell your readers what to do next. They can come in many forms – here are some suggestions:
- a ‘contact us’ button or link
- an invitation to subscribe to your newsletter
- a link to book a meeting (the Calendly app is useful for this), or
- an offer of a free download that answers a common question (such as how to save on tax bills).
8. Track and measure
Whatever method or platform you use, it’s crucial to track the success or otherwise of your campaigns, so you know what works and what doesn’t. This also enables you to work out your return on investment and to refine your campaigns as you go.
There are online tools that help you do this. The BOMA analytics tool for instance allows you to track email open rates, email clicks, and social post engagement.
9. Link back to your website
Last but not least, when sharing on platforms outside your website such as social or email, always provide links back to your website so that people can easily find and follow you.
And speaking of websites, the design and structure of your website as well as its content should reflect your marketing message and your business. See below for more information on this.
10. Great website design
If you are creating content for your clients and prospects, you will need a great website to host it on or to link back to. Here’s where a new client will build a picture of you and your firm so make sure you make a good first impression and provide them with the information they need.
Here are some of the main elements to incorporate into your website.
- A compelling homepage – it only takes people about 1/20th of a second to make up their mind whether they like a site, and they’re not likely to change it much with further browsing. So your homepage should have clear branding and impactful and engaging content to avoid people losing interest.
- Easy navigation – your site should be easy for users to get around and to find what they are looking for. Visible menus and the top of every page help make this happen, as well as a structure that is easy to follow and not overly complicated. An example of an easy-to-follow structure is one that includes an ‘About Us’ page featuring images of the partners in the firm, a Services page containing information on your niche services, a Blog page for all your posts, and a ‘Contact Us’ area.
- Mobile responsiveness – your site should be mobile-friendly in that it is just as easy to use and to read on a smaller device as on a computer screen. Mobile-responsive sites also rank better with search engines.
- Quick-loading pages – a slow website is likely to lose visitors early on. Ideally your pages should load within two seconds or less.
- Great content and messaging – your content should explain what your site is about concisely and clearly. In addition, eye-tracking studies show that people spend up to 80% of their time focussed on what they see at the top of the page, or ‘above the fold’. So make sure to get the most important messaging at the top.
- Appealing images – studies show that our brains are hardwired for visual images and process pictures much faster than text. Professional images are best, but it’s also important they load quickly so that they do not slow the site down.
- Calls to Action – as for all your content, your pages should have CTAs throughout, so your visitors always know what to do next.
So to put all of the above in a nutshell:
- Content marketing is the sharing of published material that is useful and relevant for your target audiences. It includes blogs, videos, e-books, guides, case studies, newsletters and more.
- Your content should be primarily focussed on the needs of your target audience. But when done well, it can also lead to greater profitability and business growth.
- An effective content strategy should have clear goals and a clearly defined audience at its core. The content should also be high quality, shared regularly across platforms and be optimised for search engines.
- A business website is also an important part of a content marketing plan. It should be easy to use, informative, contain great content and images, and be mobile responsive.
Hopefully this has demystified some of the process of a content marketing strategy.
Wolters Kluwer + BOMA
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