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10 mistakes every accountant’s website makes and how to fix them today

By January 13, 2013October 6th, 2014No Comments

In this article I’ll show you the 10 ways your accounting practice’s current website is probably letting you down and costing you clients, plus I’ll show you how to fix them

If you are low on time or just want to sit back and listen to the 10 big mistakes, we’ve prepared this short video for you that goes through them all and shows you how you can fix these mistakes today. Just click the play button to start watching.

If you’re like most accountants, your website has probably been the last thing on your mind

Although you know it is important for bringing in new clients, especially warming up all those referrals, and engaging your existing client base, you can’t help but think about BAS this and Debit that.

But now is the time to do a quick health check of your site, see where the problems are and learn how you can fix them.  After you read this article and use the advice you’ll see;

  • More potential clients will find out about your accounting firm – especially from doing Google searches
  • People who visit your website will start to really understand exactly what you do and why they should choose you as their accountant
  • Instead of just browsing your website for a few minutes and then leaving (never to return again), people will actually start contacting you and requesting initial consultations…visitors will become clients!

MISTAKE #1: Your website does not differentiate you from the other dozen accountants in your area

“Why should I choose your practice over all the others in my suburb?”, is the question every person or business asks when looking for a new accountant.

Unfortunately most accounting websites look the exact same, speak the same language and have the same generic stock photography.  Although you might think your site looks and communicates differently to your competitors, for the lay person doing a quick 5 minute browse, it is probably perceived as being the exact same.

Why does this matter?

If your website does not differentiate your firm, you won’t stand out and you will most likely miss out on enquiries.  And even if you do land the enquiry you will end up competing against all the other accounting firms in your area on price or some profit-eroding feature, since the person sees you all as the same – as commodities.

To charge a premium price for your services you HAVE to differentiate.  Your website is the first port of call to implement your differentiation strategy.

How to fix this

The best accounting websites I know always include these 4 things – so make sure you also show;

  1. What you specialise in and know better than anyone else
  2. Who you work mostly with and have the best expertise in, eg 3-4 prime industries you work with – you can even consider creating separate niche sites from your firm’s main site (eg
  3. What you have achieved for clients – case studies show results, and showing results will show you as more than a mere service provider…they’ll differentiate you greatly!
  4. Most importantly, share amazingly useful information on your site that helps your visitors solve some pressing problems immediately, eg explaining why a trust can help them and how it differs to a company, eg giving them an Excel worksheet of KPIs they can use to evaluate the performance of their business in 10 minutes etc.  By offering this sort of value up front, you become seen as an authority, a thought leader, an expert.  Content like this differentiates you from every other accountant out there.  Content like this can dramatically grow your business.

MISTAKE #2: Your website is “me me me” focused and full of jargon, and does not speak to the potential client

Does your website talk about;

  • All your services and solutions in-depth and use all the right industry lingo to describe them? or
  • Your visitors specific problems and what outcomes you can achieve for them in plain English that they’ll understand?

Probably the former, right?

Which makes sense because this is the way you talk all day long as you try to solve complicated problems for your clients and liaise with your expert team and industry peers.

Plus how many accountants have degrees in consumer/sales psychology or copywriting?!  Not many right…marketing simply doesn’t come naturally to most accountants.

Why does this matter?

If your site is filled with complicated and technical descriptions about your services, visitors will simply skip over it all and be none the wiser as to why they should do business with you.

By contrast, if they land on your site, see their problems being reflected back to them in plain English, they will start nodding their head in agreement and identifying you as the person that knows what they’re experiencing.

Then when you start presenting the outcomes you can achieve for them – ie the end result itself, not the process of getting there (the service) – they will also see you as THE person to solve their problems.

This change in focus (them, not you; plain English, not industry-speak; outcomes, not services/process) can single handedly turn your accounting firm’s website from a drab online brochure, into a lead generating machine!

How to fix this
  1. Hire a professional copywriter…the simple option.  A good copywriter will pay off their cost many times over, as they know how to appeal to visitors at every single turn – plus unlike you, they’re not crazy busy running an accounting firm, and so they will be able to get all the writing done in a tight time frame, as opposed to putting it in the ‘someday maybe’ basket.  But if you really want to do it all yourself then…
  2. Read David Frey’s famous 12-steps sales letter approach to writing content – link here to PDF
  3. Read it again
  4. Now start writing – focus on your visitor, identify their problems, show the outcomes you can achieve – and get rid of all the me me me, technical and services/process based chitter chatter.  This will dramatically change the feelings people have when they visit your website, and most importantly it will change the actions they take!

MISTAKE #3: Your website has few social proof or trust indicators

I know you’re not a salesperson and I know the person who built your website probably wasn’t one either.  So I can understand why your site probably lacks as much social proof and trust indicators as it should have.

What exactly am I talking about when I say social proof / trust indicators?

When it comes to accounting websites I’m mainly referring to testimonials, client logos, case studies, industry associations or memberships, partners list, accreditations etc.

Why does this matter?

If you can inject more social proof and trust indicators into your site, you can get so many more people trusting your firm after visiting your website…and more trust, means more enquiries.  I think this is such an easy win for you – really low hanging fruit.

How to fix this

Here is the game plan you need to get all of this;

  1. Ask 3-6 of your best long term clients for 2-3 sentence testimonials – try to get a testimonial from each different segment of your client base (eg small business owner, wealth family SMSF client, startup company, retiree etc).  Also when you state their name, also write their suburb / location and situation, eg business owner etc (link out to their company’s website too if applicable).  This additional info makes the testimonials much more believable and real.
  2. Contact 12-18 of your existing business clients and ask if you can use their logo on a clients page or in a “Trusted by…” section of your website.  Even if your clients are not famous, these logos will look good, especially if they are of local businesses that your visitors will probably know and/or if you link each logo to the client’s website.
  3. Write up 3-4 case studies showing how you took a client with xxx problems, and then did yyy, to deliver zzz results.  Case studies can be so powerful for showing people what you do, how you go about solving problems and all the great results you have achieved.
  4. Do a partners page similar to the client logos page, because aligning yourself with other trusted organisations is a fast way to build trust in your visitors’ minds.
  5. Put the logos/badges of your industry organisations or memberships on every page of your site, probably best placed in the footer – these work really well to further build the trust.

MISTAKE #4: Your website has no face to it and no story

Very few accountant websites that I visit show off the people behind the practice.  Whilst the few that do, often have some 100 word boring bio and old tiny photo tucked away on the About page.  Either way, the people and story behind the firm aren’t being told.

Why does this matter?

When people are deciding which accountant to take their business to, they are essentially making a decision of WHO they want to take their business to.

As you know, accounting is a very personal business.  So if people are buying you and your experience, NOT your services – well at least not primarily – then wouldn’t it be smart to showcase the thing they’re really buying on your website?

Making you and your people front and center of your website – along with your skills/experience – is one of the smartest moves you can make.

It will help visitors put a face to your firm, help them build trust in you before they ever meet you, let them see exactly what experience/skills you personally have, and generally fast track the warming up process from initially finding out about you to booking an appointment.

How to fix this
  1. Replace those crummy stock photos of crazy-smiling white-teeth people in some generic office, with photos of you and your team in your office.  It can definitely be worth spending $500-$1000 to get a pro photographer into your office, as these photos could help sell your firm so much faster online.
  2. Have photos taken of each staff member for the about page – or at the very least, every senior member
  3. Have mini bios written for each of those staff members too, to go with the photos – make sure these bios are short and punchy, and talk about the person’s skills/experience in terms of the visitor (ie how they can help the visitor / potential client)
  4. Link each staff member to their individual Linkedin profile to further push the people-first approach of your website and really show off your people – it has been shown again and again that people trust the info on a 3rd party website like Linkedin much more than a company’s own site (even though the info on Linkedin is written by the same people)

MISTAKE #5: Your website looks outdated and amateurish, and fails to show the true professionalism and quality of your accounting practice

I’ve probably visited around 2000 accountancy websites in my time.  Roughly 80% of them looked extremely outdated and poorly produced.

Why does this matter?

Although I love design, I don’t care about whether your site looks pretty or not.  But I do care whether it looks professional or not.  And here’s the big reason why…

Potential clients will judge your firm based on the professionalism of your website.  And they will judge it within the first 3-4 seconds of landing on your homepage.

If they see some old, crummy looking site, they are instantly going to think you run an amateur operation and don’t deliver a quality service.  This is obviously bad.  This is obviously a trust killer.

How to fix this

Most of the time this is one of those mistakes that can only be remedied by a full redesign.  Unfortunately, you can’t cover over the cracks of an outdated website and hope for the best.

Thankfully it is a lot easier and faster to build professional websites these days compared to when you probably had your current website built.  So although this problem won’t get solved today, it can get solved in the next few weeks if you get started now.

MISTAKE #6: Your website is all dry text and is missing the one thing people will actually want to see

You know that people are 1) lazy/overwhelmed online (they’re bombarded by so many things and with information overload they end up just skim reading pages in seconds), 2) think big slabs of text are generally just ‘salesy’ chitter chatter and 3) are deeply visual creatures.

So how do you capture their attention and make them listen to what you have to say?

Video of course!  This is the world of Youtube after all.

But what type of video should an accountant’s website have on it?

From all of our experience looking at user engagement stats for company/corporate videos, we see people most resonate with client testimonial videos. ie a video that shows several of your clients talking about their experience and relationship with you.

Why does this matter?

A well produced video can capture people’s attention.  They’ll actually watch it.

Moreso, if it is of your clients, then visitors will keep watching it.  It won’t feel salesy to them.  Instead, they’ll be able to identify with the people talking – who like them are talking in plain English and are talking about the outcomes they’ve achieved working with you.

By letting your existing clients sell your new/potential clients, you’ll find your website finally becomes a conversion monster!  And as a bonus, you don’t have to be on video if you don’t want to (something I know most of my accounting clients love the sound of).

How to fix this

To get a professionally produced client testimonials video for your site;

  1. Choose the 5-10 key benefits you want to convey in the video
  2. Select 3 clients to talk and ask them to talk to your key benefit points (referencing their own experience of course) – best if you divide up the key benefits amongst the 3 clients evenly, so no repeat
  3. Get a professional videographer to record the clients speaking – they’ll help with setting, directing/prompting the client and of course producing a fast-cut, engaging video.  PS make sure the video doesn’t go any longer than 1-2 minutes.
  4. Load the video to Youtube (free, easy to use), Vimeo (no advertising, clean fast player) or Wistia (if you want to see stats on user engagement) – we use Wistia here at eChimp because we really want to see which videos people love the most and how often/long they watch them, but for most accountants Youtube or Vimeo are probably good enough
  5. Embed the video on your homepage and your about page..voila!

MISTAKE #7: Your website does not look good on mobile phones and tablets

If you had your website designed over 2 years ago, then chances are it is not ‘responsive’ when viewed on phones or tablets.

What that means is it doesn’t change shape and size for smaller screens like iPhones or iPads, which means the content on your website, including your contact info, is not easy to find.

Why does this matter?

If people visiting your website from their mobile device can’t easily see what services you offer, where you are located, what your phone number is etc, they’ll leave your site and never become clients.

You may think that not many people are visiting your accountancy website from their mobile device, but the reality is these days almost 30% of people visiting websites are doing it from a mobile device, ie not their desktop or laptop computer.  And crazier yet, this is expect to surpass 50% in the not too distant future.

Plus Google did a survey and found that 61% of people who visit your website from a mobile device, will leave if they don’t find the site easy to access and read on their phone or tablet.  If you combine that stat with the one just above, that means if your site is not responsive you are losing 15-20% of your potential leads!

How to fix this

You can either 1) get your website redesigned and rebuilt on a more modern framework, so it is responsive, or 2) you can get a special mobile website built for it, so when anyone tries to go to your website from a mobile device they get directed to your special mobile site.

My advice would be to go with #1, since your site probably suffers from several of the other problems in this article, and by going with #1 you can fix several things with one change.

MISTAKE #8: Your website only gives visitors one option…’contact us’

When people go to your website what are the actions they can take?

Most accountants’ websites only offer one possibility – for the visitor to call them and book an initial consultation.  This is not a very smart approach.  Let’s see why…

Why does this matter?

Around 90% of people who hit your website will not be ready to contact you.  Instead they will just be in the browsing phase of their search for a new accountant.  They’ll just be looking to see what options they have out there, who specialises in what etc.

So if the only action you give them is one most won’t take, they’ll simply end up leaving your site and probably never returning again.

But what if you could capture their details before they leave and then send them useful information over the next few weeks, whilst they search for a new accountant?

You would be able to build up trust in them and constantly stay front of mind.  In no time, you will be THE ONLY accountant they are thinking of.  You will be the one who gets the call.

How to do this

To capture people’s contact information and send them useful info over time;

  1. Setup an email marketing program that captures details and automatically sends prewritten emails to visitors with useful info, eg Mailchimp or Aweber
  2. Install an opt in (aka sign up) form on your website to capture the info – make sure you offer an incentive for people leaving their contact info, ie the free useful information you will send them (eg ebook, free webinar etc)
  3. Create an autoresponder (automated series of follow up emails) that these potential clients will then receive with useful info
  4. Wait for them to warm up ‘automagically’ as the useful info keeps getting sent to them…soon enough the phone will start ringing

MISTAKE #9: Your website doesn’t offer people an easy way to make an appointment with you

If you’ve booked a table at a restaurant lately, you’ve probably enjoyed booking it online and within seconds.

No need to make sure you call during opening hours, no need to speak to anyone and try to find a time/date available, and no need to leave a message or send an email and wait for confirmation.

When people visit your accounting website, why can’t they enjoy a similarly easy and hassle-free way of booking a time to speak with you?

Why does this matter?

If people find it too hard – or even slightly inconvenient – to meet with you, they just won’t do it.  But more realistically, if they have to wait to find out whether you are available, or for your office hours, they might in the meantime choose someone else to go see.

By giving people the option to book an appointment with you directly on your website (including exact time and date), you can accept appointments 24/7 and in a way that causes no friction.  And no friction, means higher conversion rates!

How to fix this

All you need to do is;

  1. Sign up for an online booking system – eg Book Fresh – if you jump over to our own contact page you can see we are using Book Fresh (and love it!)
  2. Configure the settings, including consultations available (eg Initial Free Consultation), team members available, times available etc – there are some really smart ways to configure Book Fresh, eg 2-way sync with your calendar so you never get booked when you’re not available (just contact us to find out)
  3. Install the booking form on your website – some coding knowledge needed here
  4. Sit back and let people start DIY making appointments…any time, any day

MISTAKE #10: Your website page titles are not attractive to Google

Does your accountancy practice website have different titles for each page, as shown at the top of your website browser?

Are they specific and do they include a keyword people are searching for in Google, eg “Self Managed Super Fund Advice – Accountant Caulfield, Melbourne”?

Most accountant websites I visit simply have the basic page name, eg Home, with the practice’s name next to it.

Why does this matter?

If your site is also using simple “Home – XYZ Accountants” as page titles Google will find it harder to tell what your page is about and whether they should show it in Google search results when people look for a service like yours.  That means the chances of your site showing up decrease and less people visit your site.  Less people means less enquiries means less new clients.

How to fix this
  1. Find out what people are typing into Google (keyword research – we can help with this if you need)
  2. Then focus each page title on one of those keywords – make sure the content on the page relates to this too.  The exact way to do this for your website depends on the content management system you are using to edit your site.

So that’s the 10 biggest mistakes I see when I visit accountancy websites.  If your current site suffers from any of them, hopefully the ‘how to fix this’ advice above can help you adjust your site as needed.

Want more advice on how to make your accountant practice’s website stand out and bring you more clients?

Jump over to our contact page and book a free consultation.  We can talk 1-1 about the problems you are specifically facing and see what kinds of solutions could work really well.

Thanks for reading!

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