A recent search of leading accounting firms and their websites revealed:
- Most are not secure sites
- Few are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant
- Many have old and outdated appearances
- Unsatisfactory user experience is prevalent
Larger more well-known firms seem to have their online personality well in hand. They have substantial up to date websites, many with newsletters, blogs, and articles. Behind many of the sites are social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) full of posts that talk about the culture, philanthropy, and community spirit of the firms.
Fully 25% of the firms listed are out of sync with the online world.
Outdated sterile templates are either barren or stuffed with so much content that reading the small typeface would give you a headache.
I was so surprised that I called a few. The responses, boiled down, were “Our clients don’t find us on the internet” and “We get new clients by referrals.” Both are very true; however, the bigger point is, will your referral wheel keep spinning when you are checked out online before they call? The answer, at least in my mind, is that if you do not present a credible appearance on your website I will look elsewhere.
How many opportunities are accounting and CPA firms missing out on? Partners, principals, and accountants are handing out business cards at various gatherings, meetings, settings, and circumstances which implicitly invites the recipient to Google your firm if they have any interest at all. What will they find? Something that looks old and stale or something that makes a very favorable first impression. It really is your choice.
In today’s world it is inexcusable to neglect your online persona.
Websites have a shelf life. Rebuilds, refreshes or an in-depth audit of your website should take place at least every twenty-four months. The internet is an ever-changing phenomenon. Best practices of web design are different today than they were yesterday. Imagine how much has changed since your site was launched. Newer, more robust templates are being developed that provide dynamic visual opportunities and extremely enhanced user experiences.
CPA firms in particular need to present a professional top tier identity. No one is going to hire an accountant that is not first class. It is just good business to make the competency of the financial and tax work speak to the online visitors. A website must portray the ability that is being looked for. After all there are many firms in any given area of practice. Practices must strive to stand out.
Managing Partners and principals should insist that their firm is putting their best online, just as they do with the accounting work they perform.
One cautionary note. The website is only the cornerstone of any marketing campaign. Practices that want to prosper must broaden their reach in an integrated way, combining a vibrant contemporary website with additional digital platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to name the basic social media outlets. Traditional marketing outlets of television, radio, print and even out of home advertising offer significant opportunities to capture new clients.
The launch of a new website is only the beginning.