If you’d like to understand your clients better, look no further than the modern shopper. 51 per cent of consumers would rather shop online than in-store, yet 70 per cent still expect a personalised experience.
The same goes for accounting: although cloud computing has empowered clients to do more of the work themselves, they are seeking out advisory services in increasing numbers. It’s no secret that plenty of accountancy firms are responding to this desire for a personal touch, by boosting their advisory offering, but how can they ensure they’re reaching the right customers?
1. Invest in customer analytics
Fortunately, tech hasn’t just made clients lives easier, it’s also armed accountants with the tools to help grow their practice. Customer analytics, the practice of using data from customer behavior to segment audiences, can help you build a detailed understanding of both prospects and existing clients.
Tracking keyword searches, to decipher exactly what accounting services your website visitors are looking for, is a simple place to start. Best-in-class tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console, which deliver instant insight into who is entering your site, are totally free.
If you partner with a cloud accounting software add-on like Receipt Bank or Fluidly, you can also monitor client engagement with specific solutions, like receipt capture or intelligent cashflow forecasting. And with the added help of analytics software Mixpanel, you can go deeper still, to really surface “the why” behind customer behaviour.
By understanding exactly who your customers are and what they’re trying to achieve, you can then market to them more effectively, by providing answers to their questions and solutions to their specific problem.
2. Go back to basics
In an industry that has historically focused more on compliance than proactive advice, regular client interaction hasn’t been a priority. But as accountancy has changed, so have clients’ needs.
If you’re serious about generating more advisory leads, and really understanding what makes customers tick, there’s no better source of information than your existing clients. Just ask, and you’ll be surprised with the amount of actionable customer intelligence you can gather.
While carrying out good, old-fashioned market research might mean more facetime with clients, it doesn’t have to happen on a loosely defined basis. Make each interaction really count. Treat traditional fact-finding the same way you would any other research by building a methodology to apply across the board, so you can cross-reference customer feedback and be precise about what actions to take.
3. Make your sectoral expertise count
Accountancy touches just about every industry sector, so it pays to have a diverse, multidisciplinary team who can quickly turn their hands to a new client. But attracting and retaining versatile, knowledgeable staff is easier said than done, especially for smaller firms.
What’s more, if you’ve really done the homework to inform your marketing strategy, the opportunities you uncover might require more resources than you can realistically deploy.
The reality is you can’t cater to everyone. It’s likely your firm already specialises in a number of specific industry sectors, so follow the same principle with your marketing efforts. If you already know who your most engaged audience is, it makes sense to continue digging into that niche and concentrate your outreach efforts there.
Marketing performs better when you deliver the strongest messages to the people you know best.
BDODrive, Mazar’s Elev8, Propel by Deloitte – there’s no shortage of cloud accountancy-focused offerings targeting SMEs, which have been packaged in a compelling, coherent way. This well-considered approach is easily achievable by all firms, for various different audiences, without huge resources. With the right strategic thinking, data and research, it’s far easier than you’d think.
Technology is causing vast upheaval in the accounting industry, but the data-driven advances that underpin these changes are just as useful for accountants themselves. In fact, we’re now at a stage where it’s worth thinking well beyond just cloud computing, to the increasingly viable applications of AI and machine learning.
With the overabundance of readily available data, there’s a tremendous opportunity to leverage it to grow your practice, better serve your customers and look further ahead than ever before.