4 Secrets of Successful Accounting Firm Websites

It is a fact that too many accounting firms completely blow off marketing until they have a sales catastrophe on their hands. Of course, by then, it’s too late, and though marketing can’t fix today’s poor sales numbers, it can improve tomorrow’s.

Imagine having an accounting website that reels in a regular, reliable stream of new clients each year, through a thoughtful, targeted strategy that’s completely automated. Imagine a marketing strategy so well-oiled that it practically runs itself.

This is all completely within your reach, but only if you’re willing to invest the time and energy into doing it right. Here are four key ways successful firm websites achieve that goal:

1. They Claim a Niche

The thing that will undoubtedly have the biggest impact on your marketing success is also the thing that most accounting firms fear most: narrowing your focus.

It’s not 1980, and no one really wants a firm that can do everything. And like it or not, the robots are coming. KPMG is leveraging Watson to expedite audits, and H&R Block has implemented that same technology to simplify taxes. Only the firms that claim a niche will be the ones truly thriving.

Instead of doing everything for everyone, focus on what your firm does better than anyone else. Ask:

  • What services does your firm excel at?
  • What client types or categories does your firm have strong relationships with now?
  • What unmet needs do your clients currently have that you could fulfill?

Finding your firm’s focus is about establishing yourself as an authority, if not the authority, in your niche.

2. They Offer Real Thought Leadership

There’s a big difference between writing to write, because some marketing agency told you to, and writing in a way that contributes to and actually drives the conversation. The former is useless fluff – the latter is called thought leadership.

To do content marketing effectively, you need to go beyond surface-level market chatter, publishing thoughtful insights that could only come from someone with your depth of expertise.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Write within your niche: Stop writing vague blog posts with general tax or business advice, and start owning your niche through your content.
  • Introduce bold ideas: Follow current conversations online, pick the newest, boldest, most exciting ideas, and see if you can push them a step further. Publish your ideas in thoughtful, well-written blog posts on your website.
  • Identify and solve client problems: Think of a common problem your clients struggle with, and create a step-by-step instructional guide to help them work through it on their own.

3. They’re Built to Convert

Ultimately, your website’s job is to convert visitors into clients. But most accounting firm sites still lack the proper emphasis on educating and informing visitors needed for optimal conversion rates.

Because most of your clients are now reaching out to you later in the sales cycle, you can no longer count on your charm to woo them into making a commitment with your firm – you need to make your CPA website design strong enough to do that on its own.

SEO on every page. SEO is critical to building a conversion-focused website, and yet most firms ignore the basics. Your goal is to tell Google the story of each page on your site, so that it’s more likely to direct new, high-quality traffic your way.

Here are some things you should have on every single page of your site:

  • Keyword-rich meta titles, defining what the page is about.
  • Custom URLs that are short, concise, and keyword-rich.
  • A main headline wrapped in an H1 tag.
  • Internal linking within the content (use anchor text with a buried link).
  • Clear content that’s related to the meta title and main headline.

Effective calls to action. Once your website starts attracting high-quality traffic (aka, people who would be good fits for your firm), you’ll need calls to action to push that traffic toward a commitment. Every single page on your website should point visitors to the next, guiding them along a simple, clear path from Home to Contact Us.

Try to make your calls to action as compelling and specific as possible. Forget “read more” – think “sign up for your free assessment now.” On each page, ask yourself what a new visitor might want to know at that point in your website workflow. How can you offer them the answers they’re looking for at the right times, using the specific wording they might have in mind? This is what drives action and lands clients.

4. They Use Automatic Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing might sound like a complicated, tedious thing, but lucky for you, much of it can be automated.

Your first step is to get the right technology in place – specifically, you’re going to need a marketing automation service. There are dozens of solutions out there, and mercifully, none of them are outrageously expensive. (Examples include MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, InfusionSoft, HubSpot, and Act On.)

Once you have your technology in place, take a look at what you have to offer prospects – an assessment tool, a free consult, a helpful guide – and map those offers to the appropriate stage in the buying cycle: early, middle, or late. Then, build a simple email campaign that incorporates these offers, introducing them at just the right times.

Eventually, with the right nurturing campaign in place, cold prospects will begin to warm up to your firm, and when the time is right, some will eventually become your clients.

Put Your Website to Work

If you want a growth plan that guarantees results and ROI, you need to commit to the whole process. We’ve worked with too many firms that want to cherry-pick from our ideas and bypass some of the more complicated steps of this process, and no one is less surprised than us when the results are underwhelming (although, to be fair, anything helps).

So now we ask you: Are you ready to make your website do your marketing for you?

4 Reasons Why Using Instagram Has Become a Marketing Necessity

Is your business active on Instagram? Are you leveraging it to build your personal brand? While it was once one of many possible social media platforms to market your product or service, you now need to allocate a large percentage of your social media effort toward it. Instagram is no longer an option — it’s a necessity.

When Mark Zuckerberg acquired Instagram for $1 billion back in April of 2012, many were left scratching their heads, as the app was less than two years old. Looking back, Zuckerberg stole it. It’s now valued at $50 billion, and Instagram’s co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom is now a billionaire — thanks to the stock’s growth, his estimated net worth went from $280 million to $1.1 billion.

Most social media platforms eventually slow down and some disappear into the sunset. Twitter stock has been a rollercoaster, with the majority of the ride descending, and some networks, like MySpace, are all but distant memories (RIP).

Instagram is a completely different animal — it’s not going anywhere. It’s owned by Facebook, has a massive user base that continues to grow and makes money. Instagram’s 2016 ad revenue is estimated to double in 2017. Here are the reasons why it’s time to go all-in with Instagram marketing.

1. Longevity and security thanks to Facebook.

Facebook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It could very well be worth $1 trillion in the future. It’s such a vital part of this world’s culture that, rather than disappearing, Facebook will continue to evolve and innovate.

What Facebook develops into is yet to be seen, but I can promise you that it will always be around. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, expect to see them in the picture for the long haul as well. The time and effort you invest into Instagram will not go to waste — think of it as a long-term strategy.

2. Mobile e-commerce sales continue to rise.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s research division, predicts that m-commerce will reach $284 billion, or 45 percent of the total U.S. e-commerce market, by 2020. More consumers are now comfortable shopping on their mobile devices, and the number will continue to rise.

Instagram is a visual platform, giving you access to a world-wide audience. One of the most attractive features is Instagram’s advertising targeting, which it shares with Facebook. With it, you can reach any target audience, just like you can on Facebook. Many brands are still counting on organic reach and exposure, but that organic attention will soon get extremely competitive and require a pay-to-play approach. I would highly suggest mastering Instagram paid ads sooner than later.

3. Zuckerberg will stop at nothing to crush Snapchat.

Facebook makes a lot of money and billions of people use it. That’s why Mark Zuckerberg is taking what works and applying those features to all of their platforms — Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Many people say they are copying Snapchat, and they have — four times, to be exact. In fact, Zuckerberg even attempted to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in cash. When Snapchat turned down the offer, he set out to take their users by adapting features that made Snapchat appealing.

He is accomplishing his mission and I would have to think Snapchat is worried, especially since the company doesn’t make money. In fact, they lost $514 million in 2016.

If you are using Snapchat and like it, start playing around with Instagram’s Stories feature. I can see more and more attention migrating from Snapchat to Instagram, so be prepared.

4. Instagram’s user experience is top-notch.

Instagram became successful and popular quickly because of its simplicity. Images without the fluff.

Now more than ever, business owners are starting to take notice, but it’s not too late to get in on the action. You can use this guide to help you get started right now.

Report: Snapchat installs fell 16% in April as Instagram continues to pull further ahead

On the heels of a disappointing first earnings report for Snap, a new report indicates the company’s trouble attracting new users deepened at the start of the second quarter.

According to Sensor Tower’s Store Intelligence data, downloads of Snapchat in April 2017 fell about 16 percent year-over-year on the App Store and Google Play combined. That puts the actual downloads for the month at 21.1 million, compared to 25.2 million for April 2016, back when the company was riding a user-growth hot streak.

Sensor Tower said that April installs for Instagram, which has been boasting that its Snapchat-clone Stories has more users, increased 19 percent during the same period. In terms of numbers, Instagram had 31 million installs in April, up from 26.1 million.

That means what had been an approximately 1 million install gap for Instagram last year has grown to about 10 million, with the two apps headed in different directions.

Even worse, Sensor Tower reports that for the first 10 days of May Snapchat downloads fell 28 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Instagram was up 17 percent for that period.

That trend could be devastating for Snap as it faces a huge backlash from investors, who drove the stock down about 20 percent. The company reported revenue for the first quarter that was well below analysts’ expectations, compounded by an increase of only 5 percent in new users since the previous quarter.

In a call with analysts, Snap executives insisted they were not focused on attracting new users, but are rather using “creativity” and “engagement” as their most critical metrics. Still, in their regulatory filings for the first quarter, the company notes that the inability to grow new daily active users is one of its major risk factors.

Snap executives declined to provide guidance, so analysts will be left to make their own best guesses about what is reasonable to expect from the company in the second quarter. But from the reaction last week, it seems investors are not in the mood to give Snap much of a break while it figures out a sustainable business model.

Food Bloggers Reveal How Much Money They Make

We’ve all looked on Instagram with more than a little envy, wondering how exactly it is that certain “influencers” are able to acquire such massive followings and, by extension, big pay days. Some recent examples we’ve highlighted of influencers in this category include the progenitors of the #vanlife movement, or this Instagram couple that makes a bunch of money while traveling around the world.

The green monster can get the best of any of us in this situation. After all, who doesn’t want to be living a life like that instead of sitting in front of a computer at a desk job all day? However, when we do hear a story of a lifestyle blog that not only promotes an aspirational way of living, but explains how you, too, can be a part of it, then it’s hard to be jealous.

Such is the case with Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, a husband-and-wife duo who have been running their food blog Pinch of Yum since 2009. In 2014, as HuffPost reports, it became their full-time job, and has blossomed into a lucrative and heartfelt endeavor for the two.

Since 2011, the Ostroms have been sharing their monthly earnings from the blog with their readers in order to provide insight on what, exactly, goes into the upkeep for a project like this, and what kind of rewards you can hope to see from hard work and dedication to your brand. Their first report boasted earnings of just $21.97. Their latest report from November 2016 had them at a net profit of $66,692.07. How’s that for growth?

HuffPost’s 12-month tabulation found that the Ostroms had cleared $483,883.51 from Pinch of Yum, with much of the revenue coming from ads and sponsored content. Check out their blog here, if you’re interested in learning more, and scroll down to check out what’s happening on their Instagram

Instagram’s Newest Feature Has a Hidden Trick

Instagram’s Newest Feature Has a Hidden Trick

 

Instagram recently added the ability to upload multiple images in a single post. It didn’t take long for some clever photographers to figure out you can use this “carousel” feature to upload amazing panoramic images to the app, like the one below. (It’s far more impressive inside the Instagram app, rather than here on the web.)

the web.)

How can you do this yourself? There are two ways.

First, you can try an app that automates the process, like Swipeable. However, after a quick test, I found that Swipeable kept trying to add a bunch of advertisement-like images onto my uploads, so it wasn’t a keeper. But if you want a simple solution and don’t mind doing a bit of deleting every time you use it, this app may be fine for you.

The other method is a little more complicated.

First, you’ll have to actually go ahead and take a panoramic image (most cameras and smartphones have panoramic modes to help you get the job done, but more experienced photographers do it manually with a tripod.)

Then, open that photo in your image editing software of choice. I use Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile, but pretty much any editing software should be able to get the job done.

Next, open up your program’s crop tool, and set your crop ratio for 3×1. (Assuming you want three different segments for your Instagram upload. If you only want two, set it for 2×1, or 4×1 for four, and so on).

After you’ve cropped your original photo into a 3×1 image, you’ll want to open the crop tool once more. This time, set the crop ratio for 1×1, and pick the leftmost section of your image. Select it, copy it, and open it as a new image. Save it with a filename like “pano1.jpg.” Then go back and repeat the process for the middle and rightmost section of your panoramic, naming them pano2.jpg and pano3.jpg.

When you’ve made all three of your 1×1 images, send them to your smartphone by emailing them to yourself or perhaps by using AirDrop, if you’re using Apple devices.

Now it’s time to open up Instagram. Hit the upload button (bottom-middle), then look for the icon that looks like three stacks of paper on top of one another. Click that, then select the three square images you just made from your original panoramic, making sure the leftmost side is first, then the middle, then the rightmost side. Hit “next,” then upload your final result the same way you’d upload any other Instagram post.

And there you go, seamless and swipe-able panoramic on Instagram. Have fun trying this for yourself!

Instagram your way to career success

While LinkedIn continues to be the leading platform for jobseekers, emerging sites like Instagram are rising in prominence, too.

In this evolving age of social media, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Instagram can be used for things beyond posting pictures of pets, recipes and vacations. With a little ingenuity, you can use Instagram to not only establish your personal brand but also demonstrate your social savvy.

Here are five easy steps to tap into the power of Instagram to research potential companies, reach out to employers and claim your dream job.

1 Research and engage

Is there an ideal, dream company that you would love to work for? Browse through the company’s Instagram page, and you’ll get real insight into the company culture. Now go ahead and click “Follow” on its Instagram page! Engage with the company socially, “Like” their photos, participate in contests and join conversations. And soon, you’ll integrate yourself into their social structure.

2 Establish your personal brand

Think of your Instagram page as a professional platform, one that is an extension of your personal brand. Companies and hiring managers love candidates who are passionate. So use your Instagram profile to tell your unique story. Also, you never know who will come across your profile, so put your best foot, and best work, forward.

3 Be relevant

You can have fun with your Instagram pictures and posts. Just make sure what you post is relevant to your brand, especially if it is intended to enhance your job search. At the same time, be mindful of your privacy settings. Make sure that your Instagram profile is set to the public mode to help you network freely with other professionals or connect with companies.

4 Use hashtags

One of the most effective ways to get influencers to notice your Instagram account is by using hashtags. Use hashtags so that your photos show up in searches. Once you research a company to see what type of skills they look for in employees, then make sure to hashtag those skills whenever you tag the company in a post. You can automatically boost your picture’s placement in search results with hashtags.

5 Follow and interact

Once you’ve found the right company and people to follow, and have uploaded and tagged the appropriate content, the next step is to interact. Make sure you post pictures and information that are relevant and correspond with their values as companies use hashtags to view the social conversation about their image. Demonstrate your knowledge about the company and admiration for their work, and always remember to tag them in the comment to ensure that they will see it.

This sounds clichéd, but, yes, even today, a picture is worth a thousand words. Instagram has now become the site of choice for companies to interact visually with their customers, and could be a great way to help you in your job search.

Employ a little savvy, use Instagram as a personal branding asset and land yourself a picture perfect career in no time.

The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2017

When is the best time to post on Instagram? In a recent poll by Later, over 50% of social media managers said that evenings from 7-9pm was the best time to post on Instagram. But because every account has a different audience, in different time zones, each business will have a unique best time to post on Instagram.

In this post, we’ll show you how to find the best time to post on Instagram for your account, so you can beat the Instagram algorithm by scheduling Instagram posts for when your posts will drive the most engagement.

best time to post on instagram

When to Post on Instagram: How the Algorithm Changed the Game

Earlier last year, Instagram announced that they would be replacing the chronological feed with an algorithm that gives priority to posts with higher engagement, which means the more likes and comments your post receives, the more people will see your post!

If you’re able to generate a lot of engagement on your Instagram posts shortly after posting, this signals to Instagram that your post is quality, engaging content and your post will move to the top of your followers feeds and be shown to more users. There are a handful of ways to increase Instagram engagement, but one of the best ways is to post when your Instagram audience is most active.

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Think of it this way: If you post when your audience is most active on Instagram, you’re more likely to drive engagement on that post. That engagement will translate into Instagram bumping your post higher up on users’ feeds and getting on the Instagram Explore page, which, in turn, will result in even more engagement on your post. It’s a cyclical process: higher engagement leads to more visibility, which leads to higher engagement, which leads to more visibility… and it all starts with when you post on Instagram.

This is why scheduling Instagram posts is so important to your overall Instagram strategy, and if you aren’t doing this already, now is the time to sign up for Later and start scheduling your Instagram posts!

When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram?

So now that you understand why posting when your audience is most active is important, it’s time to talk about the best time to post on Instagram. Here are some general rules about posting to Instagram in 2017:

  • Post more during off-work hours than during the day. According to Later’s recent poll of social media managers, generally the best times to post on Instagram are lunch time (11am-1pm) and evenings (7-9pm). Think about it: when do you find yourself checking Instagram the most? Probably not during the work day, even though that may be when you want to post! Tip: schedule Instagram posts during the work day so you don’t have to worry about it during your free time.
  • Weekends can be hit-or-miss depending on your audience. B2C companies will likely see better results when posting on weekends than B2B companies, since many businesses only operate during the week.
  • Save the important posts for weekdays. The differences are slight, but average Instagram engagement does shift depending on the day. According to our own research, Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to drive the most engagement, while Sundays drive the least. Experiment with A/B testing the best days to post on Instagram (more on that below).
  • Avoid 3pm, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Weekdays between 3 and 4pm typically drives the lowest engagement, likely because most users are busy at work at that time. However, we did receive feedback from some social media managers with large audiences on both the west and east coast that 4pm EST was their best time to post on Instagram. It’s a sweet spot that is near the end of the work day for east coast, and also lunch time on the west coast. 8pm EST would be another sweet spot to test out if your audience falls into this category!

 

Cristiano Ronaldo is first footballer with 100m Instagram followers

 

Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first footballer to hit 100 million followers on Instagram.

He hit the social media milestone this week, days after scoring the 47th hat-trick of his career.

The Portuguese footballer, who also has more Instagram fans than any other man, also has the sixth most-followed account.

Ronaldo lags behind Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Instagram’s own account.

He’s more popular than any Kardashian or Jenner, Justin Bieber or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who are some of the other most-followed accounts.

Anthony Joshua’s Instagram millions following victory

British boxing heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua adds almost a million new followers to his Instagram account after defeating Klitschko

It’s no surprise that huge success and notoriety is likely to help you earn a solid following offline as well as on social media. But Anthony Joshua’s victory over Klitschko gives us a good idea in real terms of just how valuable a positive and compelling piece of news can be.

Before the long-awaited bout, Anthony Joshua was already sitting on a handsome following of 2.4 million Instagram users, dedicated to his feed. But not long after the victory was confirmed by TKO as the referee stepped in to announce the stoppage, Joshua was live broadcasting via from the ring to thank his fans for their support. That initial broadcast has been watched 3.4 million times at the time of writing and his subsequent posts, containing a mix of press and personal images have collectively been liked over 2.1 million times. The surge in popularity has thus translated into a 25% increase in Anthony Joshua’s social footprint, with his Instagram following rising to 3 million users (and counting).

 

Can Instagram Help Adolescents Strengthen Friendships?

Use of the social media platform Instagram may strengthen adolescent friendships, according to a study presented at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in San Diego, California. The study also uncovered a link between Instagram use and depression.

In June 2016, Instagram had more than 500 million monthly users, and the platform says at least 300 million of those users visit the app every day. This makes the app one of the most popular social networking platforms.

Instagram’s Mixed Effects on Depression, Friendships

For the study, researchers gave Flemish teens paper-and-pencil surveys about their social media use, friendships, and mental health. They repeated the surveys six months later.

Students who reported greater use of Instagram in the first survey were more likely to report feeling loved and appreciated by their friends six months later. Although these feelings correlated with lower feelings of depression, adolescents who reported frequent use of Instagram during the first survey had higher levels of depression when they completed the second survey.

Depression is common among adolescents, so the study’s authors say understanding how Instagram affects adolescent mental health can provide mental health providers with vital insights about social media use. For now, it appears the social media app has mixed effects on teen mental health and relationships.

Image-driven sites such as Instagram may encourage adolescents to compare themselves to others. Research from 2015 suggests these comparisons may harm mental health. In that study, researchers found college-age women who were more emotionally connected to Facebook were more likely to compare themselves to others. These comparisons were linked to body image issues.

Social Media and Mental Health

Mental health experts continue to debate the merits of social media, particularly for adolescents. Previous research has reached mixed conclusions. A study published earlier this year found a link between heavy use of social media and feelings of social isolation. Research from 2015 linked extensive use of social media to unaddressed adolescent mental health concerns. Other research suggests social media could help curb depression when used to combat isolation or access support.

References:

  1. Byford, S. (2016, June 21). Instagram now has half a billion monthly users. Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/21/11985576/instagram-500-million-monthly-users
  2. Using Instagram can increase adolescents’ closeness to friends. (2017, April 5). Retrieved from