Chris Jarski

Why Is Online Marketing So Complicated?

Follow these four steps and you’ll never think that again.

August 4, 2008
Sponsored by 60 Second CPE

by Chris Jarski, CPA/MBA

You aren’t alone. Most CPAs still focus on marginally effective, but costly newspaper and telephone directory advertising and ignore online marketing because they think implementation is complicated and costly.

Fortunately, that’s totally wrong.

Let’s back up — why does online marketing work so well?

The Internet has become a vast and widely accepted research tool for purchasing products and services. Prospects can easily search, compare and dig into a ton of information before making a decision to purchase.

Sound familiar?

Sure, we all do this every day even for small, relatively unimportant purchases. So, it’s no surprise I’m sure, that prospects looking for important services such as what you offer as a CPA will take some time researching who they should hire.

Prospects shut-out most marketing messages unless they feel the information is relevant, useful and credible and this can’t be done in a small quarter-page display ad marketing CPA services.

But online marketing is equally ineffective with the traditional CPA Web site, which will do nothing to grow your firm as I’m sure you’ve already found out.

So, let’s rework your online marketing results.

There are just four simple steps … so let’s jump right in.

Step 1 - Throw out your current Web site: yep, right into the virtual trash bucket

If your Web site follows the traditional and now hugely ineffective, Home Page, Our Services, About Us and Contact Us page structure, your site is no different than most other CPA sites on the Internet that provide the same, generic and largely useless information about “you.”

But prospects searching the Internet to hire a CPA need a solution to a specific problem and the generic information on most CPA Web sites doesn’t speak to the prospect about how your firm can help their specific need the site focuses too much on the firm, not the prospect.

The solution? A simple landing page that focuses on a specific service.

A landing page is a focused Web site page that contains content (in your case, a “know-how” article on how you can assist a prospect with a specific service) and a call-to-action/lead generation form to encourage the prospect to contact you.

Your landing page should be simple with a layout that can be easily and quickly scanned by prospects so they can, within the first several seconds of viewing your site, feel comfortable that if they spend more time on your site, it’ll prove to be beneficial.

Many studies have been done on site layouts that produce the most effective results and elements such as page background color; font type, color and size; use of headings, subheadings and bold type; and image placement all play a critical role in how prospects respond to your online message.

So your site has to get these right.

Step 2 - Write an online article for your landing page that helps your prospect

We’ve all been there. When we work on our marketing campaigns, we think and think and even obsess about the result which is getting more business. So it’s easy to go a little over the top with your message and the message becomes too focused on selling the prospect.

Wow, it seems that would be the purpose of marketing.

Yes, but not when you’re marketing professional services. In order to establish credibility and a relationship with a prospect during the professional services sales cycle, your online marketing and really any type of marketing, should offer relevant, useful advice to your prospects on their specific CPA service related need and how you are uniquely able to help them.

Your article content can be sales oriented of course, but the core of the message must help your prospect and this is how to do it:

  • Create a catchy headline of no more than eight words that includes the text of the search term a prospect would use while researching their service need.
  • Start the article by empathizing with your prospect’s situation. This is the introduction to bring the prospect further into reading your article so keep it brief, at most two lines and make sure its compelling.
  • Next, tell a real-life story with social proof such as numeric validation on how you’ve helped a similar client (ex. “ABC Inc. reduced its interest expense by 21 percent when I assisted them in renegotiating their bank notes.” is numeric validation for business clients looking for a CPA to help with cost controls) and a client quote on their experience using your services.
  • Then, address the prospect’s potential objection and concerns, and
  • Finally, take the prospect from their current situation to the potential future outcome if they use your services.

Of course, conclude your article with a concise, prominent call-to-action.

Step 3 – Setup pay-per-click Google and Yahoo! search engine ad campaigns

If you take the time to set up search engine ad campaigns, you’ll discover two things.

First, it takes less than five minutes to set up each account and, second, Google and Yahoo! advertising programs are the most flexible and measurable marketing methods that are available and you’ll find both to be extremely effective in growing your practice if the accounts are set up and used properly.

Step 4 – Create your search engine ads using these four critical components

The four must-have components to achieve optimal search ad results include:

  • Tie your ad headline to your targeted search keyword your prospect will use when searching for a specific service you offer;
  • Include your “benefit statement” on the second line of your ad;
  • Include a call-to-action on the third line of your ad; and
  • Use your targeted search keyword in the display Web address. 

Do these simple steps and you’ll obsess with online marketing

Why? You’ll get tremendous results with an exceptionally strong return on advertising spend. The results will be much better than what you’ve seen with costly newspaper and telephone directory advertising that charges you for exposure to people who just don’t need your services and it’ll take much less than time than networking for referrals.

Online marketing isn’t complicated. In fact, it can be done in just four quick, affordable steps. There’s a fifth step to tweak your CPA services online marketing by using tools offered by Google and Yahoo! and you can read more about how they can help you by clicking here.

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