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Articles | marketing

How accounting firm websites can convey credibility and authority

Accounting firm websites can’t afford to make a poor impression. In particular, it needs to underline your expertise and professionalism – not make you look dodgy.

The bar is higher for accountants than in some other industries. That’s because clients need to feel they can trust professional advisers with their money, their personal data and the fate of their business.

Consciously or otherwise, when someone visits your website, they’ll be forming an opinion from the first moment it loads. Or doesn’t load, in fact – if your website is slow and frustrating to use, they’ll be feeling sour before they’ve even read a word.

That’s one danger sign, then – but what are some others?

Tips for improving accounting firm websites

Basic professionalism

Spelling mistakes, broken links, bad grammar, missing images… All of these things might ring alarm bells with potential clients.

“If they can’t spell ‘bookkeeping’ then so much for their attention to detail when it comes to numbers,” goes the argument.

As a very bare minimum, even if you don’t want to rewrite or rebuild your website, get someone with fresh eyes to check it over for mistakes or technical problems.

Is it up to date?

“We’re forward-looking, cloud accounting evangelists!” says the copy; we’re stuck in the 1990s, says the stock photography and Web 1.0 graphic design.

If you ask people, they’ll probably tell you they don’t care how old your website looks – but there’s a reason most big brands refresh their accountancy firm websites every year or two. Even if they can’t articulate it, people pick up on the signs of a firm that’s behind the times.

An up-to-date website will be:

  • responsive – as good on mobile as on your desktop PC
  • contemporary – modern typography, palette and imagery
  • connected – with links to active social media networks
  • multimedia – there’ll be video as well as text
  • accurate – no references to ‘Inland Revenue’, for example

Names, faces, credentials

One of the simplest ways to win trust is by being open and honest about who you are. You’d be surprised how many firms don’t share the names of their founders or partners, or details of their professional expertise.

As well as names, consider adding (professionally taken) portraits of key team members and links to their social media accounts. It’s especially common these days for people to use LinkedIn as a sort of quality assurance tool for professional connections.

We know from our own surveys that SME clients value qualifications and professional institute affiliations – so put those stamps of approval front and centre.

Social proof

Buyers trust other buyers more than they trust sellers – it’s as simple as that.

If you have a good body of client reviews on Google, TrustPilot or a similar service, consider adding a ‘widget’ to your website to display the overall score and most recent reviews.

Collect case studies and testimonials, too. Even just a short quote from a client explaining what benefit they gained from working with you, or how you solved a problem for them, can go a long way to building trust with prospects.

Have a clear offer

People like to know what they’re signing up for and what they’ll get for their money.

The more transparent you can be about the terms of your service and your fees, the better, even if it’s only an indicative ‘ballpark’ figure.

It’s reassuring for potential clients to know that they’re not wasting their time even talking to you and removes another obstacle from the path to a purchase.

Tone of voice

Now we’re getting into the harder-to-quantify stuff – but it’s no less important.

Big brands spend a lot of time and energy defining their brand tones of voice because, if you get it right, you can strike an emotional connection with the client.

For accountants, it’s generally important to come across as confident and authoritative. Basically, you want prospects to think, “Yes, these are people I’d like to do business with.”

Zoe Sweet is commercial director at PracticeWeb,  a specialist digital marketing agency who work exclusively with ambitious accounting firms to help them differentiate themselves, connect with the right prospects, and achieve their business and marketing goals. website | LinkedIn | Twitter

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