For a while now you’ve been paying for Google AdWords for your accountancy firm, and originally you felt it was worthwhile.
You were getting leads, and it was clear they came directly from your ads.
But you’re not so sure anymore. You’re still getting the leads on a monthly basis, but they’re not the kind of clients you want.
You convert a few of them, but when you look at the big picture you realise you’re spending upwards of a grand a month for 30 leads, only 1-2 of which are actually converting to good quality clients.
But what happens if you cut off the AdWords? Will you lose all of your leads, including the 1 or 2 good ones? Are you getting more from that ad spend than you currently know, and cancelling it would have a big impact on new business?
It’s extremely likely that you’re wasting all that money on Google AdWords, and you would be far better investing it elsewhere.
Where “elsewhere”, though?
The short answer is, content and social.
If you pour all of that marketing spend (plus your own enthusiasm, interest to learn, and personal effort) into content marketing and social media, you will get better quality results over a longer term. Hands down, no question. Perhaps fewer leads for a while – but better leads. Better quality clients. The type of people you actually want to work with, not those who are perusing the internet for a cheap accountant.
The buyer uses Google to get answers to their business problems, not a list of accountants to interview
The buyer of accountancy firm services is not going to Google and typing in “accountants in London” or “tax return Birmingham”. (Okay, some of them are, but those are the 28 or 29 leads you didn’t want.)
The right buyer is simply looking for an answer to their question. A solution to their problem.
They may not even think they’re looking for an accountant, and many of them have no idea what an amazing accountant even is.
I’ve had hundreds of conversations with people, explaining to them what my accountant does for our business, and why they’re integral to our success. It boggles my mind that there are so many people out there who don’t know what’s possible with an incredible accountant.
Your potential buyer – your amazing new client – thinks their accountant is just fine. All they want to know is, can they claim this expense for R&D? What do they need to know about hiring more employees? Better to buy or lease the office premises?
Content marketing is the process of answering those questions, and solving those problems, so that you can build trust with your potential buyer.
Your buyer is taking to Google to get an answer to their problem. If your website or your blog post or your video appears to answer it, you’ve begun to build a little trust. They engage with you on social, and you’ve begun to build a relationship. They see an ad on social (more on that below) and they are willing to connect with you because of the trust that is building.
Your website doesn’t take them to the place they wanted to go.
Another problem with Google AdWords is that often, all it does is direct the person to your website home page.
If someone has typed in “expenses to claim” and your accountancy firm website appears in the search results, they want to go to a page that addresses that issue specifically. They don’t want an online shop front for someone who may or may not be able to help them with their expenses.
The power of specific content is that they find exactly what they’re searching for. Some of our Marketing Community members are writing content on topics directly related to accounting, such as “how to find the right accountant”… but they’re also writing articles on “what CRM system does my business need to use” or “which Xero app will save me the most time”.
You’re far better writing helpful, relevant advice to your target audience that will land them on the right page of your website organically. They get exactly what they need, and trust is built faster because they know you haven’t paid someone to send them there.
Your buyer knows that Google AdWords are paid for.
You’re building trust.
As an accountant, this is the most powerful tool in your arsenal – and it takes the longest to build. Your buyer needs an extremely high level of trust in order to electronically sign the proposal. (None of this pen-on-the-dotted-line stuff for you – that’s old school.)
They’re going to give you access to their bank accounts. Tell you the goals they have in life. Introduce you to their family. Sell businesses. Hire people and fire people.
This is serious stuff, and they know it.
Accountants are still, after all these years, telling me they get at least half of their business by word of mouth. Of course, that’s true. We all do it. No matter how great someone’s website or content or social posts are, we still want to check that other people had a great experience and it’s not all waffle.
And when we’re dealing with this level of personal and financial issues, it’s even more important for your buyer to be confident that they are making the right decision.
Will a paid-for Google ad do that?
You can’t evaluate marketing based on a line-by-line item spend.
Accountants (and many other business owners) have a tendency to make instant assumptions on the success or failure of a particular marketing effort.
You spent a few hundred on an advert…no one called…so that was a waste.
Or, you invested thousands exhibiting at an event, got a few leads, one of them became a client and they are paying as much per year as you paid for the exhibition stand…so that’s a win.
That’s the wrong way to look at it.
First, it ignores the long-term nature of marketing. How do you know that someone who comes to you as a client in the future didn’t get a copy of that magazine and vaguely remember it? How many leads will you eventually get, over a two or five or ten-year period, from those you met at the exhibition but weren’t ready to buy yet?
Secondly, it ignores any ‘foundational’ elements to marketing. How do you evaluate the worth of a brand? A website? New offices? A new coffee machine?
You can’t evaluate those individually. The new coffee machine didn’t get you a new client worth more than the cost of the machine. But it could have had the tiniest impact on the positive impression you gave to the prospect who visited (and who, incidentally, also has a copy of that magazine and attended the exhibition and passed your amazing new branding in the car park).
Paying for Google AdWords encourages you to make marketing decisions in the wrong way. “I spent this, I got these leads, win or fail.”
Instead, start tracking all the numbers. Things like…
- Website visitors
- Bounce rates
- Social media likes, follows, replies, shares
- Video views
- Enquiries received
- Value of proposals out
- Length of time accepting a proposal
- …and many others.
It is possible, I suppose, that Google AdWords could be useful if combined with all your other marketing. If you’re writing great content (or getting someone to do that for you), posting daily on social media, recording amazing videos, and running helpful events, you might be able to bolster that with some Google ads.
But in our experience, you’d be far better taking that money and putting it towards social ads. Or better-quality videos. Or almost anything.
Content marketing and social media are a powerhouse for trust-building
If your goal is to get higher quality leads, better clients who stay with you longer and don’t query your fees, use the powerhouse of content marketing combined with social media.
Via content marketing, you’ll be:
- answering their questions
- solving their problems
- building trust
- letting them come to you (no pressure)
- building a strong relationship
- getting clients at the right time
- educating them about how to work with you as their accountant
- increasing the likelihood of their referring you to others like them
Via social media, you’ll be:
- building a relationship, not simply using a “lead magnet”
- getting to know them as a person (which makes for a stronger client relationship)
- staying top of mind, so when they’re ready they will buy
- showing that you’re not old-school
- interacting with them on their preferred means of communication
- sharing helpful information (not selling)
- driving them to your website, which has more helpful training and resources
In our experience, all of that is far better than anything you’ll achieve with Google AdWords. And the results will be longer lasting.
One of our clients was telling me the other day that he had a few leads come to him “from Twitter”. We talked about what happened and why, and even as he shared the story he realised that it wasn’t simply Twitter – even though the prospect themselves thought it was.
It was everything coming together. The consistent, regular content. The daily posting on social media. The new website landing pages. The Twitter ads and Facebook ads. The hiring of a marketing manager. The training he’d invested in for his marketing manager. The strategic conversations with ourselves at PF. The webinars attended.
And he’s not finished, either. Next up we’re looking at their brand, a new website build, and some serious videography.
They’re not content to rest on their laurels because they know it’s not merely one marketing action that they take which gives them these amazing high quality leads. It’s everything together….and none of it (in his case) is Google AdWords.
“It’s not that Google AdWords are bad. It’s just that you can get more for your money investing in content (so you appear on Google organically for free anyway) and in social media, so the right type of people find you. After doing those two things, then you can invest in Google AdWords if you really want to…but you don’t need to.” – Ashley Davis, Social Media Director