The Marketing Poirot: Detective work for your online marketing

detective work online marketingOne of the greatest conundrums for accountancy firms in online marketing is the fact that it is so measurable and immeasurable at the same time.

In one sense, you can measure everything incredibly easily when it comes to online marketing.

Online Marketing KPI’s

Email statistics:

  • Open rate
  • Click through rate
  • Unsubscribes
  • New subscribes

Social media:

  • Number of followers, fans, contacts, connections
  • Retweets, favourites, shares


  • Site visits and visitors
  • Landing pages visited
  • Length of visit
  • Live chats
  • Calls to action clicked on
  • Email sign ups
  • Ebook, report, white paper downloads


  • Organic page ranking
  • Paid advert click throughs
  • Keywords entered

And of course we could go on and on.  When it comes to the details and the numbers and the statistics, there are so many to choose from it’s extremely exciting for accountants – so much data to play with and analyse! You can use Excel spreadsheets and create really clever graphs!

But the success of marketing is more of a detective game than an accountant’s analysis exercise.  Because, like every good detective, what seems to be an obvious truth may be simply too obvious, and you need to dig deeper.  In great detective work of course you’re discovering a murderer and preventing further loss of life; in your accountancy firm you will be discovering what is murdering your marketing, and preventing further loss of business.

When reviewing your marketing stats, I’d recommend a few key areas of focus.

Key Areas of Online Marketing Focus

Know your target market.

It’s amazing how many accountancy firms either don’t know their target market (the type of businesses or individuals they want to work with), or think they don’t have one.  If you don’t know what it is, there are ways to determine that. Attend a workshop and make your one goal to identify clearly who you’re targeting in 2014.  Create a content marketing action plan with us – the outcome always includes an identification of your true target market.  Finally, if you think you don’t need a target industry or type of business, you’re mistaken.  In online marketing, you have to get specific. You can’t just expect people to Google “accountants Glasgow” or “tax consulting London” and come straight to you.  Your prospects are looking for specific help on specific issues, and they want to know they’re getting an answer.

Know what your true goals are.

It’s tempting to say that you’d like lots more enquiries from your website, or better click-through rates on your emails. But those aren’t your true goals, those are a means to an end.  Your true goal may be:

  • Number of new clients
  • Number of leads
  • Conversion rate
  • Proposals delivered

All those KPI’s are extremely useful in getting you to your true goal (or goals).  But don’t be deceived or think “case closed” just because your individual numbers look good. You may be getting loads of new leads on your website, but not turning them into business. Or perhaps you have many proposals out, but your conversion rate is pathetic.  Know your true goals so you can achieve them.

Commit a minimum of 12 months to your marketing initiatives.

I don’t know how many times I’ve worked with accountancy firms who want to try a new marketing idea or programme for a month. Or three months.  Whilst you should begin seeing things happening in the short term, commitment is absolutely necessary.  Because Google takes seriously its role to provide ethical, relevant, current content, it’s not going to start sending hordes of people over to you in the first month. Similarly, if you’re sharing blog posts and video on social media, the world wants to know that you’re in it for the long haul.  I have been writing these marketing tips for years, and it has taken time to get to the place I am now, where I regularly (monthly if not weekly) get asked for interviews, guest posts, presentations, and other opportunities that help give us coverage and potential new business.  A journalist rang me up last week and asked for an interview for an article she is writing for The CA Magazine (published by ICAS), and we were talking about the power of online marketing and target markets and showing expertise. “That’s true,” she said. “The reason I rang you up was because I read your blog post – and a few other blogs and your website, and realised that you know what you’re talking about.”  Expertise is the key, and you’ll want to show that off.  But it takes time.

Communicate with your team and your marketing department.

Whether your marketing department is in-house or outsourced, you’ve got to keep talking to them and sharing your thoughts, expectations, ideas, frustrations, successes.  When we build a content marketing action plan for a firm, we insist on a monthly phone call – partly to help with accountability, and partly to ensure that if things are not going well we have a chance to make it right (or make changes), and when things are going well we get to hear the great success stories!