Your most important marketing platform is your website. All the marketing you do needs to lead back to your website. Your website is like your accounting system (Xero, Quickbooks etc.) and the marketing you do (sending emailers, posting on social, creating PDF guides) is like the apps that link back to your accounting system (Receipt Bank, Float, Chaser).
It’s essential your website isn’t just something you’ve thrown together, but has been thought out and planned for, the same way you would your accounting system. And just like an accounting system, you wouldn’t just set it up and leave it. You’d set it up, monitor it, keep changing it where and when necessary, keep adding apps and get training as you make changes.
We definitely recommend WordPress as the best platform (not perfect, but best) for capability and integration and options available.
While we recommend WordPress, and if you have a choice, would suggest you use it, do bear in mind any website platform can work if your message is right. Even an ugly website or a poor platform can still deliver leads if the website content is focused on your target audience, with good clear calls to action (both easy/free ones and “I’m ready to buy” ones).
A DIY builder may suit you now, but will cost you more in the future
Figure out where you are on your marketing journey – if you are just starting out, or don’t have a huge marketing budget, you may think all you need is to start out with a smaller, more cost effective site, like SquareSpace, Rocketspark or even Wix.
If you’ve put aside lots of time for marketing and are keen to be personally updating your website regularly, a platform like Rocketspark could suit you well as it’s fairly easy to update yourself, so text and image changes will be a breeze.
However, our experience with the simpler DIY sites is, eventually you’ll want to do cool amazing things (especially the kind you see elsewhere) and you can’t, because it’s meant to be a DIY builder (or you can, but you end up paying more).
We have had countless firms move from these platforms to WordPress because their website needs began to get a little more complex or because they experienced one of the following issues:
1. “I can’t tell if my marketing is working or not”
You wouldn’t suggest business changes to clients without looking at their numbers, so why should marketing be any different?
Make sure you’re tracking all the marketing numbers available so you know what’s working and what’s not:
- Google Analytics – page views, new users, bounce rates, traffic channels
- Google Console – SEO, keywords, click through rates
- Social Media platforms – followers, impressions, engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Youtube
- Email software – number of contacts, campaigns, opens and click throughs on Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Campaign Monitor etc.
- Proposal software – number of proposals sent, accepted and lost on GoProposal, Practice Ignition, Quotient
Leads don’t just come from your website but most things will lead your prospect back to your website. Finding out what platforms are assisting your website and which ones aren’t saves you time, gives you a focus and allows you to see where your leads have come from and how to get more of them. One of our clients recently told us “Before I tracked my numbers, I had no idea if what I was doing in terms of marketing was working or not. Now I know what to do more of”.
If you aren’t tracking your numbers, our Co-Pilot & Tracking package will track this for you and give you the strategic marketing advice you need. It’s like your monthly management accounts for your clients but it’s focused on your marketing numbers.
2. “I can’t edit my site myself / I have to spend a lot just to get simple updates done.”
You’ll want to be able to make small edits like text and image changes yourself, no matter what platform you use. Or find a company who can offer you a monthly website maintenance package, covering the cost of those small edits so you know what you are spending every month. One-off changes can add up and become quite costly.
A client of ours was doing well at getting all the marketing things done but when it came time to update various things on her site, she wasn’t able to make the changes herself and her web company quoted large amounts to make the smallest tweaks. She was stuck between paying more for a small change than necessary or not getting her website updated at all.
3. “I’m getting new pages designed but I can’t build them because my website is limited”
We’ve designed beautiful pages for clients in the past, and then found when it’s time for the client or their web team to build them, they can’t replicate the page because of various limitations to the site layout and capabilities.
The client either has to settle with a more simple, less custom design that fits with their website or they have to spend more money than planned to get the beautiful design to work. More often than not, this leads to a decision to move the site to WordPress where there are very few limitations.
Decide what you need in terms of functionality and integrations
WordPress allows a blank canvas or a templated canvas (ie. you can build the site from scratch or you can start with what someone else has built and adapt it). Although a templated canvas might sound like the easier and faster choice, a blank canvas is always better because your firm is different to all the other firms and businesses.
If you want a high-level custom created site unique to your firm and your brand, with more control over the specific layout, and design options, then a custom WordPress site is what you need as it can be perfectly designed to suit your firm, niche and target audience.
Although all accounting firms are different, every buyer of accounting firm services follows a similar journey.
On a side note, we are busy working on an exciting new product which is a simple WordPress website build. It contains the core elements you need for an accounting website and is based on the typical buyer’s journey of accounting firm services. If you know you need a new website and you’re not ready for a fully customised high level investment, this is perfect for you. Drop us an email if this is something you are interested in.
Integrations and apps:
Think of WordPress like the Zapier of websites. Zapier allows you to connect one app with another, like connecting Slack and Xero. So when a proposal is signed or an invoice is paid, you get a Slack notification. WordPress has hundreds of apps and integrations so you aren’t limited in terms of what you want your site to look like and do. A few of our favourites:
- Social media – There are plugins that allow integration with your social media platforms so you can have any new blogs automatically posted on your social platforms.
- Forms – Gravity form is similar to Google Forms but it’s built directly into your site so the user doesn’t need to click to fill in the form elsewhere. These can also be branded and the detail stored directly in your website and/or emailed to your inbox.
- Email software – Connect your Mailchimp or Constant Contact to your website so that any new contacts you get are added directly to your audience within your email software.
- Live chat – This plugin is really easy to use and allows you to easily add a live chat application directly to your website. it also integrates with your CRM and your email marketing software and comes with a mobile app option.
- Grammarly – a grammar checking tool that is really helpful if grammar isn’t your strong point. It can detect plagiarism and pick up spelling and grammar errors throughout your site.
Because WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms, there can be a few security issues; but there are also more security solutions, too. As technology changes, there are security risks for any online platform but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your site:
- Find a web team to manage your site on a monthly basis so they can keep an eye on any security threats and make any relevant changes as and when needed
- Run security checks regularly to find the weak points in your site
- Add one of the many security measures that WordPress has available to your site so it isn’t a high risk
Because of how WordPress is built and the capabilities, integrations, and apps, having your site built on WordPress means it is more likely to be returned in search engines for the content within it.
There are various plugins that can be installed to help with SEO on your site. Yoast is one of the most common plugins as it’s free and easy to use. You can buy a premium version which offers extra functionality but the most important aspects are available on the free version. It allows you to add titles, meta descriptions (the blurb you see displayed on a Google search result), tags and categories so your content can be found easily on a per-post or per-page basis.
Google Search Console allows you to see which keywords people are searching for when they find your site so you can adjust your content accordingly. It also lets you know when Google is struggling to find your site and index your pages and it offers helpful tips on how to fix any errors you have.
Look at the support available and figure out how much you need
Both WordPress and Rocketspark have brilliant support teams and are happy to help answer any questions you may have. Both platforms also offer online support guides so you can search for a question (and generally find the answer) before having to contact someone.
Both platforms offer hosting options so you can have everything you need in one place and we have found both to be reasonably easy to set up and manage.
While Rocketspark offers some integrations with things like Mailchimp, WordPress allows easy integration with multiple plugins and new ones are being developed all the time.
No matter what platform you choose, at some point you will need someone more experienced to fix something or add something you aren’t able to. Different developers are skilled at different coding solutions and different platforms so it’s important to have someone available who can work on your chosen platform when and if you need them to.
Start small and build on
If you aren’t planning on growing your firm and your client base too much, a Rocketspark site (or similar) will suit you fine. However, if your future involves any plans of growth, hiring and a focus on lead conversion, you’ll want to use a WordPress site that gives you the space to grow, as and when you need to.
You don’t need to go all in with a custom 10 page site. Just start small and build on as you grow. This way, you can have exactly the site you want (and need) from the very beginning and feel safe in the knowledge that you can easily evolve the site over time as you grow.
As a start, your site just needs to say who you are, what you do, who you help, and how. And all those things need to be mentioned on your homepage as well. You may want to add other pages like specialist services, how you work, a separate testimonials page or a careers page later on, but you don’t necessarily need those things to start marketing yourself.
No matter which website platform you choose, you need to have a strong brand and be sure of your target audience and the message you want to display. Your brand summarises the visible and invisible aspects of who you are. Your core message comes from the work you’ve done on your brand, and you need both a strong brand and clear message to attract your ideal clients.
Don’t try to be like everyone else, but create a website that works for your firm and your target market in terms of design, wording and flow. What is relevant to one niche or industry may be completely different to another.
If you still aren’t sure what website platform you need, look at your marketing budget, how much time you have to spend on a website, what type of site would attract your target audience and what your business goals are.