According to the U.S. Small Business Association, more than half of all Americans either own or work for a small business and most of those outsource their accounts. So, there’s no shortage of potential customers for today’s accountant, but an ever-increasing number of business owners seek out the services they need online, making it more and more important to have an effective web presence.
An ‘effective’ website is one that meets a user’s expectations, allowing them to get what they need in the simplest and most enjoyable way. Websites that fail to make a good first impression (something that takes less than 1 second to form) discourage high-ticket customers, driving them into the arms of competitors.
In this article, I’ll describe five simple changes you can make to your website to ensure it is up to scratch and ready to bring in the clients your business deserves.
Improve your page load speed
Nothing says “don’t even bother” like a painfully slow loading web page. If a potential customer clicks through to your site and has to wait longer than 3-5 seconds (mobile vs desktop) for it to load, at least half will give up and take their custom elsewhere and those that stay may get the impression that your business is unprofessional.
So, it’s fair to say that speeding up slow loading pages should be your top priority.
Each of your web pages should contain less than 1MB of data (some have up to 2MB but tend to be in the retail sector). Apart from keeping your page data low by minifying your code and compressing any images and other media you use, the simplest way to speed up your site is to move to a new web host with better infrastructure.
Whether you find the best free web host for your business or upgrade to a paid plan, the important thing is that you have enough bandwidth and disc space allowance for the amount of data and traffic on your site.
Appeal to a specific audience
Clients feel more comfortable interacting with companies that have a well-defined brand and target audience. It helps them decide who is right for them and who is not. Having a very generalist website that is meant to appeal to everyone can actually end up putting a lot of people off or bringing in clients you don’t really want to work with.
As an accountant, people want to know that you’ve dealt with businesses similar to theirs, whether that’s freelancers, sole traders, or large companies. So, it’s worth taking a look at your landing pages, imagining you’re your ideal customer and asking yourself ‘does this website appeal to me?’.
Sending out the right messages can be as simple as amending your existing copy to specify your ideal audience and, while you’re editing your content, make sure the tone and style, e.g. the vocabulary used, sentence length and narrative voice (1st person, 2nd person, etc.) are consistent throughout your pages. All of which are features of a strong brand identity.
Humanise your content
While we’re on the subject of content, let’s talk about brand humanisation. Too many small businesses and sole-traders make the mistake of sanitising their image to seem more corporate, professional and essentially, less human. This is a big mistake.
Studies show that people lack trust in large brands. Their reason? Because people see them as faceless entities that don’t care about them. Ask yourself, is this a look you want to emulate?
As an accountant, you’ll be in personal contact with your clients and they will value your personality and personal history as much as your qualifications. We all prefer to work with people we like or, at least, can communicate with easily.
So, replace your dry, CV-based About page with some more human content and include a high-resolution picture of yourself that expresses who you are as a person and not just as an accountant.
As a content writer, I’ve provided copy for and audited a lot of websites. One problem I see consistently is a lack of CTAs (call-to-action).
Do you know what the best way to get someone to do something is? Ask them! Web pages with well-defined CTAs generate vastly more leads than those without them.]
A CTA is just a way of informing your site visitors of what actions they can take next and nudging them towards the ones you would prefer, e.g. ‘Request a quote’, ‘Share your content’ or ‘Refer a friend’.
The key is to be effective, but not aggressive. Whole-page popups with ‘buy now’ strewn on them will not earn you any favour. Instead, end each web page and one other paragraph above the fold (in the area visible before a user scrolls down the page) with an appropriate CTA. If you want to use popups, time them to appear as a person starts to scroll the page or is at least half way down.
Follow the ‘mobile-first’ principle
This tip is placed last because, strictly speaking, it isn’t very simple. Depending on the platform your website is built on, you might have to start from scratch. But the payoff will almost certainly be worth it.
Search engines increasingly prioritise mobile-friendly websites in their search results. In 2019 and beyond, this emphasis will strengthen and websites that are built specifically for mobile searchers will outrank their desktop-based competitors.
It’s a shrewd move by the likes of Google when you consider that, worldwide, over 60% of all internet searches are now conducted on mobile phones. For those of us with a business presence online, this means moving to a website template or theme that is specifically made for mobile phones, yet still performs well on a desktop or tablet.
Most professionals are overstretched and the last thing we want is to add to our to-do list. But, by taking a day to make some simple changes to your website, you improve your lot in the long run by attracting the clients that you want and deserve. Making a tangible difference can be as simple as:
- Finding a better web host
- Targeting the clients you actually want
- Showing people who you are as a person
- Using targeted CTAs
- And prioritising your website’s visibility on mobiles
Jodie is a Conversion Copywriter, Content Strategist and Optimisation Specialist working with bold B2B SaaS and marketing brands. Before founding This Copy Sticks, she's spent a decade selling the toughest value proposition around and raised £2 million for charities before her 25th birthday. After 10 years convincing the public to embrace their inner altruist, Jodie now puts her words to work helping tech-mad trailblazers grow their businesses.
Interested in learning how to increase traffic to your website? Check out this blog post.
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