Email marketing may not be new, but it is often overlooked. Here’s an examination of the benefits of adopting email marketing for your accountancy practice and how to do it well.
As a recipient of dozens of emails every day we’re sure you already know that well prepared emails are highly effective, whilst poorer emails wash over you or, worse still, damage the reputation of the sender.
It shows how fast time flies when a channel like email, which has been around for just two or three decades, can be perceived as old hat in an age of social media and chatbots.
But people do still engage with email. Hubspot state 99% of consumers check their email every day and that 73% of millennials cite email as their preferred channel for business comms.
The benefits of email marketing for accountancy practices
Email marketing is not all about sales. However, sales will be an essential part of the return on investment.
American research suggests that email creates $38 for every $1 spent. You don’t need to be an accountant to know that a 3,800% ROI is stellar.
Looking beyond the financial return, email marketing brings many benefits:
You own your list – It’s easy to forget that with other digital channels like social media or paid search and display advertising there is a Silicon Valley gatekeeper to your audience.
A set-up that works for you today could tomorrow become disadvantageous with an arbitrary change of algorithm or price hike. Email, however, is a direct route to your target customers.
You have permission – A well compiled and curated email list comes with tacit permission for you to promote yourself. Of course, if you go too far, permission may be withdrawn through general disengagement or hitting unsubscribe. But as long as you are balancing self-promotion with value to your audience, people accept some selling.
A way to show value to retained clients – When an accountant like you does your job well, your clients may not hear from you except for once or twice a year. This can mean relationships can go cold and they may forget some of the value you provide.
By sending out regular emails sharing advice, case studies, tax deadline reminders and so on, you can boost retention. It just reminds your clients that you are there in the background doing a good job for them.
It is cost-effective – Email marketing software does not cost much and there are no print or postage expenses or cost per clicks. Nor do email campaigns take too long to prepare. This makes them remarkably cheap to run. Moreover, they are a great way of amplifying the effect of other marketing activity such as sharing blog content, thus giving you extra value from them.
Facilitating other initiatives – Getting into a good email marketing regime helps with other client initiatives too. For example, you can easily put together emails for gathering client feedback in surveys, engaging with your client base for case studies or testimonials, and simply to share important company news.
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Good email marketing practices for maximising return on investment
The key to getting good returns from email marketing activity is to do it professionally. This is especially important for a sector like accountancy where everything you do will reflect on the perceived quality of service you provide.
Building and maintaining your list
Your list of email addresses and names is something that you must build organically. Buying email addresses is not recommended – such data tends to go stale fast and you do not have direct permission to message the recipients. It may cause GDPR issues.
Instead, pepper your digital comms with opportunities for people to sign-up to your mailing list. Places to do this include the home page of your website, the email signatures of all staff and landing pages from your other digital marketing campaigns.
You may find you get an improved sign-up rate if you offer something of immediate value such as a free eBook.
As your list grows, you’ll need to maintain it. Email addresses will go out of date, one-time leads will turn into clients and require different messaging, and some people will naturally lose interest in your emails no matter how good the content.
Make it easy for people to opt out. And proactively nurture the list to ensure it remains an asset and not a liability to you.
Choosing a good emailing platform
SaaS email marketing platforms are plentiful and offer powerful ways to store personal data, create visually compelling campaigns, A/B test and analyse results.
Choosing one to manage your activity is a must, and your only issue may be finding the right one for you among so many.
Segmentation and personalisation
Segmentation refers to dividing your list up by key traits and personalising the message accordingly. The most obvious trait is probably recognising whether someone is an existing client or has merely expressed an interest in your services.
Other distinguishing factors may be whether someone has expressed interest in private or business-related services; or recognising how they joined your list, for instance as a result of a webinar.
We encourage firms to understand their niche and develop buyer personas. These help you focus messaging on the needs and challenges faced by your target audience. One of the uses of such personas is in helping you finely tune your segmentation in email marketing to create powerful messaging.
However you decide to segment, it then allows you to personalise what you say to them. This is known to significantly boost engagement – audiences will expect some level of personalisation. The good news is that it is easy to do as long as you have chosen the right software.
Just remember that email is not secure, so don’t give away anything confidential like an NI number in your personalisation efforts.
Everything we have spoken about thus far is more technical in nature, but don’t forget you will also need great content to run successful email campaigns.
The segmentation and personalisation process will have helped you focus on what people want to hear about. Remember to get the balance right between self-promotion and value to your audience. And there is nothing wrong with recycling content from other channels as some people will prefer to receive it by email.