If you’ve ever spoken to a marketing professional – whether they’re from an agency or an in-house team – you’ve probably heard the term ‘content marketing’. You’ve probably also heard that you need to be doing it if you want to engage with your target audience and generate more leads online.
But, though you may be familiar with the term, you might not be clear exactly what content marketing (or just ‘content’) is – or understand why it’s worth your time. Here’s what you need to know.
What is content marketing?
Content comes in all shapes and sizes, and the term refers to anything from the words on your website to a tweet or LinkedIn post. The main principle of content marketing is to provide useful, relevant information (whether that’s through blogs, videos, or even imagery) to the people that are looking for the services you provide.
For accountants, that might mean offering quick and pithy answers to commonly asked questions (like ‘what happens if I’m late filing my tax return?’), going into more detail to explain complicated or confusing tax legislation, or creating a quick diagram that outlines what will happen, and when, for Making Tax Digital.
Why is content marketing important?
Content marketing is your key to unlocking valuable interactions with your target clients – and putting yourself front and centre of their minds when they’re ready to start working with an accountant.
The way people buy professional services is changing – and nobody goes online to be directly sold to outright.
When on the hunt for the right accountant, your prospective clients will generally be looking for someone who’s happy to solve their problems in a language they can understand.
By answering questions upfront, you’ll demonstrate that you understand what issues they might be facing, and have taken the time to try to help them out – all before they’ve paid you a penny. That’s good credit in the bank for your reputation as a useful, trusted source of information.
Positive brand-building aside, there’s another critical reason you can’t afford to ignore content marketing if you’re serious about staying competitive: Google.
There’s an entire marketing industry dedicated to search engine optimisation (SEO) for good reason. People spend hours every day on the internet, and it’s often the first place they turn to when they realise they need someone or something. That means if you want your firm to appear when people search for something like ‘payroll expert Bristol’ or ‘accountant for small restaurants’, you have to play the content game.
What makes good content marketing?
There are a couple of ways to look at what makes good content marketing – and how to make it work hard for you.
The first is simple. Take the questions your audience asks and answer them, online, somewhere. It might be in a weekly blog on your website, something you post on LinkedIn, or via an email newsletter. Content doesn’t have to be complicated: it could be as simple as a quick Q&A of the questions you’ve been hearing most from your clients over the last month or so.
Secondly, it’s worth spending some time working out exactly who you want to target, where they’re likely to be online, and what you want them to do when they ‘consume’ your content.
Use yourself as an example, and think about your previous Google searches. The things you ask most often will usually be quite specific and in direct response to either a problem you’re trying to solve or some information you need to know the answer to.
Let’s say you have an ailing house plant, and quickly google: ‘why is my cheese plant turning yellow?’
Now, say the first three results on the page look something like this:
- Everything you need to know about looking after your cheese plant
- What it means when your cheese plant turns yellow
- Miracle plant-care solution that really works – 50% off today
Which one would you be most likely to click on?
You might look at all three – but chances are you’d try to self-serve before directly asking to speak to an expert or buying a product.
And, if the first article was really helpful and offered advice that you could put into action, you might bookmark it, share it with a friend, look at their other plant-care articles, and eventually go on to buy something they sell.
Content marketing for accountants is no different. It’s all about working out what your target audience are struggling with and providing a quick solution in a friendly, approachable way – as easily as possible – so that, when they’re ready, they come back to buy from you.
How do I do it?
Content marketing doesn’t have to take hours of your time, although as a general rule of thumb, the more content you create (provided it’s genuinely useful and relevant to your target audience), the better and more successful your marketing efforts will be.
There are lots of SEO tools you can use to help you work out what your audience wants to know, which will help you plan out the content you need to create.
Having a calendar or schedule also helps make it clear what, when and why content needs to be created, as well as who by, which will keep you on track if you’re short on time.
You’ll also need to think about where you want to put this content – whether it’s your website, social media channels, emails, or all of the above. Consider where your audience is most active, and focus your efforts there.
And, while it doesn’t need to be complicated or cost the earth, for your content marketing to make an impact, it’s usually best to get some expert advice. You might not have the time, skillset, or desire to start researching and writing content, but that’s why marketing professionals and agencies like PracticeWeb exist: so that you don’t have to do it all on your own.
However you choose to get started, content marketing can unlock new and meaningful conversations with your target clients – positioning you as a genuinely useful, trusted source of information, and giving you a head start on your competition. That’s what makes it a worthwhile investment that, when done right, brings significant returns.
We’re running a webinar: How to attract the right clients for your accountacy practice in 2023 on 22 November with our sister company AccountingWEB
This webinar will look at he the impact of good & bad content on a website, how it connects with search engine optimisation (SEO) to get you found in search and how style and tone compliments your brand.
Hosted by PracticeWeb’s Editorial Creative Lead, Tom Muller and joined by their Head of content, Beth Steer and SEO specialist, Rene De Villiers, the team will explore the benefits and results content marketing can have for your accountancy firm. Book your spot here.