I've always considered myself firmly planted on the side of numbers, math and logic. I have a bachelor's degree in math and a master's degree in accounting. But taking on the role of editor of The Woodard Report has taught me that even we math people can be less fearful of and actually experience business growth through writing.
I have seen two trends in speaking with you and your peers. First, marketing and sales might as well be four-lettered words, because the very idea of them makes you cringe. I know it makes me cringe. I even wrote an article about it - Sales Made Me Feel Sick to My Stomach. Second, writing in any form is usually way out of your comfort zone.
So, very few accounting and bookkeeping professionals spend much time writing. And when they do, they invest that effort in required documents during onboarding or for existing clients. They rarely take the time to think about, much less do, email marketing for their accounting or bookkeeping firms. That needs to change.
Why use email marketing?
Most people think of email marketing as a way to gain new clients. In addition, many of the bookkeepers and accountants I speak with insist they have no need to grow their practice, so they don't need to market.
What really is email marketing? Email marketing, at its core, fulfills three purposes: build relationships with leads, convert prospects and strengthen the relationship with existing clients. The first two purposes are focused on acquiring new clients, but it is the third purpose that should really make you think.
How would your clients rate their relationships with you? Do they feel that you are in their corner? Are they able to rely on you to provide the information they need - not just about their books but also about business best practices in general?
Sending regular content to your clients demonstrates that you are materially invested in them and their businesses. When combined with exceptional accounting services, you create a situation that organically nurtures word-of-mouth referrals.
Important factors to consider
Once you understand the benefits of conducting an email marketing campaign, you have two choices. You can either enlist an email marketing service that would help you create a very effective email marketing campaign. Alternatively, you may choose to take it on yourself.
First, don't be afraid of the term you have probably seen in relation to marketing - content marketing. Yes, you want your emails to contain valuable content, but keep in mind that you are the subject matter expert!
Next, don't be afraid of fancy CRM solutions. Depending on the size of your business, it may be beneficial to use one, but it may also work to just use old-fashioned one-on-one email.
Regardless of the size of the business, you can take advantage of the recent free integration between Mailchimp integration with QBO. In fact, one of your peers, Jody Linick, took the time to test the integration out and provided step-by-step instructions on setting it up and using it.
Finally, don't worry extensively about your talent as an author. You do want to be mindful of grammar so that you present yourself professionally, but your emails should reflect your voice and don't need to be professorial. If you are concerned about your grammar, there are free tools that will help you. Two of my favorites are Grammarly.com and QuillBot.com.
Grammarly has an app extension that provides real-time notifications of grammar errors. QuillBot lets you paste text and then check ihttps://www.grammarly.com/t. For example, I entered this text - The quick brown fox sitted down. Then he jumped over a lazy dog a fat cat. QuillBot returned the corrected text - The quick brown fox sat down. Then he jumped over a lazy dog and a fat cat.
Email marketing best practices
My go-to source for learning about marketing is HubSpot. The company has a very robust blog and also has a free academy with courses and certifications in a variety of topics about marketing, sales and service topics.
HubSpot's blog is invaluable. A quick search on best practices today brought up these gems that may also help you.
- 10 New Customer Onboarding Best Practices (hubspot.com)
- 10 Facebook Cover Photo Size & Design Best Practices [Templates] (hubspot.com)
- Email Sign Up Forms: How to Increase Email Sign Ups With Better Forms (hubspot.com)
- 20 Tips to Write Catchy Email Subject Lines [+ Examples] (hubspot.com)
- 5 Email Subject Line Best Practices (hubspot.com)
The best practices listed below came from a list of 17 email marketing best practices in a HubSpot blog.
1. Personalize the email greeting.
Most CRMs, even basic or free versions, give you the ability to merge contact names into an email. If you are opting to send manually send emails, make sure you take the time to send each email individually so that you can greet each client by name. Never send any sort of group email using cc or bcc.
2. Write compelling (but concise) subject lines.
It's all about the subject. In fact, I once attended a 50-minute marketing session solely around the topic of getting the most out of your subject line. The most critical practice is to have concise subject lines that give a compelling reason for the recipient to read further.
3. Keep the main message and call-to-action above the fold.
Your clients are business owners and are most likely very busy. Remember that email management can be a stumbling block for lots of people, so you don't want the important information to be hard to find in the email.
Short paragraphs, bulleted information, and numbered steps in a process will all help your clients capture the important message quickly. If you have a call-to-action in your email, such as schedule time with me, make sure it appears near the top of the email so the reader doesn't have to scroll through the email.
4. Include a professional email signature with your logo.
If you haven't designed a professional email signature AND set your email system to use it in every email, do so today! As a side note, if you have a team, you should have a standardized format for everyone in the company. You can use the HubSpot email generator to create an effective format.
5. Conduct a 5-second test.
Send the email to a colleague and ask for a quick scan. If they can't tell you the purpose of the email within seconds, then you need to tighten up the message.
You may not have a specific call-to-action (CTA) in each and every email. Some of the emails may be truly informational. But if you are asking them to do something, such as schedule a meeting to evaluate new services or recommend your service to an associate, that CTA should be easy to find.
How to find content for your emails
One of the best ways to determine valuable content for your clients is to think about the questions that they most often ask. What is a frequent stumbling block for your clients? What do you wish they know that would make your job easier? Brainstorm topics with your team or colleagues and create a list of the top 20 questions that you can answer succinctly.
In addition, you can use The Woodard Report! We truly want The Woodard Report to be a go-to resource for you.
Among the education, information, and news, you will also find content that is relevant to all businesses, not just accounting or bookkeeping practices. You can highlight major points from an article (make sure you attribute it to the author and include a link to the full article) so that your clients can add it to their reading list.
If you aren't already, subscribe to The Woodard Report today.