According to a McKinsey study in 2014, one third of purchases are made indirectly. In other words, social media had played a role at an earlier stage in the consumer journey by creating awareness. The study also revealed that between 2013 and 2014, there was a 10 per cent increase in purchases from social media recommendations.
The digitisation of marketing efforts not only affects product-based businesses, it also affects service providers. Not to mention the globalisation of the marketplace, where consumers are no longer bound by city or country borders. As an accountant, you will have to dedicate resources to developing and implementing a digital marketing strategy to continue to attract new customers.
So what exactly is digital marketing? What makes it different from traditional or plain ol’ marketing? And as an accountant, how can you best utilise it? This post will help you better understand what digital marketing is, how it will help your practice and the first step in getting started.
For some background, marketing is the process of attracting customers to your practice. It includes online efforts such as blog writing and social media postings. And more traditional efforts such as referrals and attending/sponsoring conferences.
Digital marketing is the process of tracking the success of your online marketing efforts, and success can mean a number of different things depending upon your goal for each effort. Your goal might be to increase the traffic to your website, increase attendees at your local events or generate press. Ultimately, all of those goals lead to every company’s main goal, which is to increase sales.
Digital marketing allows you to gather data and statistics to generate analytic reports to review consumer behaviours. This is an extremely powerful way to determine what truly motivates your potential clients, how to reach them and how to encourage them to become a client. Similar to financial reporting, digital marketing is numbers-focused. As accountants, this is your golden area. Digital marketing speaks our language.
You can track trends, manipulate information to view key segments and base your marketing decisions off of black and white numbers. And the longer you implement a marketing strategy, the more data you have to pull from to analyse.
Keep in mind, however, that similar to financial reporting, numbers can only share one side of the story. As an accountant, you know that when you are advising a client, you need to pull on past experiences and industry knowledge to give them the best advice. The balance sheet and income statement can not provide you with all of the information you need. Otherwise, we could just use robots for accountants. (Or maybe we can? Hmmm. That will be another post). The same rings true for digital marketing. While data is extremely important, it is critical to remember that no data is useful without your intuitive sense and knowledge of your target market. With digital marketing and industry knowledge, you will be able to develop a powerful and effective marketing strategy. The absence of one or the other will dilute your practice’s ability to grow.
The results you can expect from digital marketing can be astronomical. Similar to finances, once you set a goal and set measurable actions and track the progress, you will see change. However, it does take time. At a minimum, it takes one year to see consistent traction. Your results will depend upon how well you can identify your target market, your goals and how consistently you apply your marketing strategy. Ready to get started? Here are the four steps you need to take to implement a digital marketing strategy for your practice.
- The first step is to know who you are, what your practice stands for and why. This is the hardest step and the most overlooked. You may be tempted to outsource this task to a 'marketing expert', but only you can determine your brand and vision statement. According to TSheets CEO Matt Rissell, “developing your company’s vision is truly like giving birth”. It can be a long process, it can sometimes take months or years, but you will feel so much more connected to it after you have put in the time and effort.
- Next, choose one or two social media channels to track. Anymore than that, and you and your bank account may become overwhelmed. Getting the hang of a social media channel takes effort and digital marketing ads can start to add up.
- The third step is to sign up for reporting tools. Some of my favourite tools are Sprout Social, Hootsuite and Google Analytics. Most social media platforms have their own built-in analytics tools. However, with the exception of Facebook, social media channels have limited reporting. You will want to use an external reporting tool such as Sprout Social and Hootsuite to augment the reporting. You can expect to spend between $20-$70/month on a tool.
- The final step is to review your reporting and analytics on a consistent basis. Calendar a 30-minute time block each week to review your reports.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What success have you seen from digital marketing? Let me know in the comments below.