The digital marketing world is constantly in flux, with new technologies, trends, and best practices emerging all the time. In order for accounting and consulting firms to command the space they occupy and build a reliable pipeline of new clients, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in marketing, namely that everything has gone digital.
The past year has seen the acceleration of many trends in marketing and business development. In both print and digital contexts, notable examples include:
- The pronounced shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing
- The emerging focus on thought leadership
- The elevated role of data in decision making
- The necessity to find ways to sell through the internet
Firms with the ability to execute digital marketing strategies that leverage the latest trends and technologies are few and far between. But those that do build a firewall against competition, and quickly emerge as the leaders in their niche.
Interested in learning how your firm can start doing this? Read on.
Why Digital Marketing?
Repeating the same old tactics you’ve always used to bring in new clients simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Deals aren’t closed on the golf course now; they’re closed on Zoom. While we realize there will be a new normal where these activities do resume, it is unlikely to ever return back to the pre-pandemic environment.
The data backs this up. B2B audiences are high-information and conduct extensive online research before making decisions. 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions, and 67% of their buying journey is done online.
Having a digital marketing strategy is a prerequisite for success. The right strategy enables firms to reach their target audience, capture and retain their attention, build relationships, and then close deals. A solid plan inspires confidence that you are putting your best foot forward during the buyer’s journey across both physical and digital worlds.
Understanding The Digital Marketing Landscape
An effective digital marketing strategy consists of multiple pillars acting in perfect harmony. But if you’re just starting out, the range of options seems endless: social media, email marketing, paid advertising, conferences, webinars, content marketing, and much, much more.
It’s easy to get lost in this complexity and burn time and money on a losing strategy. Every B2B sector uses digital marketing tools differently, and it’s crucial your firm pursues a bespoke strategy that’s built around the needs of your potential clients. Keep the end goal in mind: a steady pipeline of qualified leads for your firm.
“High growth accounting and financial services firms spent an average of 15.5% of revenue on marketing, which was almost three times more than other firms”.LexisNexis
At Winding River Consulting, we partner with accounting firms to achieve growth. The firms we work with pull in tens of thousands of website visitors monthly, rank for thousands of search keywords and convert dozens of leads every month. Some things they have in common? Their ability to leverage these four key trends:
#1 Outbound to Inbound: A New Paradigm
Firms are increasingly moving away from outbound strategies towards inbound strategies. Outbound strategies are more traditional; trade shows, cold calling, and email blasts. By contrast, inbound strategies attract pre-qualified leads who are actively seeking out services by serving up high-value content. Inbound strategies include online resource centers, whitepapers, podcasts, and other methods of content generation.
Outbound marketing is expensive, increasingly ineffective, and difficult to scale. Inbound strategies are scalable, connect with prospects at their point of need, and build lasting relationships with leads. A successful inbound strategy positions your firm as the fountain of knowledge in your niche, and your people as the thought leaders.
When a client is in the market for your services, they search on Google and rely on their network. If you are employing the right strategies, your visibility and authority simplifies the decision-making process, ensuring that your firm gets chosen more often than not.
The shift from outbound to inbound is explored in detail in our white paper, The New Rainmaker: Evaluating Your Firm’s Digital Strategy. Download your copy now.
#2 Develop & Leverage Impactful Content
The cornerstone of a successful inbound marketing strategy is high-quality content. Content comes in many forms: blog posts, YouTube videos, LinkedIn articles, podcasts, and more. Develop content with your audience in mind: answer their questions, teach them something new, and help them grow and improve.
Leverage your greatest asset – your people. Encourage them to share their thought leadership and build their personal brand on your platforms. This isn’t a time-intensive process that will distract them from their core responsibilities: the right content partner can easily spin a ten minute chat into a thousand word article.
Content is always a great investment. It comes in many shapes and sizes, affording you an opportunity to convey thought leadership and purposeful messaging. These efforts stand the test of time and enrich the sales process or buyer’s journey.
Great content can be leveraged in many different ways: on social media, in marketing campaigns, and to drive organic traffic to your website. Despite the clear value here, 67% of firms don’t have a content strategy. Make sure you’re not one of them.
#3 Marketing On Autopilot
One of the best characteristics of digital marketing is that much of the process can be automated. It’s relatively straightforward for firms to employ technology that builds repeatable, scalable processes that drive positive ROI.
Automating your marketing strategy comes with a range of benefits: efficiency, cost savings, consistency, and the ability to generate data to inform decision making. But it’s important to define the right strategy before moving immediately to technology. Strategy drives technology, not the other way around.
One foundational piece of technology to incorporate? A Customer Relationship Management platform, or CRM. A CRM is the heartbeat of any B2B digital marketing strategy, and acts as a central hub for you to manage customer relationships, automate communications, and optimize your sales process. Your CRM is the glue that holds your marketing strategy together, and it is integral to success.
#4 Data Driven Decision Making
Managed correctly, a digital marketing strategy produces an incredible amount of data and insights. In the past, marketing might have been driven by your gut, but now it’s firmly driven by facts. Data gleaned from marketing can be tracked and measured against KPIs. This means that all activity, from inception to sales conversion, is measured in an ROI that speaks in dollars and cents, not the hazy metrics of clicks or impressions.
Data provides irrefutable insights that stand up to scrutiny and enable firms to scale marketing campaigns while driving increased ROI. Consistently optimizing for success is a significant competitive advantage. Firms with the flexibility to adapt their approach in light of new information will be significantly more successful than those that blindly follow the same old strategies.
The Digital Rainmaker Era
In this new era of marketing, firms need an expert in their corner. Seek out a partner who understands the digital marketing landscape, has a proven track record in your industry, and can execute at a high level.