When you partner with a digital marketing agency, you want to receive not just the work as promised, but recommendations on how to optimize your digital marketing to impact your lead generation. Your firm needs strong digital marketing consulting. In this video, hear from Dawn Wagenaar, Principal at Ingenuity Marketing Group, as she shares some important considerations about what professional services firms need when working with a digital marketing agency.
If you prefer to read the video transcript, you may find it below:
Several years ago, Ingenuity worked through a strategic process to define the future of our agency. As you may have guessed, it included digital marketing.
Today, we help many of our clients develop campaigns that include social media, eblasts, SEO strategy, digital ad campaigns and other automated communications.
But professional services continue to be about relationships. When you are looking for assistance with fresh communications to support new business development, how do you evaluate a great digital marketing agency?
First of all, the agency should understand how buyers select professional services. It’s not product marketing. Your deliverables are different. Your digital campaigns must speak to why they need your service. What pain are you solving?
Next, the campaign must connect to your sales process. Who will follow up on campaign results and evaluate how to improve it? It goes beyond printing monthly data reports. You want your agency to translate visitor and buyer behavior for marketing as well as sales.
As a business owner myself, I’m not sold on complete automation of marketing and sales for professional services. But I do believe that your content should include strong keywords and search engine optimization – for every blog post, service page and video!
That way, your content is working for you to attract leads.
A great digital marketing agency must combine a strong business consulting strategy for professionals with a technical understanding of how people find and choose your content.
The last couple months have likely put your well-planned marketing strategies and social media campaign into a tailspin. Organizations are needing to adjust strategy into crisis communication mode in order to distribute relevant information to their clients and prospects and that has left little time to implement already planned content.
Even in a crisis, we recommend that our clients continue to produce blogs and videos about their core services, industries and niches. This is so they optimize their SEO strategy and do not lose ground by putting these efforts on the back burner. However, how this content gets distributed in a crisis situation is what changes significantly.
Not all your content needs to be new or original. Some real gems can be found in your older content and as a result, save you time. With a fresh update and some relevant examples, the old can be polished up and become new again. Read about this and other ways to repurpose your content.
When you are in the midst of a crisis, how you position your messaging may need to be put under a new lens, especially when it comes to your social media. The same blog post can still be used while simply changing the social media post and explaining the relevance to the situation. Here’s how we would write a social post during a crisis situation about the same blog post:
In the midst of a crisis, you’re likely scrambling to get urgent messages out to your clients, prospects and employees. You don’t have time to create new content but know that your SEO strategy still needs to be implemented. To keep moving forward, look no further than older, still relevant content to save time.
Here are some tips to keep in mind for your social media messaging and content distribution during a crisis:
Be intentional about your messaging. Always make social media posts relevant to your audience. This is even more critical during a crisis. How does the information you are providing pertain to the current situation and help them solve their problems?
Don’t promote your services, industries and niches in an obvious way. Always look for how it helps your clients and prospects and approach your social posts with a proactive message. How does what you offer help them?
Use a personal, human touch. Relate to your audience and personalize your messages so they feel like they connect to your brand. Show that you truly care about them as an individual.
Be sensitive to how your message can be perceived. Run your social media posts by a few people that you can trust to provide you with honest feedback.
It’s best to err on the side of caution, even if that means you are posting less frequently. This is not the time to move forward and ask for forgiveness later. There are plenty of examples of social media mishaps that have affected brands negatively. Coming back from a brand messaging snafu isn’t easy.
Create a plan for the next time you need to respond urgently or adjust your message. Many organizations were caught off-guard and didn’t postpone scheduled social media posts or were slow to adjust their messaging. Crisis comes in many forms so evaluate the lessons learned and prepare for how you will respond in different scenarios in the future.
You may be developing lots of content right now in order to maintain your SEO strategy and may not be able to promote it as much, or at all. Take heart, once things start to level off, you’ll have a gold mine of content to promote on social media and it will still be new to your audience.
A crisis can last for a few hours…or a few months. The effects can linger for years.
One common issue in crisis is that people have a tendency to overreact. They may run headlong into the storm or they may freeze. It’s important during these times to have people around who have the strength to step back, assess and develop an objective plan that avoids further crisis.
With that in mind, do you have a go-to ghostwriter?
We’ve all been there…figuring out how to communicate complex topics in a way that gets prospects to understand and trust and take action. We also know amazing subject matter experts who are great at their work, but admittedly not so great at explaining how their work helps clients.
Even professionals who like writing need a good ghostwriter to validate if their work is
Too technical for the average client;
Too long or short for the average blog; or
Too informational with no guidance for the reader to take action.
How about adding search engine keywords and meta descriptions so that visitors can find that great content? Well, that part takes some professional practice and skill, not to mention research to identify the ideal keywords for your firm.
You might assume that marketing specialists or managers are integral to maximizing your content. But in a crisis? An outside perspective can calm everybody’s nerves and get to the heart of your message. Meanwhile, your internal teams can focus more closely on the logistics of sharing, posting and following up on your content and crisis communications. Responding to questions in a crisis is job number one once people get the information they need.
Why Do I Need a Ghostwriter Now?
If you have never considered a ghostwriter relationship before a crisis, it may be the perfect time to build a relationship now. Here are the reasons our clients have told us that ghostwriting is central to their crisis communications planning and ongoing content marketing strategies.
• Objective third party to view their content and provide efficient editing
• Identify content opportunities that subject matter experts (SMEs) may not see
• Maximize the SME’s time through interview, drafting and editing
• Consulting on what is truly “news” to business and trade media
• Identifying content that can be used in multiple ways (blog, social, PR)
• Evergreen writing that doesn’t get stale after a month
• Seamless addition of SEO keywords into copy and descriptions of content
• Recommendations for companion eblast copy and social posts
• Knowledge of the industry to develop relevant content for your audience
• Research skills to add context and “why it’s important.”
• Calls to action for marketing purposes and relevant links
When you have the right ghostwriter relationship for your content marketing strategy, you can adapt your marketing plan faster and gain context for what is happening across the industry. Since ghostwriters work with all kinds of clients, you can leverage their knowledge to help your firm write and publish content like the pros that you are!
A solid content marketing strategy shouldn’t simply revolve around creating a content calendar with a list of to-dos. It should align with the goals your professional services firm has identified for growth and utilize digital marketing resources that help you connect with your clients and prospects. A few things you want to consider when developing your content strategy include:
Utilize a variety of content mediums – Your audience is comprised of unique individuals who all consume content in different ways. Some prefer reading a blog post while others may prefer watching a video or reviewing an infographic. A varied content strategy will ensure that you are providing the types of content that will resonate with more than one segment of your audience.
Set goals for your content – How does your content align with your firm goals for lead generation and growth? By understanding this, you can create more effective content that resonates with your clients and prospects.
Determine what success looks like – Perhaps success is a certain number of leads coming from your website. It could be the number of views your video receives or the number of new email sign-ups you receive each month. Establish what KPIs are important for you and then measure them on a regular basis so you can determine if you are meeting your goals and how you can optimize your efforts for greater success.
Maximize your content – You can use your content more than once and in more than one way by repurposing or updating old content. You can update older content or you can convert content from one format to another.
Vary Your Content
There’s an incredible variety of content that can be created today. Blogs, video, podcasts, infographics, market and industry reports and whitepapers are just a few examples of what types of content can be used in your firm’s strategy. Because every individual consumes content differently, it’s important that your content marketing plan includes a variety while still producing what is authentic for your firm.
We have worked with some clients who find great success through video content, while others connect better with their clients and prospects through their blogs and whitepapers. Your firm should focus on creating content that resonates best with your own clients and ideal prospects and not worry about jumping on the latest trends, even if your competitors are doing it
If you find that you don’t have any individuals at your firm who want to be the subject matter expert in a video, this is an area you could outsource. Write a script and hire talent to be in front of the camera delivering your message. Or perhaps the individual would be more comfortable having a recorded conversation that is produced as a podcast. Play to the strengths of your firm leaders and employees to develop the best content that’s authentic to your firm.
Maximizing the Usefulness of Your Content
Many professional services firms fall into the thinking that they have to be constantly churning out new content. This creates an overwhelming feeling that can lead to abandoning a content marketing plan. In reality, much of your content can be used more than once and in more than one way.
Of course, some content may be considered timely if your firm is addressing recent tax law changes or legislation that affects clients in specific industries. However, there’s a lot of content that falls under what we call “evergreen.” This is the type of content that remains relevant for months and even years. It can be easily updated and republished.
Rewrite or update older content – Dig back into your content that’s two or more years old to decide what information is still largely relevant and how it can be updated and republished for your audience. You have valuable insights that don’t lose their value simply because it’s older information.
Repurpose and revise formats – Perhaps you have a video that can be repurposed into a blog or vice versa. We’ve done this often at Ingenuity. While we don’t actively promote videos of former employees, it is still great content that our audience finds valuable. We repurpose that content as a blog post. With a little editing, the subject can quickly be revised and updated. This provides us with not only new content for our audience, but it provides us with SEO on our website and three to five social media posts.
A well-devised content marketing strategy can help foster loyalty and create new opportunities for growth in your professional services firm. Start with the steps we outlined above to get started in creating a sustainable strategy. If you need assistance creating content, hiring a professional ghostwriter can free you up to serve your clients while providing you with researched and well-written content.
One word you might see a lot today regarding business culture and marketing is authenticity – defined as something or someone “entitled to acceptance as authoritative, genuine, true or correct.”
You may also hear a lot about the term personalization — defined as “to render personal rather than impersonal or purely professional, to make or alter so as to meet individual needs, inclinations or specifications.”
This is the preferred approach to service delivery. Be a professional who is authentic and who personalizes the experience for every client. Perhaps it always has been this way, which is why professionals are in a great position to deliver what today’s clients expect.
Here is the challenge: with limited time, how do you create that personal and authentic experience for every client — and, just as importantly, every potential client whom you haven’t met yet?
In reality, it’s a people challenge and a technology challenge.
Why Digital Marketing Matters
Qualified potential clients usually want to interact with your firm or organization online first. They will gather a sense of what your firm cares about and represents through your website, bios, social media profiles and your public relations. It’s not just about the messaging. It’s also about how easy they can navigate your site and find up-to-date social posts about issues they care about.
On social media, people respond much more frequently and positively to a post about someone winning an award or working a booth at a tradeshow (with a photo or video!) than they do to a news item or a link to the firm’s services.
Also, if your posts include real people, then real people will respond to it! See the difference in these two posts — one about a new employee and one linking to a blog post.
If your articles include real stories about how other clients navigated a common problem, then your key points will hit home much faster than if you simply state the problem and the solution.
For example, we were working with a client that wanted to reach out more personally to prospects, but didn’t have time to meet with each prospect in person right away. To get more responses, we suggested using the personal touch of “virtual coffee” by sending a coffee gift card by mail. The invitation to prospects — using their first name and personalizing the message — was much warmer than a generic email or postcard, and our client actually heard back from people!
In the same way, your firm’s online presence has to be deeply personal and rooted in what your firm is at its core. When prospects see consistent messages from your firm that reflect a set of values resonant through all levels of what you actually deliver, it builds trust and makes them want to work with you.
What are your values? It’s not services, quality and years of knowledge. Authenticity requires an emotional and human connection that builds trust. Have you looked at your firm’s values and brand loyalty lately? Maybe it’s time for a refresh.
Try these ideas as a way to personalize your firm’s values and experiences with clients and potential clients.
Explore your organization’s core values. As a different type of marketing exercise, come up with a list of cars, celebrities or songs that are distinctly a bad fit. Now talk about why they don’t fit your organization. In the negatives, you’ll learn a lot about who you really are and why you’re different from your competitors.
Repeat great client experiences. Use a great client as a composite profile of more clients you would like to attract. Identify why the relationship works so well. Interview them about ways that you have built trust and personalized the relationship. Practice those skills with prospects and other clients. Just asking these questions can build more trust with your clients.
Be human. Clients and prospects are looking for a way to connect. Take photos of fun times or “real” times with your team and share them. Celebrate new babies or anniversaries. Send a card if a client is sick. Stop the shop talk if you sense that your client needs someone to just listen.
This process of blending professional aspects of your business with personalization may not be easy at first. It requires being a bit vulnerable and less focused on the work sometimes. But in a service-based business, people care just as much about how you make them feel as they do about how you help them succeed.
A recent Advertising Federation meeting presented some of the big changes ahead for paid search. Google, which is the most widely used search engine worldwide, is using Quality Score criteria in its learning algorithms that will give weight to companies that integrate Search Engine Marketing (SEM) into their online visibility. Some call this “pay to play,” although Google insists that real, relevant organic content will still carry the most weight in its search results. However:
if you go beyond the basic text-based ad format and integrate responsive search, dynamic search campaigns and smart bids into your paid search strategy — and your content is relevant to the promise of your ads — the more likely that your quality score will go up (translation: using more of Google’s tools may provide better search rankings).
A good Quality Score is between 5 and 10, which is difficult to obtain due to Google’s secret recipe, but it can lead to your website showing up in a better search results position.
Integrate Outsource Marketing Services
Due to these rapid changes and many others, outsourced marketing consulting can help you identify your upcoming needs for digital marketing and analysis before you hire an in-house marketer to support them. This process can help you avoid the mistakes of hiring a digital marketer who may be great technically, but not so great at translating your data into real business decisions.
Let’s give you a couple examples:
We often hear from potential clients that they have viewed reports for their social media analytics, organic SEO or their paid search campaigns and aren’t always sure how to use them for real business decisions. Impressions and clicks need context, and every firm’s goals are different when using digital media.
We also hear that product vendors are very keen about selling the features and benefits of spending more on paid search campaigns or adopting new marketing automation software. But few vendors understand the world of b2b professional services and how these go-to-market tools can best serve your goals. Some firms are spending hundreds if not thousands on ads and tools that aren’t producing results.
Digital marketing is a special area of marketing. It is not something that every marketer wants to do or can manage in addition to other responsibilities. It requires an analytical and contextual mind — a head for numbers and a common sense communications style to translate those numbers for business decisions. In many ways, it is similar to what accountants and engineers must do for their clients today!
Given that marketing is spanning traditional in-person activities as well as online visibility and persuasion, your firm or organization can expect to need the services of a digital marketer. Here are a few tips to plan ahead for that need:
Identify opportunities for web-based lead generation. If you aren’t ready or persuaded to pursue any types of digital marketing or SEM yet, keep in mind that prospects are still looking at your capabilities and people online after a referral. Your content should be regularly updated with strong calls to action and search engine optimization.
Assess your in-house marketing team. Your team needs to translate prospect data into strong marketing initiatives. For example, your web analytics may point to frequent visits to a certain service page. Your marketing team should be able to assess whether there is a market demand, and then develop a campaign to promote that service more frequently. To assess demand, they may need to cross-reference data such as social media traffic and website search phrases alongside other known market data.
Based on your current marketing team, determine whether it makes sense to outsource your digital marketing needs for now. With this support, you can build foundational systems and results. The knowledge you gain will inform your job description for a future in-house digital marketer.
The best first step is to have a consultation on your current digital marketing activities and needs; get assistance to optimize the effectiveness of your digital marketing from day one. Ignoring the future of digital marketing is the same as ignoring new clients that are looking at you online.
Check out this video next, where we recommend three things before you invest in a lead-generating website, a fancy marketing tool or digital ad campaign. Get the guidance you need for future new business.
Spam is getting smarter. Your firm must work harder to ensure that clients are opting into your newsletters and eblasts. But what about prospects? This video will help you ensure that emails are personal and informative — and not annoying to the people you want to reach.
In this video, Leah Spielman, marketing consultant, shares five tips for lead generation. We’ll talk about subject lines, pre-header text and great headlines as well as how often you should communicate. Watch to get five tips that can improve your email marketing.
If you prefer to read the content, the transcript is below.
It is imperative that your e-mail communications are personal and informative. Spam is getting smarter and end users are overloaded with e-mail. So, to ensure that your e-mails are engaging, I have a few tips for you.
Number one: test your audience. If your email tool allows for A/B testing, try it! Write 2 different subject lines. I like to run the test on 50% of the audience. The winning subject line is sent to the remaining 50%. We recently did an A/B test and it turns out the title of the main article as the subject line won over saying ìInGenius Review ñ June 2019î. Take what you learn and use it for future e-mails .
Number two: Utilize pre-header text! This is a great way to tell the reader what to expect when they open your email. Use it to promote another topic from your e-mail.
Number three: Talk about the recipient. Why does it matter for them? How are they impacted? Use ìYour Key Tax Considerations for 2019î as a subject line instead of ìOur important tax tips for 2019.î
Number four: Be consistent. Whatever you do, donít just do it once and except your audience to engage. Start small and be consistent ñ send a quarterly e-newsletter with a main article and then a client focus or highlight piece. When that is going well, add in monthly e-newsletters that focus on industry news and topics your audience cares about.
Number five: Use automation. Even the most basic e-mail tools have automation features including welcome series emails, follow-up emails and segmentation. Start small and set up a series of 3 e-mails to introduce new clients to your firm. An advanced e-mail marketing system like Hubspot, Infusionsoft or Marketo have more advanced automation features such as lead scoring.
E-mail marketing is a powerful tool when used correctly. It allows you direct access to your audience without a lot of algorithms getting in the way. Use these tips to bring your e-mail marketing to the next level.
This multi-part digital marketing whitepaper will tell you HOW to use digital marketing tools specifically for professional services. Read any section for ideas on your biggest concern or interest. We’ll keep adding sections, so come back and see what’s new or sign up for our newsletter to receive updates to your inbox.
Digital marketing has evolved as a way to attract — and track — online buyers by delivering specific content for their problems or interests. To be successful, you need to understand:
How potential clients are searching for your services;
How to compete for strong online search results;
What types of content will attract the most interest;
How you can get qualified visitors to take action, and;
How to nurture great leads toward actual new firm business.
Let’s be clear. More than 90 percent of visitors to your site are searching for a solution, but need convincing to contact your firm. Digital marketing content and SEO are critical to keep them interested and keep your firm top of mind.
Firms that are operating on outdated web platforms or with old design templates are missing some critical opportunities. When referred to a new firm, many prospects go first to the website. When seeking a new job, candidates often head to the website to learn about the culture. An old website can do more harm to your firm’s image than ever before.
If your website looks staid, boring, and “template-like,” that one chance to make a great first impression is over. The key to great websites is to think through who will use it, how they will use it and how to communicate your services and unique culture and the value you bring.
Before you write one word or design one page, consider what you want your website to do based on how the audience will use it. Do you want it to speak primarily to prospects or recruits? Is it an information service for clients? Do you want to get leads from your website?
Making it pretty is not enough. Be clear about your target market and what you want to communicate to them. When we work with clients on a website, we like to establish some key messages about the firm that can act as a guide for content. This sets a tone and ensures that the firm’s website isn’t cookie cutter.
Writing copy for websites is different than writing for a proposal or marketing flier. Use a professional writer who has experience with websites, as well as one who understands your industry. Have that person write the sections that matter most: your Home Page, Services, About Us and key leader and staff bios. If you are having trouble recruiting, hire a writer to add some snap to your career pages. If your firm is moving into a specialized niche, work with a writer to develop key messages and web content that helps your firm rise above your competitors.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Getting on top of search results organically is a process that requires strategy and patience. There are many ways to build an SEO friendly website to provide better rankings on Google and other search engines.
Choose keywords that are unique to your business. Brainstorm these words and phrases in your website committee and make sure they are used frequently in your site content. Consider working with an SEO specialist to find keywords and phrases to get additional possibilities and performance forecasts.
Try to establish external links to your website. Have your company name posted on organization websites to which you belong, contribute articles to trade sites, and allow relevant websites to link directly to yours. Just having your company name listed on another website can help boost your ranking.
Update your content regularly. At Google, fresh content is a key factor in search rankings.
Develop page titles, descriptions and meta tags with your keywords in them. Meta tags are the words that show up at the top of each web page and the title and description show your audience what that page is all about when it shows up in search engine results.
It’s no longer a matter of IF you are on social media platforms, but how well you do it. It has virtually become a requirement for firms to engage through social media. A good social media strategy can help you retain clients, find prospects and recruit talent by increasing brand awareness and building trust. Social media can also boost your online visibility and organic search rankings.
To build an effective social strategy, the first step it to determine which platforms your audience is on and what content will drive engagement with them. Just because a firm down the street is having success on Twitter it doesn’t mean that you will also have the same measure of success. It’s important to do a bit of research to see where your current clients and prospects are spending their time online.
Next determine the type of content you will provide through your social channels. Understand the needs and goals of your clients and prospects and show them how you can help them.
They key is not simply to look at social media as something you must to do, but as a powerful tool to help you achieve brand awareness and firm growth.
Everyone wants to rank high on Google but sometimes your digital marketing strategies can use a little boost. Digital ad strategies, such as Google Ads or promoted posts on social media, can be a powerful tool in your online visibility and lead generation strategy.
In order to harness the immense power available through paid ads, start by clearly defining your target audience. Who are they and what do they need? The more accurately you can identify your audience and their needs, the more targeted your ads can be, providing quality leads that have a higher potential for conversion. If you are unsure how to determine who your target audience is, take a look at your current clients.
The next step is to figure out what makes you unique. Since your competitors have services similar to yours in similar industries, you need to identify what it is that makes you stand out from them. How can you inspire your audience to engage with you? Addressing your client’s needs in conjunction with your unique value to them through your ad headlines and content, can boost engagement on your ad. Finally, offer your audience some information or a resource to download that addresses their needs on some level.
Be sure to include a form fill feature to capture their information so you can follow up with them after they receive your downloadable resource.
Once you have all your digital marketing tools in place, remember to monitor the analytics and track the effectiveness of your efforts. Above all, remain agile so you can adjust what isn’t working, as well and do more of what is working.
Research and Strategy
Types of Research and Why You Need Research
According to an informal poll we conducted of professional service firm marketers, we found that they spend time researching industries, but not much time researching their competitors or prospects. Without researching your competitors, you don’t know how to differentiate your value proposition against theirs in conversations or in proposals. Thorough research can provide insights into your competitors, clients and prospects and identify opportunities for your firm.
Some of the types of research we see include:
Market Research: This can be used to identify market opportunities and threats within your industry, niches and geographic markets. It can provide you with information on the trends that shape demand for your services. It can also alert you to any threats, such as a new firm coming into the market or industries that are over represented, that may affect your firm.
Competitor Analysis: This type of research can help you determine where your competitors have an advantage in the market. You can also identify the areas in which your firm excels above your competitors so that you can continue doing what is working to attract talent to your firm, retain clients and get new leads.
Client Satisfaction: Through client research, you can identify gaps in services, industries or niches. You can find out if clients perceive your firm’s reputation and value the same way you do. Client based research can also help you identify what is working with your clients, as well as any areas of improvement. You can then take what is working and apply it to attract new clients to your firm.
There are many types of research and ways that it can be used to benefit a professional services firm. The type you choose to conduct will depend on your firm’s goals.
Why You Need Research
Understanding the challenges and opportunities for your firm, can guide your strategies for greater firm success. High quality research will help you attain the growth you desire through the development of strategies that produce results.
For example, if you don’t research your prospects, you don’t truly know what they care about or how they expect professional service advisors to solve their problems. Understanding their challenges helps you guide their decision to choose your firm rather than a competitor. It helps you begin to understand how your communication needs to change to land referrals, increase visibility and get new business.
Another way research can help is when you are determining the need to expand your services into a new niche. After researching other firms serving that niche in your market, you may find that only one of your competitors also serves that niche. You need to discern if the niche is sustainable as a growth industry, the level of competition and the potential to gain a significant portion of the market without being the lowest cost provider. This allows you to develop a deeply focused niche marketing strategy to stay visible to your prospects. Market research goes a long way toward defining your true niches.
Regardless of whether you are looking to expand into a new market, understand why your clients remain loyal or looking to gain a competitive edge over other firms, research provides the insight that allows your firm to make decisions that drive growth and success.
How to Analyze your Research to Approach Content Correctly
There is great value in conducting research and getting objective feedback. If you find areas in which your firm is excelling with prospects, existing clients and employees, you will want to maintain and improve what you are doing and then replicate this success in other areas of your firm. Should you find that you have a disconnect between the perception others have and how you think your firm should be viewed, this enables you to identify areas of improvement to bridge that perception gap and build your reputation. It’s not enough to simply conduct surveys and interviews, the next step is to analyze the feedback and identify trends and areas of opportunity. Then it’s time to develop a content marketing strategyto improve upon what’s working and fix areas that need fixing.
Market research and surveys can include both online feedback and phone, or in-person, interviews. With a sufficient number of responses and feedback, trends will become noticeable and point to what action you can take. It can be hard to obtain honest feedback if the surveys and interviews are conducted by a member of your own firm. If you want honesty, we recommend outsourcing this to a market research companythat understands your industry and can help you translate the results into a content marketing strategy.
In the case of a client survey, you will receive insights on how your clients view your firm and can then gauge if this aligns with expectations. We recently conducted a client survey for one of our accounting firm clients. During phone interviews, we found out that while they offered a number of services that were relevant to their clients and referral sources, the firm had not been doing a good job of communicating these services. By identifying this area of opportunity, the firm can now develop content and communication strategies to inform their clients and prospects about the depth of their services.
Through an employee survey, you can determine if you are meeting the expectations of employees and find out if there are any areas of improvement to increase employee retention and attract new talent to your professional services firm. If you find out that your employees do not feel that they are well-supported in the area of training and development, this could be improved by offering training and opportunities, mentorship programs and certification incentives. It’s not enough to simply provide this, it also needs to be clearly communicated to your employees through emails and on your website.
If you are new to a specific industry or niche, in-depth market researchcan identify the pains, desires and interests of prospects. By knowing what these are, it will allow you to develop a digital marketing strategythat positions you as a knowledgeable resource.
As you develop your content, address the pains of your specific audience and provide a solution that compels them to continue reading, and eventually, contact you. When you publish an interesting blog post, create an opportunity for additional interactions through links to resources and more information. Can they download a whitepaper or read another blog post? Can you direct them to a case study, client story or video testimonial? These don’t simply tell them you can address their pains, but shows them how you have done this before.
This strategy can work for your website, email nurturing sequences and social media content. Employing a strategy that encompasses the entire spectrum of your digital marketing creates brand cohesiveness and consistent messaging to your prospects, clients and employees.
Content that Drives Brands and Leads
Using your Blog and Social Platforms for Brand Loyalty and Lead Generation
Now that you have done the research to know what your prospects want to hear from you and have created your list of keywords and phrases, you’re ready to start using those tools to drive your brand positioning and develop leads.
The first step is to determine the purpose of your blog — which services, industries and niches do you want to promote and why are you convinced that people need this information from your firm specifically? How will the information and insights you provide help solve the pains of your audience? What type of content you will publish? Whether you use written articles, videos, podcasts or any other medium you can dream up, commit to a frequency your visitors can count on for each type. Consistency is key! When people come to rely on your insights, you become an authority for those services you offer for the industries and niches you serve. This leads to referrals because of your knowledge and because you have created trust with your audience.
Try to strike a balance between providing valuable information without giving away the store. Don’t take a sales approach because that isn’t inspiring. Give them enough to whet their appetite so they are compelled to call you.
You can use your social media platforms to inform your followers about content your have published. Through the use of relevant hashtags and any posts that your followers share, you can expand your audience reach. Your social platforms should also be used to share your capabilities and services. It’s a form of communication where you can control the message. Keep in mind that you don’t have to share everything you publish across every platform. Some social media accounts are best used for certain types of brand positioning efforts. For example, one client we work with uses their Facebook company page to highlight firm culture through more casual firm news, events and job postings.
Consider developing both content and social media calendars to keep you accountable for creating content and posting on your social platforms. Calendars can also help create a focus to strategically use your keywords to boost your SEO rankings for specific services, industries and niches. Additionally, if you have multiple employees in your marketing department at your professional services firm, this allows everyone on the team to know what the objectives are for the upcoming months.
Content development for your blog and social media platforms is something that takes consistency to create strong brand positioning and begin to develop leads. Focus first on how your brand is represented and the leads will follow.
Gated Content for Lead Generation
What is Gated Content?
One of the best ways to use content marketing to attract leads is through gated content. Gated content is simply a downloadable marketing piece that shares valuable information your audience cares about. In exchange for receiving this download, the user fills out some basic information including name, organization and e-mail address. It is often times called a lead magnet, inbound marketing, lead generation, or attractor.
Since you’ve already established through research who your audience is and what they care about and developed blog content around these topics, it’s time to dive deeper and create gated content.
Examples of Gated Content for Professional Services Marketing
To use gated content for lead generation, you first have to identify what your prospect is willing to exchange their e-mail address for. For an accounting firm focused on construction accounting, it may be a 1-page guide to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts impact on the construction industry. The guide should include a few key points, and be aesthetically pleasing (read: it should be professionally designed to match your firm’s brand standards.) Once the gated content is complete, you can determine how to distribute it to your prospects. You can use paid search, organic and paid social media, e-mail marketing and/or your website. In order for any of these methods to be truly effective, a well-devised SEO strategy is recommended.
To use gated content for lead nurturing, you can create a download/attractor and distribute it to your current clients and prospects. You will then learn who is interested in the topic and can move them through the sales funnel appropriately.
For one client – call him Robert – we conducted industry research in a niche they are heavily involved in. Then, we published a report and created a landing page for the report. We pushed the report and landing page out to the firm’s contacts via e-mail, and encouraged the contact to download the full report by visiting the landing page.
The prospect then downloads the report and Robert receives a list weekly of all the prospects who have downloaded the report. We then coach Robert on follow-up steps which usually include a follow-up e-mail to everyone who downloaded it. The e-mail will say something along the lines of:
“Hi Sarah, I saw you downloaded our Very Valuable Report. Did you see, on page 9, that industry leaders are concerned about the rising costs of Widgets and Expenses? Do you have similar concerns? I wrote a blog post recently about this exact topic – check it out here. Talk to you soon. – Robert”
Sarah then reads the blog post and replies, and our client and Sarah have the opportunity to engage in conversation, and the firm stays in front of their prospect, is viewed as a thought leader and has gained more insights into their prospective client’s concerns.
When Sarah has a need, she remembers Robert knows all about this topic and she contacts him. The firm then has the chance to propose on a project.
To summarize, gated content can help you determine what resonates with your clients and prospects and can be an effective lead generation tool. It is only as effective as the effort to develop it and to nurture those leads once they have downloaded the resource you provided to them. Be sure that you build a solid strategy around your gated content in order to maximize its potential for your firm.
Driving Lead Generation through Assessments and Surveys
Previously we discussed that assessments and surveys are an important element in a firm’s marketing strategy and how they provide valuable information that can help your firm make sound decisions. But how can you use these tools to drive lead generation? Glad you asked!
There are a number of resources available to administer an assessment. These resources create interactive content that are fun and, while the specific features of each vary, the most useful of these resources aggregate the results in an easy to read format that saves you time and allows you to analyze the results quickly.
To make your surveys and assessments valuable and efficient, clearly define your goals. This allows you to develop a strategy that gets the information you are looking for from your prospects. With your strategy clearly defined, you can formulate questions that are concise and will provide you with valuable insights about your prospects. Some online assessment tools will allow you to create “if this, then that” scenarios. For example, if a prospect answers a question a certain way, they receive a follow-up question to dig a bit deeper. Remember, with any lead generation assessment, you need to be sure that you are capturing your prospect’s contact information.
Depending on your objective and the nature of your assessment, consider having an offer that can be emailed to the participant after they complete it. Even if it’s something you plan to send in your follow-up email, providing this offer up-front could help increase engagement on your assessment, resulting in more leads.
So, how does this drive lead generation?
Well-done assessments and surveys create an opportunity for a two-way conversation. Prospects share qualifying information with you, and you provide personalized follow-up that helps them solve their pains.
The most effective assessments help firms learn about prospective buyers, and customers learn about themselves and the firm’s solutions and services. Assessments can help you spot your most qualified leads and capture them when they are ready to buy.
One critical mistake we often see firms make is that once they get a prospect’s information, they follow-up with a phone call or one email thinking that is enough. They don’t have an effective strategy to convert their prospects into clients. If this sounds like you, don’t miss our next post where we discuss how automation, lead scoring and email nurturing sequences play a role in your firm’s marketing strategy.
Using Automation Tools to Measure Digital Marketing Effectiveness
Gone are the days of simply placing an ad in the newspaper or mailing out a flier while waiting weeks to see how it resonates with your audience. With today’s digital marketing automation tools, you can get vital information in front of your clients and dig into the analytics to see if they saw value in what you provided.
There are many automation tools that you can implement to automate your digital marketing and provide you with numbers that help you quantify your ROI. With a few simple tools, you can promptly and efficiently address your clients and prospects’ concerns and know if you are hitting the mark.
Social Media Automation Tools
As we stated before, it’s not a matter of IF your firm is using social media, but how well you do it. There are countless social platform tools to help automate posting through scheduled posts and evergreen content. We use a few of these tools with our clients that allow us to efficiently implement their social media strategy and measure the engagement and ROI.
Through the analytics available in social media management tools and on the individual platforms, you can determine which posts resonate with your audience with allows you to create more of those posts to further engage your audience. In addition, you can identify the content that your audience isn’t interested in so you can refocus your time.
Email Marketing and Measuring Leads
Email marketing has evolved and the tools to automate this area of your strategy are very sophisticated.
Consider setting up a new client welcome series – a series of 3 – 5 emails that showcase your team and set expectations for working together. Show off your firm’s personality. The more advanced your tool is, the more features that are available. For example, a system like Hubspot, Infusionsoft or Marketo have lead scoring available. MailChimp has lead scoring, too.
What is lead scoring?
Simply put, this is the action of applying points to leads. It allows you to rank leads in order to determine their sales-readiness. Leads are score based on their activities, such as opening an email, clicking a link, or completing a web form.
Automation tools can help you implement your marketing strategy in a more efficient way. When your content and resources can be developed and set to go out on a schedule, it frees up your team to focus on other marketing efforts for your professional services firm.Measuring the engagement of these automated efforts provides real-time information, giving you with the opportunity to adjust your strategy as needed to boost the effectiveness, build brand awareness and bring in leads to your firm. Be sure that you build a solid strategy around your automated digital marketing in order to maximize its potential for your firm.
Digital Marketing Analytics that Drive Strategy
Now that your website is optimized for search engines, content is regularly posted, and social media is humming along, it’s time to measure the efforts of your newfound digital marketing prowess.
The good news is that there is a lot of information available to analyze your marketing effectiveness and ROI. We previous discussed this when it comes to marketing automation and emails. Now let’s take a look at analyzing your social media and website traffic and engagement.
Social Media Analytics
If you are using a social media scheduling tool that also provides analytics, you can quickly get data that tells you how many followers you gain each month, what posts are resonating with your followers and how your audience is interacting with your content. Even if you do not have this all-in-one tool, you can still view this information within each social media platform through their built in analytics tools.
Find out how many followers your page has gained or lost.
See if your audience engaging with your content through likes, comments or sharing of your posts.
Identify which posts are resonating with your audience.
Determine if there additional social sharing opportunities that you can leverage based on the posts that resonate.
Certain types of content may do better on one platform versus another. We have found with some of our clients that firm culture posts and employee recognition does very well on Facebook for them, while posts about their services do not receive engagement there.
Other engagement trends could be seasonal. For example, if you provide a product or service to accounting firms, you may see your engagement drop during busy season. If this is the case, you can adjust your social media strategy to accommodate this and focus your efforts during the times when you anticipate more engagement. Another example is accounting firms that provide tax services to customers. Many people don’t think about their taxes after April, but by the end of the year, it’s back on their minds. In this case, you may want to focus your marketing efforts on other services you offer from May to October while maximizing the topic of tax during the time when it will receive the most engagement. Observing these trends allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your social media and digital marketing strategies.
Website Analysis with Google Analytics
Google Analytics can provide you with some incredibly valuable information that can help drive your marketing strategy. It can provide valuable insights about your audience and tell you how effective your digital marketing strategy is.
Find out what content is resonating with your audience, building traffic and converting leads.
See which keywords and phrases are bringing people to your website and how engaged are they once they are there.
Identify which efforts are producing results and generating leads so you can do more of them.
Determine if there marketing activities that aren’t working and need to be adjusted or eliminated.
Google Analytics can be daunting with all the data available. When we review Google Analytics for our clients, we look at a number of areas to provide them with information that validates current marketing efforts and recommendations for continued improvement. It’s important to understand how you acquire visitors to your site and their behavior once they are there. If you know how you acquire visitors, you can figure out your most effective channels so you can utilize them more and you can identify areas of improvement for less effective channels. Assessing the behavior of your audience tells you how they interact with your site once they are there. You can find out how long they spend on your site, pages that drive more engagement and pages that need updated content or stronger calls to action.
Analytics tools can help you measure the success of your digital marketing strategy and having this data is a great first step. Turning it into actionable steps for greater marketing success and lead generation is the next part of the process. Seeing what is working or what is not allows you to quickly adjust your approach to maximize effectiveness, build brand awareness, retain clients and generate leads.
Digital marketing has evolved. It is a way to attract and track online buyers by delivering specific content for their problems or interests. You can get real-time information on marketing strategies like never before, creating opportunities to capture additional leads and market share. It also provides organizations with the ability to put marketing dollars into the solutions that are producing results while quickly shutting down the efforts that aren’t providing sufficient ROI. To be successful at it, you need to understand how it works, the tools for implementation and analysis and how to apply the information for real results that lead to growth.
If you need assistance with your digital marketing strategy or in applying the tools and information available to create actionable steps that lead to results, schedule a meeting with us to find out how we can help you find marketing success.
Sponsoring or promoting content on digital and social media platforms can be a powerful tool in your professional services marketinglead generation strategy. This can be done with a few critical items in place: your defined target audience, your unique value proposition, and a good tool or landing page that gets visitors to take action. In this video, Natalie Klein shares how to use digital strategies to drive leads to your firm.
If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.
Sponsoring or promoting content on digital and social media platforms can be a powerful tool in your lead generation strategy. This can be done with a few critical items in place: your defined target audience, your unique value proposition, and a good tool or landing page that gets visitors to take action.
The first step in developing sponsored social ads is to get your targeting right. There is great power in targeting that is available through digital advertising and in order to harness that power, it’s important to spend some time thinking about who your audience is. The more accurately you can identify your audience, the more targeted your ads will be, providing you with quality leads that have a higher potential for conversion. If you are unsure how to position your targeting, look at your current customers to define your audience.
Next, spend some time developing your assets. You aren’t the only firm selling your services so this is where you identify what makes you unique. What sets you apart from your competitor and why should your defined target audience want to work with you? You have limited space through your headlines, descriptions and graphics to show these reasons so it’s important to have clarity yourself to convey your unique value proposition to your audience.
Finally, offer your audience some information or a resource that helps them start to solve their pains. Don’t give away the farm, but give them enough to leave them wanting more. Whether through a lead generation form that provides a downloadable resource or through a landing page with information and a compelling call to action, be sure that what they get is what they were expecting. The goal is leads for your firm so be sure that you have a way to gather their information so you can follow up with them.
Keep in mind that sometimes it takes a bit of adjustment to see how your digital and social ads are resonating with your target audience. Agility is key in developing effective lead generation through sponsored social ads. With some planning and flexibility, you can use digital strategies to drive leads to your firm.
Is your website providing you with digital leads? Have you personalized your digital marketing strategyfor prospective clients? In this video, Christine Nelson, communications consultant, shares three ways to use your website to get digital marketing referrals and why personalization is the most important component in attracting digital leads. Your leads are looking for you! Implement these strategies so they can find you now.