How to Set Up Your Firm’s Website and Attract Visitors
Doing business nowadays is radically different than it was just a few years ago. Case in point: Everyone recognizes the need to carry business cards that you can hand out to prospective clients, but have you established a Website for your practice yet? In this day and age, it’s tantamount to having a business card.
In fact, setting up a Website is one of the most important aspects of marketing your practice. Your Website should be graphically stimulating and informative without being garish. You will want to maintain your professionalism yet capture the interest of casual “surfers” on the web.
Most significantly, the Website should provide all the information needed to develop an all-around view of your practice. Give clients and prospects a reason to keep returning to your website. Update it periodically with new information, but don’t create a site that is so overloaded it takes an eternity to load. It’s easy for people browsing your site to get frustrated and move on. You can measure the level of interest by the number of “hits” your site receives.
One way to boost your Website traffic is by linking it to newer social media such as Facebook or Twitter, or by writing a blog.
On Facebook, your clients can see your page and then click the ‘like’ button. Once they ‘like’ your business, you are a part of their Facebook profile, and all of their friends can see this passive referral. By updating your Facebook profile, you can offer the members of your Facebook circle useful information, such as reminders of important deadlines, news about new or changed laws, or links to helpful articles that you’ve found online.
Twitter allows you to send “‘tweets” of up to 140 characters to followers of your Twitter account. Like Facebook, it can be used for short reminders, news, or to share links.
If you want to provide prospective clients with more in-depth information, consider writing a blog. Blogs usually contain short articles, but can also include other content, such as video files. To be successful, you need to constantly update your blog with fresh content. Blogs are available to casual web surfers, and those who find your blog useful may subscribe to its Web feed.
Make sure that the various aspects of your firm’s online presence are linked to each other. To encourage current clients to join their social media circles, many businesses include notes on their website, business cards, or even invoices inviting their customers to visit them on Facebook or Twitter.
E-mail marketing can take many forms, such as sending an e-zine to individuals who respond to an open invitation. But if you’re especially industrious, you can go the extra yard by offering a valuable new service for online users. Set up an e-mail “hotline” that encourages questions from prospects and clients. Once you do this, it’s important that you respond quickly and accurately to their queries. Naturally, you won’t want to give away the farm—after all, you are in business to make money—but you can provide enough information to whet the writer’s appetite. You will find that any inquiry often leads to new business.
Complement the e-mail hotline with a section on your Website called “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs). By posting FAQs on your site, you will avoid unnecessary repetition.
Tax return preparers should exercise caution in using client lists, including e-mail addresses, that are culled from client’s tax returns. Under IRS regulations these lists may be used solely for the purpose of soliciting additional tax return business or providing general business or economic information or analysis to clients. A client list may not be used to solicit any service or product other than tax return preparation services.
Put the IRS on Your Marketing Team
You can team up with the IRS to market your practice. IRS’s Marketing Express allows tax preparers to create and customize IRS communication products with your name, location, contact information and hours of service.
For cyber marketing, the IRS offers “widgets” that can be posted on your Web site, Facebook page, or other social media. Each widget contains a graphic “teaser” about a particular tax topic, such as the EITC, withholding changes, retirement plans, and the like, and directs users to the IRS website for further information. The widgets display the official IRS logo, lending your website or social media page an air of official authority.
You can check out the full range of Marketing Express materials, including IRS widgets here. at www.marketingexpress.irs.gov/mexpress/main/.