Preparing Your Website For Tax Season

As we head into tax season, your focus should be on your clients and not practice management … and the last thing we want to worry about is our website. While we want the site to accurately reflect our firm brand and help clients, it just isn’t going to a top priority.

So, you should forget all about the site for almost four months, right? Of course not. It’s not enough these days to present a static page or a digital brochure. Websites are all about relationships, engagement and being social. The truth is, this concept is relevant all year round, not just during busy tax season.

Top 10 Ways to Get Your Site Ready for Tax Season

There are many ways to prepare your site for tax season. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Create a draw. Consider offering an initial complimentary consultation to help your prospective clients. This will help create the level of trust needed to get them to engage your firm. For some firms, the draw might be a blog. This is especially great during tax season because it’s important to offer some in-depth content to your website that will keep visitors engaged with two-way dialogue.
  2. Provide resources. This could include thought leadership pieces, whitepapers, newsletter, e-books, business diagnostic tools, and the obvious end-of-the-year tax tips or a tax planning guide on how to start planning for the new year.
  3. Create opportunities for on-site dialogue. Consider a Q&A section where you allow a visitor to submit a question and then post the answer to that question. Blogs are a great channel for this. Many firms also use a “Live Chat” feature to accomplish two-way dialogue. There are some inexpensive options out there.
  4. Create opportunities for off-site dialogue. Social media presents a great opportunity to engage your clients and prospective clients where they frequent.
  5. Align content with the needs of clients. Think problems, symptoms, causes and cures. Tax time is perfect for this type of content. Develop content around client pain points and the ways to cure them (hint: your services). This makes your website extremely relevant and client-centric. It also positions your website to develop leads.
  6. Optimize your content for search. If your content is aligned with the needs of clients but no one is there to read it, does it matter? Your content has to be found by Google, Bing and other search engines in order for your site to really maximize its potential.
  7. Update your bio pages. Easily forgotten, but often important to your prospects. Are they up to date? Do they show your team’s credibility? Are all your trade groups and committees listed? Make sure there are e-mail addresses, phone numbers, addresses and social badges with direct links to profiles.
  8. Set up a client portal. This can offer tremendous benefits to both you and your clients when it comes to passing important information in a timely manner and filing documents electronically.
  9. Optimize your local listings. Sign up for Google+ Local, a free online listing where you can post your business hours, contact information and location. Ask clients to write you a review. The more reviews you get, the more engagement you’ll have in your local listing and the higher you’ll be in searches.
  10. Make sure your website is mobile-ready. Who isn’t using a smart phone or tablet these days? Your website has to be designed so it can look sharp across the board.

Recreate the Brand Promise

It’s easy to get lost in tactics when discussing websites. There is a big picture, however. The goal of your website is to recreate, in the online space, the promise and experiences your firm creates in person.

Yes, essentially you are one firm, but there are two ways to experience your business – one is in person and the other is digitally.

Your promise presented in both channels should be consistent and without a gap in between the worlds. When a person visits your site, you should offer that person the same promise as you would if he or she were meeting you face to face.
For example, if your firm has a brand promise that you are all about “client service,” and in the course of doing and running your practice you really do live that every day, you have to make sure your website offers that same promise.

How do you illustrate this? By inviting your clients, prospects and other visitors to your site to engage with you. Does your website have proper engagement outlets? What is your brand about and how will you make it come alive on your website?

Whatever you choose, make your approaches simple, straightforward and welcoming. You and your website will have a successful tax season.