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Inbound/Digital Marketing for Accounting Firms – Basics of Infrastructure


Ready for a new game plan to get more visibility, leads and new business?

I’m going to ask you a couple of tough and blunt questions that I typically ask partners and marketing staff when we’re discussing their firm’s marketing program:

  1. Do you have the capacity to take on more new business?
  2. Are you satisfied with the results of your CPA firm’s current marketing and business development program?
  3. Will doing more of the same (i.e. more networking, doubling the size of ad budget) be enough to get you to your revenue goals?
  4. Are partners and other subject matter experts willing to step up to the plate when it comes to their willingness to learn and implement a different way of marketing the firm?

I ask these questions because they’re a simple sniff test to determine if inbound/digital marketing is the right play for your firm. You see, we’re not just talking about plopping down a bunch of set-it-and-forget-it tactics ... we’re talking about a serious and substantial shift in the how/what/when/where/why of marketing your firm. It’s a shift that involves changing attitudes and the way marketing resources are committed, so if you have the capacity, or if you’re satisfied with results, or if doubling down on your current efforts will work, or if the willingness and commitment just isn’t there, then you’re probably not ready for inbound/digital marketing.

On the other hand, if you’re ready for a huge bump in brand awareness, and a sales pipeline that’s chock full of leads, the inbound/digital marketing could very well be the right play to compliment the successful networking and referral marketing that you currently do.

Time to Junk Your Current Marketing Program?

I’m going to take one ginormous leap of faith and make an assumption that on an intellectual level, you understand the reasons and methodologies of inbound/digital marketing. (If not, get our eBook, The Partner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing here.)

Maybe you’ve even come to the conclusion that outside of your 1:1 marketing, it may be time to junk the rest of your firm’s traditional marketing activities and go digital. But what, exactly, does that mean on a practical level? What are the moving pieces that you’ll need to install in order to have an inbound/digital marketing program that does give you more visibility, leads and new business?

It’s likely that you have one or more of these pieces in place, but it’s equally as likely that your CPA firm’s marketing program is missing a few of the fundamental pieces, or that the pieces have not been integrated properly. Here are 11 basics of infrastructure you’ll need:


Email - a robust email program built on a strong email platform is a foundation for digital marketing. There are quite a few powerful email programs, from BizActions to Mail Chimp, that are a “must have” investment. But one word of caution: you email efforts will only be as strong as the size and quality of your email marketing database.


Content - content marketing for your CPA firm is at the very heart of the way you use your digital marketing assets to get found and generate leads. Content comes in all forms – from blog posts to apps and more. Oh yeah, one other thing: this is where a lot of CPA firms go running and screaming away from inbound marketing because content marketing takes time, effort and (quite possibly) money.


SEO Search engine optimization is another fundamental piece, albeit one that has become less important with every change that Google makes to their search algorithms. Sure, you still want to optimize around a select group of keywords, but content – especially content optimized around key words - is the secret sauce that now drives search engine results.


Marketing Automation– marketing automation (and marketing automation technology) is designed to provide a hands free way to keep in touch with prospects over a defined period of time, or via a triggered action like downloading an educational whitepaper. A word of caution here: marketing automation is a 301 or 401 level course that’s a lot more difficult to do correctly than it would appear at first glance.


Paid Media –in the digital marketing world, investing in pay per click media like Google AdWords or LinkedIn ads still makes a lot of sense It’s less expensive than traditional paid media, it can be highly targeted, and you can control the rate of expenditure. However, you’ll still want to work with a great media planner because devoting the right budget for the right reach and frequency for results is critical and you don’t want to overspend or underspend.

lead_generation-10 Lead Generation –if you are not generating leads with your digital marketingefforts, then you’re completely missing the boat. But to do it right you’ll need great offers, landing pages, call to action buttons, a promotional plan and a way to measure results.

Analytics –the beauty of inbound/digital marketing is that everything can be measured. Now, partners have a chance to really see the ROI on their investment in marketing, and marketers can see what’s working (or isn’t working) and make adjustment to the campaigns and other parts of the digital program.


Social Media-You must have social media as part of your inbound/digital marketing infrastructure. If you have limited time and budget, invest your resources in LinkedIn first. However, a tool like HubSpot provides the means to auto post new blog content to Twitter and Facebook, so you can maximize your reach with a minimal amount of time.


Personal Branding - Inbound/digital marketing is perfect for building the personal brand of partners and subject matter experts. Your firm should have a personal branding plan for its staff, especially for those reluctant rainmakers that may not be comfortable operating in a 1:1 marketing environment.


HubSpot - This is simply the most powerful marketing software available today. Its power comes from its ability to integrate all of the moving pieces of inbound/digital marketing infrastructure in a way that no other marketing technology or software can do. There are simply too many great things to talk about when it comes to HubSpot, so I encourage you to click here and we’ll book a demo.


Content rich, optimized website -If your website is nothing more than an online brochure, then it’s time for a complete overhaul and redesign. You’ll want to build a new site on best inbound marketing practices, and it’s likely that it’s going to be a lot different than what you’re doing today. It needs to be “responsive”, it needs to be built around content, it needs to have the ability to convert visitors to leads, and it needs to be written for and about personas, not about the firm per se.

Why Your Marketing Department is Really, Really, Really Frustrated

Here’s some good news/bad news for partners:

Your marketing department – be it one person or many – has a burning desire to contribute their intellect, creativity and dedication to helping make your firm grow. They’ve been reading blogs and whitepapers, attending webinars, downloading stuff from HubSpot like crazy and there’s not a day that goes by where they aren’t learning more and more about how inbound/digital marketing can blow your top line results away.

The bad news: they can’t seem to get you off the dime to take the time to learn about digital marketing, let alone getting your commitment to shifting to a new marketing playbook for the firm. That’s frustrating given the possibilities they see, as well as seeing the ever widening gap between the ways the firm does its marketing and the way that prospects now control what, when and how they receive marketing communications.

The upshot for partners: You might just be happy with the way things are with your marketing efforts, but you might also see your competitors taking advantage of you being asleep at the wheel. If you haven’t done so already, start with some education and ask yourself those tough questions I posed at the beginning of this blog. There’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be on the way to resolving your marketer’s frustrations, but even better, on your way to filling your sales pipeline with leads that are interested in talking to you!

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Sell Faster. Sell Smarter. Grow your business with inbound marketing and sales enablement.

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