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Accountants continue to fail in marketing activities

Just one-third of firms have dedicated marketing staff, while two-thirds do not measure return on investment

ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS continue to fall short in their marketing activities, with large numbers failing to monitor activities.

Research from technology provider Wolters Kluwer found less than a third (29.9%) of firms have dedicated marketing or business development staff, but only 31.2% outsource some promotion responsibilities.

While the 2014 Effective marketing for accountants survey found increased uptake of online marketing, including social media, firms remain reliant on face-to-face interactions and client referrals for business. Despite this, one quarter (24.8%) keep no list of prospective clients.

A majority the 137 respondents also failed to monitor the effectiveness of their marketing. Just under half (47.7%) recorded the conversion rate of leads to new business; this dropped to 37% when asked if they monitored return on marketing investment.

While many firms continue to limit their marketing to email campaigns and events such as local business briefings, more than two-thirds (70%) identified websites as essential or useful to attracting clients, while just under 50% are using social networks like LinkedIn. A small number (15%) have incorporated advanced online activities such as ‘pay-per-click’ ads and webinars into their strategy.

Wolters Kluwer UK tax and accounting executive director Simon Crompton said firms must take on more clients, sell more services or charge more for current services to grow fee income. Although most practices seek to at least maintain their customer base by replacing clients that leave, a practice that wants to “grow organically” must be more proactive.

As practices value direct mail, emails, events, websites and social media, outside of referrals and professional introductions, meaning they are “likely” to benefit from software to help them “manage and measure” their efforts, he added.

Earlier this year, Wolters Kluwer research found 77% of accountants now use social media, with women (85%) more likely to use it than their male counterparts (72%).

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