The more you learn about content marketing, the more aware you become that your website is your marketing hub. No matter what you do with social media or email or events or anything else, your website remains yours alone. It’s where the rest of your marketing points to, and the starting point for the rest of your marketing.
So what happens when you know that your website needs a bit of a refresh, but you have absolutely no idea where to start? What if you don’t have the budget for a full, customised, beautifully branded site yet, but you cringe every time you look at it (or certain pages on it)?
There’s a lot you can do, and some of it is quite simple. But before you begin, ask yourself these questions:
1. How’s your brand looking?
Before you start revamping your website, it’s critical to address your brand. Was your logo “developed” five or ten years ago by the cousin of your wife’s assistant who was interested in graphic design? Is it basically the name of your firm in a particular font and colour?
Many times, we find, it’s not your website that’s the problem. You could do a lot with it. The fact is, your brand is outdated or was never properly addressed in the first place, so everything you do with it looks a bit dated, too.
If this is you, we suggest starting with our branding workshop. It’s two sessions with myself and our Head Brand Designer, Col (who is not only a nice guy but he has 20 years’ branding experience). We’ll talk about how the brand could be improved or changed, and you’ll be a lot further forward than if you started adding buttons or widgets to your website.
2. How clear are you on your niche, or target audience?
All the pretty design in the world is not going to solve your problem if you are not crystal clear who you are talking to, and what their issues are.
It’s the core message of They Ask You Answer, and it helps immensely with changes to your website. When you get more clarity about who your website is for, you’ll focus your efforts on the message to those people.
Remember, message is the most important part of your site. You can have the right message to the right people, with a really ugly website and brand, and still get leads and new business. Conversely you can have an amazingly beautiful fresh modern “forward thinking” website, but after a few seconds your site visitors will realise that they don’t see anything different between the message of your site and the message of a thousand other accountancy firm sites.
3. Does your site have any of the traditional, boring things on it?
If your site has any of these things on it (or is missing the items mentioned), you may want to reconsider at a minimum your messages, and at a maximum the content and purpose of the entire site itself:
- “Welcome to our website”. It’s 2018. People know they’re on a website. Move on to what you’re actually saying.
- Any of these words: Modern, forward thinking, professional, friendly, cloud accounting, no obligation chat, free consultation, bespoke, tailored, self assessment, compliance, comprehensive….I could go on. If you have one or two of these words you might be able to get by. If you have all of them, please address your website content immediately.
- More than 5 services pages. If you have pages for accounting, tax, management accounts, business advisory, consulting, payroll, financial planning, wealth management, etc., etc., etc., you’re not standing out. Simplify.
- Terrible stock photography. Stock photography doesn’t have to be bad. Sites like Unsplash and Pexels have some pretty cool images that do not look “stocky”. But if yours are random stock people in suits pointing at computers and laughing, or lots of calculators, you’ll need a refresh.
4. Is your site missing any of these things?
In our experience, the visitors to accountancy firm websites expect these things. If you’re missing them, it’s time for some edits:
- Your process and fees. Your prospects have a general idea of what accountants do. What they want to know is, are you the kind of people they can work with? Is it easy to get in touch? What is the process and what happens next? What kind of fees might they be paying by working with you?
- Regularly updated blog posts. You know how having a website is considered a standard part of doing business these days? Well, once you have a site, having a blog on it is a standard part of a website. Get one, write blog posts, and publish them. (Our free Masterclass will help you with that.) Blogs help your prospect to understand how you educate and inspire your clients. And if your blogs don’t do that, correct it by writing content that teaches and helps.
- No social media links. Social media is how your prospective client knows whether you are telling the truth when you say you’re modern and forward thinking and all the rest. If all you have is an old Twitter account and a LinkedIn icon that doesn’t work, I guarantee you they will move on to another accountant who is a lot more active, present, and accessible.
- More than one call to action. If your primary call to action is “call us” or “arrange your no obligation free consultation now” on every single page, rest assured your visitor has mentally switched off after seeing it a few times, and it’s less likely they will take action. You want a real, human call to action, and it needs to be different on every page. Your call to action needs to be relevant to the page and the message on it. So if you have a page about Xero, the call to action might be “arrange your Xero setup session now”. For a blog post, the call to action could be “Get these blogs sent to you by email each month”. (I strongly suggest having a good focus area for your blog – a generic email isn’t going to cut it.)
We suggest joining our Free Marketing Masterclass to learn all about these principles and how they apply to your website and the rest of your marketing. Then you can decide what to do next.
5. What platform is your current site built on?
Is it WordPress, Squarespace, some random template-platform that you don’t even know what it’s called? This will affect how easy it is to change.
Perhaps you had your site built on some template builder many years ago, and it’s difficult to access. And although you pay a monthly fee which includes edits and changes, you are the one who is expected to know what these changes are – you don’t get help and guidance on content or design.
Here’s where to start depending on the site platform:
- WordPress: You can pick a new template and transfer everything over to that. Same website, new fresh look.
- Squarespace: You may want to consider moving to either WordPress or Rocketspark. Almost every client we have who had a Squarespace site found that it was nice at the start, but it has a lot of design and editing limitations.
- Template builder: If you’ve got one of those standard template sites for accountants that isn’t doing the trick anymore, again we suggest moving to either WordPress or Rocketspark.
We can do the whole website transfer for you – and best of all you’ll then be able to edit it, add pages, write and publish blog posts, do whatever you need to with a good base.
Remember, your website is never finished. A revamp is a great place to start – but make sure you’re looking at it as the beginning of a long relationship with marketing that has no end point.