INPRACTICEINDUSTRY NEWS | TECHNICAL UPDATES | KEY DATES

INPRACTICE   How to connect with clients using good website design
 

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

How to connect with clients using good website design

The COVID-19 crisis has transformed how consumers interact with businesses. Here is how your accounting practice can enhance its website to enable even closer client engagement.

Sonakshi Babbar | September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many public practitioners to close their office doors and quickly move to service clients online, increasing website dependency.

“It’s very clear that different digital assets are now extremely important,” says Mo Hamdouna, managing director of Mo Works, a Melbourne-based creative agency. 

“Your website is replacing your physical office, so that’s where people will come to engage.”

A good website is not a short-term response to the pandemic, but a shift to digital channels in response to changing consumer behaviour. 

Of people using digital channels for the first time, 75 per cent indicate they will continue to use them when things return to “normal”, according to a survey by McKinsey & Company in April this year. 

Emma Danckert, director of creative marketing consultancy Touching Base, says a website is a key marketing tool that is not only vital for communicating with clients but to highlight the unique benefits of your business.

CPA Australia’s 2019 MY FIRM. MY FUTURE report highlights that successful firms of the future will embrace technological advances that allow more responsive communication with clients. 

Here are some website requirements every public practice should consider to keep pace with changing customer behaviour. 

Your website should talk to clients

According to Danckert, when potential clients first visit a website, they will quickly make certain conclusions about the business. From there, they will build a perception of the business’s work ethic, personality and service quality.

“Often when you look at websites, businesses only talk about themselves: what we do, who our team is, what we’re great at, and awards we’ve won,” she says. 

Danckert explains that to successfully engage a potential client through a website you should talk to them and their needs and what you can help them with. 

You are more than the services you provide

“In the absence of a physical office and face-to-face interaction with the business, [physical] engagement with customers is missing,” Hamdouna says. 

“Your website could bridge this gap by providing information about the people behind the organisation and sharing information relevant to [visitors to the site].”

To make a website more personable and engaging, Danckert recommends developing a brand tone of voice and personality. 

For example, a conversational tone of voice, engaging photography and team photos can create a brand personality that seems fun, young and energetic. 

This will appeal to an audience with a similar easy-going personality and values.  

“Showcasing your team profiles gives an insight into their personalities and how [they] as a team combine to work with,” Danckert maintains.

Drive action through design 

“An aesthetically designed, fresh and user-friendly website is key to any business,” she adds.

Danckert recommends carefully aligning the photography, colour scheme and design with the brand. However, a great website is not just about how it looks; it’s how it encourages visitors to engage with the firm. 

“With a service-based industry, you want to offer a call to action on your website to encourage visitors to reach out to you.”

Hamdouna also suggests making the website more interactive by offering different channels of communication, like WhatsApp, through which to contact the business. 

“Filling in a long contact form can be daunting for most visitors,” he says. “Consider humanising the experience by adding a face to the contact form – it makes people feel they are dealing with a [real person]” he says.

Your website should be search-friendly 

A website should have some form of search engine optimisation (SEO) so that it can be found on Google, which accounts for 93 per cent of all searches conducted in Australia.

“Having a great website that no one can find is the same as having no website,” Hamdouna cautions. “Your website needs to meet search engine requirements so that it’s visible to people looking for your services.” 

“Today, SEO is more sophisticated than just keywords," he says. “Google looks at whether a person visiting your website is engaging with the information and taking action – for example, filling a contact form or clicking on a ‘call now’ button.”

To address this, he recommends adding various call to action buttons at different touchpoints of the customer journey.

Show your credibility and expertise 

“Video testimonials from clients add a lot more credibility than putting up logos,” Hamdouna emphasises. 

“Placing a testimonial before a call to action will reassure a customer and give them an extra push to make the desired action on your website.” 

Other ways to build a customer’s confidence and engagement in your business are “to provide client case studies, topical information and blogs and swapping client logos with industry accreditations and awards”, he adds.

By incorporating the key points raised above, a website with quality content and interactive design can be one of your most effective sales tools and a central marketing platform through which to maintain current clients and attract new clients.