email marketing for accounting firms

Email Marketing for Accounting Firms – Tips to Get Started

By: Frank DePino | December 16, 2020

Email marketing can be your accounting firm’s secret weapon. The right email campaign can bring in new clients, build authority with existing clients and generate repeat business. 

In this article, we spell out what email marketing for accounting firms should focus on to optimize one of their most valuable assets, their email list.

Why Should Your Accounting Firm Use Email Marketing?

Despite being one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, email marketing for accounting firms remains one of the most powerful mediums to reach new clients and engage with existing ones.

According to Hubspot,  email marketing generates $38 in revenue for every dollar spent. That is an astounding 3,800% ROI. 

Let’s take a look at a few more email statistics. 

  • 3.9 billion people worldwide use email every day, and the number is growing 3% per year. Compare that to Facebook, which experienced a net decline in users in 2019.
  • 73% of millennials prefer their business communications via email. 95% of baby boomers use email regularly.
  • 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement in the last 12 months.
  • 80% of businesses believe email marketing increases their customer retention.

With those kinds of statistics, email remains the king of digital marketing for the foreseeable future. 

Building Your Email List

Most accounting firms collect emails from their clients.  But far too many let their efforts stop there.

That’s a huge mistake. Here are some simple ways to step up your list building game.

accounting firm email marketing

Systematically Collect Emails 

Our number one recommendation for building an email list is to institutionalize the systematic collection of emails at every contact point in your firm.

We can’t emphasize enough how powerful this simple change in mindset can be for your list building. Here are a few examples, 

  • Keep existing client emails up to date.
    Do you routinely collect emails from your clients? Of course, you do. When’s the last time you checked if those emails are still valid?
  • Collect email IDs from every caller
    People call your office with routine queries every day. Build into your call script that the first thing your receptionist does is collect a name and email ID. 
  • Add An Outbound Email CTA
    Configure the email software on every employee’s account with a standard footer that includes a Call To Action(CTA) to join your email list. Combine this with a targeted lead magnet and watch your list grow daily.
  • Personal Contacts
    Similarly, you and your employees meet potential clients regularly. You might be presently giving these people your business card. That’s great, but they may or may not ever get back to you. 

    Make a practice of collecting email ID’s from the prospects you meet and at least once per week, add those prospects to your email list.

These are all small changes in your process. You will be surprised by how many emails you collect each week by making these simple changes.

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Deploy Lead Magnets

People understand that their emails have value. They also already have a ton of emails in the inbox.  

For client prospects to willingly give you their email ID, they need to get something in return.

We call this a “lead magnet.”  A lead magnet is something of real value (usually digital) that you make available to prospects in exchange for their email ID. Typical examples are a free report or a financial tool.  For other examples of lead magnets, be sure to check out our article on lead magnets.

The advantage of using lead magnets is that a correctly designed lead magnet segments the prospects for you automatically. 

Segmentation results in higher quality prospects.

As an example, if your accounting firm specializes in building contractors, then a tool that helps contractors track expenses would be a great lead magnet for collecting email IDs from finance managers of building contracting firms.

email marketing for cpa

Do Not Buy Email Lists

You’ve probably already been contacted by companies selling email lists of businesses in your area. When doing email marketing for accounting firms, do not buy email lists!

The harsh reality is that purchased email lists are never a good investment. 

When someone knows who you are, and they have permitted you to communicate with them, you are already an authority. They will willingly read your emails. 

Managing Your Email List

Once you have an email list of willing subscribers, it’s time to think about how you will manage that list. 

Platform

The first decision you will need to make is where you will keep the list and how you will email them. 

You will quickly have more people than is practical to maintain using your email client software and, perhaps, a spreadsheet.

The best option for most firms will be a Software as a service (SAAS) provider of email marketing software. The most popular options are Mailchimp, Hubspot and Constant Contact, but the list of available providers grows monthly. 

cpa email marketing

Be sure to check out delivery rates. 

Some of the most popular email marketing companies host many spammers. Consequently, emails from their clients get greater scrutiny from email providers like Gmail and are more likely to be labeled as spam, thus never reaching the prospect’s inbox.   

Segmentation

Have you ever received a marketing email that was so on-point it felt like they were talking to you?

That feeling is the result of good segmentation. 

You might segment based on demographics like gender, geography, income level or age. 

But many of our clients have seen the most improvement by segmenting on psychographics like,
 

  • Services – For example, a tax preparation client would receive different email sequences than a business accounting client. That doesn’t mean you won’t cross-sell services. Just that the cross-sell message will be different.
  •  Sign-up mechanism or place –  A client who shared their email ID with you at a charity event would respond differently to emails than a customer who downloaded a lead magnet for estate planning.
cpa email marketing

Don’t also forget to segment based on engagement. We’ll talk about monitoring the performance of your campaigns later. Those performance indicators are a big clue to segmentation.

Your most engaged clients are also your highest value prospects!

List Hygiene

It may seem counter-intuitive, but one of the smartest moves you can make is routinely deleting people from your list.

According to Mailchimp, the average open rate for professional services firms is 21.94%.

A properly managed email list should perform better than that, a lot better. Because if subscribers consistently do not open your emails, they don’t belong on your list.

A small email list of engaged fans is far more valuable than an extensive list of uninterested people.

A large list of un-engaged subscribers makes it difficult to accurately judge your emails’ performance because the inclusion of subscribers with no real interest in your emails skews the data.

marketing for cpa

Low open rates also negatively impact the delivery rate of all your emails. When your open rates are low, email service providers may flag your emails as potential spam, or worse yet, don’t deliver them at all.

Email marketing software providers charge based on the number of subscribers. All the dead weight is not just hurting your performance; it costs you money.

Here are some critical steps to good email list hygiene.

  • Make unsubscribing easy, one obvious link that quickly unsubscribes the uninterested. It doesn’t hurt to ask if the subscriber would prefer to change the frequency of emails or subscribe to a subset of your content based on their interests.
  • Drop inactive subscribers –  Your email marketing software will track the opens of each email. Periodically, segment your list based on who has not opened the last 10 – 20 emails and remove them from your list.
  • Send bi-annual “still want on this list?” emails – Twice per year, consider sending a simple email asking if they still want to hear from you. If they say no, take them off your list. If they don’t respond, see the previous point.

    People who do respond and say “yes” are your highest value clients and prospects. Consider segmenting them as such. 

What to Use For Your Email Content

The Welcome Email

When getting started with email marketing for accounting firms, the first email a new subscriber should receive is a welcome email. You’ve probably received many of these when you’ve joined someone’s email list, but most people get this wrong.

cpa emailing

Most welcome emails just say how happy the sender is to have the new subscriber. A good welcome email should do a lot more than that for you. 

  • Filter Out the Uninterested –  We just talked about the importance of list hygiene. Your welcome email is your first chance to filter out the people who never should have been on your list in the first place. Do this by saying explicitly what these emails will be about and expressly ask, “Is that something you are interested in? If yes, welcome! If not, here’s the unsubscribe link; I hope to hear from you in the future when this becomes of interest.”
  • Set Expectations – Your welcome email should say spell out the frequency delivery schedule of your emails. For example, we will email you once a month on the 3rd Friday of the month.
  • Provide White Listing Instructions – all emails that go out to many people are suspect to the email service providers. They look for clues from the recipient as to their level of interest.
  • Provide the interested recipient instructions for how to white list your emails with the major email service providers, so the recipient explicitly tells their email provider that they want to receive your emails. Here’s a link to one example of whitelisting instructions.
  • Deliver on your promises – If this person subscribed in response to a lead magnet. Be sure the first email they receive delivers the promised benefit. Fulfilling this commitment establishes you as a person or firm that delivers on its promises.
  • Ask a segmenting question –  This is your first chance to start segmenting your list. Ask a simple question about their area of interest. This segmentation question helps ensure you send this particular prospect content of interest to them.
  • Provide contact information – Many people will join a list because they have an immediate need or question. Offer to solve their problem with a phone call, consultation or email.
  • Make it personal – Introduce yourself and your firm. Send the email from a specific person, a senior partner, the CEO. People read emails from people they know, not from anonymous businesses.

An Indoctrination Sequence 

When a new subscriber opts on to your list, you want to put your best foot forward. Based on the first handful of emails, that new subscriber will quickly decide if your emails are worth their limited attention.

The first 5 to 10 emails you send, following the welcome email, should be your greatest hits, the content your best clients find most interesting. 

How do you know which emails are those? By monitoring performance, more about that shortly.

Provide Value 

Email marketing for accounting firms is all about providing value. 

Your clients will only continue opening your emails if there is something in it for them in the form of information that they can put to work in their lives or business.

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Optimizing Your Email Campaigns

Monitoring (and testing) your individual email performances is the key to building set-and-forget email sequences that will keep your clients and prospects engaged. 

Here are a few of the critical parameters you will want to track.

  • Open rates – What percentage of the emails you send are opened?
  • Opt-in rates – What percentage of people who see your lead magnets opt into your list?
  • Unsubscribe rates – What percentage of people who received a specific email unsubscribed in response? If the rate is higher than average, rewrite that email or remove it from your sequence.
  • Churn rate – Churn rate is the number of subscribers who unsubscribed or removed due to inactivity during a specific period (usually annually) divided by the total number of subscribers.
  • CTR – You should have CTAs or links in every email. What percentage of those are clicked by the subscribers who opened?
  • Conversions – From the links that you included that recipients clicked, what percentage of those became paying clients?
  • ROI – Based on the total conversions during the year directly or indirectly resulting from your email campaigns, what is the ratio of revenue received compared to your email campaign’s cost?  
marketing strategies for cpa

If you are doing your email marketing in-house, someone on your marketing team should be reporting on these stats with every email and taking action to improve as appropriate. A/B testing should also be a regular part of their routine.

If you are outsourcing these activities, then be sure to ask your marketing firm to report on these regularly. 

Final Thoughts

Email marketing for accounting firms can be a big turning point for some companies.

Integrate the tips and techniques we’ve mentioned, and you will be well on your way to converting an activity that turns customers off into a constant low-maintenance source of new leads and revenue.

If it all seems overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out to our consultants here at Mediaboom. 

We’ve helped firms just like yours take their email marketing to new levels.

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.

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