[IMGCAP(1)]Have ever completed a profitability analysis on your site?

A website is perhaps one of the most valuable weapons in an accountant’s arsenal. Whether you created it yourself or paid a professional to work their magic, chances are you have one. But what happens when you neglect and fail to update it on a regular basis? More than likely, it’s not performing to your expectations.

We invest significant time and money analyzing and reviewing the ROI of tangible physical assets to ensure a proper return on our investment, yet many of us do not spend the same amount of time and energy analyzing the performance and ROI of our digital footprint. We treat our online assets more like a nameplate or sign on the door than a physical asset capable of generating a significant return.
Approximately 95 percent of all B2B buyers complete online research prior to making a purchase decision, according to research from Accenture. Chances are, the prospective clients you’re trying to reach have already visited your website or have intentions of visiting prior to their sit down with you. The quality of your site is vital, because it’s often the very first impression you make.

This leaves a gaping hole for businesses that do not closely monitor their digital footprint. While it is important to have a quality website that makes a strong first impression, many professionals are hesitant to make the investment in a professional website as it is difficult to ascertain the return you are seeing for the dollars invested.

As accountants, here are some steps we can take to improve the return on investment from our website:

Don't just track traffic, track conversions. Nowadays, it isn't enough to simply track how many clicks you get from Google. You must see what pages were visited and how many of your visitors made contact by email, phone or web form. There are also complex conversion-tracking capabilities within Google Analytics that can provide this data and help you track the leads you receive from your site. This data can be tied to your contact database and the return generated from these clients can not only be tracked, but also measured.

There are many tools available to help improve conversions on your site:

Easy to find contact forms: It is imperative to make it easy for prospective clients to contact you from each page on your site. By providing these user-friendly contact forms, you can generate additional leads that will help grow your business and improve your website’s ROI.

Integrated customer relationship management: There are many CRM tools available to accountants that not only allow for effortless tracking of prospects, but also automate follow-ups for online leads. However, in order to maximize the effectiveness of these tools, you need to ensure that the system you choose will integrate with your contact form. Make sure they have API support that will allow for transmitting their contact information automatically to your CRM. This helps eliminate leads falling through the cracks, especially during the busiest of tax seasons.

Make digital investments that provide long-term return. Some services rent websites to your business and build an online reputation for your site. However, if you decide to change providers, that investment is lost. The traffic and online reputation built stays with the service provider. When managing a website and creating content, always make sure that as you build your online profile, you are the owner of both the site and content.

Custom content: It is very important to create valuable content for your current or potential clients. You want them to see you as a subject matter expert and there is no better way to do that than to demonstrate your expertise through the regular creation of solid quality content.

Case studies and testimonials: Potential clients want to know you can get results. It is important to share the results you achieve for your clients on your website. Testimonials put a face to your clientele and let them speak as an independent voice. Case studies allow you to take a potential client through your thought process and show how you will work to solve their problems.

Make capital improvements to your digital assets. We all understand that physical assets need to be improved upon in order to maintain their value. This is the same for digital ones. Websites, Facebook pages and blogs are all digital assets that represent your business to your clients and colleagues. If they’re outdated and lack fresh, original content, your site loses its effectiveness. As a result, the return you see suffers. You must make regular investments in your digital assets to ensure they remain effective. These can be in the form of regular content updates, Facebook posts or other unique ideas that pique the interest of your prospective clients.

A few effective tools to help you decide what improvements to make include:

Heat-mapping software: The simplest way to get one’s attention is to have insight on where they’re looking. Heat maps help identify where site visitors are clicking, where the user engagement is, and what people are really doing on your site. This can lead to significant conversion gains, just by making certain buttons clickable, cutting out distractions, and knowing where to put the key value points on your web page.

A/B testing tools: Do you know what colors work best for your website? How about which button will get people to utilize your contact form more frequently? The key is testing your options and making decisions based on true statistical data. An A/B testing tool publishes multiple versions of your page. Then 50 percent of the traffic goes to option A, while 50 percent of the traffic goes to option B. This is key because there is no time-specific fluctuation. It’s the same traffic, coming from the same place, at the same time, and you can see which page or design best resonates with your audience.

It is also important to make regular investments in search engine optimization to ensure your site ranks high on search engine results. This may in fact be one of the most important and effective investments you can make in the health of your digital assets. A solid SEO profile will pay dividends of return for years to come. Ranking amongst the top 10 accounting firms for your area on Google will help drive clients to your business with significantly less future marketing investment.

Many times as accountants we are apt to focus on the physical return of assets. While the return on digital assets can be more difficult to quantify, there are strategies that can help track and maximize the return on your investment in digital assets. With careful planning and a smart investing strategy, the ROI on your digital assets can be just as healthy as tangible assets. Businesses that think of their digital footprint in this manner will see significantly more growth than those with stale outdated websites.

John Curtin, CPA, operates a tax practice in Ellicott City, Md. His website is www.curtincpa.com.