Accountants are terrible marketers. Yes, I know that might be a generalisation, but it also happens to be mostly true. In our experience, the accountancy firms we take on either have no email marketing strategy in place or they have a horrible one.
Email marketing can take on many forms — cold emails, emails to subscribers, emails to clients, etc.
Too many firms that we deal with think that email marketing is simply a matter of collecting up your clients’ email address and then blasting out a mail to them now and then telling them about something in which they might or might not be interested. Official guidance on whether this is legal is murky, covered under the heading of “soft opt-in”.
But, whether legal or not, the approach is clunky and cumbersome at best. We’ve seen some practices simply add all the email addresses of their clients into the BCC (or, worse, the CC) field and then simply send the mail out!
How many people opened the mail? How many clicked on links in the mail? How many people marked it off as spam? If someone unsubscribes, how do you handle it? Do you keep the name on a list? How will you guarantee that you never send a marketing email to that person again?
All these questions come under the heading of Marketing.
Sending an initial marketing mail to a client might generally be considered acceptable (if the client is in the UK). Still, it does become a violation of applicable laws if the users “opt out” of such emails.
And what if you’re running a cold email campaign alongside your campaign for existing subscribers? It starts to get a little confusing, and that’s why most accountancy practices just give up at this point.
You need a system that manages mails, subscribers, non-subscribers, opt-ins and opt-outs seamlessly and professionally so that all you have to do is prepare the email and send it off.
The mail also needs to look professional.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that make all of the above possible.
1. MailerLite, MailChimp, GetResponse
If you’re looking for a platform which does only emailing then MailerLite, MailChimp or GetResponse might be the answer for you.
When I say “only” emailing, I don’t mean that the tools are not sophisticated. They are. And they offer advanced reporting, which can give you an idea of how each of your campaigns is performing.
The only “problem” (at least with MailerLite and MailChimp) is that they tend to be something of sticklers when it comes to taking on new accounts with existing email subscribers. They want to make sure that their platform is not used to send out spam and wish to know, specifically, where a list of subscribers was obtained from, and whether or not those subscribers are opt-in subscribers.
If you’re planning on sending emails to your client base, this might be a problem when MailChimp/MailerLite start vetting your account. You could contact their support team and discuss the matter with them, but it’s not guaranteed that they will allow you to open the account.
If you plan on getting new subscribers, however, each of the above options is relatively straightforward to use. They offer all the “usual” features of email marketing:
- Easy design interface
- Advanced reporting of user engagement
- Unsubscribe feature
- Audience profiles so individual emails can get sent to specific groups
These are the best options if your email campaign is simple. For larger accountancy practices, however, you’re probably going to want something that can integrate with your CRM.
2. Keap (previously InfusionSoft)
Although there are plenty of email marketing tools out there that only do emailing, an accountancy firm of any respectable sized is better off using email marketing software that integrates with its CRM.
Keap is one of our favourite options in this respect. The software is “robust” and “effectively streamlines your marketing by combining your CRM, sales and marketing automation software and online store into one platform.”
It has all the expected features of an emailing software:
- Design-tools for creating professional-looking emails easily
- Analytics to be able to tell how much engagement the email obtained
- Tools to improve “deliverability”
“Deliverability” is an immense subject which gives every email marketing company nightmares. It is a complicated topic which has to do with ensuring that your email lands in someone’s inbox and not in their junk folder. The issue is out of the scope of this article, but you must know this: If you’re running your own in-house “marketing” campaign with your local email program, your deliverability will almost certainly eventually suffer.
3. Salesforce’s Email Studio and Marketing Cloud
Salesforce’s Email Studio forms part of its trailblazing Marketing Cloud platform which leverages sophisticated AI to best market to your clients. This is a premium offering, and definitely something to consider if your accountancy firm is somewhat large.
It does far more than merely managing email campaigns, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll stick with that feature.
Email Studio offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop design tool. You can build email campaigns that respond automatically to triggers and send a follow-up email to users depending on the actions they take.
The tool has a steep learning curve because it can do so much, and if your accountancy firm is a high-end firm, this might be the platform for you.
Don’t ignore the tools
The backend and complexity of email campaigns are far more complicated than you might imagine. I touched briefly on the subject of deliverability. But there is far more to know about this:
- Where is the mail originating from?
- Is it coming from a “trusted” source?
- Does the email contain text which might be considered spammy?
- Does the email read like some spam currently doing the rounds on the internet?
If you send mail which gets incorrectly triggered as spam, it might have a detrimental effect on your ability to send your clients valid business emails in future, because your business mails will start landing in their junk folder.
Companies specialising in email campaigns go to great pains to provide you with the tools necessary to ensure your emails don’t get marked as spam.
On the subject of email campaigns, investment is the answer. Invest in a solution that saves you time and brings in a high ROI because your marketing emails are actually arriving, being opened, and being engaged with by their recipients.