Accounting Today’s 2021 Year Ahead report reached out to hundreds of accountants to ask about their plans for the coming year. Researchers behind the report also reached out to top firm leaders for insights and advice regarding the industry in 2021. Out of all the respondents, one thing remained constant: technology.
The Future of Accounting
Accountants and accounting firms expect the increasing popularity of technology. Machine learning artificial intelligence (AI), for example, offload redundant tasks in audit and task departments and reduce production costs. Automation, AI, blockchain, the cloud, and the increasing capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) are leading to another industrial revolution.
Automation and AI will cut down the time needed for transactional process. Instead, there will be more time spent on higher-risk areas. In time, accountants will have to work smarter rather than harder.
In addition to the way technology changes how accountants work, it affects their interaction with clients who are also realizing the convenience of technology. As the industry integrates automation and AI in business processes, clients are becoming more digital. They are more present online than ever.
Accountants, it seems, have to start working with digital creatives to serve today’s clients better.
Accountants and Creatives: What Would Their Dynamics Be Like?
In the agency setting, accounts and creatives tend to butt heads. Account executives talk in terms of lead generation, business sales, and return on investment. On the other hand, copywriters and graphic designers have a workflow that revolves around content that are as substantial as they are engaging.
Although manageable, the disparities between accounts and creatives are unavoidable. The former talks in numbers whereas the latter uses a less tangible and more visual language.
It isn’t surprising, then, that it never really occurred to accountants and creatives to work together. Given how quickly the accounting industry is adapting to technology and how consumers are increasingly digital, they will have to do so now.
Technology has changed the way consumers make buying decisions. They do their research online and compare multiple brands before settling with what they think will give them their money’s worth. Accountants have existing clients who might recommend the business to peers, but it might not be enough to reach the target of new clients. In this case, accountants need a navigable and user-friendly website.
Building a website for accounting firms is not as simple as it sounds. The site has to look good and perform even better for it to generate leads and convert them into sales. As such, accountants have to work with web designers to meet the increasingly digital preferences of potential clients.
Disparities cannot be avoided because accountants and web designers come from two different industries and have different job descriptions. Accountants file taxes and manage financial statements whereas web designers build and polish websites. They have a common ground, though: both want to keep things simple for their clients.
Attracting New Clients: In What Ways Do Web Designers Assist Accountants?
Although technology has streamlined the way accountants do bookkeeping and track financial records, there’s still a lot of paperwork to do and numbers to deal with. There isn’t enough time to learn how web design works and what tools and techniques are most effective in generating leads and traffic.
Professional web designers take on the job of conceptualizing and creating an effective website for accounting firms. These creatives conduct thorough research to build a site that attracts prospective individuals and businesses that need help with audits, taxes, and financial management and planning.
These are the ways web designers help accountants gain more clients:
Responsive Web Design
Accounting firms have clients that range from new entrepreneurs to long-time business owners. They use different devices ranging from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktops. Web designers make sure the site loads properly on all devices.
Clean and Simple Graphics
Web designers know the best way to earn the trust of different demographics. For accounting firms, this means sleek and simple website graphics — no frills. Then, they match the minimalist layout with unique images instead of stock photography.
Distinct Brand Identity
Although designers have many website design ideas for accountants, they modify templates or tailor new ones based on each accounting firm’s brand identity. This way, the website leaves a positive memorable impression on potential clients.
Free and Gated Content
Free content is an effective way to engage with potential clients. But gated content makes them more curious about the firm’s year-end tax advice, market updates, and more. Web designers add a balanced amount of these two types of website content.
As beautiful as a website is, it may not reach its maximum potential without the assistance of search engine optimization (SEO). Professional web designers incorporate different aspects of SEO, such as targeted keywords, to boost the site’s visibility.
Responsive and mobile-friendly web design is only the beginning of an accounting firm’s online success. This design boosts conversion even more when paired with other digital marketing services, like search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and even social media management. When combined, these solutions attract, engage, and convert more prospective clients.
Are There Special Features That Make Accounting Websites Stand Out?
Websites for accountants and bookkeepers are different from regular information sites and e-commerce sites. It would require tools that potential clients need to gauge whether they should make a call to action. For example, a CPA firm’s website might feature the following:
Tax Payment Calculator
Site visitors who are looking for tax-related services may be interested in a custom tax calculator that shows their estimated tax payments or refunds.
Potential clients move one step closer to making a call to action when they have access to downloadable references and forms that answer their concerns.
Customized Contact Forms
Web designers know where to put CTA buttons on the website. A strategically placed contact form encourages potential clients to schedule consultations.
Technology continues to change the way the accounting industry works. This will be particularly evident in 2021. So it’s wise to look into the cost of professional website design; to embrace technology for smarter and more agile work processes rather than to stick with traditional processes and get left behind by the industry. Moreover, it’s a good move to invest in a mobile-friendly website that attracts more visitors and brings in more clients.