CPA Growth Trends, Marketing

Business Development: Top Strategies for Growing Your Email Marketing List

Written By: Brandon Ferris, Winding River Consulting

Email is an effective tool in the arsenal of today’s growth leader. While many other platforms have gained prominence in digital marketing, email remains at the top in terms of ROI, offering ROI potential of $36 for every $1 spent according to a study by Medium.com.

In fact, despite the popularity of social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter, you are still six times more likely to receive higher click-rates through an email than you are from a tweet (campaignmonitor.com).  In another study, McKinsey & Company found that email is still 40 times more effective at reaching your target audience than both Twitter and Facebook.

But effective, revenue-driving email marketing doesn’t just happen. It requires intentional efforts, resources, and, most importantly, a VALUE OFFER for your audience.

Firms must actively work to both build and maintain their distribution lists. Without authentic, targeted distribution, even an impeccable email campaign will fall short. More importantly, it is crucial that your email strategy aligns with your firm’s overall digital marketing strategy, and that you allocate time, tactics, and resources to email to reach maximum impact.

Email is a major force for accounting firms today, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. How can today’s accounting firms build, maintain and properly target their email marketing lists to deliver value to their audience? Let’s dive in!

Cross-Channel Promotion

Your firm’s email newsletter is one of the easiest things to routinely promote in all marketing channels. Assuming you’re continually populating these emails with top-notch content, events and providing value with lead magnets (more on those later), your newsletter should be promoted at every corner of your firm without hesitation.

Here are some of the best places you should be promoting your newsletter:

  • Your website
    • CTAs (Calls to Action)
    • Pop-ups
    • Resource section
  • Email signatures
  • Social media
    • Regular posts
    • Company description
  • Professional website bios
  • Association portals
  • Word of mouth
  • In-person events
  • Webinars
  • New client onboarding
  • Subscription checkboxes on all website forms

By promoting your newsletter across a variety of marketing channels, you ensure that anyone who has a touchpoint with your brand can join your ongoing insights.

Website

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a website designed to guide your visitors toward becoming leads. One of the most impactful ways to convert website visitors is by driving them to your newsletter. Your website is unintrusive, boasts many ways to collect data, and can feature targeted CTAs based on where your prospect might be in their journey through your funnel. Here are some of the top ways you can optimize your firm’s site.

Pop-up Calls to Action

One of the best ways to organically grow your firm’s distribution list is through pop-up CTAs on your webpages. If you are only using embedded, end of page CTAs on your page, it might be time to also consider implementing pop-ups. Pop-up CTAs have an estimated 8% conversion rate, compared to the 1.5% conversion rate of end-of-page CTAs (Source: Grow and Convert).

Below is an example from a Winding River Consulting client utilizing a pop-up email form across their website. The “Industry” toggle helps them segment their audience and target them with relevant insights in their newsletter. Currently, their emails boast a 46% open rate, indicating high value delivered and quality distribution.

When designing pop-up CTAs that convert, keep these best practices in-mind:

  • Keep it Simple. CTAs should clearly communicate your offer. Avoid the common accounting pitfall of filling your CTA with “marketing fluff.”
  • Use Action Verbs. Action verbs provide clarity to your CTA, and truly make it a call to ACTION. Use words like “join”, “subscribe,” or “sign up” to help drive conversions.
  • Showcase Your Brand. Your CTAs should be unashamedly and authentically YOU. Don’t be afraid to infuse your personal brand in your CTAs. This will strengthen your offer, help catch readers’ attention, and build your firm’s brand identity at the same time.
  • Convey Value. Put yourself in the shoes of a website visitor. What would you offer your email address to receive? A helpful guide? An e-book on a topic that is impacting your business right now? A webinar? Or maybe relevant, monthly news and industry trends in your email once a month? Whatever it is, make sure your CTA communicates that value to your visitors.

In addition to following best practices for your CTAs, be sure to optimize pop-ups (and regular CTAs) for the website pages they reside on. Does your construction niche have a regular newsletter for the industry? Maybe your tax team just released a guide on this year’s top tax-saving tips. Be sure to promote this industry/service specific content on related website pages. Let your visitors’ journey help guide the content you are promoting to them.

Additionally, leading CMS systems such as HubSpot provide a powerful data toolkit for reviewing your website data in granular detail. Take advantage of detailed data, analytics, and A/B testing capabilities to continually hone your website content to drive conversions.

Develop Lead Magnets

A lead magnet is a value offering that your visitors can gain access to by providing details in a form such as their name, company, and, you got it, email address. As mentioned above, lead magnets are the fuel for your website CTAs and provide the “what’s in it for me” (WIFM) needed to get people to subscribe to your content.  Common lead magnets include e-books, whitepapers, podcasts, helpful videos, and infographics, to name a few.

Put simply, a good lead magnet should be:

  • Highly relevant. Don’t be afraid to focus on a specific topic when creating a lead magnet. Broad topics may get you a lot of visibility, but won’t tell you as much about what your lead is interested in.
  • Your lead magnet should contain insights and info your audience cannot easily find elsewhere. Ask yourself what your magnet needs to provide to stand out.
  • Trustworthy and Informed. Lead magnets are a direct reflection of your firm’s professionals and brands. This will most likely be one of a lead’s earliest impressions of your firm. Ensure your magnet communicates the value and quality clients can expect.

Think of your lead magnets as gifts you offer to potential clients. The best kinds of gifts focus on the recipient’s wants and needs, rather than the giver’s. If your content is praised internally but is not valuable to your client at the end of the day, do not expect to see much traction with your promotions.

Clean Your Email List

As your email list grows, you’re more likely to see spam accounts, bots, and inactive users mixed in alongside your actionable, qualified leads. Get in the habit of regularly reviewing your email list and removing unengaged accounts from your distribution. Doing so will keep your lists healthy with increased deliverability rates, engagement rates, and fewer spam reports/unsubscribes.

Successfully navigating the realm of email marketing requires time and resource investment in actively managing your database to ensure that lists are appropriately segmented and regularly updated. Many accounting firms encounter challenges in this area, particularly during the migration to a new marketing automation platform, as they grapple with the complexities of data cleanup. However, employing robust workflows facilitated by tools such as HubSpot can streamline and automate these processes, contributing to the maintenance of a clean and efficient database and freeing up your team’s time. This proactive approach not only enhances deliverability and engagement but also strengthens the foundation for a successful email marketing strategy.

Wrapping Things Up

At the end of the day, everything comes back to VALUE. A well-crafted email with a well-maintained, segmented list provides value for both the firm and the subscriber.

You know this to be true in your own life. You subscribe to newsletters and brands because of the value you receive. Whether it’s news, insights, events, deals or otherwise, if you are not receiving the value you expect from an email newsletter, you can bet the unsubscribe button will be promptly clicked.

As you start to build your email list, set realistic goals to help measure the value your email strategy is delivering. Quality email lists cannot be built in a day, nor should they be. Your list will likely start slow, with a small number of subscribers. But it is always better to have a smaller list populated by high-quality subscribers as opposed to a large list with dead emails, bots, and uninterested “subscribers.”

As you grow your list, set tracking goals for your firm to help measure your success. What open rates is your firm targeting (20% minimum is a good start)? What click-through rate should each email target (according to HubSpot, the average for the accounting industry is 5.9%)? What are the bounce rates both your emails and your website are receiving? All these metrics anchor your strategy in the value you provide your subscribers.

These strategies are some of the best ways today’s firms are bringing in subscribers and building trust amongst their audience. Creating an effective email list is your first step towards implementing effective email marketing strategies that provide sought-after value and nurture future and existing clients.

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