As a tax and accounting professional, you need tools to promote your business, get new customers and increase profits.
Today that means reaching out to your clients all year round through their smartphones with text message marketing.
As with any communication and marketing tool, you have do’s and dons in text message marketing. Following are some practices to consider when evaluating and integrating text message marketing as part of your marketing strategy.
1. Personalized Messages
Your messages should start with your clients' first name. Using your clients' first name is how you establish credibility— it's how you show your clients the text message is from someone who knows them and prompts your clients to read your text message almost immediately!
2. Timely Messages
Some of your clients come to you in late January or early February while others wait until late March or early April. There is little to no benefit in reminding your late-season clients in January; they may not have their documents together and may even see your message as a nuisance. Similarly, your early-season clients shouldn't be reminded in March, as it would be too late. Hence, it is essential to time your messages carefully.
Another example is the birthday campaign. Being in the income tax preparation and accounting industry gives you access to your clients' birth dates— you have a unique advantage compared to business owners from other industries, this allows you to send out birthday greetings and connect with your clients thoughtfully.
3. Relevant Messages
The content of your messages should be relevant to your clients. In our experience working with ATAX, a leading provider of tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll & incorporation services for over 30 years— sending out a discount offer to non-returning clients produces excellent results. However, sending this campaign to your entire contact list is proven ineffective for apparent reasons: Not all of your clients are non-returning clients.
The three best practices mentioned above are at the core of an effective marketing strategy. However, these practices do require a lot of time and energy to execute— time and energy are two resources that are often in extreme scarcity during the tax season. That's when the automation feature comes into play, providing a solution for busy tax professionals, especially during crunch-time, e.g., schedule campaign messages ahead of time for holidays, the start of tax season, and end of the tax season.
5. Importing Files
In any marketing or customer relationship strategy, your clients' information plays a significant role. The text message marketing service you decide to use for your business doesn't have to be compatible with your tax preparation software, but it should be capable of importing your contacts even when it's not directly from your tax preparation software. Thereby, the company should provide you with the necessary tools, i.e., offer you a demo, sample file or guide you in preparing your data files for you to import and successfully manage your contacts moving forward.
6. Bi-Directional Communication
In marketing, communication often tends to be one-sided hence an optimal text message marketing platform should bring in human-to-human, bi-directional communication— your clients want to respond to marketing text messages from your business.
Text message marketing allows your clients not only to see your promotional campaigns but also text you back with questions, set up appointments, reschedule existing appointments and receive a different but all-around type of customer service— the experience alone should have them sold!
7. A Picture Is Worth A ...
Text message marketing campaigns that integrate pictures can deliver tremendous results; this is not to say a plain text message doesn't produce the same effect, but it is generally limited to 160 characters and C'mon who doesn't like to get a visual from time to time? Back to the 160 character limit. Yes, in this day and age there are ways to get around the limitations of 160 characters, it's best to keep your messages within that limit to not only achieve the highest level of deliverability but not lose your clients' interest.
As you can imagine it's challenging to convey full messages in under 160 characters, so promotional pictures come in extremely handy. Recently, one of our clients used this strategy to inform a selective group of taxpayers with ITINs set to expire and who are filing a tax return in 2018, the need to submit their renewal application— clients were appreciative for the text message reminder, bridging the gap between customer service and excellent branding.
8. Legal Compliance
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) represents text message marketing along with automated phone calls and automated fax messages— imposing requirements and steep penalties for violations of rules and regulations.
"Expressing written consent,” is one of the most significant, meaning your clients need to "opt-in" before you send your promotional campaigns. The good news is that as a tax and accounting professional, getting consent can be simple— e.g., you can add a checkbox to the client intake-sheet your clients fill in during their visit.
9. Common Mistake to Avoid
When business owners complete their first well-designed, text message marketing campaign and see the excellent results, it's natural to want more. With the high level of effectiveness comes a higher level of power and over-use of it, particularly while not following best practices and this can cause the recipients to "opt-out," preventing you from sending future text messages or now having to see yourself put in the extra time and efforts to inspire them to opt back in.
Text message marketing is a strategy worth taken into consideration by every tax and accounting business professional that wants to stay competitive.
As tireless as the line “clients are the lifeblood of a business” goes, not one company can avoid interaction with their clients— how your company handles communication can either increase or damage its reputation.
Moreover, your prospective clients get a feel for your business long before they receive your services. So this upcoming tax season, you can consider not just selling your services, but sharing an experience— not wanting customers but loyal followers that support you and invite others to follow you too.
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