communication engagementWhen investing in content marketing, accountants naturally ask ‘how are we going to monitor this?’ or ‘how will we know if there’s a return on investment?’.

On the one hand, you’re excited to be trying something new – perhaps you’ve created a profile on a new social media channel, or you’ve uploaded your first video, and you’re sat there waiting to see the results. You’re itching to get your first follower, your first dozen views.

That’s great!

….but let’s back up for a moment.

Is the number of views or followers really the right metric?

Content marketing is almost a buzzword now – really, it’s simply how people do marketing. Because your buyer has changed, it’s impossible to measure your marketing platforms completely in isolation. Measuring Facebook ads, your website, your blogs, your videos, each on their own gives you the wrong picture, because these are all connected.

Content marketing in its simplest form is communication.

Content marketing is about sharing your knowledge with your most ideal prospects and clients.

It’s about sharing it in such a way that they can not only understand it, but appreciate you, your knowledge and get value from it.

As our friend Chris Marr said, “content marketing isn’t a tactic – it’s what you do!”

Marketing is not a tactic to get sales (although of course it does deliver sales!). But when your perspective changes, you see marketing as being about communicating helpful knowledge. Serving your clients and your prospects.

At the heart of communication is engagement.

Engagement is more important than any other metric

Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a second…

If the only time your accountant spoke to you was once a year at your year end, how confident would you feel about their ability to handle your finances?

If you were a prospect of your firm, and no one spoke to you before your initial proposal meeting, how confident would you feel about the firm going into that meeting?

If content marketing is all about communicating the value to your clients, then engagement is all about optimising the experience for your clients and prospects.

It’s engaging with your audience that helps them seeing how important the relationship is with you. Fellow CMA member Chloë Forbes-Kindlen very kindly showed that, if we were to break it down into a progression, it would look like this:

  • Content leads to conversation.
  • Conversation leads to relationships.
  • Relationships lead to results over time.

“Vanity metrics” is something I see too many accountants focusing on. How many followers you’re getting each week. How many website views you’re getting month-to-month.

Whilst these do have a place on monitoring your marketing, they’re not the end goal.

Engagement is not about numbers, it’s about people

You could have an uber-modern website, but it serves no purpose if no one is responding to your content.

You could have thousands of followers on Facebook on Twitter, but that doesn’t matter if no one is engaging with you.

Your goal is to have your prospects engaging with your content and beginning that conversation with you, because it’s that conversation that begins the relationship with the potential client and helps nurture them towards results for your firm over that extended period of time.

This is also why you can’t think of marketing channels in isolation, because they all feed into each other. You’ll often find that your online content (such as your blog posts, for example) generates more engagement and conversation offline.

That means it’s okay if you only have a few followers, if they’re actually talking to you. Better an engaged few than a silent cast of thousands.

Engagement helps you understand how well your content is moving buyers from one stage to the next

Engaging with your prospects and your clients ultimately is how you provide the value to them.

You could start with a blog post, which could have a call-to-action to download a guide. If they download it, they might post about it on social media, giving you an opportunity to engage with them to gather feedback.

You might then follow them on social media, chat with them and provide more value by linking them to other content, and eventually, over time, you’re on the road to developing that long-term relationship with them and potentially nurturing them towards becoming a client.

Your goal ultimately is to build on the communication in a way that delivers an incredible experience for your audience, not only before they become a client, but afterwards as well to maximise their lifetime value.

Don’t wait to engage, because your audience won’t

Your audience won’t wait for you to engage with them. If you leave it too long, you can lose the prospect and you miss out on another relationship that could have let to huge value for them and huge results for your firm.

So, when thinking about your marketing, don’t think about the number of views or followers and what not.

Instead, think about how your content will communicate value to your clients and prospects.

Then, create the dialogue using your content as a springboard to develop the relationship, which will lead you to results over time.

One of the best ways to do this is to ask questions. If you share a post on the 10 ways to save tax for creatives, and someone says, “Great post!”, replying with “Thanks!” ends the conversation there. Replying with “Thanks! Which one did you particularly like?” opens up the dialogue.

That’s what it comes down to… the engagement. Because the more engaged your audience is with you, the more invested they are with you as a person and the more financially invested they will be willing to be.

It’s the relationship that builds the trust. Start that relationship by engaging with your audience – and instead of tracking simply the numbers and the followers and the views, track the engagement. It’s a better metric.

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