The ecommerce accountants guide to attracting clients and dominating their niche

The way that we do business together has changed markedly over the last few decades. In particular, most product-based businesses have moved online to take advantage of the opportunities that the lucrative digital space presents.

Marketplaces like Amazon, and website platforms such as Shopify make it easy for sellers to establish a presence, reach a wider range of customers, and develop an enduring enterprise.

This large scale shift away from shopping malls and corner stores presents an enormous opportunity for accountants that are ready to embrace the change. Cloud accounting software makes it easy for businesses to manage their finances with ease, and integrations like A2X reduce the amount of work required for sellers to stay on top of their bookkeeping.

That's fantastic, right? But you may be wondering - where do accountants fit into the scene if technology is constantly reducing the amount of work that clients require from us?

In this guide, we answer your burning questions about how to thrive in such a changing world, and provide you with a proven blueprint for how to grow a wildly successful ecommerce accounting business that attracts the right clients on autopilot.

More specifically, we take a closer look at:

  • The changing landscape of ecommerce accounting and where the market is heading.
  • Stage 1 - attracting leads: the best ways to establish ongoing sources of high quality potential clients.
  • Stage 2 - warming them up: how to establish trust and build your credibility in the digital space.
  • Stage 3 - converting them into clients: the best tools and tips for converting your opportunities into paying clients.

The changing landscape of ecommerce accounting

The accounting space is experiencing a fundamental shift as companies around the world adapt to survive (and thrive) in the new digital world that we now call home.

In particular, we have observed that many of the fastest growing accounting firms are making the following shifts:

  1. Instead of offering individual services, many modern accountants are now providing comprehensive solutions.
  2. Bookkeeping is largely managed through the use of apps and integrations (like A2X and TaxJar) that connect to cloud accounting software. This saves time manually entering transactions and filing returns that can be better spent elsewhere.
  3. Many accountants are shifting from billing clients on an hourly rate for the work completed to charging a monthly retainer for their services.
  4. When clients interact with their accountants, consultancy and advice provides more value than compliance and 'balancing the books'. In other words, successful ecommerce accountants focus on helping their clients to make more money rather than just doing the work.
  5. Rather than bringing on any paying client that needs help, growth-focused accountants are opting to focus on dominating a small niche and tailoring their offering to maximize value for this specific group of customers.

Takeaway: Successful ecommerce accountants are moving towards partnering with their clients in a higher capacity rather than just providing services when they are called upon. As a result, the path towards growth is clearer and it makes the accounting practice easier to manage.

Niching down

MuseMinded is an accounting firm that focuses on providing enormous amounts of value to a specific group of clients - small to medium sized Amazon sellers based in the United States.

By focusing on a clear and concise set of clients, they are able to double down on providing value in the places where it really matters. In doing so, they might not be a suitable fit for every business, but they certainly are the best option for their target market.

Instead of billing for work when clients call them, MuseMinded provides a range of services for a fixed monthly retainer. These services include:

  • Processing Amazon transactions and accurately recording them in the client's cloud accounting system.
  • Monthly bookkeeping reports and inventory adjustments.
  • Automated payroll processing.
  • Calculation and filing of sales tax returns in each state.
  • Unlimited support as and when clients need it.

For MuseMinded's customers, this offering solves their bookkeeping problems, freeing up their time to focus on exploring new opportunities and growing the business.

And while they do provide an enormous amount of value, most of the workload is managed by automated apps such as A2X for revenue recognition, TaxJar for sales tax and Gusto for payroll management.

In doing so, MuseMinded are able to dedicate their team's time to serving clients on a higher level through providing advice on how they can make more money and offering technical support to ensure that the system runs smoothly.

Takeaway: By focusing on serving a specific niche, MuseMinded has been able to develop a standard package that is easy to manage, ticks all the boxes for clients, and can be provided at a very affordable price. Through dominating a smaller niche, the focus shifts from chasing new business to attracting your ideal clients.

Are you ready for growth?

When you're looking to bring on new clients through digital channels, it's important to be specific about who you're seeking to serve. Rather than being 'just another accountant' in an already cluttered marketplace, why not narrow down your audience and refine your offerings until you are clearly the best option for your ideal customers?

This shift from selling your skills to serving your niche ensures that you have a compelling offering which is designed to provide ongoing value. Before you begin attracting leads and converting them into clients, it's important to first understand who you're looking to attract and to tailor your operations for their needs.

Here is a checklist to ensure that you have the fundamentals in place first:

  1. We know who our clients are, their specific pain points, and which value drivers matter most to them.
  2. Our systems, tech stack and processes are designed to maximize the value that our customers receive, and can scale as we grow larger.
  3. We have the human resources and capacity to take on new clients and ensure that they continue to receive a high level of service.
  4. Our website, branding, and digital assets are designed with the needs of our ideal clients in mind.

In the chapters that follow, we uncover our proven 3 step funnel for attracting the ideal clients and dominating your niche. When done right, marketing funnels are extremely effective at converting cold prospects into warm customers.

But if you don't know who you're trying to reach, or if your customer fulfilment system (team, website, tech stack, processes etc.) isn't designed with your customers needs in mind, then your marketing activities aren't likely to be very effective.

For more information about the customer fulfilment system and why it's important to get this part right first, check out this article about Michael Gerber's book, The E-Myth.

Takeaway: Before setting up your marketing funnel, you need to know who you're trying to reach. It's also important to ensure that your systems, branding and team is designed with these clients in mind. If you skip this step and start searching for clients before getting clear about who you're actually seeking to serve, you'll find it much harder to succeed.

Stage 1 - Attracting Leads

Once you know who your customers are, and have positioned your firm to ensure that you are the best option to solve their problems, it's time to establish the first stage of your marketing funnel - attracting leads.

There are countless ways to reach new clients, and some will always produce better results than others. The following sections take a closer look at some of the most effective methods that modern ecommerce accountants use to attract leads.

When you're considering new ways to attract clients, it's important to ask yourself two key questions:

  1. Is this where my ideal client is spending their time? In other words, is this activity an effective use of your time or would it be better spent elsewhere?
  2. Are these marketing activities creating evergreen sources of leads? In other words, will your actions continue to deliver results over time or are they only designed to reach potential customers today?

For example: writing a blog takes the same amount of investment regardless of whether it gets read once or 1 million times and people can always come back to view it in the future. However, cold calling a prospective client doesn't deliver any lasting value or source of leads unless they become a client.

Keyword research and local SEO

When people are looking for an accountant, they often turn to search engines such as Google to find a suitable match. Here are some of the benefits of using SEO to reach your target clients:

  1. You can be specific about where you show up, and therefore target people that are more likely to become clients. For example, if someone searches for 'ecommerce accountants in Denver' or 'Amazon FBA accountants for small business', they tend to be a higher quality lead than someone who searches for a more general term such as 'ecommerce accountant'.
  2. People tend to trust organic search results more than they trust the adverts that pop up on screen.
  3. Specific search terms, otherwise known as 'long tail keywords' are easier to rank for because there is less competition and they attract higher quality leads.
  4. By using research tools like SEM Rush, we can access a wide range of data such as what people are searching to find your competition, the monthly search volumes for each keyword, and what other companies are doing to show up at the top of Google for these searches.

Reaching your target customers through local SEO involves a logical process that starts with keyword research. Check out our SEO Guide For ecommerce Accountants to learn how to do this for your business.

Takeaway: Search engines are a fundamental part of how we use the internet. By optimizing your online presence to show up in the right search terms, you can increase the chances of attracting the right people to your website.

Create free tools and guides to provide upfront value to potential clients

To dominate your niche, you want to position yourself as a reliable and credible player in the eyes of potential clients. A great way to deliver value upfront, and serve your audience is to create free tools and guides that solve specific problems which are common throughout your target market.

Examples:

  • How to sell your Amazon FBA business - we created this free guide to attract successful Amazon merchants that are looking to streamline their business in preparation for sale.
  • UK Tax Calculator - free tools don't need to be complex. The ecommerce Accountants provide this simple spreadsheet to help business owners get an idea of how much tax they will need to pay.
  • Free FBA valuation tool - this tool is used to help sellers understand how much their Amazon business might be worth. However, it is also a lead magnet that the firm uses to set up meetings with potential clients.
  • Free bookkeeping course - Amazon sellers that haven't ever needed to deal with accounting often find that they don't quite understand what is going on, so this course helps to lay the foundations for them.

Not only are these free tools and guides useful for positioning you as a credible authority in your niche, but they also serve as evergreen assets. You only need to create them once, but there is no limit to the amount of times they can be used, or how many people they can support.

Takeaway: Free tools and guides serve multiple purposes - developing your reputation, providing a frictionless way to help your target market solve their problems, and creating an ongoing source of leads to fuel your marketing funnel.

Get your firm listed on the relevant directories

When people are looking for an accountant, they will often search through directories to find a suitable professional in their area. When you're deciding which directories to list your business on, it's important to think carefully about where your audience goes to find answers.

Example: A2X is the leading Amazon and Shopify accounting plugin. As you can probably imagine, we get lots of inquiries from sellers that are looking for an accountant. To help serve our customers and support our partners, we maintain a directory of trusted accountants in each region of the world. As a result, we send hundreds of leads to our accounting partners every month.

There are plenty of other directories that are suitable for offering your accounting services. Here are a few examples:

Takeaway: Listing your firm on the right directories doesn't take much effort, but it can pay ongoing dividends. After all, the businesses that find you through these lists tend to be those that are in the market for your services.

Build your profile through co-marketing opportunities

Just like any other industry, people that sell products online attend conferences, watch webinars and are generally on the lookout for ways to grow their knowledge, connections and income.

At the same time, the organizers of these events are always looking for skilled experts to collaborate with, become sponsors, fill booths and provide valuable knowledge to the attendees.

Here are a few examples of industry conferences and meetups that might be worth considering:

  • Prosper Show - held annually in Las Vegas, this conference is an education focused event for established Amazon sellers.
  • Shopify Meetups - these local events are held in cities throughout the world on a regular basis. They are designed for fellow Shopify entrepreneurs to connect and learn from each other.
  • Amazon Sellers Group TG - is a support group for Amazon sellers. They organize annual meetups in New York, and have a range of support services for Amazon sellers.
  • SellerCon - this annual conference is for Amazon sellers and companies that work in the space.
  • Sellers Summit - based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this annual conference is another event that Amazon sellers attend to stay on the pulse of the market.
  • eTail Conference - this four day event is for online retailers that use all different platforms, with a focus towards educating digital entrepreneurs about the best ways to succeed.
  • Rocky Mountain Summit - is another conference for ecommerce sellers to connect and learn from each other.
  • ecommerce Expo - as the name suggests, this London-based event is held in London is for online sellers to connect and learn from the best.

Attending trade shows and local meetups is one way of finding new sources of leads. But it's not the only way. Podcasts are another method of reaching new audiences.

If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is that the ecommerce space is only going to expand in the years to come. As more retailers open online stores, there are going to be more conferences, webinars, podcasts, blogs and educational events started to support this growing market.

This translates to plenty of opportunities to establish your presence and attract leads to your brand. So if you're considering where you can find speaking engagements and co-marketing opportunities, remember to think outside the box and look for credible places where your ideal clients go to learn and connect.

Takeaway: By attending reputable events and collaborating with established players in your niche, you can develop a reputation for being the accounting expert that people can rely on for sound advice and support.

Reach the right people using pay per click advertising

When used correctly, paid ads can be a highly profitable (and scalable) way of generating quality leads. However, if you don't know what you're doing, advertising can chew up cash very quickly without providing tangible results.

It is therefore important to make sure that your advertising reaches the right people, and that you have a plan in place to ensure that marketing spend translates into revenue at the other end.

Google Ads targeting high intent keyword searches, and Quora Ads (for targeting specific topics) are very cheap and work well for reaching ecommerce businesses.

Facebook ads don't tend to be very useful at this stage because they are more audience based - compared to Google and Quora which target specific search intentions.

To get the most out of your advertising budget, you'll either want to work with a quality ads agency, or invest in learning how to do it yourself. For more knowledge about succeeding with ads, check out these resources:

Takeaway: Pay per click advertising is a highly effective way of reaching new clients when you do it right. If you decide to use advertising to reach new clients, make sure that the money you invest translates into paying customers on the other end.

Stage 2 - Warming Them Up

Now that you have the foundations of your marketing funnel sorted, and evergreen sources of leads that are attracting people to your brand, it's time to display your credibility and build trust with your audience.

This stage takes place when people visit your website, so it's important to help your help people feel comfortable about meeting with you and trusting that you've got what it takes to help them succeed.

Takeaway: This stage is all about breaking down the barriers and reservations that potential customers may have about doing business with you, and proving that you are the best option for their needs. Not only does this increase the proportion of people booking appointments, but it also makes your job of converting them into clients (stage 3) much easier.

Get reviews and display them proudly

Social proof in the form of testimonials from happy customers is a great way to show potential clients that you are adept at solving their problems.

When you're displaying reviews, it's important to keep them fresh. After all, people can spot a stale compliment from a mile off, so it's important to show your newest reviews first. This can be done by manually asking for feedback from clients and updating it on a regular basis. But there's a better way - review automation.

The trick here is to set up a system that generates reviews on autopilot. It might look something like this:

  1. You get a new customer, and onboard them.
  2. A few weeks later, your system automatically sends them an email asking how likely they would be to recommend you to a friend or colleague (out of 10) and whether they have any feedback.
  3. The client is prompted to leave their feedback on a review platform such as Google My Business, your Facebook page or G2.
  4. Their feedback is sent to you, and if it's positive, it is automatically published in the reviews section or popup on your website. If you receive negative feedback, it also serves as an early warning system to fix problems before they escalate.

There are a wide range of tools that you can use to create an automated review system, but there are two apps that are particularly useful: Delighted and FOMO.

Delighted sends emails to your customers to get their feedback and find out how likely they are to recommend you to a friend. FOMO displays these reviews on your website, and offers an extremely wide range of customization options.

While we're on the topic of reviews, it's important to remember that people who are interested in doing business with you will often search for '[your firm's name] + reviews' into Google to see what people are saying about you, so make sure to optimize for this keyword using SEO.

Takeaway: In today's world, just saying that you're great doesn't cut it - people want proof. Proudly displaying testimonials is a great way to build trust with your audience, and you can automate this process to help supercharge the growth cycle of your company.

Create case studies that show how you have helped existing clients

Testimonials are great for showing potential clients that you're legitimate, but they don't provide much detail. For higher involvement decisions such as trusting an accountant with your financials, case studies are a great way to align your service with what the market wants.

Example: Here at A2X, we have an entire section of our website dedicated to case studies. We provide these to accountants and bookkeeping professionals that use our software to help them show clients how A2X can streamline their business.

Takeaway: Case studies help to build confidence in your firm, and give potential clients the opportunity to dig a bit deeper before booking a call with you. When structured correctly, they can also be used to align the client's problems with what makes you unique.

Remarketing begins here

Picture this: you have a great website, your lead generation strategy is drawing plenty of relevant traffic to your website, and people are reading the case studies. But they are still leaving your website without taking any further actions.

Sounds painful, right? It's important to remember that this is normal, and it often takes multiple interactions before people are ready to do business with you.

Business owners quite often have lots on their mind, and there are numerous reasons why a genuinely interested lead might leave your site. They may have a meeting to attend, they could be reading up on your business while waiting for a taxi, or it might just be that they get distracted.

Either way, it's important to focus on these people, as they are the most likely to become your customers. This is where remarketing comes in handy. And it's simple - just set up Facebook and Google Ads retargeting your visitors with reviews and case studies.

The call to action for these ads should be to book a demo, check out your case studies or request a proposal to learn how you can help them.

Takeaway: By remarketing to people that visit your website, you can make sure to get the most out of every interaction. These ads follow your leads around the internet, reminding them that you're still here and ready to support them.

Stage 3 - Converting Them Into Clients

This is the final and most important stage of your sales process. By this point, the people that are ready to book calls with you should:

  • Know about your brand and what makes you unique.
  • Have read a case study or viewed your testimonials and have some level of belief that you might be able to solve their problems.
  • Be seriously considering whether you are the most suitable accountant for their needs.

To succeed in converting your hard earned prospects into clients, it's important to pay attention to detail, deliver a professional experience and most importantly - make it easy for them to do business with you.

Gather the right information to prepare for your meeting

Before your potential clients book a call with you, it's important to collect enough information to ensure that what you offer is compelling and meets their needs.

This is where the 'request proposal' form comes in handy. When a lead completes and submits this form, they are formally confirming that they're ready to explore whether you are the right option for them.

You don't need any fancy software to ask for further information - a simple website form works just fine. However, if you're looking to make an impression and increase conversion rates, then you'll want to consider using Typeform.

Typeform is an interactive forms app that you can integrate into your website to ask the right questions based on the answers that people provide. It's beautifully simple and highly effective.

Sales tip: put a bit more detail into the request proposal form to ensure that you have enough information to make a good first impression and wow your potential clients.

Here are a few valuable pieces of information to gather:

  • Annual revenue.
  • Number of products sold.
  • Marketplaces and platforms that they sell on.
  • Which accounting software they use.
  • Key apps and integrations for managing finances.
  • Sales tax or VAT registration status.
  • Fulfilment type (FBA, 3PL, Shopify Fulfilment Network, dropshipping or self fulfilment).

Once they have completed the request proposal form, the next step is arranging a time to meet and explore whether you might be a good fit for working together - which is what we cover in the following section.

Takeaway: It's important to ask the right questions at this stage to ensure that you are well prepared to win the client over. To increase conversion rates, make it easy for them to book a call with you.

Make it easy for people to book calls with you

Have you ever tried to get in touch with a company, only to find yourself filling out detailed forms or trying to arrange a suitable time that works for everyone? It's frustrating to say the least.

Calendly is a free app that helps you to schedule meetings without the back and forth emails. When a client wants to book an appointment with you, they are directed to a webpage that offers all of your available time slots.

From here, they simply select the time that works best for them, enter their details and confirm the meeting. Once confirmed, it adds the meeting to your calendar and sends them a Zoom video link or another similar meeting link to streamline the process of connecting.

Takeaway: This interaction forms the start of your relationship with the client, so make sure to start the way you intend to carry on - make it easy for them to do business with you.

Close the deal with proposal software

After you've finished the navigation call, you'll want to send through a proposal and get the deal across the line. Traditionally, this involves writing up a detailed proposal, sending emails and manually following up until you (hopefully) sign on the client.

This takes lots of time and effort. But there's an easier and more effective way: Practice Ignition.

"Send a proposal immediately after a call and forget about it until the money is in your bank"

Practice Ignition streamlines the entire process of closing the deal after your meeting:

  • You can create beautiful proposals in 5 minutes - simply add the applicable services and pricing from your library in a couple of clicks, add your terms of engagement, payment terms etc.
  • Forget about chasing leads - if the client doesn't respond, Practice Ignition automatically follows up with them based on preset rules and conditions.
  • Never chase payments again - payment via credit card or direct debit is processed within the software and you can set it up so that clients need to provide their payment details before signing your engagement letter. The software even manages recurring subscriptions so that you can focus on closing bigger deals asking whether you have been paid for ongoing commitments.
  • Invoice reconciliation without cross-referencing - invoices are created in your accounting software and marked as paid automatically.

Using integrated proposal software like Practice Ignition makes closing the sales loop and securing that subscription or commitment so much easier and more professional.

Here are a few other options for proposal software to make your job easier:

Takeaway: Integrated proposal software closes the sales loop and makes it easier to get a commitment from your clients. By streamlining this final part of the sales process, you can spend more time on other activities like closing deals and looking after clients.

Step off the sales treadmill and simplify your business with the right apps

Also known as inbound marketing, the three step sales process that we have described in this guide is a proven way to generate an ongoing source of new clients without you needing to constantly chase new business.

The real key here is to embrace technology to automate away as much of the workload as possible. That's why we use Delighted and FOMO for review management, Typeform to collect the right information, Calendly to streamline the booking process and Practice Ignition to seal the deal.

Of course, these are just a handful of the many useful apps that can be used to grow your business. For more insightful content to help you succeed with ecommerce clients, check out our blog and partner resource hub.

When it comes to looking after accounting for companies that sell on Amazon and Shopify, A2X plays a unique role in reducing the workload and improving accuracy. Click here to find out more about how our app can benefit your clients and make bookkeeping easier.