Permission-based marketing has grown significantly, but its adoption is still lagging in many accounting firms. Around the world, laws have been put in place to protect consumer privacy and help control spam. Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) has a specific set of requirements for obtaining permission and marketing to prospects, and the soon-to-be-enacted GDPR in the European Union has global implications around data privacy. While regulations like these haven’t come from the United States powers that be, we believe it’s only a matter of time.
Accounting firms are missing many opportunities to capture permission-based marketing information in their everyday marketing activities. Most firms collect business cards, load them into their CRM system and start sending communications. Unfortunately, most accounting firms don’t use double opt-in procedures to build compliant lists, which are a hallmark of any strong marketing program. We first wrote on how to grow your permission-based marketing lists in 2013. Here are 6 of our original ideas, plus a few more.
- At speaking engagements, use a survey to ask people how they want to stay in touch with you. I find that giving people options significantly increases engagement; it can also help generate more business.
- Segment your mailing lists. Not everyone who wants to receive due date reminders wants to receive your newsletter, and vice-versa. Make sure you segment your email lists. Examples include due date reminders, client communications, newsletter, legislative updates and industry-specific lists.
- Encourage connection on your social profiles. Driving people to your social profiles is a low-risk option that allows you to stay connected with people without requiring them to share too much personal information.
- Convert your social followers by running periodic campaigns that drive people to sign up for one of your permission-based marketing lists (like a newsletter).
- Hand out social cards. These cards contain links to your social profiles and are perfect for handing out at conferences, sponsorships and other events to let people know where to connect with you.
- Include specific calls-to-action in every piece of content that you write. Many times, this can be as simple as “subscribe to our newsletter” or “connect with us online.”
- At conferences, use Lead Forms for giveaways. When someone registers to win, their entry will be sent to your CRM system, which should funnel into your email program, and trigger an opt-in email.
- Include a contact promise around your policies for consumer privacy and the ability to opt-out or control frequency of contact. Most companies don’t comply here, thus making it a hassle to unsubscribe from a list only to be re-added automatically by the company.
Make sure you use double-opt-in procedures when building your email lists. It will not only help with email deliverability, but it will also help improve engagement. Your permission list may initially drop in size when you start using these protocols, but the impact of your efforts and the quality of your contact lists will improve. In this case, less = more.