Everything old is new again.

Or, rather … with the abundance of practice-growth “shiny objects” continuing to flood the marketing space, what has become clear over the past few years is that marketing, at its core, is still about building relationships — no matter the widget used to do so.

And cream rises to the top, through all of that shiny noise.

In 2020 (and moving forward for at least the next 3 years — if not further), the least noisy, most impactful, and clearly focused channel for marketing a professional practice is still email marketing.

(CPA email marketing, tax preparer email marketing, tax planner email marketing … whatever your niche.)

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

The below is from a survey of agencies serving service-based businesses, across a variety of industries…

Since 2008, at TaxProMarketer, we have been driving new client acquisition, existing client nurture (referral generation, cross-selling, review generation), and prospect conversion on behalf of our tax and accounting firm clients.

A lot has changed since we started, but still … our clients report that this is one of the most effective components of what we do for them (mostly because we do it differently than any other service provider in the industry).

Effective email marketing is a core component of how we drive results for our clients. If you want to talk about how we can help, go here.

But if you want some signs that you need a refresh in how you’re approaching email, well today … I’m your huckleberry.

Here are the signs that you need an update on your firm’s tax preparation / CPA email marketing strategy…

1) You never do it. Ouch, this is bad … but you wouldn’t be alone. Too many people get too many emails, so they think: eh, I would just be pestering my clients. Well, yes — if you do it wrong, that’d be accurate. Read on.

2) You don’t segment your list. One of the simplest segmentations for your list is 1040 clients and writeup clients. And then of course, client / non-client. Spanish-speaking. Clients at a particular fee level. Unengaged clients. There are many ways to split out your list — the point is that you do so. Business owners have vastly different concerns than do wage employees, etc.

3) You send a bunch of articles at once and call it a “newsletter”. Very common for tax professional and CPA email marketing, because this is the approach followed by many of the “cheap” website providers in the industry. When you overwhelm your recipient with too many disparate concepts, you just earn the right to be deleted. 

4) Fancy-looking layout templates. The most effective designs are the simplest. You’re not sending a brochure — you’re writing a note.

5) The corporatized memo. “Dear Clients, John Smith, CPA would like for you to know that the year-end deadline is rapidly approaching and there are certain tax moves that some clients have found to be useful.” Blah, blah, blah … passive voice, addressing your list as a homogenous blob (rather than individual people), stuffy HR-laden jargon. Delete.

6) The regular hard pitch. Rightly rejecting the corporatized newsletter, some have turned to the Argue-style pitch-fest approach. All this does is agitate, sell, and then sell some more. Usually this is because the only leads that are generated have been via paid advertising, and the firm principal wants to see rapid ROI. And there will be some response … at least at first.

But over time, a brutally effective way to burn out your list (i.e. your relationship with your prospects and clients), is to bring the “sales pitch” with every touch.

7) No welcome automation. Once a lead is generated, there is an art to building the relationship WHILE you offer opportunities for that lead to quickly go to the next stage of engagement if they’re ready. This is done through an “indoctrination sequence” or series of welcome emails. Set up in advance, these should be regularly evaluated if they are doing their job … which is really about sealing the initial relationship.

8) No additional automation. Relational emails that go out before a calendar appointment, or that go out after the client work is completed, or on a birthday or anniversary — again, when done properly, these are the engines of growth from your existing client base and relationships.

9) All tax, all the time. All you talk about in your emails are tax code updates and mind-numbing financial advice. Sure, be authoritative in your area of expertise, but you can’t be afraid to address the real, inner world of your clients and prospects.

10) No nurture strategy. If ALL you do are welcome series and initial sales emails, but no ongoing value-first nurture, then you’re missing out on the more sophisticated clients, who prefer making decisions more slowly.

11) You aren’t getting new business from it. If you aren’t driving new client engagements over time, then you need to consider a refresh.

If any of this rings true, it’s time for a refresh.

Again, the “newsfeed guru’s” don’t like to talk about this stuff, because it means REAL WORK. They’d much rather sell you on a coaching program and provide pitch-fest email templates and push you towards spending an arm and a leg to run advertising.

But without effective email marketing underneath it all … you’re missing the most powerful actual driver of ROI that there is.