5 ways to grow your CPA firm

If you run a CPA firm, attracting new clients is critical to the growth and sustainability of your business. Even if you’re taking on the occasional freelance or contract accounting, audit, or tax assignment, you will still need to bring in new clients if you wish for that work to continue or expand.

Here’s the good news: U.S. public accounting firms reported a net revenue median growth rate of 9.1% for 2022—a vast improvement over the historically low 4.2% of 20201. This could indicate greater opportunities for your practice to expand. 

Is your CPA firm positioned to capture those opportunities? 

We understand it’s difficult to focus on marketing and increasing leads while you’re balancing the daily operations and work of running your CPA firm. Here are some strategies to help you find and recruit clients, differentiate from the competition, and help ensure the long-term success of your practice. 

1. Promote your CPA firm with digital marketing 

For today’s CPA firms, having a strong online presence is non-negotiable—and it is one of the most effective channels for client recruitment. 

Improving your website 

Your firm’s website will serve as the core of its online identity, so optimizing it is a must. Start by ensuring that your website includes these essential qualities and components for CPA firms:

  1. Professional design: Your website should have a modern and professional design that reflects your firm’s brand and personality. It should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. 
  2. Services offered: Clearly list the services offered by your firm. This will help potential clients understand what you can do for them. 
  3. Contact information: Include a clear and easy-to-find contact page that provides the firm’s phone number, email address, and physical address. 
  4. Online appointment scheduling: This can make it easier for potential clients to schedule a consultation with the firm. 

For a more advanced site, consider hiring outside help. A professional web design firm can work with you to create custom solutions, optimize your site’s performance based on metrics and analytics, and generate more leads. Advanced features you should consider including on your CPA firm site include: 

  1. Testimonials: Testimonials from satisfied clients help build trust and credibility. 
  2. Blog: A blog helps establish your firm as an authority and provides valuable information to potential clients. 
  3. Resources: Offering resources such as white papers, guides, and checklists can attract potential clients and position your firm as a thought leader. 
  4. Social media links: Including links to your firm’s social media profiles helps potential clients stay up-to-date with the latest news and updates. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) 

Your potential clients are using Google (or maybe Bing) to find your services. If your firm isn’t on the first page of search results, however, those prospects will choose a firm that is. 

The firms that rank highest for certain keywords—such as “accounting services,” “CPA firm,” or “CPAs in [your city or region]—have a great advantage over those that are buried deep within search results. You can use SEO (search engine optimization) tools or hire an SEO firm to improve your rankings for targeted keywords. 

Social media 

Social media can be a powerful tool to attract new clients to your CPA firm. Start by establishing a social media presence on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and X (formerly known as Twitter.) Use these accounts to share insights, tax tips, and industry updates to promote your firm’s expertise, push more traffic to your website, and engage potential clients with valuable information. 

Include relevant hashtags—such as #taxes, #accounting, etc.—in your posts to increase visibility and reach a wider audience. On most platforms, you can search for a potential hashtag to see how popular it is before you decide to use it. Also, be sure to engage with your followers by replying to comments and direct messages (DMs) in a timely and professional manner. 

Content marketing 

Content marketing is another popular method of attracting new clients to CPA firms. You can create blog posts, eBooks, infographics, and videos that position your firm as a thoughtful and helpful industry leader. Don’t limit yourself to content that merely promotes your firm—instead, address topics that would be of interest to potential clients and that answer relevant questions they might search for online. 

Paid marketing 

While the low (or zero) costs of social media and content marketing make them attractive, most CPA firms rely on some level of paid media to attract new clients. 

One of the easiest places to start is by adding paid advertising to your existing social media strategy. LinkedIn, Facebook, and X can all help you precisely target your marketing messages to prospective clients who are actively seeking CPA services. Plus, social media advertising offers a host of analytics that can help you optimize your campaigns over time—so you get the best results for the least possible spend. 

If you’re struggling to improve your firm’s search rankings, consider investing in a paid search through Google or Bing. For the right price, a paid search campaign can place your firm’s website at the very top of the page (typically under a “sponsored results” heading or similar) for targeted keywords. This allows potential clients to easily find you when searching for accounting services. Other paid media approaches to consider include: 

  1. Display advertising: This involves placing banner ads on websites potential clients are likely to visit. Hiring a marketing or advertising agency is advised, but services like Google Ads can do a lot of the work for you if you want to go your own way. 
  2. Retargeting: Through retargeting, you can target ads to potential clients who have recently visited your firm’s website. Again, hiring an advertising agency is recommended for this technique.
  3. Video advertising: YouTube offers several advertising options at various price points that allow you to advertise your services on relevant videos. 

Putting it all together 

Ultimately, your digital marketing efforts should all complement one another, working in tandem across a unified strategy to attract, nurture, and convert prospects into paying clients. Use social media and paid advertising to promote your content, put your content behind registration walls that capture contact information, and follow up with prospects through emails or sales calls. 

2. Recruit new CPA clients through networking 

As powerful as digital marketing can be, sometimes there’s no substitute for real world interactions. Build your firm’s network by joining relevant organizations and attending industry events, local business gatherings, and seminars. Even better, offer to speak or hold workshops for these groups. 

Organizations and events to consider include: 

  • AICPA: If you’re a licensed CPA, then you’re already a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The AICPA offers many networking opportunities, including its annual Engage event—where thousands of attendees gather to learn, connect, and share best practices. 
  • Woodard: This group provides coaching, education, community, and resources for small-to-midsize CPA and bookkeeping firms. It holds an annual event, Scaling New Heights, that features over 100 presentations and training sessions. 
  • Intuit and Sage events: Accounting software leaders Intuit and Sage offer several technology-focused events that include keynote speeches, workshops on using specific products, and opportunities to network and socialize. 

Altruistic and charitable efforts can also serve as networking opportunities. You can sponsor local events, participate in community service, or offer free workshops on financial literacy. These activities won’t just warm your heart—they can also improve your firm’s visibility and reputation. 

3. Gain referrals and reviews for your CPA firm 

Referrals and positive reviews help validate your quality of service and give potential clients the confidence to trust you with their business. But how can your firm encourage current and former clients to spread the word?

Create referral and review pipelines 

The best way to get referrals and reviews for your CPA firm is also the simplest—ask for them. Smaller firms can handle this on a personal basis, with CPAs directly reaching out to clients via phone or email. 

As your firm grows, you’ll want to formalize your efforts by creating referral and review pipelines. Continue using personal outreach for your largest and most widely known clients, but augment these efforts with social media, email newsletters, and even traditional mailers that encourage clients to post reviews and refer their associates to your firm. Make the process as painless as possible, providing clients with specifications on what to write or say or online forms they can complete with just a few clicks. 

Network, network, and network some more 

Networking can also play a significant role in gaining referrals. Adopt a clear strategy for how you will promote your firm and gain referrals at industry events, local meetings, and professional organization gatherings. Consider instituting or joining a mutual referral program with businesses that offer services complementary to yours. 

Deliver exceptional service 

While all of these methods can help increase awareness of your firm, the quality of your referrals and reviews—as well as the likelihood of converting them into new business—will depend on the quality of service you provide. 

Delivering consistently high customer service can transform clients into advocates and evangelists who will sing your praises to their colleagues and friends. Strive to consistently exceed client expectations, be proactive in meeting client needs, and insist on transparency. Collect client feedback at every stage, and implement processes that allow you to learn from that feedback and continuously optimize your approach. And ask satisfied clients to provide you with testimonials that you can feature on your website, marketing materials, etc. 

4. Develop your CPA firm’s niche areas of expertise 

Specializing in a niche area of accounting can set you apart from competitors and help people who need your exact services find you with greater ease—whether they’re searching for small business tax preparation, estate planning, or international tax consulting. Even better, niche expertise allows you to command higher fees. 

Going back to SEO, offering niche services or specializations may help you achieve higher search engine rankings for the keywords your ideal clients are searching for. For example, keywords like “forensic accounting firm” or “real estate CPA firm” are easier to rank for because there is less competition compared to “CPA firm” or “accounting firm.” 

Having a niche also supports a stronger content marketing strategy. Blog posts, webinars, and eBooks that are focused on a specific topic can “break through the noise” of generic accounting marketing to capture more attention and generate awareness. 

5. Embrace accounting technology and keep innovating 

Incorporating the latest accounting technology can help your CPA firm grow by helping you provide better service, improve recruiting, and retain your best talent longer. It may not directly attract new clients, it can help grow your firm over time by leading to more impactful referrals, more positive reviews, and a stronger reputation for your firm. 

Cloud accounting tools allow your clients easy, anytime access to their data—along with visualizations and analysis that can help them make smarter decisions. And digital portals enable easier, more secure document exchanges and communication between clients and CPAs. These solutions give clients peace of mind and a greater sense of control—while also taking some of the burden off your team by letting clients serve themselves. 

Today’s employees expect technology to help them do their jobs more effectively and make their lives easier. Embracing the latest accounting technology can help you meet those expectations, so you can recruit qualified CPAs more effectively—and keep your best talent (along with their client lists) at your firm longer. 

Remote work solutions give your talent greater flexibility and allow for better work/life balance, leading to higher employee satisfaction. Cloud accounting solutions let them connect to work whenever they need to—from spinning up charts and graphs in real time at an in-person client meeting to responding to an urgent request from a smartphone at home. And empowering workers with intuitive tools and automation helps them focus on serving clients, not completing repetitive tasks. 

Experimenting with new services and strategies can also help foster your firm’s reputation as an innovative partner. Consider diversifying your pricing model with value billing. Investigate remote and virtual accounting firm options. Above all, listen to your clients, stay agile, and always be ready to pivot to wherever the market takes you next.

Build a bright future for your CPA firm 

Attracting new clients to your CPA firm is anything but a one-shot effort. It’s a continuous responsibility that will define the future of your firm. Becker is here to support you as you grow your firm through CPE courses that help you create specializations, learn CPA-specific marketing, and understand and implement the latest technology. 

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