Content marketing: an introduction for accountants and bookkeepers

This guide was written by the marketing team at FreeAgent as part of our wider series on digital marketing for accounting and bookkeeping practices. While we think it’s great on its own, you can read the whole series here.

Whether you’re a large accounting practice or a small bookkeeping firm looking to expand in its local area, content marketing will likely be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy. In this guide, our marketing team has pulled together their top tips for successful content marketing.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing refers to the process of using content to generate awareness and interest in your services amongst potential clients.

There are many different forms of content you and your practice could explore, including but not limited to:

  • any page on your practice website (not just blog posts!)
  • posts on social media sites such as Facebook and X (formerly Twitter)
  • content partnerships with influencers and industry publications
  • video content (both on your own website and on platforms like YouTube)
  • paid adverts on social media and search engines
  • emails you send to people on your mailing list
  • listings for your practice in directories such as Yell, Google Business Profile and FreeAgent’s own practice directory
  • podcasts

Content marketing vs digital marketing: what’s the difference?

Content marketing is a type of digital marketing and is usually a significant part of a firm’s digital marketing strategy. However, the latter is generally broader and can include formats that don’t fall under the umbrella of content marketing, such as paid advertising.

For example, your practice’s digital marketing strategy may lean heavily on content marketing in the form of blogs and social media posts to reach potential clients but might also include other important pieces of work, such as improving the technical performance of your website.

Content marketing strategies often overlap significantly with other channel-specific strategies. A channel is the medium in which people interact with your content or click through to your website. For example, if your practice has a dedicated strategy for social media (a channel), it’s likely that this strategy will include an element of content marketing, such as writing blog posts that are designed to be shared on FaceBook or X (formerly known as Twitter).

This means that your content marketing strategy has to be well-aligned with any other strategies that you or other members of your practice are working on. There’s no single right way to manage this overlap, but there is a wrong way: having multiple strategies that conflict with each other.

Defining your content marketing strategy

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to defining your content marketing strategy. Each practice will have different resources, and what works well for a competitor might not necessarily be the best approach for you.

However, there’s one guiding principle that all effective content marketing strategies share: the content you produce must be genuinely engaging and useful for the reader. Content is at its most effective as a marketing tool when it offers interesting, informative and - ideally - shareable information to the reader.

Before you dive headfirst into creating and publishing content, take a moment to consider your target audience and what the goals of your overall digital marketing strategy are. For example:

  • Are you looking to generate more clients?
  • If so, what kinds of clients are you hoping to attract?
  • Do you want to give greater prominence to a certain kind of service that you offer?
  • Is your goal to improve your performance in a specific channel, such as search engines?

By defining your objectives, you’re more likely to create a content marketing plan that aligns with them.

Example scenario

If one of your goals is to attract more clients in retail, you might focus on identifying common problems they face and publishing content on your website that shows them not only how to solve these problems, but also how your practice is ideally placed to help.

Depending on your budget, you might also want to look at partnering with retail-specific publications, sponsoring events in the retail industry or even advertising on social media to get your practice in front of the right audience.

Creating a basic content marketing plan

Once you’ve got a clear idea of your goals and target audience, you can begin to think about formulating a content marketing plan. Here are some steps to follow to get started:

1. Create a snapshot of the month, quarter or year ahead

Plot some important milestones into a blank calendar. Start with the key highlights for the industry - for example, important tax dates like the Self Assessment deadline and any scheduled trade shows. Then add in other highlights such as seasonal holidays or national events - these can act as a prompt to tap into trending topics and engage with your audience in a less formal way.

2. Use your target audience and content goals to define your topics

The next step is to think about the kinds of topics you want to cover. Use your calendar to generate topical content ideas and think of titles that will work all year round. Remember to keep your target audience in mind when coming up with ideas to ensure that you’re creating content that’s relevant to them.

Identifying their common pain points will help you decipher what kinds of information they need. If you’re not sure where to start, look for common themes in places like social media.

3. Think about your formats

Once you have a clear view of your content plan, you can give it some shape by deciding which formats to use. Here are some of the most common content formats:

  • Blog posts are the cornerstone of many content strategies. They are often quick to produce, allowing you to be reactive to trending topics, and are a great way to create useful content that can deliver traffic from a variety of channels.
  • eBooks and research reports are a great opportunity to focus on a topic you and your clients really care about. You can use them to gather leads by requesting an email address in return for access.
  • Videos are an increasingly popular format within the accounting industry thanks to the rise of smartphones and their high engagement rate, and they are now easier than ever to produce.
  • Podcasts have grown hugely in popularity, with Ofcom’s research showing that over 11 million people in the UK listen to podcasts each week.
  • Posts on social media can be used to share your content to help you reach as big an audience as possible.

Measuring the impact of your content marketing

How you measure the impact of your content will be closely tied to the objectives you set for your overall digital marketing strategy.

If your objective is to generate leads, the success of your content might be measured by how many new customers it attracts to your website; if your objective is to increase your visibility on social media, you might judge your content by the number of times it was seen and the number of new followers it attracted.

Your objective will also affect how you access the data that tells you whether you’ve been successful or not. Social media platforms have their own analysis functionality, while tools like Google Analytics can help you see how many people are visiting your website - and what they do once they’re there.

Once you’ve mapped out the types of content you want to create and which channels you want to target, you can start to think about the channel-specific strategies that will complement your content marketing strategy.

Read next: Search engine optimisation for accountants & bookkeepers

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