Going Beyond Referrals: How Inbound Marketing Can Help Accountants Acquire New Clients

An accountant calculating the ROI of referral marketing compared to inbound marketing when acquiring new clients

For decades, word-of-mouth referrals have been the primary source of new clients for accountancy businesses. However, the way in which customers now search for professional services has significantly changed, with Chartered Accountants having to adapt their service model to meet a primarily virtual audience. Online and self-serve accountancy systems, and virtual meeting modalities, have largely replaced, or at least supplemented – the traditional face-to-face accountancy model – and the way that sales are made has also changed as a result.


This shift in consumer behaviour has led a growing number of accountants to turn to inbound marketing as a more cost-effective and efficient way of acquiring new customers than referral marketing alone. This article will explain the benefits of inbound marketing for accountants, comparing it to traditional referral marketing, and explain why it can be a more valuable and cost-effective way of allocating your sales and marketing budget.

Leads And Conversions:

Inbound marketing generates more leads and conversions than referrals.

One of the main and most straightforward advantages of inbound marketing over the referral model is the volume of leads and conversions it generates. Inbound marketing is designed to generate increased web traffic and to convert an increased proportion of these visitors into inbound sales leads, and subsequently into customers. 

In terms of the numbers game alone, it is always more effective than referral marketing. However, inbound is also a more effective way of converting customers for less cost. By creating personalised content to educate, inform, and address your target customers’ questions, you can attract more warm leads who are directly searching for specific accountancy services. 

In contrast, referrals are typically passed along from existing contacts or clients, who may not have a strong understanding of your services before they get in touch. As a result, there is no guarantee that the referees will be a good fit for your business or even have a genuine interest in your services, and you may have to invest substantial time and effort in educating them to see the value of your proposition.

Cost Per Sale:

Inbound marketing is more cost-effective than referral marketing.

On the surface, referral marketing gives you ‘free leads’, but in reality, these are few and far between. Systematic referral marketing usually involves some kind of compensation or incentive for contacts to refer new business to you, such as discounts or value-added services, which can be costly in the long run. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, does not use discounts or monetary incentives to attract leads. Instead, you create and promote valuable content (for free) that benefits your target audience and establishes your accounting business’s authority and reputation. You can achieve this on a fairly modest budget, and this not only lowers your cost per sale but also builds increased trust and credibility among prospects, who are then more likely to choose you over competitors.

Credibility And Trust:

Inbound marketing helps establish you as an expert accountancy business.

In accountancy and professional services, trust and credibility are everything for potential clients. Customers are more likely to do business with an accountancy firm that they know and trust with their money and financial affairs. By providing extensive valuable information about your accounting services, tax laws, and financial management best practices, you can establish your business as a leading authority in your sector and local area.

Referral marketing can’t do this. Yes, you have the implied authority of the person making the referral, but with each lead, you must start from scratch to build your professional reputation and create a business case for your services.


Inbound marketing gives you more control over your brand identity and messages.

Referral marketing depends on existing customers to act as advocates for your brand, accurately explaining your services to their colleagues, friends, and associates. This essentially outsources your sales and marketing strategy to people without much familiarity with your brand, and no knowledge of your business goals and aspirations. This is one of the reasons why referral marketing is often so inconsistent in its results and hard to measure and monitor. Inbound marketing gives you more control over your brand identity and messages since it doesn’t depend on the actions of others, such as previous customers recommending your business. You’ll be able to use your published content to portray the specific messages and identity that you need to attract your ideal customers so that the people who get in touch with you already have a clear understanding of what you offer and the costs involved.

Find Out More

While referral marketing can be an effective source of sales for accountants, businesses looking for a more reliable and consistent source of leads should consider supplementing this with inbound marketing. An inbound marketing strategy can be scaled to your growth objectives and budget to give you the leads and sales you need to develop future success. To find out more, please call JDR Group’s Inbound Marketing Specialists today at 01332 343281.

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