Analysing my Website stats for 2012

Having had a good look at my website stats for 2012 I rather wish I had been recording similar data for each of the last 6 years. Better late than never though.

Blog posts each year

This is the 70th post I have added to the blog in 2012.

That is more than I posted in each of the last 3 years but somewhat fewer than I posted in 2007 and in 2008. (2011 – 56, 2010 – 59, 2009 – 59, 2008 – 109, 2007 – 93, 2006 – 52)

Visitor numbers

WordPress stats reveal that the site has averaged over 11,000 visitors a month this year. That’s over 500 each working day. (Indeed the figures have been rising all year ). Average page reads are nearer 17,000 a month.

Both figures represent significant increases on 2011 (The wordpress counter only started on 30 December 2010). The day the site had most visitors was 26 June 2012 (931 visitors). This was the day after I posted a couple of items which have proved quite popular:

Popular Blog Posts

Most recent blog posts have been read 500-900 times. Some of the earliest have been read less than 100 times. The top ten pages of the site according to wordpress, in terms of the number of times they have been viewed/read are as follows:

  1. Welcome 19,481 (This is the main landing page for my website)
  2. Three elements of communication – and the so called “7%-38%-55% Rule” 7,374  (I got lucky with this title in 2008. It transpires this is a popular search term. NB: Few of the visitors who read it have any interest in anything else I write or do)
  3. Examples of good facebook pages for accountants 7,059  (The most popular of the posts I wrote in 2012 and often found through searches for info on this topic).
  4. Twitter 4,926 (The page I promote on twitter as it contains links to my various posts on related topics)
  5. The Easter Bunny shows us how NOT to network 4,260  (Surprisingly popular – possibly due to the odd title appealing when people search for ‘How not to network’. Again though, many visitors are not my target audience. Still, I have now edited the post to include links to other key pages of the website)
  6. How do you set charge out rates? 3,138 (A popular searched for topic)
  7. Twitter is not for accountants 3,072 (Promoted by me and by others who challenge the logic of this 4 year old post. I wish I’d titled it: ‘Why accountants don’t need to bother with twitter’. It’s as true today as it was in 2008)
  8. Speaking 2,634  (one of the key pages of my website)
  9. Networking strategy – plan your follow up beforehand 2,538
  10. Working with accountants 2,026

Countries

The oddest stat is the one showing where the 206,000 readers of my blog (during 2011 and 2012) are based:

  • United States – 80,492 (It is possible that this is simply those arriving via web services hosted in the US)
  • Unknown – 35,178 (it would be nice to think these are all in the UK but even then I would still have more apparent visitors from the US than from my target UK audience)
  • United Kingdom – 31,971
  • China – 15,028
  • Germany – 4,438

The remainder come from dozens of other countries around the globe. Between them all my visitors have apparently read 321,821 items/pages of the site over the last two years.

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No one refers work to a business card (follow up)

Over the holiday period I had a tidy up and threw away many hundreds of old business cards. I had collected (or simply been given) them at business networking events and business meetings over the last few years. These days I am more interested in noting whether the person I meet is on Linkedin. If so I will connect with them there.

Many of the hundreds and hundreds of business cards I threw away had little notes on the back. I typically write the date and place we met and add a note of anything I have promised to do by way of follow up. Sometimes I note some facts that may prove useful if we meet again.

I looked at the name and business details of every single business card in my collection before deciding which ones to throw away. Three things struck me:

  1. How few of the people I could remember;
  2. How few of the cards made clear the nature of the business they provide – whether I would have remembered weeks later is in doubt. Months or years later it’s impossible; and
  3. How few of the people had followed up with me. They will have given me their card but could only follow up with me if they had asked for mine. I only offer it on request. Even if they had concluded that I was not in the market for their services they will not have known who I know or to whom I could introduce them. So many wasted opportunities, so much wasted time and so much wasted money. Sadly I think I made the same mistake myself in many cases – but not, I would add, when I noted an action to take as I’m sure I kept my promises.

Back in 2007 I wrote a blog post here: No one refers work to a business card. Reviewing and binning hundreds of them over the last couple of days has certainly reinforced that view, hence this follow up post.

Also on this theme is another post: What makes an effective business card for ambitious accountants? To the list in that old post I would add one thing: These days it makes sense to include reference to your Linkedin profile and/or twitter account. After all, if the purpose of a business card is to make it easy for the other person to contact you afterwards or to connect others to you, it makes sense to list all the ways THEY might choose to do this.

I would add that so many of the business cards I have thrown away, especially those from accountants (I’m sorry to say) were pretty boring and interchangeable. Look out for a separate post soon with 7 mistakes accountants make with their business cards and tips on how to avoid them reinforcing that old boring stereotype.

PS: I have written a 10,000+ word book specifically for accountants who want to Network more effectively. Click here for full details>>>

If you would like to book me to speak on the subject at your in-house conference or training session, do get in touch. There’s an outline of my talk on ‘How to ensure your networking activity is successful’ here>>>  

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Please stop reinforcing the boring accountant stereotype

Recently I was sent a link to an online collection of 101 jokes about accountants. I got a little excited. Surely it would contain plenty of new jokes I could share more widely through my other blog: The lighter side of accountancy and tax.  In fact I was very disappointed. The collection was dreadful.

Over the last few years I have selected hundreds of fun items about accountants or related to our world and interests (eg: tax). They vary from jokes, to riddles, to videos, to songs, to poems to anecdotes and much more. The ‘Boring Is Optional‘ blog now contains well over 600 items.

What you won’t find on the blog though are any of the old ‘jokes’ that perpetuate the stereotype about accountants being boring. The link I was sent led to a collection that was full of such jokes. I read them all; I reckon the vast majority were the old lame jokes I have seen many times before – often on accountants’ websites (which seem to use the same template). These lists are clearly a lazy attempt to show that accountants do not take themselves too seriously.

I think the  theory behind this listing of ‘accountants are boring’ jokes is flawed. By sharing the jokes more widely you perpetuate the myth and remind people that accountants are typically seen as boring people. Why would any decent accountant want to do that?

As my blog proves there are hundreds of ways to show that accountants have a sense of humour without reinforcing that sad old stereotype. (If you find any more, please send them to me or supply a link. I’ll credit you when I add them to the blog)

Like this post? You can now obtain my ebook containing loads of valuable insights, short-cuts, tips and advice for accountants who want to STANDOUT and speed up their success. You can buy the book or download a summary for free here>>>

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Only one website metric really matters to accountants

There are plenty of online tools that will help you measure various website metrics and analytics – such as visitor numbers, how long they stay, which pages they look at and so on.  None of them, however, measure the most important metric so it is easy to forget that there’s only one that really matters.

Before I explain what it is, let me also pick up on a couple of other related points.

I have long questioned the point of simply counting the number of visitors to an accountant’s website. What matters is the number of RELEVANT visitors. This means firstly identifying the type of people you want to visit the site. It is all too easy to create content that attracts dozens or even hundreds of time wasters; for example people who simply follow links offering ‘free tax advice’ but who have no intention of ever engaging an accountant.

Equally, for most accountants, the key traffic numbers are those visitors from your local area (or from your target locations if you have a niche that is intended to attract people from further afield). Website visitors from further afield will rarely choose you as their accountant once they realise you are not local. All other things being equal someone in Brighton, for example, who looks for an accountant online is unlikely to pick one in Blackpool. So visitors to your website from afar are not as valuable as those from nearby.

I also think it’s important to consider ‘time on site’ only in connection with other metrics. It’s a good thing, not a problem, if someone who visited your site in error ‘bounces’ off very quickly once they realise their mistake. And what if visitors are keen to get in touch but are unable to find the name of the person to contact even after visiting a number of pages, so they then give up? Better they find it quickly and then get in touch without exploring the site any further.

My slightly heretical view is that too many accountants have too many pages with too much boring looking content on their websites. It should all come back to who is the target audience, what do they want or need to find and what do you want them to do when they find it?

Are your detailed content pages intended to help existing clients or would you rather they get in touch when they need help? In which case the only reason for all that content is to impress prospective clients and third parties. Does it though? Does it help convince them to get in touch? I wonder whether people looking for a new accountant want to download info, read it and then get in touch later or do they want help NOW? Different visitors will have different needs, often depending on whether they are looking for their first accountant or a replacement accountant. If you know who you want to attract you can tailor your content accordingly.

Copying what everyone else does is boring and pointless unless you are sure it is going to generate something of value for your practice.

The bottom line is that the one website metric that really matters is how much business your website generates.

The most important metric to measure therefore is: How many website visitors contact the office and become profitable clients? Do you have any procedures in place to track this metric? If not, why do you bother with all the other less important ones?

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An opportunity for ambitious accountants to give something back

I recently became aware of Accounting for International Development (www.afid.org.uk) and thought I would provide it with some much needed publicity via my blog. It’s a good cause and any accountants who get involved may find this helps them to evidence that they are not boring. Indeed, as I frequently point out: Boring is Optional

Accounting for International Development was set up in 2009 in order to enable volunteer accountants to pass on their skills to charities in the developing world. This helps in many ways, the 2 most obvious ways being:

  1. Transparent accounts make a small charity more attractive to a large international donor organisation, and
  2.  Greater efficiency and financial sustainability means more good work can be done.

In reality this can equate to more vulnerable women being taken in by a refuge in Nepal, or more people living with HIV/AIDs receiving medical care in rural Tanzania.

I cam across a fascinating case study of one of their volunteers, National Audit Office principal auditor  Jonathan Broadley.

Jonathan believed strongly that for aid to really work the recipient organisation needs the financial capacity to achieve its social objectives. He approached Accounting for International Development (A f I D) as he was keen to share his experience with an overseas non-profit organisation and help to develop its current system of financial controls, enabling them to better serve their community….>>>> More Here

Individually tailored assignments of between 2 weeks & 12 months form part of an ongoing strategy to build the financial management capacity of charities around the world. You could be budgeting with a street kid centre in Kampala, coaching a hospital bookkeeper in Kigali, financial reporting for a primary school in Kathmandu or mentoring an international NGO’s new FC in Khartoum – You choose.

AfID have arranged assignments for over 300 accountants from 26 nations who have given over 50,000 hours of support to 144 charities in 28 countries across the world.

Do check out the charity’s website even if you are not currently able to assist. They run an email notifier system to keep supporters informed of upcoming opportunities.

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8 Misconceptions about Limited Liability Partnerships

At Accountex friends of mine conducted a straw poll of attendees to ascertain attitudes to advising on Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs). The straw poll was related to a project to which I have leant some support. The results were not wholly surprising but do reveal continued misconceptions and fear of the unknown:

  1. LLPs are perceived to be of marginal value: In fact they are the preferred business structure for anyone who wants the protection of limited liability, but does not want or need a limited company.
  2. LLPs are perceived to have limited tax advantages: In fact tax is rarely the key driver. The tax rules are effectively the same as for conventional partnerships. LLPs are transparent for tax purposes.
  3. The benefit of the limited liability aspect of LLPs is not well understood: The fact is that LLPs offer all the normal benefits of limited liability but without the inconvenience of a corporate structure.
  4. LLPs are perceived to be just another form of partnership with all the attendant management issues: In fact the move from conventional partnership to LLP status allows many such management issues to be resolved when the new membership agreement is drafted. In practice the real benefit over conventional partnership status is the added protection of limited liability.
  5. An inability to prepare LLP accounts as easily as for sole traders and limited companies: This shouldn’t be a barrier as all of the main accounts production systems have LLP modules. The practical problem is that some accountants have yet to access the LLP modules.
  6. LLPs are not perceived to be a key option for new business start-ups: This simply follows from many of the above issues. It is why I assisted in the creation of a business structure review checklist – to identify those occasions when LLPs should be seriously considered.
  7. LLP agreements are thought to be no more important than a conventional partnership agreement or a standard shareholder agreement: In fact LLP agreements are as importnat as shareholder agreements where there is any possibility, however remote, of a disagreement. The default provisions to resolve disputes in the LLP Act will rarely result in a fair outcome.
  8. LLP agreements between individuals and their own companies could be perceived as agressive tax avoidance: In fact the tax benefits of such a structure are a side-benefit. The principal reason for such a structure is to obtain the protection of limited liability without the administrative hassle and complexity that arises when running the business through a limited company.

If you want to see how easy it can be to generate a tailored LLP agreement online, simply click here>>>

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