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Why Cloud Accounting Apps Are Magic For Your e-commerce Business Clients Seeking Marginal Gains

By | Practice Technology | No Comments

There has never been a better time to start an e-commerce business which means that quick to the mark Cloud Accountants are targeting and winning clients in a a healthy new market sector destined to grow considerably for at least the next decade.

Platforms such as Shopify, Woo Commerce and Magento allows your clients  online stores to be live within a day, or even hours.  PayPal and Stripe allow payments to be taken across the world with ease, whilst dropshipping services from Amazon mean your clients never have to physically hold the stock of what they are selling.  However, because it is now this easy, they will not be alone in setting up stores.  So how do they stay ahead of their competitors? How can you ecommerce accounting service add value? One answer can be found in making consistent marginal gains with cloud accounting apps.

I first became aware of the concept of margin gains whilst reading the excellent Black Box Thinking book by Matthew Syed.  Black Box Thinking is a fantastic dive into how understanding and overcoming failures can lead to massive breakthrough, and is peppered with examples from business and sport.  One such example is the success generated by the Team Sky cycling team, whose General Manager Sir Dave Brailsford experimented with tweaks to a huge number of areas of his team’s performance. Individually each change was miniscule, from slight amendments to cycle design, diet and even the suits worn on the rides.  Some didn’t have any effect and were tweaked again and again until they gave a marginal gain on performance and against the team’s competition. Cumulatively, however, the effects were massive and the success enjoyed by the team in subsequent Olympic Games is testament to that.

So how can this concept be applied to your clients e-commerce store using cloud accounting apps?

  1. Automation

The more time spent on paperwork in their business, the less time available for analysing performance and expanding the product range.  It follows that any marginal gain achieved through automation should be exploited.  Some examples of how this can be done are:

  1. Ensure their e-commerce platform is compatible with your cloud accounting applications

Shopify and Magento, for example, feed in all online orders, including contact name, reference number, items sold and payment method used.  The result is simply no need to manually replicate any data from the website sales.  A2X and Cin7 are great examples of how this can be extended into marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Put simply, if their e-commerce store cannot do this their competitors are one step ahead. Advise them of this, they will thank you for it.

  1. Automate supplier bills processing

Same for sales above, why have someone manually enter your clients supplier bills.  Using Receipt Bank or Datamolino they can use OCR technology to create automated entries into Xero.  Manually processing supplier bills can be a massive drain on bookkeeping staff time. Freeing that up removes an overhead from you managing their business that can be applied to more value-added activities.

  1. Banks

One of the key criteria now when selecting banks is the ability of that bank to feed transactions into Xero.  If it can’t, they need a manual intervention every time you need to update your bank, and your supplier payables etc.  If their competitors aren’t having to do that and can respond to new opportunities for sales with an accurate real time bank balance, they will miss out.

  1. Analysis

One of the keys to e-commerce success will be driving efficiency from key metrics.  So, rather than analysing revenue in isolation, understanding how that revenue actually arose and how it performed against forecast. Revenue by product, margin by product, revenue by sales channel, cost of acquisition by channel, conversion rates by channel etc.  A growing e-commerce store will closely monitor these metrics daily.  However, the challenge is in getting the data efficiently and in 1 place.

Thankfully tools such as Futrli now exist to satisfy the analysis needs of your e-commerce business.  Futrli integrates with Xero to bring in all financial metrics live.  It then also allows non-financial metrics to be added, e.g. Google analytics and key traffic and conversion stats from your e-commerce store.  Combining these financial and non-financial metrics onto a single visual dashboard can enable fast analysis and swifter decision making.  Reacting faster than competitors can mean a huge gain especially around peak trading times such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

  1. Access to Funding

Growing e-commerce stores can grow fast but often needs working capital to support digital marketing, staff increases, expanding premises and increased stock levels.  A lack of finance can stunt growth and allow competitors to overtake.  But getting funding via banks is hard! Alternative finance exists purely as a result of the traditional high street banks inefficiency and inability to work with smart, growing online businesses.  So rather than wasting time meeting bank managers, completing paper forms and waiting for weeks before getting a lending decision, platforms such as Capitalise have been created to fast track this process online.  Capitalise pulls in key, live financial data from Xero and then applies a bespoke lending search across a marketplace of alternative finance lenders.  Information is traded online, without forms, and without having to be repeated for each lender.  The result is fast decision making and money in bank often within days.  It doesn’t take long to work out what e-commerce store can grow stock and marketing spend fastest when they access lending in this manner.

These examples are just some marginal gains that are being applied every day by successful e-commerce stores learning the power of cloud accounting.  There are undoubtedly many, many others further illustrating the fact that marginal gains in accounting efficiency, operational support and profitability analysis will build the framework for a long standing successful business.

Click here: If you are an Accountant wanting to target the eCommerce sector to win new clients.

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Cryptocurrencies: Why the tax situation can’t be ignored

By | Practice Technology | No Comments

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have been a hot topic of late. With Bitcoin ATMs appearing in convenience stores, and an increasing number of business accepting cryptocurrency as acceptable tender, their legitimacy in the eyes of the general public has grown. In this article we’ll take a look at what cryptocurrencies are, how they work, and why you should understand the tax situation before diving in.

For the purposes of this article we’ll often refer to Bitcoin as a representative cryptocurrency, as this particular cryptocurrency accounts for around 50% of the total market capitalisation. It should, though, be noted that Bitcoin is just one of over 900 cryptocurrencies, and that its market share has dropped – in large part due to growth in the Ethereum and Ripple cryptocurrencies – from over 80% in January 2017.

What is a cryptocurrency?
In the simplest possible terms, a cryptocurrency is a digital currency. In this respect it is not unique – in a way, much of the traditional currency we use every day is in a digital form. However, cryptocurrency differs from traditional currencies in a number of ways.

First and foremost, cryptocurrencies are not governed by any central bank, nor do transactions involving them have to pass through any such institution. Bitcoins are created through a process called ‘mining’, which effectively perpetuates both the independence of the currency, and its use. Mining is a competitive process in which users utilise specialised hardware to process transactions and are rewarded for their activity. Bitcoins are credited to a user’s wallet, and all transactions occur directly between two wallets.

The use of cryptography is also a defining factor. Each user has a unique, anonymous and ‘uncrackable’ signature, and all transactions to and from that wallet are stamped and logged with it. These transaction stamps contribute to a central and public database referred to as the blockchain. This reliability and transparency is designed to make transactions less susceptible to fraud, and to enable greater confidence for merchants and users of all kinds.

 

What is a blockchain?
As described above, a cryptocurrency runs on a blockchain. A blockchain is a shared ledger or document, duplicated across a network of computers, that contains a record of every single crypto-transaction and the ownership of every single unit of the cryptocurrency. Transactions and ownership information are logged with identifying cryptographic sequences that are, to all intents and purposes, entirely anonymous.

The updated document – the blockchain – is distributed and made available to all holders of the cryptocurrency. It is run by miners, whose powerful computers are utilised by the network to process and log transactions and ensure the authenticity of information, guaranteeing safe and proper processing.

Why are people investing and what are the risks?
The value of Bitcoins has skyrocketed this year, inviting a lot of media attention and a lot of speculation on whether or not it represents a good investment. At the start of January of this year one Bitcoin surpassed $1,000, and by mid-August had reached and exceeded $4,000. Coupled with low susceptibility to fraud, investing in a product that has essentially quadrupled in value in less than 8 months could well seem like a clear choice.

However, there are factors that one must take into account when looking at these figures:

1. Volatility. The total number of Bitcoins in circulation, and the total number of businesses using them, is relatively small. This makes the value at any given time particularly susceptible to relatively low level market forces. What would be a trivial event to an established currency can have dramatic consequences for a ‘start-up currency’.

2. Infancy. Cryptocurrency is still in its infancy. As such, the software and networks that facilitate are evolving rapidly, and these could realise great changes in the operation of the currency.

3. Speculation. Coupling the previous 2 points, cryptocurrency is highly susceptible to speculation. The lack of history and the not-yet-upscaled nature of the commodity means that nobody has a clear idea of how high it might peak, and whether or not it will trough.

 

Taxation and cryptocurrency
Whether and how Bitcoin transactions and activities are subjected to taxation are, in some ways, subject to the legal definition of cryptocurrency – namely whether or not it is defined as money. In other respects, for different types of taxation, whether a transaction is completed using Bitcoins or traditional forms of money is immaterial, and tax should be collected as usual.

At this stage cryptocurrencies fall outside of the European Central Bank’s definition of money, meaning that VAT is not applied. Income relating to Bitcoin mining, exchanges of Bitcoin for physical/national currencies, and income from activities related to Bitcoin are all currently exempt from VAT. However, VAT will still be due on products and services that are exchanged for Bitcoin in the same way that it would be if exchanged for any other currency. The VAT due is calculated as the Sterling value of the Bitcoin exchanged at the point of sale.

Regarding Corporation Tax (CT), Income Tax (IT) and Capital Gains Tax (CGT), the treatment of income received from, and charges made in connection with, activities involving cryptocurrencies should be viewed in the context of specific cases and the related circumstances. Generally, though, the following summaries apply:

CT – the profits or losses on exchange movements between currencies are taxable, with the general rules on foreign exchange and loan relationships applying. As it is currently interpreted, no special tax rules for Bitcoin transactions are required. The profits and losses of a company entering into transactions involving Bitcoin would be reflected in accounts and taxable under normal CT rules.

IT – the profits and losses of a non-incorporated business on Bitcoin transactions must be reflected in their accounts and will be taxable on normal IT rules.

Chargeable gains: CT and CGT – if a profit or loss on a currency contract is not within trading profits or otherwise within the loan relationship rules, it would normally be taxable as a chargeable gain or allowable as a loss for CT or CGT purposes. Gains and losses incurred on cryptocurrencies are chargeable or allowable for CGT for an individual, or for CT on chargeable gains if they accrue to a company.

Due to the evolving nature of tax regulations for cryptocurrencies, as well as the individuality of circumstances considered, it’s important to keep your clients accountant up to date with all gains and losses.

Like this article? It was created by our new content marketing service for Accountants. Call 01392 247207 to learn how you can publish it on your site for free.

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Online Tools For Accountants

By | Practice Technology | No Comments

There are 5 tools that almost all the Accountants that we speak to are using to digitalise their Accountancy practice. If you are not using at least 3 of these tools then you risk becoming left behind in the pack.

With the onset of Making Tax Digital and the new breed of entrepreneur climbing the ranks, soon if you do not offer cloud accounting services then your prospective clients will be looking elsewhere for the services you offer.

Click here to download the 5 Top Tools Accountants Use To Digitalise Their Practice

The top 5 tools cover almost all areas that you will need to digitalise your practice from prospecting, collaboration with team members right through to preparing your clients accountants.

Here at Cloud Accountant Today, we appreciate that ‘digital’ migration is not always a key skill for many accountants. It can be scary, overwhelming and for those of you that are not too tech savvy quite often a real thorn in your side.

If you are looking for help or support to make sure that your practice is as digital as it can be and are looking for training on various online accounting tools then please fill out our short survey for a free digital consultation.

For those of you that are more inclined to develop your practice alone then please download your free report: 5 Top Tools Accountants Use To Digitalise Their Practice

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16 SMART Email Subject Lines For Cloud Accountants

By | Marketing Tips | No Comments

An effective email subject line will directly influence the success of any email marketing  campaign for Accountants.

Similar to a gatekeeper preventing you from getting through to the decision maker, a bad subject line of an email will prevent your email from getting read. If your emails don’t get read then nothing happens.

The most effective email subject lines for accountants need to be

  • Personalised
    • Name
  • Relevant
    • Sector Specific
  • Engaging
    • Beneficial to the reader
  • Encourage readers to open the email

Here are 16 SMART subject lines that you can copy, paste, customise and send to your own marketing lists. Click here If you do not have a marketing list and would like to source one or want to learn more about our email marketing for Accountants.

 

#1) “Hi ##FirstName## did you know about this tax saving strategy for [Market sector]?”

Every potential client wants to save money so open up fresh dialogue by offering free tax saving advice. Focus the campaign around a targeted market sector.

E.G: Hi John, did you know about this tax saving strategy for Online retailers?

 

#2) ##FirstName## Everything you need to know about Making Tax Digital for [Market Sector]”

Create a step by step guide offering free advice targeting specific market sectors on what they need to do to prepare for Making Tax Digital. It’s sector specific, timely and invaluable information.

 

#3) “Hi ##FirstName## How much time could you save?”

The one thing money can’t buy is more time. If you are targeting businesses to offer all the benefits of your cloud accounting services then time is a great benefit to open up dialogue with.

 

#4) “X Online Applications for [Market Sector] businesses”

There is huge demand from business professionals wanting to embrace cloud technologies to streamline their business. Your job as an accountant is to guide them through which online applications are most suitable for their needs and help set up the processes for them. Create a quick checklist of the top cloud accounting apps that are suitable for their market sector. Look into XERO App marketplace for inspiration.

 

#5) “##FirstName## Learn how one of our [Market Sector] clients saved thousands in tax in X months”

Case studies give potential clients the confidence to trust your accounting service by providing social proof. Infact, case studies are so effective that no other marketing content can offer as many benefits and B2B content marketers reported a 70% effectiveness rate for case studies in their campaigns.

 

#6) “Is this the most effective [Market Sector] bookkeeping process?”

Questions work well, they create intrigue which encourages the essential click to read more. Offer an end to end bookkeeping process that pre sells your services and sets you up as a sector specialist.

 

#7) “##FirstName##” Automate your [Market Sector] Accounts”

Personalised, sector specific, time saving and service selling.

 

#8) “##FirstName## DEADLINE IS TODAY for our [Free X on Market Sector] Tax”

Deadlines work. They have been proven to increase conversions because they set a time limit on specific tasks or actions. When used in your marketing you could offer  free accountancy consultations, white papers or seminars as time sensitive offers.

 

#10) “Update on Tax Policies for [Market Sector]”

Don’t have much time to prepare new content but want to keep your readers and potential clients engaged? Set up a Google Alert for tax updates on any specific market sector and share the results with your database.

 

#11) “##FirstName## Grants available for [Market Sectors]”

Almost all businesses will want to receive up to date information on available grants for their market sector. It’s your best source of free content that all your database will want to read. Leverage it!

 

#12) “Online Digital Audit For [Market Sector] Specialists”

Before you can help service a new client it is fundamentally important to establish what processes and procedures they have in place. Create a simple PDF that prospects can fill out to engage them and create a checklist of the services you can sell them when they become a client.

 

#13) “Business Development For [Market Sector]”

Accountants that streamline their clients bookkeeping free up their time to spend more business development time for their clients. This is a strong service proposition and one that should be exploited.

 

#14) “How much is your [Market Sector] business worth?”

Every business owner would love to know how much their business is worth. This is a great conversation starter that allows you to learn all about their business details to help you look for potential service offerings to win them as new clients.

 

#15) “Tax rebates available for [Market Sector] Businesses”

One of the best ways of getting that first appointment is to offer them a huge incentive. If you can help them learn about what tax rebates are available to them then you are starting the relationship on solid ground.

 

And finally….

 

#16) “##FirstName## can we meet?”

Never forget that the ideal outcome from any email you send is to organise a face to face meeting. Or at the very  least an online conference with your potential clients. After you have sent a few emails to your database then make sure to send a meeting request to them. Its blunt, straight to the point and effective. Don’t forget to include a beneficial reason why they should want to meet you in the body of the email.

 

If you are looking to launch an email campaign and want to chat to us then please email info@cloudaccountant.today.

If you are looking for a platform to send emails from then visit 648CRM the  CRM for Accountants.

crm for accountants

Accountants use CRM to increase marketing productivity. 3 tips to improving that productivity.

By | Marketing Tips | No Comments

Accountants CRM: Greater returns come from more bespoke to fewer people.

Personalised and familiar content received from you by your clients has a positive impact on cognitive (an individual’s beliefs about reliability, dependability, and competence) and emotional trust. In other words the more relevant and personalised your content the more your prospects are going to engage with you.

The days are fast fading where you ‘bung’ everyone on a mailing list. The greater returns come from more bespoke to fewer people.

The tip for managing your Accountants CRM is to be ruthless with who goes on it and pedantic about how you categorise them.

One way to start would be to pick on one or two target markets and start to categorise the prospects appropriately. This will then allow you to market to them with specific personalised messages/emails

For Example imagine the following email.

Subject: VAT advice for online traders – Amazon – Ebay etc.

As you can imagine if you are an FD of a distribution company predominantly trading online you might find this headline rather interesting.

 

Opportunity tracking Facts not Hearsay

The impact of marketing spend on empirical evidence rather than hearsay can radically improve your marketing output.

Unfortunately it is true that you hear what you want to hear and the truth can be lost or distorted unless accurately recorded. Consequently many smaller accountancy firms plough inappropriate resources into their various marketing activities.

Mark the source of every lead and take action on it. For some of our clients we now have a picture of the most effective routes to market. For example accountants with specialisms in medical practices will get a great return by targeting GPs through cold calling and Dentists through digital or on-line. This level of detail is only achievable if you diligently record the source of leads.

 

Multi-channel approaches gain greater returns

If you take a multi-channel approach to targeting prospects you might find that once again your return improves. What I mean by this can be as follows:

  • Your target prospect is either on your CRM or you find them on LinkedIn
  • Send them a nice relevant message on LinkedIn
  • Wait for the reply or acceptance
  • Email them a thank you with a relevant point about their industry or news about them
  • Wait for the reply
  • Suggest a skype or call to introduce yourselves further

 

How this relates to your CRM, is that a more modern CRM such as www.648crm.com will allow you to log a prospects LinkedIn profile on the prospects account page. You can therefore directly target your messaging out of CRM rather than back and forth with LinkedIn, Outlook, CRM etc.

 

 

 

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Email Marketing For Accountants: What To Measure When your Email Marketing Isn’t Generating The Results You Want

By | Marketing Tips | No Comments

Email marketing still delivers the best ROI across the board. And email marketing for accountants is no different.

But what is happening when you click send?

Do you reap the anticipated rewards or do you reluctantly return to cold calling?

If it’s the latter then make sure to consider these 4 key metrics to measure and improve upon in order to help you start turning your time into profit.

 

#1) Deliverability

Email deliverability is a way to measure the success at which an email campaign actually gets into subscribers’ inboxes.

Just because you have a large prospect database that you are sending your emails to, does not mean that all the emails are being received by your prospects in their inbox.

To increase email deliverability make sure that your emails don’t include typical spammy words or ‘flagged words’ that are likely to get picked up by spam filters and make sure that all previous emails sent are well received by your subscribers.

Aim for a deliverability rate of at least 95%

 

#2 Open Rates

Open rates indicate how likely people are to want to read your emails.

By tracking the email open rates of previous campaigns, allows you to work out what types of emails your audience likes to receive so you can create better more effective campaigns in the future.

To increase your open rates use personalisation when possible.

The open rate for e-mails with a personalized message was 18.8%, as compared to 13.1% without any personalization in 2016. (Source: Statista 2016)

And taking it one step further, by being an Accountant the chances are that the types of marketing emails that you send are going to be industry specific and therefore can be tailored to a specific market.

So instead of sending emails like;

“7 Tax Saving Strategies”

Send emails like

“Hi John, here are 7 Tax Saving Strategies for Online Store Owners”

If you do not have the option to personalise your email marketing messages then email us to show you how…

Aim for an open rate of 20%

 

#3 Click Through Rates

Click through rates tell you how engaging your emails are. Once you have gone through the process of increasing your deliverability and open rates of your emails you want to measure just how well your emails are sending traffic to your landing pages or websites.

If your emails are not exciting your audience and generating traffic you won’t get a high ROI.

To increase your click through rates make sure to craft the copy of the email to winning the actual click and not over selling the end goal.

This sounds trivial but still to this day most Accountants that ask us to help them improve their email marketing get it wrong.

Aim for a click through rate of 10%

 

#4 Unsubscribe rate
Tracking the unsubscribe ratio or often know as the ‘disengagement’ of your emails will save your database and help you tailor future messages to be more relevant and interesting to your audience.

To keep your audience engaged and your unsubscribe rate low only email good quality information that is relevant and timely.

Aim to keep you unsubscribe rate below 0.10% or it will impact your deliverability rate of future emails.

Like this content? Join the Labs to receive more indepth and usable tips to market your Accountancy Practice for free…

If you are looking for support with email marketing for your Accountancy practice then contact us here or visit our service page to learn more about some of the things we can do.

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Measuring The Impact Of Business Development Training For Accountants

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Why should Accountants measure the effect of business development training?

  • To support implementation and ensure sustained deployment
  • To ensure return on investment and make the business case
  • To constantly improve the training and ensure durability

What should Accountants measure?

The classic measurement approach (primarily developed by Professor Donald Kirkpatrick), looks at four levels of evaluation;

  1. Reaction to the training
    • Often using end of course evaluations and surveys
  2. Evidence of skills learned
    • Learning can be defined as the extent to which participants change attitudes, improve knowledge and/or increase skill as a result of attending the program
  3. Evidence of a change in behavior
    • The training itself will only be one of the drivers for this change. As Kirkpatrick points out there needs to be 4 conditions for a change in behavior
      • The person must want to change
      • They must know what to do and how to do it
      • They must work in the right climate
      • They must be rewarded for changing
  4. The effect on results

While most Accountants measure at level 1, fewer measure at 2 and 3 and only a small minority measure at 4.

How and when should we measure?

When?

What?

At planning stage

Measure current alignment of skills and business goals/strategy

Before training

Measure participants’ expectations, confidence and view of own capabilities

During training

Understanding

During training

Ability and commitment to apply

End of training

Opinion of training and commitment to apply

Plus one week

Opinion of training and commitment to apply

Plus one week

Change in understanding

Plus one-three months

Change in activity (quantity, direction and quality)

Plus three-six months (depending on buying cycles)

Result

Plus six-twelve months

Change in competence

 

Measuring Return on Investment

Here are some useful indicators to measure changes in behaviour and changes in results.

This list is not exhaustive but reflects KPIs we have used with clients. Clearly it will be important to select the most appropriate KPIs for the specific situation. Select the most appropriate measures for you by looking for the measures that are relatively easy to make and which will be the most useful.

Level 4. Results

KPI

Value?

Easy?

Share of wallet

No. of deals

Average deal value ( spit by new business / existing customer)

Actual against forecast

Income

Margin

No of new clients

Rebuy rate

Growth rate per account

Rate of in-sell against target and stage goals

 

Level 3. Behaviours

 

Activities

Value?

Easy?

No. of customer visits (per week/month)

No. of proposals

No. of referrals/introductions

No. of opportunities into pipeline

% of time spent in direct selling activity

Time spent actively managing social selling

 

Concentration of Focus

Value?

Easy?

Balance of activity between prospects and clients

Use of selection criteria to ensure prospects fit strategy

Use of GO/ NO-GO points to ensure opportunities fit strategy and tactics

Number of contacts in each client/prospect

Balance of time split between different buyer types/points of contact

Balance of activity across segments (vertical markets, customer size etc.)

Balance of time between pro-active and reactive customer work.

 

Effectiveness

Value?

Easy?

Conversion ratios at different points in the sales process

Pre call/meeting/pitch preparation (time spent or % prepared for, use of meeting planner)

Clear call objectives set (main and fall-back)

Quality of approach (phone, e-mail etc)

Entry behavior

Positioning statements – yourself, your company, your products

Running the first 5 minutes

Creating openness

Asking questions to get to the customer’s real requirements

Listening

Summarizing

Structuring the meeting and controlling the flow

Forming a value-added solution

Presenting the solution to individuals and groups

Handling price challenges

Handling objections

Reading adapting to different personality types

Gaining commitment

 

Conclusion

Measurement of Business Development training is difficult but it’s important. If you’d like to look further into measuring the impact of Business Development training please contact us