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On November 20, 2020, member firm Bober Markey Fedorovich (BMF) became the first Allinial Global firm to migrate to the new .cpa domain. Soon after BMF, member firm Hantzmon Wiebel also migrated to .cpa.

What is a .cpa domain, and why would you want to change your firm’s website from .com to .cpa, you ask? Available only to licensed CPAs and CPA firms, .cpa is a new and exclusive domain from the AICPA. Its primary benefits include:

1. Trust: As a restricted top-level domain (TLD) for licensed CPAs and CPA firms, .cpa builds trust and credibility with both existing and prospective clients. Have you noticed the blue check marks on Twitter and Instagram influencers’ profiles? They signify profiles that have been vetted and verified; in other words, their owners are who they say they are. Think of .cpa as a blue check mark. Whenever a website visitor sees the .cpa domain or clients receive an email from a .cpa email address, they can rest assured that they are interacting with a legitimate site and email – not a cybercriminal posing as your firm or professional.

2. Cybersecurity: Online fraud and cybercrime are on the rise, and firms need to have a comprehensive plan to protect their online brands. Firms with .cpa domains benefit from an additional layer of protection; because every .cpa domain holder goes through a verification process, the online identities of firms with a .cpa domain are harder to spoof. Registry service providers for the .cpa TLD also perform a base level of monitoring on all .cpa domains to detect phishing, malware, and other cyber threats. With these added benefits, client and firm data are more secure from phishing attacks and security threats.

3. Brand positioning: .cpa domains allow firms to secure their most preferred names. Many firms are also securing multiple domain names, which allows them to choose how to position their brand in the marketplace. These names can call attention to a firm’s practice area focus (taxes.cpa), a niche industry or vertical focus (healthcare.cpa), or even a geographic focus (boston.cpa). From a marketing perspective, this strategy serves firms well in organic search, as their websites may be found online more quickly than their peers.

One question that many marketers have asked is how the migration to .cpa will impact SEO. There could be a temporary dip (emphasis on temporary) in a firm’s SEO ranking – depending on how long your firm has invested in SEO. But I don’t view this as a dealbreaker unless a significant portion of your revenue comes for search leads. The way I see it, this is all part of technological adoption; we need to put in the effort and investment now to ensure that our firms are well-positioned for the digital age. However, I’m here to make suggestions only. The decision is up to you and firm leadership.

If you decide to move forward with the migration, the following are three tips from Stephanie Smith, Marketing and Communications Specialist at BMF and Chair of the Allinial Global BD/Marketing Committee:

1. Change your email address to .cpa before migrating your website. But keep your .com email address active and have your IT team redirect those emails to your new address. This will provide ample time for you to communicate the changes internally, generate some excitement about the migration, and ensure that your new email addresses will be whitelisted by your external stakeholders. Incidentally, the BMF team has no current plans to jettison their .com addresses.

2. Leverage partners’ relationships with clients, and communicate early and often. Timely communications from the marketing department to clients and other key external stakeholders will be important. But emails sent directly from the partners’ inbox will be even more important for a smooth transition and to minimize the likelihood that your new email address will land in the spam folder.

3. Commit to a timeline, and don’t look for downtime. With multiple deadlines throughout the year and the continuing evolution of PPP, there’s no “best time” to migrate to .cpa. Once you decide to migrate, my recommendation is to create a project plan as soon as possible and start executing.

Many thanks to Stephanie Smith for sharing her experience and insights with the Allinial Global marketing community. She was gracious enough to share her project plan, deliverables, and communications samples with me.

In addition, the AICPA and CPA.com have some helpful resources on www.domains.cpa to guide you through migration, including a step-by-step guide, FAQs, deep-dive videos, and a weekly onboarding webcast.

If you are an Allinial Global member who would like to see Stephanie’s project plan and samples, please let me know. For questions that are not addressed in the FAQs section of domains.cpa, please contact our CPA.com rep, Brian Siet, for assistance.

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