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Client Onboarding: Critical for Marketing Agency Success

By Deborah Kurfiss, Umbrella Content Marketing Director on Jan 20, 2023

Whether you are building your digital marketing agency or you are an old hand, good client onboarding is critical to creatubg client loyalty.  Onboarding enables you and your client to get to know each other understand your client’s challenges and goals better, set client expectations and introduce your client to your processes.

You want client onboarding to be a pleasant, streamlined experience for your every client and set a solid foundation for a long business relationship.

What Are the Benefits of Good Client Onboarding?

Here are some of the key benefits of using our 6-step onboarding checklist:

Gain Client Trust, the Foundation for a Long-Term Relationship

  • It’s critical that you make a good impression right out of the gate. A good onboarding experience sets the stage for the client trusting you. If you fail in giving that good impression, it’s very difficult to change that impression. So, you need a plan.
  • It’s much more expensive to get a new customer than to sell more services or continuing services to an existing one. We are talking up to seven times more expensive. So, it’s important after you make the sale that you continue to please the customer

Happy Clients Refer Others

There is no stronger marketing than a personal referral. Happy clients refer their friends and colleagues.

Setting Expectations Reduces Complaints

Clients who understand your processes and timelines are much less likely to complain. Be sure you properly set your clients’ expectations. Keep in mind that it’s much better to under-promise and over-deliver rather than the other way around.

Even more than wanting to keep clients long-term, you want to successfully finish the first project. If you onboard your clients well, if you set their expectations, they are a whole lot less likely to leave in the middle of the project. Good onboarding vastly reduces churn.

Client Onboarding Promotes Efficiency

When you properly onboard clients so both parties have the information they need and a good understanding of the project process, you can move much more quickly. And avoiding delays means happy clients.

Increase the Likelihood of Cross-Selling and Up-Selling

You should be looking at your first project with a client as your foot in the door to cross-selling and up-selling them additional services. If they are happy with the onboarding process, and you gain their trust, you may be able to do this before you even start the first project.

Steps to Successful Onboarding

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of onboarding, let’s discuss the basics of how to do it.

Don’t Wing It

Onboarding a new client is no place to wing it. You need to have a process in place and onboard your new client in an organized fashion. You need a flow chart of what steps follow each other and a checklist under each of those steps.

Add Your New Client to Your CRM

If you have a CRM, be sure to enter all the client’s details immediately. If the client has access to a CRM portal or website, send them a welcome message that details how to use it.

If you do not use a CRM, you should consider it. Here are some possibilities, though there are plenty of other good CRMs:

Send an Onboarding Questionnaire to the Client

You need more information than you are going to get during the sales process to serve the client. We recommend sending a detailed questionnaire that you can then go over with the client during a meeting.

This questionnaire should start with basic information such as website URLs, contact information and social media information and then move to target audience, USP, goals, revenues, competition, sales funnel, branding, expectations of working with your agency and anything else that can help you market for the client.

Explain Your Agency’s Tools

You probably have certain tools that you use with clients. This will vary from agency to agency. You no doubt have specific processes for communications, revision requests, project collaboration and providing access to reports. Make sure you send your client information about all these tools upfront including their own account information and also cover the tools during a meeting.

Assign a Team or Dedicated Representative to Your Client

If your agency isn’t a one-person shop, assign a team or account representative to the client. These people must keep up to speed on the clients’ goals and issues, so the client need not explain everything each time they contact your agency. This also helps generate bonding and relationship-building.

Send the Client the Initial Materials They Need

Be sure your client has all the documents and information they need from the beginning. You may want to send these in a series of welcome emails. You may also want to set up a shared Drive folder.

Information your client will need immediately includes

  • Contact information for their team members and the role each plays
  • Client accounts for any online tools and portals you will use with the client such as access to reports or communications portals
  • Questionnaire that lists the information you need from your client to proceed
  • Summary of the initial project including goals, timelines and deliverables
  • Meeting schedules, how to access meetings, agendas, attendees and length of meetings (particularly the first meeting)
  • Anything else your client needs upfront.

Meet with the Client

Hold an initial meeting after the client has signed on the dotted line. If your client will be working with a team they will need to communicate with, be sure they are on the meeting. You don’t need to have backend people on the meeting.

If you sent a detailed questionnaire (which you should have), take this opportunity to go over the client’s answers to that questionnaire. Discuss their overall goals and the project goals. Discuss processes and timelines. Be sure to set expectations regarding communications. The client should come away with a firm idea of next steps. And, of course, this is a good opportunity for the client to ask any remaining questions and for you to listen to their concerns.

Everyone on the call from your agency needs to prepare for the meeting and be completely up to speed about the client. Don’t schedule the meeting longer than an hour and a half because that’s the point when attention typically lags.

Have a Post-Meeting Internal Review

After the meeting, go over what you learned during the meeting with your team and discuss next steps and deadlines.

Need Help with Marketing Strategy?

Client onboarding is all part of savvy marketing strategy. If you need help with marketing strategy of any facet of digital marketing, turn to Umbrella for white label digital marketing services to help you build your agency.

Contact us by completing this form or call us at 1 (866) 760-2638 to set up a free consultation.

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