Your marketing agency just landed a new client and your whole team is excited. But it isn’t long before you realize that you’re also wildly disorganized — and so is your client onboarding process.

You have to dig through emails to figure out whether or not that client has signed your service agreement. Your notes about your client’s marketing goals and target customers are scattered all over the place. Three different team members have asked for access to the clients’ social media accounts.

It’s a major mess — and it’s also a testament to the importance of your agency’s client onboarding process. 

Why marketing agencies need client onboarding processes

Your onboarding process is your first impression on your agency’s new clients, and you understandably want it to be a positive one. 

This is a fragile time in your relationship with your clients. In many cases, they may have signed on for your services, but they’re still evaluating whether or not they’re going to stick around for the long haul. 

In addition to making a great first impression, here are a few more reasons that refining your client onboarding process flow should be at the top of your agency’s priority list. 

1. Get the information you need 

There’s nothing worse than being prepped and ready to start a client’s project and then realizing that you don’t have the information you need — whether you don’t have the right access to their analytics software, you haven’t received their existing customer personas, or you need access to the correct documents, like a statement of scope.

That’s one of the benefits of a client onboarding process. It ensures that you have all of your client’s details before your team rolls up their sleeves to get started on the actual work. That means fewer bottlenecks for your projects and a more streamlined experience for your clients. 

2. Save yourself time and headaches

Without an onboarding process in place, you’re bound to waste time on a lot of unnecessary back and forth with your clients and your internal teams. There’s no clarity about what you need and what you already have, which leads to increased frustration for everybody (especially your clients).

By refining a new client onboarding process, you can templatize and automate questionnaires, emails, workflows, and more. Doing so saves you from reinventing the wheel and also helps deliver a consistent experience for all of your agency’s new clients

3. Retain more clients (and land new ones)

Here’s an enlightening statistic: It’s 16 times as expensive to build a long-term business relationship with a new customer than to cultivate the loyalty of an existing customer.

Needless to say, you want to keep your agency clients around — and you need to deliver superior service to make that happen. In fact, 82% of clients say they’ve left a business because of client service issues, and the average client-agency tenure is thought to be less than three years.

If your clients have a negative interaction right out of the gate, they’re far more likely to walk away and find an agency that delivers a more streamlined client experience. 

But on the flipside? If you deliver a great onboarding experience, they’re more likely to not only stick with your agency but also recommend you to other businesses who can become long-term clients (because referred customers are 18% less likely to churn than non-referred customers). 

How to streamline your client onboarding process

You’re convinced of the importance of your agency’s onboarding process, and you know you need some fine-tuning in this area. Here are some steps to ensure that clients have a positive experience with your agency right away. 

1. Create a new client questionnaire

From logins to details about their audience and marketing goals, there’s a lot of information you need to collect from a new client. Doing this via email is cumbersome. You’re bound to forget something and the information will be siloed with the people on that email thread.

Instead, create a new client questionnaire that you can use with all of your new clients. Wrike makes it easy to create an intake form that can be shared with your clients (if you use external forms, your clients don’t even need to have a Wrike account).

In that form, include all of your new client questions and have the responses fed to a specific project or folder within Wrike. That client’s name and email will be listed at the top of the resulting task or project, so it’s easy for you to find the information you need.

Additionally, with Wrike, you can create dynamic request forms to offer a more personalized experience for your clients and ensure they don’t have to answer questions that don’t apply to them.

For example, if your client selects from a dropdown that they're enlisting your agency’s SEO services, they’re then be presented with questions related to that service (and none of the questions related to social media management). It’s a great way to get only the information you need and deliver a tailored intake process for your clients as well. 

2. Host a new client kickoff meeting

We recommend starting with the questionnaire so you don’t have to waste in-person time with your client on nuts and bolts like logins. But, once you have that basic information in your pocket, it’s smart to host a kickoff meeting with every new client.

This is your opportunity to not only lay the groundwork for a more personal, positive relationship but also get clarity on things that aren’t so easily covered in the questionnaire. This could include:

  • Their marketing goals and how they’re defining success 
  • Information about their target customers
  • Details about their brand identity 
  • Ideal timelines for the marketing projects you’ll be handling
  • Introductions to team members your agency will be collaborating with

In short, this is your chance to really dig in and get to know your new client. In addition to getting you more detailed information, it also demonstrates that you’re engaged and interested in learning everything you can about their business. 

3. Templatize and automate what you can

Of course, you want to offer a highly-personal relationship, which can make you wary of automating or templatizing too many elements of your client onboarding process.

However, it’s totally possible for you to remain highly connected to your new clients while also removing some repetitive to-dos from your own plate. 

Are there common emails you send all new clients (like a “welcome” note with a link to your new client questionnaire)? Are there documents you always need to send (like your services agreement) that could be automatically triggered after signup? Which documents are easier to automate and sort through quickly (i.e service agreement vs contract)?

If you aren’t automating those types of things, you’re not only running the risk of forgetting about them but you’re also wasting tons of time. In fact, 55% of all managers spend one full workday or more every week on repetitive, administrative tasks. 

By automating those, you can deliver an even better client experience because you have more time to focus on that relationship, and not on those time-intensive items. 

4. Extend your “onboarding” period

A whopping 23% of agencies fail to meet client expectations and goals. And, unfortunately, that means clients leave (77% of client-side marketers said that low-quality campaigns are the main reason they moved on from their agency). 

If you offer a great onboarding experience and then fall off the radar for the remainder of your engagement, you’ll leave your clients scratching their heads and also likely miss the mark with your deliverables. 

Instead, extend your “onboarding” period with clients for at least the first sixth months that they’ve contracted your agency. 

Do frequent check-in calls to realign expectations and chat about progress, and provide frequent status updates to keep them in the loop. Measures like these will prevent your team from getting too far off track, while also showing your client that you’re committed to them for the long haul — and not just for that delicate onboarding period. 

5. Create a client onboarding checklist

There’s a lot to take care of during a new client onboarding process, which makes it tough to remember all of the details. That’s why it’s helpful to create an onboarding checklist so that you can literally check the boxes as you get what you need.

What do you put in a client onboarding checklist? 

In your checklist, you should list each and every task you need to take care of when bringing a new client up to speed. This could include items like: 

  • Send a “welcome” email with a new client questionnaire
  • Collect basic information (budget, logins, points of contact, etc.) from client
  • Schedule and host a new client kickoff call
  • Create a folder for this client in your project management software
  • Assign your internal team members 

It’s wise to look back at some of your most recent clients to get a handle on what tasks you had to take care of (and what ones you forgot about!). Those all deserve a spot on your client onboarding checklist. 

How to use Wrike for a new client onboarding process 

Your new client onboarding process is supposed to save you time and hassles — not create more. That means it needs to be highly organized and something you can reuse every time you sign a new client.

Fortunately, you can set up your entire onboarding process (and checklist!) within Wrike so that you and your team always make sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. 

Within Wrike, set up a folder or project titled “New Client Onboarding Process Template” or something else that’s descriptive. Within that folder or project, add any relevant tasks and subtasks (such as the ones we outlined above as part of the onboarding checklist). During this step, you can also add other necessary data like assignees, descriptions, duration, and attachments. 

Once all of your information is added, your template is ready to use. You’ll just need to right-click on that template, select “duplicate,” and then customize any relevant details from there. 

Ace your onboarding process and boost your agency

First impressions matter. And, as a marketing agency, your onboarding experience is one of the first and most important impressions you’ll make on your clients.

Your onboarding process can’t be something that’s haphazard and inconsistently thrown together time and time again. Like everything else your agency does, it deserves some careful thought and strategy. Trust us — it’s more than worth the effort. 

Ready to take your onboarding process (and your project execution) to the next level? Start your free trial of Wrike.