A guide to client onboarding for marketing and content agencies

The only guide you'll ever need, plus tools you can use to up your client onboarding game.
Neelam Goswami
February 23, 2022
Guides
Main Illustration:
Sivaprakash

A guide to client onboarding for marketing and content agencies

The only guide you'll ever need, plus tools you can use to up your client onboarding game.
Neelam Goswami
February 23, 2022
Guides
Main Illustration:
Sivaprakash

In This Post

You may have given your client a glimpse of what your agency can do for them during their sales journey. But the real opportunity to make a lasting impression is after the deal is closed. This is when you need to show a new customer what it is like to work with you.

Customer onboarding for marketing and content agencies is the process of getting to know your client better and preparing them to make the best out of your service. The idea is to welcome the customer, understand their challenges, and get them acquainted with how your agency works to tackle these challenges. This is the first time your agency will be formalizing a working relationship with the client and addressing their concerns on the job. A smooth transition from Sales to Customer Success is what you hope to achieve here. 

A solid onboarding process and effective onboarding content also act as a reinforcement for the client. A good onboarding experience helps build trust in your service and gives customers confidence in choosing your agency. According to a Wyzowl survey, 86% of customers are likely to stay loyal to a business that provides onboarding content to educate and welcome clients after a deal is closed. Your client onboarding strategy can play a crucial role in the long-term retention of customers.

Why is it important for content and marketing agencies to have a solid client onboarding process?

The customer onboarding process is a great opportunity for relationship-building with clients. Your long-term relationship with customers depends on how seamless an experience they have with your service right from the start. A good customer onboarding strategy ensures that their journey with your agency begins on a great note and carves the path for a long-standing partnership. 

Here is how customer onboarding can help marketing and content agencies build strong customer relationships.

Reduced client complaints 

Setting customers' expectations from your agency straight from the beginning means they will have fewer complaints later, as long as you deliver on your promises. Reduced customer complaints translate to lower customer service costs and a better customer experience.  

Lower churn rates

If clients are happy with your approach from the start, it is less likely that they will abandon you halfway. A good client onboarding process leads to satisfied customers, lesser frustration on their part, and a lower churn rate for your business.

Goodwill and word-of-mouth marketing

A huge plus of a solid client onboarding experience is the client goodwill that you gain. One happy client can bring you more in the future. Clients who are happy with your onboarding process will begin to trust your brand sooner and spread the word, giving you more reach.

Opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell

Clients who are happy with your onboarding process may even consider spending more on your services. Reports suggest that 68% of customers are willing to pay more for products or services of a company with a proven record of good customer service. So you have a better chance at cross-selling or up-selling your services to a customer who has had a good onboarding experience with your agency.

What does a good client onboarding process for marketing and content agencies look like?

The major challenge in building a good client onboarding process for a marketing or content agency is deciding how to start. What would make your agency come across as thoroughly professional and organized? The best way to ensure this is by being organized in the first place. It is imperative to document your client onboarding process and get everything aligned before proceeding. You could create a process flow listing all the steps involved in your onboarding process to streamline your approach. Another helpful aide would be a client onboarding checklist that you can use every time to ensure consistency and a great client experience.

Here is what a good client onboarding process for a marketing or content agency should look like. 

 1. Welcome client aboard your CRM

If you are using a CRM tool, the first step of client onboarding would be to update all the existing client details on the platform. Also, if there is a client portal on the CRM or your website, this is the right time to welcome the client to the portal. Send them an invite or create an account for them and share the login details.  

2. Assign a team 

The next step is to decide who will directly contact the client during the onboarding process and beyond. It is best to have a dedicated team that the client can interact with rather than having them talk to a different person every time. This is particularly helpful if you are operating with a big team. The team assigned must be up-to-date with all the client's details. This step helps to ensure consistency in the customer conversations, which is hard to achieve if the point of contact keeps changing. A team would usually consist of an Account Manager, a Project Manager, a support executive(s), and any other specialists as necessary.  

3. Share an onboarding questionnaire

Next, you need to gather all the information you can about the client with the help of an onboarding questionnaire. You may already have some information gathered during the sales prospecting phase. The purpose of this questionnaire is to cover what you could not gather during that phase. So go through the information you already have, find the gaps in this data, and frame questions around them that will help you better understand the client's needs. These onboarding questions usually revolve around the client's goals, challenges, expectations, company standards, brand guidelines, and such. 

Here is a simple example we've created to give you an idea of what a customer onboarding questionnaire should look like for a marketing or content agency. Depending on the type and amount of information you need to collect, you can add more questions.

4. Familiarize client with tools your agency uses

Every marketing and content agency has its own tool stack. Your tool stack may comprise content creation tools, collaboration tools, project management tools, and more. Your client will need access to some of these tools too. For instance, they might need to collaborate and provide inputs on their content project or marketing campaigns. They might also want to access the reports and analytics for their content/ campaign performance. 

Decide which tools your clients should have access to and create client accounts on those platforms. The Account Manager will also need to give the client a walkthrough, showing them how to use the tool. Apart from that, if there are any guides, manuals, checklists, etc., that might help the client get acquainted with the tool, you should share those too.  

5. Create and share a welcome package

After this initial setup is done, it is time to interact appropriately with the client. So before you schedule a meeting, welcome the client onboard formally with a welcome package. The welcome package can be a bunch of documents, emails, or messages that you create for the client. The purpose is to go over the terms of your agreement again and set the expectations right before you start. Some essential things that you would want to include are:

  1. Introduction of assigned team members
  2. The client goals you will be working to achieve
  3. The services you will be offering to achieve these goals
  4. Tools you will be using 
  5. The client's role in the project
  6. Deliverables
  7. Tentative timelines
  8. Any fixed meeting schedules (weekly, fortnightly, etc.) 

Apart from this, anything else that you may not have shared with the client (guides, tutorials, learning material, etc.) earlier can be shared at this point. 

6. Set up a kickoff meeting

This is your first formal interaction with the client after the deal closure. Take this opportunity to introduce the client to all the people and processes involved in the project.

Apart from the usual discussions around client goals, expectations and deliverables, you should also discuss the workflow and the process you adopt. This ensures that the client understands what goes on behind the scenes. Also, answer any client's questions about your marketing or content technology stack. 

Highlight what the next steps will be and the milestones in this project. The kickoff meeting is your big opportunity to make an impression on the client, so ask your team to prepare well for it. 

7. Sign-off on a good note

A good way to wrap up the onboarding process and get started with the client project is by offering them something to keep the goodwill alive. A small gift hamper with your brand merchandise and a handwritten note, or even a box of cookies would do.  

8. Take care of the internal activities

With this, the client onboarding process is almost over, but not entirely. There will be some internal work that you should take care of. Sit with your team to review all that you learned during the onboarding process. Review the questionnaire turned in by the client. Decide on the timelines, milestones, and internal reporting frequency. Once these finer details are sorted, you are good to proceed with the project.

Here's a customer onboarding checklist template you could use.

How to streamline your client onboarding process using Rocketlane

It is only possible to deliver a great client onboarding experience if things at your end are under control. Most agencies struggle with a scattered and disorganized process during onboarding. They have multiple tools, documents, spreadsheets, etc., that they work with and need to share every time a new client is onboarded. Customer conversations are spread across multiple channels, and tracking these conversations becomes difficult. These multiple, disconnected platforms and tools make the customer onboarding journey feel patchy and fragmented. 

A good customer onboarding platform dedicated to offering a seamless onboarding experience is what agencies need. Rocketlane, for example, helps you bring all your onboarding documents, processes, and plans to one place. You can create branded customer portals for each client and create reusable project plans that you can share with clients with similar requirements. There are customized views to control what you see and what your customers see on the platform. 

Rocketlane also makes collaboration easy by bringing all your customer communication onto the platform. So you can forget about all the back and forth over emails and messages and have everything consolidated on the platform. The platform gives you better visibility of your active projects and shows you the current customer satisfaction data on projects too. With the presentation mode, you can also deliver presentations to your customers on their ongoing projects directly from the platform. All your onboarding documents can be embedded in the Shared Spaces, making them easy to share when needed.

Overall, a customer onboarding platform like Rocketlane can make the onboarding experience great for your customers and your team.

Beyond client onboarding - giving your clients an excellent ongoing customer experience 

Rocketlane goes beyond customer onboarding too. As a collaborative project delivery portal, Rocketlane can help you manage your client projects throughout the project life cycle. You can track current statuses to identify which ongoing projects are running according to schedule and which ones are falling behind schedule, allowing you to prioritize accordingly to ensure better customer satisfaction.

The platform generates automated assessments to show you how your client projects are progressing compared to what was planned, giving you more visibility on progress and performance. You can share these status updates with your team and your clients, keeping them in the know. Automated CSAT surveys after every milestone also tell you how the customer feels about the project's progress. These features and capabilities make Rocketlane an all-in-one solution for ongoing customer experience. 

But apart from Rocketlane, you could use more tools to boost customer experience in different functional areas. 

Content creation and collaboration with Narrato

Narrato is a content creation, collaboration, and workflow management platform that can streamline your content creation and delivery process. While you can bring your entire content creation operations on the platform, Narrato stands out as the right choice for content and marketing agencies with its specially designed user role for clients. Clients can be given access to their projects and get to see only the content marked for their review. There are also settings that make sure that your client's access to your team is limited to the team members who are in direct touch.

 

You can have your entire content team together on the platform working on different client projects, including freelance creators. For content creation, Narrato offers a powerful content editor with an AI writing assistant that helps the content team create great content and optimize it for the audience, SEO, etc. You can create custom templates to keep your content tasks structured and keep a repository of client-specific style guides. There are several other beneficial features for collaboration and planning, including messaging, on-content comments, content calendars, and workflow boards. 

Communication tools

Every marketing and content agency needs a good tool for open, ongoing communication with clients. A centralized communication platform helps to keep all your customer conversations in one place. For this, you can use a tool like Slack. Slack has messaging, video calling, and voice calling capabilities to help you interact and quickly set up meetings with clients. You can also create different channels on Slack for different projects or topics and only add those members who must be in the conversation, say the client and your assigned team members. 

Or you could go for an all-in-one solution like Rocketlane that can be used for customer collaboration, including for conversations.

Visual content collaboration tools

From creating brand assets to generating infographics, videos, and animations, visual content is a huge part of marketing and content campaigns. But the real challenge here is sharing visual content with clients and getting feedback. Sharing via email or similar channels involves a lot of back and forth and becomes cumbersome. This is where video collaboration tools can help give your clients a better experience.

Some of the best tools for video content collaboration are Canva, Figma, Vista Create (formerly Crello), and Visme. These platforms let you share links to your design projects with clients. You can allow clients to view or edit the content. Platforms like Figma also have brainstorming tools such as sticky notes and diagrams that go on an online whiteboard, helping build great ideas with inputs from your clients.  

Agency invoicing tools

Another area where agencies need to put in some effort to ensure a smooth experience for clients is billing and invoicing. Issues in invoicing can be a serious deal-breaker. The right billing and invoicing software saves you time, minimizes errors, and brings uniformity to the process. There are many invoicing tools you can choose from, but some of the best in the market include Productive, InvoiceNinja, Zoho Invoice, and Invoice Simple. All of these tools primarily cater to small businesses and agencies. Common features include recurring invoicing and automated billing, integrations with multiple payment gateways, automated payment reminders, custom invoice templates, and more.

Tools as a way to add to customer delight

Customer onboarding is the beginning of a customer's journey with your agency. It is essential that you put your best foot forward right at the start to make the rest of the journey smoother. Giving your customers a fantastic onboarding experience should be easy if you use the right tools and support. Just make sure you take a structured approach. Document the process and create an onboarding checklist, to begin with. Get yourself the right tools that bring the whole process together. And as you gain more experience, you can continue improving and optimizing your onboarding process for better results. 

More resources

  1. The Six Pillars of Effective Client Onboarding
  2. 7 Client Onboarding Best Practices
  3. The quick client onboarding checklist every business needs

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Neelam Goswami
Content Marketer @ Narrato

When she's not engrossed in research and penning insightful pieces on content marketing, Neelam loves to spend time creating and appreciating art.

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