7 Step Client Onboarding Checklist for Digital Marketing Agencies

A Client Onboarding Checklist means new clients start with a warm welcome - beginning our partnership on the right foot! Learn to seamlessly integrate signees into successful long-term agency relationships.
Illustration of an efficient client onboarding checklist at an agency, with employees engaging in tasks that highlight the importance of a thorough onboarding process.

A Seamless Onboarding Experience: The Key to Long-Lasting Client Relationships

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you land a new client? Jumping straight into setting up ad campaigns and publishing content? While the excitement is justified, the work has only just begun.

According to a Userpilot report, 63% of customers consider the onboarding period when deciding to subscribe to a product or service, highlighting the significance of this phase in the customer journey. With so much at stake during the initial engagement, the client onboarding process can literally make or break your agency’s growth trajectory.

So how do you ensure a smooth transition that sets the foundation for an enduring partnership? An optimized onboarding process.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What client onboarding checklist entails and why it’s critical for agencies
  • The benefits of having a structured onboarding framework
  • A step-by-step checklist for seamlessly onboarding new clients

By implementing these proven guidelines, your digital marketing agency can deliver value from day one while avoiding common landmines like mismatched expectations that lead to churn. Let’s dive in to the strategies top agencies leverage to turn new signups into lifelong fans.

Two professionals reviewing a client onboarding checklist on a laptop in a well-lit office setting, symbolizing teamwork and attention to client needs.

What is Client Onboarding?

Client onboarding is the critical process followed by agencies to integrate new clients into their systems and workflows. It encompasses the steps taken to establish clarity between both parties after signing a contract but before beginning active work on marketing campaigns.

While the sales process focuses on showcasing value and closing the deal, the onboarding phase is where expectations meet reality. This includes aligning on budget, scope, success metrics, requirements from both sides, and preferred communication formats.

Industry surveys highlight that setting proper expectations with new clients remains one of the biggest challenges faced by agencies. Without dedication to the onboarding process, agencies risk losing clients due to frustrations around ambiguity on deliverables or lack of education on working relationships.

Onboarding may involve some redundancy for prospects who have gone through a lengthy sales cycle. However, seamlessly transitioning signups into long-term clients depends on laying this operational groundwork using a structured framework. It can include:

  • Introducing full teams and key agency players
  • Collecting additional client information via questionnaires
  • Developing customized success roadmaps
  • Configuring software platforms and reporting tools
  • Training clients on required processes or resources
  • Hosting kickoff meetings to recap relationships

When done right, onboarding continues the momentum from the sales process – ensuring new signups receive the same excitement and personalization from an agency after signing on the dotted line. Maintaining this high-touch experience helps nurture the client lifecycle from day one.

So, what makes onboarding uniquely important for digital marketing agencies specifically? A few key reasons:

It helps avoid misaligned expectations

Delivering services that match what was discussed initially remains one of the biggest onboarding challenges. Without early alignment around budget, scope, goals, and preferences, the relationship often breaks down.

It establishes expertise and trust

Leveraging a proven yet customized process helps showcase an agency’s capabilities in understanding a client’s needs and tailoring solutions for them. Getting this right early on is key for credibility.

Let’s explore how implementing an optimized onboarding framework can set up both the client and agency for shared success over the long haul.


What is a Client Onboarding Checklist

A client onboarding checklist is a document that outlines the processes that need to be followed when a new client signs up. The checklist is compiled so that an agency never misses a step during the onboarding process and helps set a structure that needs to be followed within the agency.

The checklist can be used to create a structured onboarding process that gives clients and employees a clear indication of what needs to be done to get the client fully onboarded and get their marketing campaigns up and running.

While having a client onboarding checklist is important, it is equally important to have a checklist on agency workflows in place to keep internal structure within the agency too!

Benefits of Having a Client Onboarding Process and Checklist

👩‍💻Improve agency efficiency

With an onboarding checklist in place, it’s much simpler for both the agency and the client to see which stage they are at in the onboarding process. It gives you a need-to-know at your fingertips and puts you in a great position to begin working with your client.

🤝Stronger client relationships

An onboarding checklist will highlight all the work that needs to be done in order to start and complete your client’s marketing campaigns. Having this process in place will leave your client feeling confident that their expectations of your services will be met. This also increases transparency between the agency and the client on the work that is currently being conducted.

💸Less chance of client churn

Building a strong and friendly relationship with a client should be your agency’s top priority. An onboarding checklist will help build this relationship and show the client that you can add value to their business. This way, they are more likely to remain loyal clients of yours.

🔎Shows your attention to detail

An onboarding checklist will show the clients that you have heard and listened to their needs during the sales and client meetings. Certain points in the onboarding checklist will highlight these needs and mention what the plan of action is.

✅Never miss a step

Every step should be mentioned in the onboarding checklist, from the initial phone call to the monthly feedback sessions. This process will help you become more organized, allowing you to always be one step ahead and prepared for anything!

😀Happier clients

Clients like structure! They want to know that you know what you are doing and the client onboarding checklist tells them that. A clear plan of action leaves them feeling more confident about how your agency can meet their needs.

Two colleagues discussing a client onboarding checklist on a laptop in a casual office setting, highlighting mentorship and strategy planning.

Compiling A Client Onboarding Checklist

Each agency is unique, so the below checklist is merely a baseline to assist you in creating your own checklist:

Step 1: Signed contract and payment

As soon as the new client sign-up has been confirmed with a signed contract and payment, it’s official, you have a new client on board! This step should include getting a signed copy of the contract, sending the first invoice and receiving payment (if applicable), and then sending the client a copy of the contract that has been signed by both parties.

Step 2: Assign the client to an Account Manager

This step involves choosing which team member will be responsible for the client. The account manager plays a very important role in the onboarding process as they will be the one who the client communicates and works with. Details from the sales process, before the client signed up, need to be shared with the account manager in order for them to have all the details needed to get the onboarding process started.

Step 3: Adding the new client to your CRM system

This step is crucial and is usually performed by the account manager responsible for the client! Whether your agency is using something as simple as a spreadsheet or a tool to store client data, all details about your client need to be captured in your database.

Information that needs to be captured could include:

  • Notes on previous communications from the sales process to date
  • Who is the account manager responsible for the client
  • A link to the client onboarding checklist so that it is available to anyone who needs it

Step 4: A client questionnaire

This step in the client onboarding checklist aims to collect any information on the client that was not obtained in the sales process. A questionnaire can be uniquely compiled per client to help get the missing information that will help you better understand the client and recognize how you can help them achieve their goals. This step can be done in person or over email communication. This process falls as the first part of the digital marketing strategy meeting.

Step 5: Client kick-off meeting

This step can go ahead once all the necessary questions have been answered by the client. It can either happen in person or over video call but it is important this meeting is conducted face-to-face.

What to go over in this meeting:

  • Introducing the client to the account manager and the rest of the team that will be involved in their marketing campaigns
  • Deciding what digital marketing tools will be used in the marketing campaigns
  • Setting goals according to your client’s needs (this should all have been answered in the client questionnaire)
  • Setting a budget for the marketing campaigns
  • Establishing a timeline of the work that needs to be completed to clearly outline the next steps
  • Schedule your next meeting with your client

Step 6: Setting up marketing campaigns

This step involves using all the digital marketing tools that are needed to get the client’s marketing campaign set up and running. All of the essentials would have needed to be discussed earlier on in the onboarding process so that by this step you are ready to execute and put all the plans into action.

Step 7: Get approval on marketing campaigns

This is the final step of the onboarding checklist and it involves spending some time with the client to go over the details of the marketing campaigns and getting their approval to get them up and running!

Handshake against a white brick wall representing the completion of a successful client onboarding checklist process.

Ready To Get Your Client Onboarding Checklist Compiled?

In this article, we have outlined research-backed best practices for structuring a seamless onboarding framework using a checklist approach. By diligently following these steps, agencies can excellently position new clients for success while integrating them smoothly into existing workflows.

The overarching aim is to not simply meet expectations set during sales processes but exceed them through high-touch and systematic onboarding. When done effectively, these strategies drive client happiness, loyalty, and ultimately word-of-mouth referrals.

In short:

Step 1Finalize contract signing and payment
Step 2Assign an account manager to be the main client contact
Step 3Enter client details into central CRM system
Step 4Send new client questionnaire to fill knowledge gaps
Step 5Host kickoff call to align on goals, tools, budget etc.
Step 6Set up marketing campaigns and tools discussed
Step 7Review marketing campaigns and get client approval

We invite you to further strengthen your agency’s foundations by refining onboarding processes with these insights. Our team is ready to assist at any point should you have questions while evaluating or enhancing your integration workflow. Please reach out at your convenience if we can be a resource in your next steps, or try Oviond for a 15-day free trial.

Check out more blogs on digital marketing and keep up to date with all things related to digital marketing.

More on Client Onboarding Checklists

What is client onboarding in the context of digital marketing agencies?

Client onboarding is the process through which new clients are introduced and integrated into an agency’s systems and workflows. It involves aligning on strategies, setting expectations, and establishing communication protocols to ensure a smooth partnership.

Why is client onboarding crucial for digital marketing agencies?

Effective onboarding sets the tone for the client-agency relationship, ensures alignment on goals and expectations, reduces client churn, and lays the groundwork for successful marketing campaigns.

How long should the client onboarding process typically take?

The duration can vary based on the complexity of the client’s needs and the agency’s processes, but it generally takes between two to six weeks to complete all the necessary steps effectively.

What are the key components of a successful client onboarding checklist?

A successful checklist includes contract signing, payment processing, assigning an account manager, integrating client information into CRM systems, conducting a client questionnaire, and setting up initial meetings to align strategies.

How can agencies tailor the onboarding process for different clients?

Agencies can tailor the onboarding process by customizing communication preferences, understanding client-specific goals and challenges, and adapting the onboarding pace to suit the client’s familiarity with digital marketing practices.

What common pitfalls should agencies avoid during the client onboarding process?

Common pitfalls include poor communication, not setting clear expectations, overwhelming the client with too much information at once, and not involving the client enough in the strategy and goal-setting phases.

How does a structured onboarding process improve agency efficiency?

A structured onboarding process streamlines communication, sets clear timelines, minimizes misunderstandings, and ensures that everyone is on the same page, thereby improving overall efficiency.

What role does an account manager play in client onboarding?

The account manager acts as the primary point of contact for the client, ensuring that all their needs are addressed, coordinating with agency teams, and facilitating all stages of the onboarding process.

How important is it to include a client questionnaire in the onboarding process?

A client questionnaire is crucial as it helps gather essential information about the client’s business, goals, and expectations, ensuring that the agency’s strategies are aligned with the client’s needs.

Can digital tools and software enhance the client onboarding process?

Yes, digital tools and CRM systems can streamline onboarding by automating certain steps, maintaining client information systematically, and ensuring nothing is overlooked during the process.

How can agencies measure the success of their onboarding process?

Success can be measured through client feedback, the smoothness of transition into ongoing campaigns, client retention rates, and the time taken from onboarding to the launch of the first campaign.

What should be the focus during the client kick-off meeting?

The focus should be on introducing the client to their account team, discussing the strategy and goals in detail, confirming the budget and timeline, and ensuring all parties have a clear understanding of the next steps.

How can agencies handle client expectations during the onboarding process?

Agencies can manage expectations by communicating transparently about what can be realistically achieved, setting clear milestones, and providing regular updates on progress and any challenges that may arise.

Why is it important to get approval on marketing campaigns during onboarding?

Getting approval ensures that the client is on board with the strategies and tactics proposed, minimizing the risk of misunderstandings or dissatisfaction later on in the campaign.

What’s the best way to conclude the onboarding process?

Concluding the onboarding process involves ensuring all initial goals and strategies are agreed upon, all necessary tools and systems are in place, and the client feels confident and clear about the next steps in their marketing campaigns. A final meeting to recap and confirm everything can be very effective.

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