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6 step marketing agency client onboarding checklist

Sep 29, 2023
  • 9 min read
  • Omid G

    They say first impressions are everything. In fact, your agency client onboarding process has a massive effect on your client retention.

    According to a study done by Userpilot, “65% of customers think onboarding is key to deciding to subscribe to a product.” And what’s even more surprising is that the same study shows that over 74% of clients will switch to other solutions if the onboarding process is too complicated.

    That’s why, in this article, I’m going to walk you through what you need to be aware of when onboarding clients for your agency. As someone who runs a marketing agency myself, I know this aspect of my business is crucial to making sure I can retain clients for the long haul.

    Okay, let’s get into it!

    What is agency client onboarding?

    Agency client onboarding is a pivotal process that sets the stage for every new business relationship. It's like a grand entrance, but instead of adoring onlookers and celebration, there are objectives to achieve and services to provide.

    This procedure typically involves gathering information about your client's needs, setting up access to necessary tools or platforms, and outlining goals and strategies for collaboration. In essence, it's all about ensuring a smooth start so both parties can hit the ground running together.

    The significance of client onboarding

    A successful onboarding process does more than just kick-start operations; it also builds trust with your new clients. Like showing someone around their new home before they move in — it makes them feel welcome and valued from day one.

    In fact, Gallup research suggests that effective client onboarding is what leads to better customer retention. This is because clients will feel more committed to working with you long-term — a clear indication of how first impressions can influence future interactions.

    Agency client onboarding best practices

    A solid agency client onboarding should have several key components:

    • Understanding the client’s needs
    • Setting up realistic expectations
    • Developing an effective communication strategy
    • Integrating into systems & processes smoothly
    • Establishing a roadmap towards achieving agreed-upon objectives

    This isn't unlike planning a cross-country road trip where you need directions (strategy), gas stations along the way (touchpoints), snacks (quick wins) — everything mapped out beforehand makes sure there are no unexpected surprises down the line.

    Copilot as your guide through the journey

    Copilot client onboarding automation

    Now, imagine if you could automate your entire client onboarding process. That's where Copilot comes in. Copilot is an innovative client portal that simplifies the onboarding process, making it as easy and effortless as possible.

    Think of it as your main control center for running your entire marketing agency. It's there to handle messaging, payments, file-sharing, reporting, and more. Plus, it lets you use custom apps too. More on Copilot later. First, let’s go over what you should include in your client onboarding process.

    What should be included in client onboarding?

    Interacting with a fresh client can either build or damage your agency’s reputation. So, it's critical to get the onboarding process right.

    Here are some key elements that need to be part of any successful agency-client onboarding:

    • A clear understanding of client goals: Start by getting a deep understanding of what the client wants from you. What are their business goals? How do they define success?
    • An in-depth onboarding questionnaire: This is one tool you can use to understand your clients better. Ask about their audience, competitors, and brand guidelines. But don't forget - it needs to be concise.
    • A defined scope of work (SOW): The SOW outlines all deliverables, timelines, responsibilities, and costs involved in the project.

    All these steps will give you a solid foundation for delivering top-notch service but remember - communication is key throughout this process. Regular check-ins help ensure both parties stay aligned.

    Beyond initial setup: Ongoing engagement

    Client engagement doesn’t stop after initial setup; rather it’s an ongoing process that ensures continued satisfaction and results delivery.

    Regular feedback sessions allow for continuous improvement while performance reports keep them updated about progress towards set objectives.

    • Scheduled check-ins: A good practice involves scheduling regular meetings to discuss project progress and address any concerns the client might have.
    • Performance reports: Regular reports keep clients in loop about how well their campaigns are performing. It’s not just good practice; it’s an excellent opportunity to show off your hard work.

    Copilot comes packed with features to keep your clients hooked, including a devoted help section.

    6 steps to your marketing agency client onboarding process

    The process of bringing a new client into your marketing agency can be like teaching someone how to dance. It's all about rhythm, communication, and coordination. But don't worry. We've got you covered.

    Here’s a six-step agency client onboarding checklist:

    1. Initial client consultation and agreement
    2. Automated welcome via your client portal
    3. Efficient data collection with intake forms
    4. Client customization and workspace setup
    5. Automated billing and payments
    6. Regular check-ins and feedback

    Let’s go a bit deeper into each step.

    1. Initial client consultation and agreement

    Before anything, meet with potential clients to discuss their needs, expectations, and how your agency can help. Once a marketing proposal is sent, and an agreement is reached, it's time to integrate them into your system.

    For this part, you want to look as professional as possible and one way many agencies do this is by using a white-label client portal. This allows you to productize your services and create a great first impression when onboarding your clients. Let's go over that.

    2. Automated welcome via your client portal

    As soon as a client is onboarded in your system, use Copilot to send an automated welcome message the first time they log into your client portal.

    Client portal automated welcome emails

    To get an idea of what this looks like for your client, check out our demo agency client portal here.

    This should introduce your agency, set expectations around deliverables and response times, and give them a brief overview of what the onboarding process will entail.

    3. Efficient data collection with intake forms

    When onboarding, you want to avoid the lengthy back-and-forth emails. To do this, you want to set up a workflow that automatically sends clients an intake form when they log into their portal.

    Copilot intake forms

    This form should gather all essential information required to serve them effectively, such as business goals, target audience details, past marketing data, access to any analytics platforms, and more.

    4. Client customization and workspace setup

    With the data collected, attach attributes to clients using Copilot. By updating custom field properties based on specific conditions, you can streamline client management. Using Copilot Automations and Zapier, these attribute values can then trigger other automations, such as automatically setting up default files, folder structures, and integrating third-party apps tailored to each client's unique needs and preferences.

    You’ll also want to make your client feel like a valuable part of the process by setting up a personalized workspace for them. Using Copilot, you can automatically set up default files, folder structures, and integrate third-party apps your client may already be using. This way, each client has access to all the resources and tools they'll need — organized in a way that's intuitive and user-friendly.

    5. Automated billing and payments

    Financial transparency is key for trust and making sure you have healthy cashflow. With Copilot, you can streamline your billing process by sending invoices or creating subscriptions. These subscriptions can automatically bill clients on a recurring basis, depending on the frequency you set. Not only does this help you get paid on time, but it makes it easier for you and your client to not have to keep up with invoices. From day one of onboarding, you can “set it and forget it” when it comes to payments.

    Structuring your service business like this during the agency client onboarding process can make your business feel more like a tech startup and look more professional.

    If you want to learn more about billing, be sure to check out the Copilot billing app!

    6. Regular check-ins and feedback

    The onboarding process doesn't end once everything is set up. Regular communication is key to a successful client-agency relationship. Schedule periodic check-ins, whether virtual meetings or face-to-face, to discuss progress, gather feedback, and address any concerns. Additionally, Copilot's automations can remind you of these sessions, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.

    Overcoming common challenges in client onboarding

    The first complication many agencies run into is often around communication gaps between your team and new clients. Without clear, timely communication, it's easy for misunderstandings to arise or tasks to fall through the cracks.

    This is where Copilot comes into play. With its streamlined messaging features, Copilot makes sure everyone stays on the same page. You can easily keep track of conversations and deliverables in one place. And the great thing about Copilot’s messaging app is that each time you send a message to your client in their portal, they’ll also receive it in the form of an email. This way, your client can also respond via email and the messaging thread will automatically sync in their client portal.

    Tackling more complex problems head-on

    Sometimes, though, even after clearing these hurdles we might run into bigger beasts like managing financial transactions or sharing confidential files securely.

    Bigger challenge: Secure payment handling

    In business dealings as complex as an iceberg beneath calm waters may lie issues related to secure payment handling. Paying online should be as safe and easy as storing treasure in a chest, right? With Copilot's secure payment system, it is. No more worrying about losing track of payments or risking security breaches.

    Bigger challenge: Secure file sharing

    Handing over sensitive info to clients can feel like a blindfolded walk off the plank. But don't sweat it — Copilot's got your back with its secure file-sharing feature, making sure your confidential documents are safe.

    Copilot: Designed for modern agencies

    Copilot is a game-changer when it comes to client onboarding. With its streamlined messaging feature, communication between you and your clients becomes smoother than ever. Imagine having all your messages in one place without the need to juggle different platforms or threads. This centralized messaging system lets agencies and their clients communicate effectively and efficiently.

    Making payments easy peasy

    Gone are the days of complicated payment systems that confuse both parties involved. With Copilot, payments become as easy as clicking a button. You can create both branded invoices and subscriptions — offering an integrated solution that allows businesses to handle transactions smoothly and quickly.

    This means no more back-and-forth emails asking for payment updates or confirmations — everything you need is right there at your fingertips. What’s more? You can easily track every transaction made (or pending transactions) by each client using the comprehensive dashboard provided by Copilot's payment feature.

    Your one-stop shop for file sharing and more

    If file sharing gives you headaches because files get lost in long email chains or misplaced among various storage drives – breathe easy now. Because with Copilot, file-sharing becomes seamless and organized.

    All documents related to a project can be stored securely within the portal itself thanks to Copilot's advanced file-sharing capabilities. This helps everyone stay on top of things without wasting time searching through endless folders for specific files.

    Help desks that actually help

    We've all felt the irritation of not having a clue where to look for solutions when we have an issue or query. With Copilot's integrated knowledge base, that worry is a thing of the past.

    Each client portal you create for your client’s has a built-in help desk where clients can get quick answers to their questions without waiting on email responses from your team. It saves time, reduces frustration, and allows your team to focus more on delivering quality work instead of addressing repetitive queries.

    Your custom app access in one place

    Copilot app marketplace

    Not only that, but Copilot also lends a hand with app accessibility by letting you tailor access within the app itself.


    Copilot for marketing agency

    Mastering agency client onboarding doesn't have to be difficult. It starts with understanding the essentials. Remembering goals, pinpointing needs, and initiating action — that's your groundwork.

    Copilot is here to help you make this process smoother. It offers solutions tailored for agencies to ease the onboarding journey.

    If you want to learn more about what Copilot can do for your agency, be sure to play around with the demo portal and sign up for a free trial!

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