We’ve created a checklist to help digital marketers successfully onboard new clients and kick things off the right way. If you’ve found your way here, you probably just made a great pitch and landed a brand new client. Congratulations! How exciting! We know you’ve worked very hard to get this client on board and they, in return, expect that you’ll deliver as promised. And so, the indispensable onboarding process begins. You’re not sure how to set yourself up for success? Don’t worry, we’ve done it many times and are happy to give you actionable advice. We believe that having a set of onboarding procedures in place doesn’t just make you look professional. It helps to get off on the right foot with every new client and keeps the experience clients have consistent. Putting onboarding procedures in place takes a bit of work, but we promise, it pays off! You could see it as a long term investment into building lasting relationships between your agency and every new client. A simple client onboarding meeting filled with questions is a great place to start.
Client questions are an essential part of the onboarding process for a variety of reasons. They:
- Are a professional way to begin a new business relationship
- Set expectations on both client and agency side
- Provide you with all the information needed to set every project up for success
- Keep the onboarding experience new clients have consistent
Now, having pitched your idea to the client, you might already have a decent idea of what they want. But during the planning phase of every project, your client’s input will make or break your marketing strategy. You’ll want to make sure that you’re capturing their needs and requirements in as much detail as possible. “If you want to know what another person thinks about an issue, perhaps the better strategy is simply asking them” (Harvard Business Review) To provide a tailored strategy that suits their marketing needs and requirements, and takes project scope and intended benefits into consideration, you need to understand WHO your client is and WHAT exactly they want from your products and services. We dare say, it’s the most important step in the planning phase of every marketing project. It ensures that every project meets its goals, it reduces risks, helps to avoid missed deadlines, and ultimately: Delivers valuable digital products and services that make your client happy. So let’s jump straight in to make sure that your work is flawless from the get-go. Welcome to the digital marketing client onboarding questionnaire!
Client Onboarding Essentials: The Questions You Should Ask
Guessing what that your client wants from you is likely to end in a disaster. To understand another person's goals and motivation, it's not enough to imagine yourself in their shoes. You have to ask the right questions and actively listen. But, you need to ensure that you're asking relevant questions, too. Do not waste your client’s time. You have to do your research and learn as much as you can about your client and their company before even meeting them. Look at their existing online channels, websites, media coverage and Linkedin profiles to understand who you’re dealing with. Once you’ve established a relationship with your new client, knowing exactly what additional information you need to proceed efficiently and effectively, will help you get your job done. And at the same time, your client can get back to running their own business. Everybody wins! Here are a few things to consider when asking clients specific questions:
- Timing is everything. Communicate these questions at the beginning of your collaboration and you’ll have all the information needed to proceed.
- Get to know the person you’re communicating with. Building rapport with client representatives is a great investment of your time and efforts. Be respectful, patient and professional.
- New clients won’t always be able to answer all of the questions you throw at them. That’s why they’re bringing you on board.
- Keep it short and sweet. Don’t overwhelm new clients but make sure you get enough information to help you with your strategy.
- If you find that particular questions are continuously left unanswered, they might need to be reworded or alternatively.
- Set clear expectations by letting your client know how this is helping you to do the job they hired you for.
The following questions are supposed to serve you as inspiration. The questions you’ll need to ask as part of the onboarding process may vary from client to client, so make sure to customise your questions accordingly.
We divide our onboarding questions into four main categories:
- General client information that helps you understand who your client is and what their goals and expectations are
- Branding and marketing information you need for the success of the project
- Business and industry information that helps you understand your client’s business better
- Brand assets and account details to get you started
Client Information - Understanding Your Client
Every client, every project is going to be different. Focusing on people first should, therefore, be the preferred approach. That means paying attention to each client’s specific requirements and goals, but also their concerns and fears. Establishing these factors during the “getting-to-know-each-other” phase is crucial. The answers to these questions show you who you’re dealing with, what your client stands for and how they like to do business.
Here are a few great questions you can ask to get the gist of it:
- What is the story behind your business?
- When did you start your business?
- Where are you in your journey?
- What does the future hold for your business? What’s your vision?
- What are your values and beliefs?
- What do you love about what you do?
- What makes you excited to come to work every day?
- Who are your ideal clients/customers?
- What makes your business unique?
Branding and Marketing Information
Before you can do anything else, you’ll have to obtain basic need-to-know information required for the kick-off of any digital marketing project. While some of the following questions certainly are applicable to almost every client, you should pick whatever suits prior arrangements and agreed-upon services best.
Here are a few sample questions you can ask new clients:
- What are your goals for this project/our cooperation?
- What is your definition of project success?
- What aspects of digital marketing do you want to focus on?
- Who is your business’ target audience?
- How do people currently find your company on the internet?
- What type of relationship do you have with your audience?
- What actions do you typically want your audience to take after seeing your content?
- What is your budget for this project?
- What marketing metrics do you currently track?
- What is your timeline/deadline for the delivery of the project?
- In regards to your experience with digital marketing, what do you think has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t?
- Have you worked with a digital marketing agency in the past? If so, what was your experience like? What was the outcome?
- If applicable, why did you change agencies?
- Why did you select our business for this project?
- Is there anything else we should know?
Business and Industry Information
To be able to tailor your marketing strategy to your new client, you have to first understand the client's business and know its specifics. During the onboarding process, you should find out everything you possibly can about the competitors your client is dealing with, the ecosystem the business operates in, whom your client is inspired by and what tools and infrastructures the company is already using. And last but definitely not least, what budget your client is willing to invest. And just like that, step by step, you’re building a more complete picture of the company, which enables you to create more relevant digital products and services for your client.
Here are a few questions you may ask your client to get the information you need:
- What are your short and long-term goals as a business?
- How do prospects find your products or services at the moment?
- What makes a prospect buy your product or service right now?
- What does your sales process look like?
- What is your upsell strategy?
- Are there seasonal patterns that affect your sales?
- What are your biggest sales challenges?
- Who are your top 3 main competitors?
- Who serves you as an inspiration for your business?
- What makes your business unique in the market?
- What are some of the biggest challenges your business has faced?
- What are some of the most common difficulties experienced by your customers?
Brand Assets, Account and Contact Details
Let’s not forget about covering the bases. To set the stage for a productive relationship, you’ll need some initial information from the client. It’s best to get these things out of the way now!
Some of the questions you should ask your new client include:
- Who is the main point of contact at your business?
- Who are the decision-makers in your department?
- What is their contact information?
- What type of communication works best for you?
- How do you handle password management of your company profiles?
- Do you have a crisis communication plan in place?
- What is the procedure for dealing with a customer complaint or problem online?
- What is your business address?
- What is your business billing information?
- Are there any documents about your business that we should read and keep on-hand?
How to Keep Ongoing Communications With a New Client
Our team swears by Basecamp, a project management and team communication tool, for most client communications. With separate client access channels, basecamp allows us to send out and store all of our clients’ feedback in one place.
But there are plenty of ways to keep in touch, including:
What Happens When You Have All the Answers?
Once you have all the relevant information, the answers may go on to assigning the account manager, responsible creatives and involved specialists. Make sure that everyone on the team has access to the client’s essential input, by storing it in a project-specific archive or folder. In the next step, you could arrange a follow-up meeting with your client that introduces your team members and explains what role each person will play. The introductory call or meeting also offers an opportunity to revise the answers your client has given you and dig a little deeper. With all the information needed to continue to plan the project, you’re now ready to roll. Following our questions will help you to establish trust with every new client, create a roadmap for your collaboration and identify small issues before they become big hurdles. For more information on client onboarding procedures, check out the client acquisition strategies we employ! We truly hope that our insights will help you forge lasting relationships with your new clients. If you have any questions, comments or would like assistance from the digital marketing experts at Anchor Digital, don’t hesitate to contact us!