Client Intake Form for Seamless Onboarding Success

Client intake forms are invaluable tools for validating prospects and onboarding clients. If your digital agency is a startup, you may not be spending too much time on validation and onboarding just yet, but as you grow your agency, the value of a seamless client intake process will quickly become apparent.

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With a client intake form, you might find yourself forgetting important questions, losing information under a digital pile of emails and other communications, and creating a cumbersome onboarding process for both you and your clients. In this article, you’ll learn the secrets of how to make an impeccable client intake form that makes your onboarding process smooth like butter.

What is a client intake form?

Client intake forms are questionnaires designed to gather all the essential information required by your digital agency. These forms determine whether a client is a good fit for your service and to better understand their needs at the beginning of your relationship.

In the simplest terms, a client intake form is an onboarding document. These days, it’s usually a digital document like a PDF that can be filled out by clients or an interactive digital form that enables clients to enter their responses, click next, and have their data auto-saved where you can both easily access it any time. If you have other stakeholders, such as a white-label digital marketing agency you partner with, they should be able to easily access the form too.

What do most client intake forms look like?

Whatever format your client intake form takes, the basic purpose is to collect key information for clients to make the onboarding process smooth and seamless. The specifics of your client intake forms will largely depend on what services your digital agency offers, but they generally collect contact details for the client being onboarded and specific requirements for their desired project or service.

Since there’s no one-size-fits-all form you’re obliged to use, the beauty of creating a client intake form for your digital agency is that you can customize it to include whatever information helps you best understand your client’s needs and expectations. That way, you can start your professional partnership aligned, on the same page, and free from miscommunications. The result? A smooth intake process, so you can focus on delivering services and boosting your agency’s revenue.

Once you have the completed form, you can store it in an easy-to-access place like your CRM. Here’s an overview of how ours works:

Essential components of a client intake form

A well-constructed client intake form gives you, your team, and your collaborators the understanding you need to deliver tailored solutions to your new clients. Make sure your intake form includes these essential components.

Personal information

When onboarding a new client, you want to know who you’re dealing with, how to address them, where they’re located, and other identifying information. Collecting these personal details is the first step in building a client profile. These fields include:

  • Name
  • Address or business location
  • Contact details
  • Contact preference, such as phone, email, SMS, or instant message

Background information

When starting a new project, it’s always helpful to understand the client’s history and where they’re coming from. Include some fields to gather information about their challenges, past digital marketing efforts, and current pain points:

  • Business history: Things like years in business, most significant product or service sold, etc.
  • Previous marketing experience: Find out if the client has paid for digital marketing services in the past or if they are coming from a DIY background. If they have paid for digital services, find out about the experience.
  • Current challenges: What are they struggling with in their business day from a digital marketing perspective?

Project details

Define the scope and objectives of the project by having your client provide information relating to these fields:

  • Goals: Have your prospect or new client clearly outline what they hope to achieve by working with you. For example, if they want a build a new website, have them provide details about what features the website needs to include.
  • Timeline: What is the client’s timeline for the project? Remember, you don’t have to commit to this timeline. The purpose of the client intake form is to gather their information and perspectives, which you can use as a jumping-off point for later conversations.

Budget and resources

Your client’s financial constraints and available resources will shape the feasibility of your projects, so these fields are important to know from the start of your collaboration:

  • Budget: Find out how much your client expects to spend for a given project or a specific service over time. If they are interested in a variety of digital marketing solutions, obtain a broad marketing budget from them.
  • Resources: Does your client have existing resources you can use in your project? For example, if they’re looking for digital advertising services, they have an in-house designer they want you to work with on the ad creative.

Legal considerations

Before taking on any new client, it’s a good idea to ensure your legal bases are covered to protect you both in the event of a disagreement, error, or other unexpected circumstance. These include:

  • Confidentiality agreements: Have your client agree that confidential information about your agency will not be shared, and in return agree to maintain the confidentiality of their business information.
  • Terms and conditions: Outline the working relationship and expectations.

Tailoring for specific needs

Depending on your agency’s niche, you might have special considerations to include in your client intake forms, like specialized legal considerations or industry-relevant questions. Consider using adaptable project sections in your intake forms to allow flexibility for a variety of project structures, especially if your agency offers a wide range of tools and services.

How to create a client intake form

Work through these step-by-step instructions to make sure your client take form captures all the information you need for a professional, frictionless onboarding process.

1. Determine the purpose and goals of your form

Before diving into the details, clearly define the purpose and objectives of your client intake form. Getting clear on this will help you ask the right questions without wasting client time. At this stage, you might find that having a few client intake form options, or a flexible form that accommodates different types of projects, is most appropriate for your agency.

2. Identify needed information

Ask yourself what information you need to start delivering services at the beginning of a new client partnership: what are the questions you typically ask prospects when validating their fit, or new clients when onboarding them? Thinking back on past client projects, is there information you would have benefited from having earlier in the relationship? This will likely include personal or business details, project specs, budget allocations, and legal considerations.

3. Design the layout and structure of your form

All of your client touchpoints should be visually appealing and pleasant, and your client intake form is no different. In fact, since this might be their first formal interaction with your agency, it’s especially important to convey professionalism, expertise, and a positive user experience.

Divide your form into sections, each addressing a specific category of information. Use headers, subheadings, and bullet points to make it easy to navigate and understand what’s being asked.

4. Use clear, familiar language

Your agency clients might not know the first thing about digital marketing, so it’s critical to opt for language that is easy to understand and free from jargon. Clearly articulate the purpose of each section and provide instructions or examples where necessary. This doesn’t just make completing the client intake easier and more pleasant for your client, it also helps you since users are less likely to misunderstand questions and make mistakes.

5. Test your client intake form for usability and effectiveness

Before going live with your client intake form, conduct thorough usability testing. Ensure that the form functions correctly, all questions are clear, and there are no technical glitches. Don’t just rely on your user testing: if you made the form, you won’t be the best judge of its clarity. Instead, solicit feedback from sample users who have never seen the form before.

6. Incorporate branding elements

Brand your client intake form with your agency’s brand logo, colors, and force. Like other touchpoints, your form is an opportunity to reinforce your brand identity and present a consistent, professional image to your prospects and clients.

Client intake form template for marketing agencies

Use this sample client intake form as a starting point to craft your agency’s intake form. Feel free to customize the sections, move them around, and add additional questions tailored to your service offering.

Part 1: Personal information

The purpose of this section is to establish an understanding of the prospect or client, their business, and their role in decision-making.

  • Name: Your name and any preferred nicknames.
  • Company: The name of your business or organization.
  • Role: Your role in the business.
  • Contact details: Your phone number, email address, and preferred method of contact.
  • Other stakeholders: Will anyone else in your business be involved in decision-making for this project? If so, complete their name, role, and contact details.

Part 2: Business overview

The purpose of this section is to gain a high-level understanding of the client’s niche and competitive landscape.

  • Industry: What is your industry, niche, or business sector?
  • Competitors: Who are your key competitors? How do your businesses overlap and how do they differ?
  • Target audience: Who is your target audience? Do you have an ideal customer profile?

Part 3: Marketing goals and objectives

The purpose of this section is to align your strategy or project proposal to the client’s goals.

  • Near-term goals: What are your immediate objectives for this project or campaign?
  • Long-term goals: What are your long-term marketing goals for your business?
  • KPIs: Are there any KPIs or metrics that are particularly important for you?

Part 4: Current marketing efforts

The purpose of this section is to get a benchmark for the client’s current marketing strategy and understand what has and hasn’t worked in the past.

  • Current strategies: Are you doing anything to market your business online now?
  • Platforms, services, or tools used: Do you use any marketing tools or services, or have you used them in the past?
  • Results: Are you happy with the platforms, services, or tools used in the past? Are you getting results with your current marketing strategy?

Part 5: Services required

The purpose of this section is to understand the scope of the client’s needs and the project constraints.

  • Required services: What services are you looking for or what project would you like us to work on for your business? For example: new website, SEO, content creation, etc.
  • Budget: What is your budget for each project/service?
  • Timeline: Does your project have to be delivered by a certain date?

Part 6: Legal

The purpose of this section is to establish a transparent working relationship.

  • Confidentiality agreement: Please review and sign the attached agreement.
  • Terms and conditions: Please review and sign the attached terms and conditions.

Part 7: Additional notes

The purpose of this section is to give the client a chance to share anything important they feel was missed in the client intake form.

  • Additional information: Please add any extra details you would like us to be aware of.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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