| Feb 1, 2023 | | 11 min read

14 marketing agency client onboarding tips: We asked the experts


Marketing agency client onboarding is an important part of any agency playbook. Not only does it provide the opportunity to establish a strong, long-term client relationship built on trust, but it can also help to reduce churn and improve customer satisfaction.

Marketing agency client onboarding is easier with a client dashboard. Start onboarding agency clients in a scalable, repeatable way. Download your step-by-step guide and downloadable checklist.

What do the experts have to say about marketing agency client onboarding?

We’ve collected the best tips from seven leading marketing agencies on how to successfully onboard new clients. From setting clear expectations to making the onboarding process seamless and enjoyable using agency management software, these tips are designed to help your business build strong, lasting relationships with your clients.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your marketing agency client onboarding sets up your clients for success and helps to keep them happy and engaged in the long term.

1. Educate clients before they sign on with you to make onboarding that much smoother

For us, onboarding begins even before the discovery call, before they even become a client. Whether they realize it or not, we're training them on how to be KOR|UNLIMITED clients.

Robert Davis

Founder and CEO, KOR | UNLIMITED

2. Ensure sales is setting up clients for success with clear expectations

It’s important that proper expectations are set throughout the sales process when our team defines the ‘next steps’ in the buying journey. Once someone comes on board, our account management team understands those expectations and can ensure they are met.

Will Palmer

Founder and CEO, Growth Lab

3. Begin communicating with your new client immediately

The process actually begins from the moment you get a verbal confirmation that your proposal or plan has been approved. Even if the work hasn’t officially started, find reasons to remain in touch as you await the official contract to be signed. Losing contact with the client early on might mean losing the client completely. One great way to do so is to comment on one of their social media posts, retweet them, or share one of their recent blog posts on LinkedIn.

Jack Pires

Founder and CEO, SocialJack Media

4. Develop a client onboarding checklist

The less amount of guesswork a client has to do as they begin to establish a relationship with you, the better. Start by providing an marketing agency client onboarding checklist so that your client knows what to expect from the process. As part of your onboarding checklist, include information on what they should expect from you in the next 3 to 6 months, so that you establish alignment on goals and desired deliverables. Take the time to ask what success means.

Jack Pires

Founder and CEO, SocialJack Media

5. The first month builds the foundation for the entire client relationship

We have multiple onboarding calls and touch points in the first month to make sure we have all of the needed information, so we don't have to ask for it again.

Mitchell Slater

CEO, Slater Strategies

6. Have regular check-ins with new clients to keep things on track relationship

You’ve got to engage with a customer and have a schedule of when you're going to call out to your customer. Now we've got the experience over the last 10 years of knowing when to reach out at certain points to fill them in on their status and where they're currently at.

Chris Montgomery

CEO & Founder, Social Ordeals

7. Figure out a cadence for ongoing client communication

We ask them how often they want to hear from us. Some want more communication than others, and, if we communicate in the way they want to be communicated with, that's a huge plus.

Mitchell Slater

CEO, Slater Strategies

8. When it comes to marketing agency client onboarding, it’s important not to leave this critical step to one person

We have an entire onboarding process where clients fill out a form and we get really detailed. We have a few account managers that are onboarding them and a few understudies. So, if anybody ever leaves our company, we have somebody that still understands them as well.

Chris Montgomery

CEO & Founder, Social Ordeals

9. Host a kickoff meeting with your team and the client

Ensure every team member understands the client’s objectives and everyone’s role and responsibilities in obtaining those objectives. Grant them access to a shared folder where all relevant information gathered on the client, thus far, is housed. Once you’ve done this, host a kickoff call with the client and the entire agency team to ensure everyone is on the same page before moving forward with the work.

Jack Pires

Founder and CEO, SocialJack Media

10. Cut out the jargon

If you come at them with marketing terms and acronyms they’ve never heard of before, they’re going to look like a deer in the headlights. Be sure to keep the language and instructions in your marketing agency client onboarding process simple and easy to understand, and ease them into their familiarity with your product and your team.

Cheryl O’Hern

CEO and Founder, Spin Markket

11. Automate the parts of the process that can be automated

If it makes sense to your business, pre-record parts of the marketing agency client onboarding process that are pretty straightforward—video is a great way to onboard new customers. You may also want to consider using an email sequence to onboarded clients that can drip instructions, follow-ups, surveys, and upsells across a pre-set period. To keep clients informed of services performed and to track their progress, establish an Executive Report automation that shows transparency. But be careful not to automate too much of the process, as the human touch is important to maintaining strong client relationships and capturing any special requests or questions.

Jack Pires

Founder and CEO, SocialJack Media

12. Continually assess your client’s needs

As your agency continues to establish its value to the client with measurable results, it should find ways it can add even more value through other services offered. But remember, do so because you genuinely care about your client instead of just to upsell. This will be most effective if you put efforts towards learning more about the client beyond the initial onboarding stage. Gaining insights as you get to know your client’s business better will lead towards other possible offerings that your agency could provide to ideal clients.

Jack Pires

Founder and CEO, SocialJack Media

13. Reiterate and revisit scope after the initial client onboarding

You have to be really specific on what your offer is. Everyone has amnesia once that onboarding process is done. So you always have to reiterate, this is a statement of work, this is what we're tasked to do, and this is what’s outside of the statement of work.

Fritz Colinet

Executive Creative Director, Retna Media

14. Never stop proving your value

When we deliver strong results for the client, maybe a new five-star review or we see them ranking high for a particular keyword, we reach out to those customers to inform them of that and let them know about those types of wins. We then do all our follow-ups with clients to make sure that they understand all the products we’ve provided them and actually how it's helping their business.

Chris Montgomery

CEO & Founder, Social Ordeals

Reduce churn by improving marketing agency client onboarding today

A successful onboarding process is crucial for building strong, long-term relationships with your clients. By setting clear expectations, creating detailed processes, involving multiple team members, and ensuring that your clients see the value in the services you provide, you can help to ensure that your clients are satisfied and engaged.

By taking the time to invest in a well-designed marketing agency client onboarding process, you can set up both your agency and your clients for success and lay the foundation for a profitable and rewarding partnership.

You can provide a seamless onboarding experience for your client’s with Business App, Vendasta’s client portal.

About the Author

Nicole Lauzon is a Content Marketing Manager at Vendasta and has spent the last decade of her career helping local businesses tell their stories. Kickstarting her professional journey as a writer and producer for a major Canadian television network, Nicole would later spend five years as a PR Agency Creative Director, managing brand journalism, social media, blog and video content for corporate, non-profit and local business clients. Whether Nicole is marinating over her next piece of writing or enjoying some down time with her family, she likes doing it in floral print.

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