Digital marketing comes with dozens of challenges. One of your biggest has nothing to do with content strategy, SEO, or building backlinks. It comes much earlier in the process, and it’s the foundation for all that follows. Get it right and you’ll have a happy, productive relationship with your client. Get it wrong and you’ve got a recipe for resentment on both sides.
We’re talking, of course, about on-boarding.
As with every other step in your process, it helps to think through your on-boarding process and to standardize it. That ensures you spend more time on task, and waste less time chasing down key players and important information. The checklist that follows may differ in some key respects from what you’re doing now. Feel free to customize it, leaving out whatever doesn’t apply within your organization and adding anything that helps your workflow and client relationships.
Step One: Set Expectations
Get this right and much of what follows will be much easier. Get it wrong and you stand a higher chance of mission creep, as well as overruns on time and cost. It also ensures you’ve assigned the right people for the job.
- With whom will we review your current marketing plan?
- Who has final say on decisions related to procedures, collateral, and implementation?
- What are your goals?
- What are the metrics by which we’ll measure success?
- Who will be our point(s) of contact for progress reports as the process unfolds?
- What will be the process — from contact to billing — to address any changes introduced to the project later?
- With whom will we meet to discuss the project?
- Where will these meetings be held (on-site, off-site, online)?
- How often will these meetings take place?
Set up accountability mechanisms in the event that your team — or theirs — isn’t getting key information.
Step Two: Interfacing with the Sales Team and Front Desk
Executing a good campaign means understanding your client’s business nearly as well as they do. One of the best ways to do that is to learn the challenges faced by front-line employees, and how those challenges are met. Those contacts can also give you a fuller understanding of customer personas, key competitors, and important product knowledge.
- Explain the business to me as you understand it.
- What are your goals?
- What are the processes by which those goals are met?
- What can we do — in terms of UX, content, and our other efforts — to improve those processes and make your job easier?
- How can we help you generate better-qualified leads?
- How can we help you close more of those leads once you have them?
- Are there metrics in addition to sales numbers that would help us better evaluate what’s working?
- What product updates do you have in the pipeline?
Step Three: Establish Technical Contacts
You may have an amazing team, capable of SEO wizardry that’s the envy of the industry and backed by copywriters whose work makes its audience swoon. If you can’t implement, however, it’s all for naught. Asking for this information later is going to make you look unprofessional, so ask early.
- Who is responsible for installations?
- If it’s one of your employees, what’s their contact information?
- If it’s us, we’ll need FTP/control panel/CMS/social media access. When can you get that to us?
- Who is our point of contact in case of technical questions?
- Can we have access to social media accounts?
Step Four: Set Up Content Creation
The conventional wisdom is that content is king. There’s some truth to that, but there’s a caveat: it needs to be high-quality content that people want to read because it solves a problem, answers a question, or is entertaining. Quality content won’t write itself. You’ll want your client’s input so you can deliver your best work.
- Who has final approval on content or copy?
- Is there anyone contributing from your end, whether it’s a photographer, designer, or one of your employees?
- Do you plan on outsourcing any of your content? If so, what’s your budget?
- If you’re keeping your content creation in-house, are we training your staff to write articles?
- Be honest, now. Do they really have time to generate quality content consistently?
- Do you have an editorial calendar?
Step Five: The First 90 Days
Perhaps the most important part of on-boarding a client takes place in the months after project completion. Follow through on the work you’ve done, because this is the time to bring everything full circle. Is everything working as planned? Are you, or the client, experiencing any unexpected issues? If your business has up-sell options for maintenance or additional products, this is an ideal time for them; just bear in mind that this part of the process is a lot easier if you and your client have had a happy and productive on-boarding process and they know you’re as invested in their success as they are.
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