How to Successfully Onboard a Digital Marketing Agency Client

How to Successfully Onboard A Digital Marketing Agency Client

You’ve worked through your needs, expectations, concerns as well as many detailed questions with the digital marketing agency’s Sales Team and agreed you’re a good fit to work together to achieve your company’s goals.

Though you feel good about your decision and have executed your chosen agency’s contract, this is both an exciting yet somewhat nerve-racking time for you.

You have confidence in the digital marketing agency you’ve hired to solve for your unique needs, and you’re eager to get started and see some quick wins based on immediate audits. Your hope is to enjoy a long-term relationship with your dedicated agency team. Keeping that in mind, you’re looking for your campaign manager’s guidance in achieving ongoing positive results for you and your business. Once a baseline has been established, this may require strategic shifts based on analytics, but let’s not put the cart in front of the horse!


Getting Started the Right Way

Any fantastic digital marketing agency will have a stellar onboarding process in place that addresses any complex client project needs in an organized, proactive, strategic and highly tactical fashion.

A) Immediate Agency’s Internal Project Steps

Here’s a quick overview of what your Agency’s to-do’s and structure should look like:

  • Executive team appoints respective project resources across agency team.
  • The proper hand-off from Sales to your assigned Campaign Manager.
  • The Campaign Manager (CM) serves as the client’s dedicated primary point of contact.
    • This role is responsible for building the agency relationship with the entire client team fostering mutual respect, trust as well as transparent and timely ongoing two-way communication throughout your project.
    • A Campaign Manager will advocate on behalf of the entire client team, collaborate with all internal agency team members, stay on top of strategy, and track project deliverables.
    • He or she will monitor agency’s specialists' progress as well as respective updates and step in for any triage requests or crisis communication needs.
    • The CM will continuously review all Analytics and evaluate if a Sprint is on strategy, goals are being met (fall short or are exceeded), and project deliverables are on time.
    • Last, but not least, the CM will keep a “wish list” of items that may make sense to include in a future Sprint; plus recommend any tweaks to an existing Sprint given specific metrics.
  • Pre-Planning Meeting for Client Kick-off
    • The CM will lead this internal agency meeting providing a detailed overview of the Sales hand-off details along with additional deep dive research findings.
    • Each project specialist will voice initial questions and take away specific action items to complete and prepare ahead of the actual Client Kick-off Meeting.
  • CM to schedule Client Kick-off
    • Depending on the size of the client and agency team it may take some finessing to get everyone on the same schedule, but it miraculously DOES happen!
  • Finalizing of Kick-off Document
    • The CM will be gathering the various input from the assigned specialist resources and add specifics into the Client Kick-off Document.
    • The final document will be sent off to the main client point of contact prior to the actual kick-off meeting allowing the client team to review and provide additional feedback/tweaks ahead of time, so the actual meeting will be as buttoned up as possible.
  • CM will prepare a detailed Campaign Kick-off Agenda and share with all participants 48 hours in advance.


The Devil is in the Details

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, your agency team understands that you’re eager to get started, however, you’ll want to be sure to take the time up front to clarify what your success looks like.

You may have read Stephen R. Covey’s book The Habits of Highly Effective People where he emphasizes the importance to begin with the end in mind and the carpenter’s rule “measure twice, cut once,” basically suggesting you’ll want to think everything through up front.

Though a digital marketing campaign or project Sprint will never be truly perfect, there’s a lot to consider before diving into website content updates, search engine optimization, creating your sales pipeline or launching your conversational marketing strategy.


A) Client Preparation for Kick-off Meeting

The Campaign Kick-off is the first key step since you signed off working with the agency. It is where both teams get to meet for the very first time and start building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Depending on the complexity of your campaign and respective project elements, there’s a lot to cover and review during that first “meet and greet,” so be prepared that additional meetings with a smaller set of specialists will be needed after that initial kick-off.

There are a few things the client – you – will want to remember and prepare for the Kick-off:

  • Be sure to review the Kick-off document provided by your dedicated CM in detail.
  • Proactively loop in your organizational resources for any specific items that require their expertise.
  • Extend the Campaign Kick-off invitation to those that will actively be involved on your end, it’ll be nice for them to be in the know up front, plus meet their agency counterparts.
  • Think through what kind of assets you have that you could easily share with your agency after the kick-off.
  • Are there any assets you’ll need to dig out? Who on your team can assist with that?
  • Do you have any other questions you’d like to address prior to the actual Kick-off? Don’t hold back, get in touch with your CM promptly!

B) The Day Has Arrived - Campaign Kick-off Meeting

To start the relationship on the right foot, all parties will want to ensure that they’re well prepared and absolutely punctual for this first get together.

The Agency Campaign Manager will follow the agreed-upon Agenda, which will cover the following key items:

  • Team Introductions.
  • Campaign Vision Review.
  • Timeline & Next Steps.
  • Taking note of any new questions and concerns.

C) Kick-off Meeting Completed

That first Kick-off Meeting sets the initial stage to a successful campaign and the hope is it went well, and both parties have enjoyed meeting each other and came out with a clear understanding of the next steps. Now the digging in really starts.

Here’s what you should expect next:

  • A detailed recap of the Kick-off Meeting with action items clearly spelled out for each client and agency team member, including a list of all contacts with their office/mobile phone numbers and email addresses.
  • A communication roster of “who does what” for sign-off to ensure everyone is on the same page and proper communication parameters have been established.
  • Examples: Web Developer Walter only wants to be contacted via email, Email Marketing Specialist Ellie prefers to get a text message, and Sales Rep Sam prefers to communicate via your chat channel.
  • Additional meeting invites involving the various specialist groups to work together on respective onboarding items.
  • Campaign Manager cadence meeting set up to ensure consistent communications on onboarding deliverables.
  • And many additional items, including
    • Assets sharing via Google Drive or link sharing.
    • Necessary login credential information sharing.
    • And more.

Reading through this article, there’s a lot that goes into onboarding a new digital marketing agency client. With the right team and communication structure in place, however, this elephant can be dissected in a way that’s manageable for all and doesn’t have to be frustrating or scary.



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