April 27, 2020

3 Keys to Successfully Onboarding with an Agency

The following post is from Amanda Gwidt, head of the Client Experience team at Statwax. We asked her to share her insights on a successful onboarding process for clients when they begin with an agency. 

Making the decision to sign with and trust a new marketing agency with your digital advertising needs is undoubtedly a huge moment for any company. So many emotions come after signing that final page of an agency contract:

  • Excitement – Let’s hit the ground running – show me the positive results!
  • Nerves – Did we make the right decision? Will this agency be everything they promised in the sales process?
  • Anxiety – I know where our company should be, I want this advertising agency to get us there. QUICKLY.

When a new client signs on with our digital advertising agency, we rely on our new client onboarding process to address getting-started jitters and questions. The phased process is designed to bring clarity, direction, and reassurance as we begin a relationship with a new partner. Here are the three ways we’ve developed to successfully onboard with an agency (like ours!). 

Phase 1: Laying the groundwork: Pre-new client kickoff call

Many agencies quickly hand off a new client to their digital execution teams after the contract has been signed. Often, this transition can be far from seamless and leave both internal client teams and agency teams feeling disjointed. 

Our team prefers, and finds great value in, taking the extra step to first introduce new clients to the Statwax Client Experience team. This team works to effectively and efficiently lay the groundwork of a successful relationship and experience, starting with a pre-kickoff call. 

Critical digital marketing items will be thoroughly addressed and ironed out in the pre-kickoff call. The goal is to create a smooth transition from onboarding to working with our digital execution teams. Sample items covered in a pre-kickoff-call are:

  • Review of the contract. We work to ensure both parties are clear on the digital marketing services that were agreed upon and how they will be executed.
  • Discuss expectations. Statwax has internal processes that keep our teams running efficiently. However, we always tailor our approach for each client based on their expectations of their digital agency partner. We make sure to fully understand several factors about each client, including:
    • Preferred method of communication
    • How and when they like their calls structured
    • Project management philosophy
    • Deliverables schedule and method of sharing
    • This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a good starting point to make sure we truly understand our client, their expectations, and their work style.
  • Introduction to Statwax approach and processes. We dive into all processes – from project management to reporting and invoicing – and explain them to new clients. Stawax wants to make sure our partners are very clear on the what, when, how and why of our operations. We work to implement any customizations to processes and deliverables early on so there are no surprises or roadblocks along the way.

Phase 2: Creating the roadmap for success: New client kickoff call 

Nothing gets Statwax’s digital advertising teams quite as jazzed as a new client kickoff call. While audits and prior research are definitely done beforehand, our new client kickoff call is structured and intended to be a deep dive into our new client’s business. Our structured, yet flexible, approach has stood the test of time and allows no stone to be left unturned during this crucial phase of onboarding. New clients can expect all of the below, and in many cases even more, to be covered during their kickoff call. 

  • Company and business operations overview. We conduct a deep dive into our partner’s business and marketing efforts during this call. Questions we look to cover are always sent in advance, so our partners feel prepared for the discussion. Typical onboarding topics covered during this call include:
    • General company overview
    • Branding of key offerings
    • All marketing efforts in play
    • Goals for marketing campaigns and in general for the business
    • Competitive advantages
    • Discussion of the client sales funnel or student journey
    • Walk-through of client CRM software and backend systems
    • Once again this is not an exhaustive list. However, understanding the business side for each of our clients is key to creating great marketing campaigns. 
  • Platform accesses and integrations. Our execution teams find it vital to clearly layout and define what platforms we will need access to and plan to integrate with during our first team call. As we use a range of digital advertising, measurement, and analytics platforms, we want to make sure we set up correctly and quickly before we move to the implementation and execution phase of the onboarding process. Our team has easy to read, directional one-sheeters and will be able to guide our client along in granting accesses needed and setting up proper integrations.
  • Client goals and expectations. We know every new client has goals, priorities, and certain benchmarks of success. We want to hear all about those in our kickoff call! Learning about our new client’s goals, KPIs, and priority areas help our teams begin to strategize and guide our clients down the road to achieving success.  

Phase 3: Implementation and execution

After our new client kickoff call, our team gets right to work. We begin sorting through all information gathered and prioritizing (and sometimes re-prioritizing) based on client feedback. Our goal is to come out of onboarding with an efficient plan of attack for implementation and execution. To do that, we build a digital marketing plan that includes:

  • Quick wins: Statwax execution teams are great at quickly identifying priority areas. These areas include digital campaigns that can be built out to bring in the highest intent audiences and conversions in a short time frame.
  • Two-week sprints. After our initial high intent campaigns are created, our team will work in 2-week sprints to identify and implement our client’s priority campaigns and initiatives. We find the sprint methodology extremely effective early in the client relationship for keeping both client and agency on the same page as well as on-track!  
  • On-going initiatives. After our client has transitioned out of the onboarding phase the work does not stop! Partners can expect a constant loop of communication, calls, digital campaign reports, optimizations and recommendations.     

If you were interested in learning how our onboarding process might work for you, reach out to us.

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