Oh, client onboarding. We all tend to get excited about welcoming a new face to our services, but how is it exactly that we do it?
Onboarding new clients is great, but I think we can all agree that onboarding them manually can often be impractical. Especially for an agency that does a lot of link building through blog outreach. Acquiring much-needed information about the client can in and of itself turn to be a slowpoke, not to mention all of the questions that arise. What about this, what about that, what can we expect in terms of delivery…
How about we approach them all the same way and with the same level of transparency about the service and answer all of their questions right from the get-go? – we asked ourselves.
The answer – an automized process via email! And we’ve hit a homerun.
Why automize the process, though?
Sure, some may argue that the idea leaves them with a sense of robotic soullessness. But, this was the challenge we had to accept.
Aaand then, we ended up with something like this:
It is a 5 email sequence that triggers based on who is the selected campaign manager.
Sure, receiving a heap of emails may seem undesirable or boring. However, this shouldn’t even be an argument – clients ought to be a bit more serious about their investment. I mean, if you (or any other person) buy an Iphone, you expect to receive everything that goes into package – user manuals and all.
And, it actually reads a certain level of professionalism about your brand.
So, how does one go about client onboarding via email?
This is how we do it in the marketing niche, but we find the overall ideas we’ll share here is applicable to any niche and onboarding process.
Estimate the usual onboarding times
Planning is everything. If you want things to run smoothly with your automized client onboarding process, it begs some pre-thinking. Once you trigger the sequence there’s no going back – proper estimation is crucial.
Sample Blogger Outreach
Our usual blogger outreach manual onboarding process may look something like this:
Welcome from campaign manager → getting informational input from the client → expectation setting → setup → beginning
And most often than not the process runs smoothly until step number two. Literally.
Questions arise, chasing the client for information kicks off. Placing the entire process into an email sequence allows you to get strategic, set expectations, give answers, ask questions and provide unavoidable deadlines.
Simply put, it places the ball on your side of the court and allows you to lead the game – just like you should.
Sample Email Sequence
Once we wrapped our minds about this we’ve gotten to something like this:
First Email: Welcome!
Second Email: FAQ and client questionnaire (we use this to gather all relevant information)
Third Email: Short user manual if specific software is being used
Fourth Email: Expectation setting
Fifth Email: We’re ready to go
Looks neat right?
All of this spanning a 4-day client onboarding period we’ve estimated as an optimal to get our new client onboard. Information-packed, but still easy to digest and go through.
Using the right tools for your welcome email sequence
This should be a no brainer. Investing in an email automation software is an investment well made for a number of reasons.
Most notably, a good email automation tool such as GetGist will allow you to precisely set the semantics of your sequence in the right order. Moreover, tools like these have personalization fields that make the job easy as you won’t have to copy and paste entire emails – simply changing contact info and names will come a long way and save you valuable time.
Sending an important email to a client and later wondering if it arrived/was opened is a worry that’s easily avoided as the tools can track your email stats, namely opens and clicks inside a sent email. Especially valuable to us, as we use a questionnaire to collect data from our clients – so if we see that it hasn’t been opened yet, we can react in a timely manner and send a reminder.
You had me at hello!
Putting your best foot forward is a phrase we’ve all heard too many times. And it cannot be more truer for your client onboarding process. Taking them by the hand and leading them through the process effortlessly begins with the very first e-mail that you send.
Here’s where you have to be precise, concise, sweet and tell them everything that’s going to happen in the process.
Set expectations at the beginning
Your new clients don’t have the first clue about how the entire onboarding will look like. This is something you’ll have to address at the beginning of your e-mail. Along with a warm welcome, outlay everything that’s awaiting them in the next few days of the onboarding process.
Creating a welcoming atmosphere, easing their nerves is what it’s all about. If you can keep it short and simple, you have a winner.
An example of an intro:
Factor in “the human touch”
Remember the skeptics say robotic and soulless?
Nothing says welcome better than a friendly face. If your service is performed by a campaign manager (even a team) take advantage of it and show them the person behind the service they’ll receive.
Working with a brand is one thing, working with people adds a higher dimension to it. The very first email is where your brand becomes human and personal.
Something like this:
See what we did there?
Leave them in an open loop
It ain’t over till it’s over, sang Lenny. No email in a sequence should leave the receiver with the sense of ending. Every email sequence you create tells a story, and every email should reel them in into the next one coming.
No need to be mystical or trying to come up with exciting cliffhangers. Simply saying what’s coming up next and when can they expect it is all you need.
Resolve their worries
As I said previously – questions will arise. And soon enough.
This isn’t a matter of getting ahead of anyone. Simply a polite courtesy expected from a professional service like yours. And it’s a matter of previous experiences.
Time to gather all of the questions usually asked by clients and answer them concisely and briefly. No need to overcrowd your emails with a bunch of info, but addressing most important issues/worries is a must.
Things you’d want to consider explaining/answering in your FAQ email can be:
- workflow description
- questions about the workflow (address possible bottlenecks)
- budget/finance sensitive questions
- availability/communication questions
Our advice is to leave your FAQ section to the second email in the sequence for the purpose of keeping things smooth and simple – for us, it arrives shortly after the welcome email.
Everything else should fall in place fairly easy and is up to your own creativity and ideas. With a few tweaks here and there. And don’t forget, it’s a never-ending process of adaptation and optimization.
Good luck with your own onboarding email sequence!