Client Onboarding

checklist

Congratulations! You’ve signed a new SEO client. Now, it’s time to onboard your new customer. 

If you’ve provided web design and development services, you’re probably familiar with a structured client onboarding process. Now, adapt those processes to kick off new SEO accounts.

SEO is an ongoing initiative based on a monthly retainer. The first few weeks of any SEO campaign set the project’s trajectory, so starting off with an effective onboarding process is especially important.

Onboarding New SEO Clients

1. Add Client to Project Management Tool

Whether you use Basecamp, Asana, Trello, or another project management tool, the first step in the process is to add this customer and their SEO campaign. Set up action items (based on your proposal) for the first three months of the campaign.

2. Get Organized

What will you need to be successful? Start gathering assets and resources. Take stock of what you do and don’t have:

  • Signed Contract — Has the contract been signed? 
  • Website Login — Do you have access to the website? 
  • Google Analytics — Does the website already have Google Analytics installed? If so, do you have access?

3. Send a Welcome Email

Welcome your new client and outline the next steps.

Hi [Name],

Thank you for signing our contract; attached is a fully executed copy for your records.

I’m looking forward to working with you to grow your business via SEO, so let’s get started!

Our next step is scheduling a kickoff meeting. We like to spend 30 minutes at the beginning of any project to review goals, timelines, and take a deeper dive into your audience.

Are you available for a call on [suggest 3 dates and times]? Alternatively, feel free to suggest a time that works best for you.

Best,
[Your Name]

Once you’ve confirmed a time and date for the kickoff call, follow up once more:

Subject: Preparing for Our Kickoff Call

Hi [Name],

Our kickoff call is scheduled for [date, time]. 

I’ll plan to meet you on Zoom: here’s the link. I’ve also sent you a calendar invite.

Here’s our agenda:

  • Introductions 
  • Overview of SEO
  • Getting to Know your Business
  • Defining Your Success

While no formal preparation is needed, here are a few of the questions I’ll be asking in case you’d like to begin thinking:

  • How would you describe your business at a dinner party (ie. to people who don’t know your industry)?
  • What’s your past experience with search engine optimization?
  • Describe your current customers. Who are we already targeting?
  • Describe your ideal customers. Who else do we want to target?
  • Describe your geographic focus. Where are your best customers located?
  • Who are your top three competitors?

Best,
[Your Name]

4. Kickoff Meeting

Follow an agenda to keep the meeting on point. Take notes and be sure to save these in the project record.

  • Introductions: Get to know your client’s team, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Overview of SEO: Explain how the search engines work and introduce the 4 Pillars of SEO. 
  • Getting to Know Your Customer’s Business: Don’t hesitate to ask questions that seem obvious, since deciding on the right audience and goals is essential.
    • Describe your business as you would at a dinner party.
    • What is your past experience with search engine optimization?
    • When was your website built? Do you have any plans for significant website changes in the upcoming 12 months? (Note: You can skip this question if you built the website 🙂
    • Describe your current and ideal customers. Who are we trying to reach?
    • Where do you do business? What is your geographic focus?
    • Who are your top three competitors?
  • Defining Success: You should already have an idea of what success looks like based on the sales process. What is the big picture goal? Explain to the customer that SEO is a long-term initiative; we’ll be setting goals and measuring success over time. We may also redefine goals (if necessary) during monthly calls.
  • Conclusion: What is the next step? Let the client know when they should expect an invoice. Also let them know what types of account access and credentials you may need (for example, Google Analytics).

5. Follow Up Email

After the kickoff call, email your client to request any account access or credentials, and deliver the resources they need to get started. Here’s an example.

Subject: Next Steps — SEO

Hi [Name],

Thank you for taking the time to meet and kick off our SEO campaign. We’re excited to get started!

We covered a lot during our call, so I wanted to follow up:

I’ve attached a written version of the 4 Pillars of SEO framework we discussed. We’ll be coming back to this framework often when talking about SEO; you might find value in sharing this with your team.

We’re able to access both the website and Google Analytics — that’s all we need to get started.

I’ll be in touch in about 2 weeks with the keyword research and your first monthly report. While we don’t expect to see results this quickly in the campaign, there’s a lot of value in discussing the keyword research and first report together in early [next month].

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Best,
[Your Name]

6. Set Up Invoicing

Add the project to your accounting software and generate an invoice. The timing for this step depends on your terms and conditions. 

  • If this is an existing customer who already has a web maintenance plan, it makes sense to follow the same billing cycle. 
  • If this is a new customer, you may require an upfront payment before starting work. If so, work that into your onboarding emails so they know you’re waiting to collect payment before getting started.

7. Get Started

You’re now ready to officially start working on the project. Add the campaign to your Pathfinder SEO account and dive into the SEO Checklist.