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A Simple 6-Step Process to Onboarding New SEO Customers

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

You’ve sold your first SEO package — congratulations! Now, it’s time to deliver the SEO service you uniquely pitched to your client.

Whether you’ve sold an SEO Assessment, SEO Set-Up, or ongoing monthly services, your success begins with proper onboarding.

Onboarding means introducing a new client to your agency and its professional practices.

A successful onboarding process:

  • Reassures the client that they’ve chosen the right SEO agency
  • Explains the SEO process and how your agency works
  • Gains access to existing website properties including Google Analytics
  • Sets accurate expectations for project timelines and results

In this post, we’ll share six simple steps to onboard new clients that will help set you up to deliver professional results again and again.

How To Onboard New SEO Customers

Onboarding new clients doesn’t have to be as time-consuming or daunting as you might believe it to be. Especially when following the simple steps below.

1. Add Your Client to Your Project Management Tool

Whether you use ClickUp, Basecamp, Asana, or another project management tool, add the new client to your chosen platform. Begin setting up and assigning the tasks for your initial project.

2. Get Organized

Getting organized is crucial to making a professional first impression. What will you need to be successful? Start gathering these assets and resources and filling in any useful gaps:

  • Signed Contract — Has the contract been signed by and made available to both parties?
  • Website Credentials — Do you have access to the backend of the client’s website?
  • Google Analytics — Has Google Analytics already been installed? If so, do you have the information to access it?

These are all elements that can be created as tasks and assigned to your client during the onboarding process.

Now let’s welcome the client onboard.

3. Send a Welcome Email

Welcome your new client and express your excitement to collaborate, then outline your next steps. Here's an example of what you might want to include in a welcome email:

Subject: Welcome & Next Steps

Hi [Name],

Thank you for signing our contract; I’ve attached 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 can do this via a video call. We like to spend 30 minutes at the beginning of any project to review goals, and timelines, and learn more about your specific audience.

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

Best,
[Your Name]

Once you’ve confirmed a time and date for the kickoff call, send a follow-up email:

Subject: Preparing for Our Kickoff Call

Hi [Name],

Our kickoff call is scheduled for [date, time]. And I’m excited! I hope you are, too.
I’ll plan to meet you on Zoom, here’s the link for easy access. I’ve also sent you a calendar invite so you can save the meeting to your existing schedule of events.

During our call, I’ll share some basic information about SEO, and recap the challenges your business has faced in regards to SEO that we discussed on the SEO Discovery Call. Then, we’ll plan to cover how we will work together to achieve your business goals.

While no formal preparation on your end is needed, here are a few of the questions I'll ask to give you an idea of the flow of the meeting:

  • How would you describe your business at a dinner party?
  • Describe your ideal customer to me in as much detail as you can. Who can most benefit from what you offer? Who’s looking for your services right now? That’s who we’ll be designing a strategy to target.
  • Describe your geographic focus. Where are your best customers located? Who are your top three competitors?

There will be time at the end of our meeting to discuss any additional questions you may have as well. I’m looking forward to helping you achieve your business goals!

Best,
[Your Name]

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4. Kickoff Meeting

You’ve given the client a mini-agenda for the call, now establish one for yourself, too. Following an agenda keeps the meeting on topic and portrays professionalism.

Here are some helpful bullet points for creating an agenda. Use those that are applicable and be sure to save the answers with your client t files to refer back to when/if necessary.

  • 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.
  • Learn about your customer’s business: Don’t hesitate to ask questions that seem obvious, since choosing the right audience and goals from the beginning is essential to your success. Use the following prompts:
    — Describe your business as you would at a dinner party.
    — What is your experience (if any) with search engine optimization?
    — When was your website originally built? Do you have any plans for significant website changes in the upcoming 12 months?
    — Describe your current and ideal customers. Who are we trying to reach?
    — Where do you most frequently do business? What is your geographic focus?
    — Who are your top three competitors?
  • Define success & set expectations: You should already have an idea of what success looks like to your client based on discussions during the sales process. What is their big-picture goal? Explain to your client that SEO is a long-term initiative and remind them that goals will be measured for success over time. We may also redefine goals (if necessary) during monthly calls.
  • Conclusion: Describe the next step(s). Let the client know when they should expect an invoice. Also, give them a heads up about what types of account access and credentials you’ll need to begin any work so that they can begin to gather this data for you.

5. Follow-Up Email

After the kickoff meeting, email your client following up on that request for account access information or credentials, and deliver the resources they need to get started.

Here’s an example of an email template you can consider.

Subject: Next Steps for Your SEO Campaign

Hi there [Name],

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

Firstly, thank you so much for speaking with me and being honest about your business goals.

I’ve attached a slide deck that visually explains how SEO works. We often return to this framework when talking about SEO and you might find this helpful to share with your team or review for yourself.

If you could provide me with the access data and credentials we discussed on the kickoff meeting as soon as possible, I would appreciate it. We will require them to get started.

Once I get access, I can get in touch with you to discuss our initial keyword research and the findings from our assessment.

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions you might have.

Best,
[Your Name]

6. Set Up Invoicing

Add the new SEO project to your accounting software of choice and generate an invoice. The timing for this step depends on your agency’s standard terms and conditions.

At our SEO agency, our billing terms include:

  • 100% of SEO Assessment is paid upfront
  • 50% of SEO Set-Up is paid upfront, with the remaining 50% paid at project completion
  • Monthly services are paid on the 15th of each month, with a Net 15

Send the invoice to the client including a thank you note or memo as a personal touch.

From Onboarding to Action

With onboarding complete, it’s time to begin delivering the SEO services. Pathfinder SEO has made lessons, tools, and resources available for you to deliver high-value services in a timely and profitable manner. Schedule a demo with us if you would like to learn more.

Next Step

Following a consistent onboarding process ensures each customer has a seamless experience. Your next step is to customize this onboarding process to fit your agency's needs.

We’re Here to Help

We built Pathfinder SEO for agencies like yours who are looking to start and scale their SEO services offering. We accelerate you through the process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

A subscription to the Pathfinder SEO platform includes access to all of the resources you need to create your SEO services offering and effectively deliver the service. Even better, Pathfinder SEO subscribers are supported by one-on-one coaching.

Sign up and schedule your first coaching session today.

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Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.
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