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How to Onboard New Marketing Hires + Checklist

After weeks (or even months) of searching, you’ve found the ideal candidate to fill a role on your marketing team. You’ve both signed the contract, and they’re starting next week. At this point, a lot of CEOs and marketing leaders breathe a sigh of relief. The position is filled; their job is done.

Only, your job isn’t done once the new hire starts.

Even with the most thorough hiring process and the most suitable candidate, a lot can go wrong in the onboarding period. If you don’t start off a new marketing employee’s tenure with your company the right way, you’ll likely see:

  • Unengaged and unmotivated employees
  • Fragmented team
  • Missed targets
  • Rapid employee turnover
  • Low ROI on your hiring investment
  • Limited or even negative Marketing-led growth

Investing time and resources into effective onboarding is in the interest of the business, the marketing team, and the individual employee.

Of course, every company, team, and individual will need slightly different onboarding to suit their role, level of experience, and learning style. 

However, from our experience of working with companies to grow their marketing functions, there are some common streams that successful onboarding strategies share.

We’ve been on both sides of the table: we’ve been on marketing hiring teams that bring new people on board, and we’ve also been the employees who are finding their feet in a new role. 

Read on to learn three tips for building a better marketing onboarding process. Plus, you can download our free checklist to work through the key tasks and keep your next marketing onboarding on schedule.

 

1. Consider what you need from the onboarding team and new hires

There are two aspects to the onboarding process: the tasks you need the existing team to complete, and the tasks you need the new hire to complete. 

Sometimes, these are two sides of the same assignment. If the new hire is tasked with learning the company history, you also need to task an existing team member with taking time to walk the new hire through the key points. If you need the new hire to fill out their information in the HR system, you first need someone from your existing team to set up an account for them and give them access. 

Rather than putting all the onus on your new team member, map out the requirements for the marketing team as well. To make sure everything is in place for new hires to start their onboarding on day one, distribute the list of tasks to the team well before the employee's start date. That way, the team will have the right resources to hand and enough time set aside in their calendar.

 

2. Set realistic deadlines 

A comprehensive onboarding process has dozens of steps. If you present the team with every task in one long list, it's easy for priority tasks to end up being pushed to later or for some tasks to be missed completely as the new hire's role picks up pace. 

Adding deadlines to your onboarding introduces an element of accountability. It also sorts the tasks into a logical order. 

Map out which onboarding tasks the team need to complete in a new hire's first day, first week, and first month. You can then add specific dates when you use this template for each new hire.

Your high-level breakdown of onboarding tasks might look something like this:

Day 1

  • Essential ops access
  • Meet with line manager
  • Overview of business with the company wiki

Week 1

  • Meet with the rest of the team and start learning about their roles
  • Meet with HR and IT to get set up
  • Get into the loop - inboxes, meetings
  • Start software training

Month 1

  • Deeper dive into projects and workstreams
  • Understand KPIs and set goals
  • Meet key external contacts

 

3. Make your process comprehensive

Good onboarding doesn't just cover the essentials an employee needs to start doing their job. It should set them up with everything they need to be a valuable team member and feel comfortable in their role.

In practice, that means making sure your onboarding covers team, marketing ops and access, business education, and strategy.

Let’s drill further into each of those.

 

Team

Employees who are well-integrated with their teams are more likely to stay longer with the business, be invested in working harder to make the business a success, and be able to collaborate more effectively. 

Being really 'well-integrated' means feeling that they are a valued part of both the marketing team and the full company staff, as well as having positive relationships with individual employees.

To help a new hire build those relationships, assign the responsibility to schedule both group and one-on-one meetings.

In our experience, it helps to make these sessions a mixture of formal meetings and informal chats. 

Of course, it’s important to have meetings where each team member can lay out their role and responsibilities. This makes it much easier to distribute accountability and work together on projects. 

However, it’s also important to include informal chats over coffee or lunch. These allow the new hire to get to know the team (and vice versa) as humans and start building a personal connection. Plus, it helps put them at ease and creates a sense of community. 

 

Marketing ops and access

Ops processes, systems, and tools are the essential foundation of day-to-day marketing work. They’re also the really unsexy part of onboarding. The temptation with a new hire is to try to get them stuck into projects as soon as possible  after all, you hired them because you need their skillset. 

But if you take this approach, you’re setting your team up for dozens of roadblocks and last-minute access requests over the next few months. 

For example:

An employee lends the new hire their login for a tool so they can get started. Then a password gets changed and someone gets locked out  just as a deadline approaches.

Or:

The new hire goes to put together a report their manager requested, only to realize they don’t have access to the data they need  and the manager is out of the office for a week. 

Save yourself from dozens of little annoyances like these by giving employees access to everything they may need right from the start: 

  1. Make a list of everything a new hire will need access to, including drives, documents, networks, online tools, hardware. Don't forget to share any keys or codes they need to access the physical office building (if you have one). 
  2. Assign an access request for each item to the relevant administrator, and set a deadline for the new hire’s first week. 
  3. Make sure the administrator also gives the new hire any training or documentation they need to use the tool effectively. 

 

Learning the business

It should be simple logic that you can’t do marketing for a business until you understand that business. Marketing should be a linchpin that connects with sales, product, and customer support, so any member of the marketing team needs to understand and be engaged with all these elements. 

Too often, marketers get siloed into just focusing on getting campaigns up and running, without seeing how their work connects to everything else the business is doing.

If you don't have an awareness of how your work contributes to the overall objectives, it's all too easy to go off track. You get distracted by projects that don't actually drive revenue. At best, you miss out on opportunities to increase Marketing's efficiency and impact by collaborating with other function areas. At worst, you put time and resources into projects that work against what other departments are trying to achieve.  

Help new hires connect to the rest of the business by including company education as part of their onboarding. This should include training to understand:

  • How the business operates, including guiding principles  current and historical
  • How marketing dovetails with the operations of other function areas
  • Customer experience
  • Core strategies and growth levers 

To support the new hire's learning, it's helpful to have the following resources:

  • Employee handbook
  • Brand guidelines
  • Wiki/ learning environment
  • Case studies
  • Customer help resources 

 

Marketing strategy 

Even if a new hire is looking to overhaul the marketing strategy, they first need to understand the current state of affairs.

The onboarding process needs to include both the overall marketing strategy and the specific strategic levers they should be pulling as part of their role. 

An onboarding in general marketing strategy might include:

  • Brand guidelines
  • Customer journey
  • Strategy behind key projects
  • Sales presentations

An onboarding in role-specific strategy might include:

  • Handover notes
  • Details of projects in progress
  • Review of campaign/channel metrics 
  • Working with managers to set short-term goals and longer-term KPIs

 

To keep on top of all the tasks, deadlines, and team members involved, we recommend using a marketing onboarding checklist. You could build your own — or you could skip the boring admin work and use our marketing onboarding checklist with some customization to suit your business. 

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