How to select your website partner

16 mins read

LAST UPDATED 3rd June 2024

PUBLISHED 30th May 2024

By landing on this blog, the likelihood is you are trying to decide how to select a partner to entrust with promoting your business online.

You may have a one-off landing page or a fully-fledged e-commerce site that needs to be designed and developed. Either way, it can be hard to know where to start. This article aims to make that choice a little easier!

Digital due diligence; why it’s important

With over 7,000 digital agencies and over two million digital freelancers in the UK, it’s easy to see why the digital sector has a mixed reputation. Invariably the surplus in supply combined with poor client-side understanding produces unscrupulous business tactics.

Failing to do due diligence can set your business back months, if not years. For example, a poor digital strategy may cause a lack of sales for an e-commerce client, or a lack of enquiries for a service-based business. Both examples ultimately lead to an overall loss in revenue.

On the flip side, if you secure a quality digital partner who understands your business and shares your drive, you can future-proof your business for the coming years.

There will inevitably be aches and pains once you have chosen your digital partner, but a thorough process ensures you can make an informed decision that will reduce the likelihood of catastrophic issues.

How to choose the right route for your business

Like how certain types of footballers suit different systems, styles and formations, there is no one-size-fits-all for selecting a digital partner. Below is a table that outlines a generalised summary of the benefits and pitfalls of the typical routes you can take. Please note, they may not apply to every business or freelancer.

Internal Resource• Easy to monitor
• Dedicated solely to your business
• Understand your tone of voice
• Limited expertise
• Limited opinions
Freelance• Price
• Can spend more time on your project
• Timescales often faster
• Limited capacity
• Range of expertise
• Limited range of opinions
Small Agency• Can price competitively
• Can spend more time on your project
• Limited capacity
• Limited range of expertise
• Limited range of opinions
Medium Agency• References, case studies
• Service led, likely to be reputation led
• Will typically have experienced members of staff
• Will be keen to showcase you as a client, free PR
• May not offer every wraparound service
• May have staff members covering specialities
Large Agency• Established, won't be disappearing anytime soon
• Likely worked in your industry
• Many voices, many opinions
• Should have nailed processes
• Likely to pay a premium for the name
• Sometimes a number in the masses
• Staff turnover often higher

Consider a brief

The most effective way to save time is by producing a comprehensive brief. Agencies and freelancers typically review between 20 and 100 specifications every month, which means they are well-versed in understanding whether your requirements will fit their expertise.

The brief comes with the added benefit that you can send across to a wider network of suppliers without repeating yourself.

PK Tip. Check out our blog on “how to write the perfect website brief

Establish non-negotiables

As with any business relationship, there will be factors that matter more to you than others. It’s essential to decide early exactly what those factors are.

The three Pixel Kicks suggest are:

  1. Timescales – What time scales do you require for this project to succeed? Can they guarantee delivery for this period and have they worked to similar timelines before?
  2. Budget – Establish exactly how much your company can set aside to complete this project.
  3. Relevant case studies – Have they got a track record of producing work in your or a relevant industry?

There are a multitude of other factors that could be considered, including being eco-friendly, female-led, core values and location.

Take your time

It’s important to take your time when selecting a digital partner. Whilst you may have internal pressure, pushing to start a project ASAP or have external pressure from the agency, it’s too important of a decision to rush into.

Depending on the type of agency or freelancer that you enquire to, you could speak with a variety of individuals. It’s important to be wary of who you are speaking with.

Invariably, a salesperson’s motivations and expertise may be worlds apart from that of a specialist. It can be useful to have a second opinion join to observe, although inevitably too many people chiming can muddy the conversation.

How to talk budgets

Prior to a call, you should ideally have an idea of whether they should be able to provide a service within your budget. However, if you reveal your budget too early they may attempt to maximise their fees accordingly. To save time, simply give a ballpark overview.

Useful questions to ask:

  • What budgets do you typically work across?
  • Do you have a minimum budget threshold?
  • Do you work on an hourly rate, or do you cost on a project basis?
  • Would you be able to provide a cost breakdown by stage?
how to prepare for marketing agency meeting

Research your chosen marketing agencies

Performing due diligence prior to a meeting will help you rule out potential partners who either don’t align with your non-negotiables or display a satisfactory reputation.

Social media: Take a look at their Linkedin. Are they active? How many members of staff do they really have compared to their website? Do the staff members appear to have good experience or are they all apprentices?

Practice what they preach?: It goes without saying, but if a web agency claims to build ‘best in class websites’, their own site should reflect that. In the same vein, if they provide search engine optimisation services and claim to get you towards the top of Google, how do they rank themselves?

Location: If face-to-face is important to you, are they within the distance that you would be willing to commute? Staff profiles on LinkedIn are usually a clear giveaway to whether their staff are local or outsourced overseas.

Reviews: There are multiple sources that you can use as a point of reference, including Google My Business, TrustPilot and LinkedIn recommendations. And if you’re unsure whether their reviews are legitimate, check out this article on ways to spot a fake review on Google.

Awards: Most agencies will claim to have won multiple awards at some point. The reality is some are more legitimate than others. If awards are something that matters to you, make a note to question them on the awards process.

Accreditations: Depending on the type of project you have, certain accreditations will be more relevant than others. Prior to taking a call, make a list of the most important skills your digital partner needs to have and cross reference with industry standard accreditations.

Examples Include:

  • Google Partner
  • Shopify Partner
  • ISO 9001 Verified
  • Certified B Corp
  • Certified Adobe Commerce

How to prepare for a meeting with a marketing agency

You’ve done your research and should now be ready with the ammunition to have an initial meeting. Sales processes vary from business to business, but typically an initial ‘fact-find’ call can take between 15-30 minutes.

Each section details why the area is important to cover with concise, relevant and expandable questions.

Typical conversation structure


It’s always worth spending a few minutes at the start of a conversation explaining how you got to this point and how you found them. It’s valuable feedback for the agency to hear whether you found them via Google or if you came via a referral.

Your company

Any digital marketer worth their salt will have spent time prior to the call having done basic background research on your company. However, a brief background alongside your core goals will ensure you are both on the same page. Use this time to explain the nuances of your business and any intricacies that could make this project difficult.

Core goals

  • Revenue target to hit in the next two years
  • Increase business market share
  • Improve brand awareness
  • Improve brand loyalty and retention
  • Improve operational efficiency

Their company

Through our experience speaking with countless enquiries, one theme emerges frequently. Potential clients are routinely led to believe a company has particular internal expertise when the agency has full intention of outsourcing and putting their name on the invoice.

The aim of the questions below is to gather an objective understanding of their company. In addition, it can be an opportunity to hear their backstory, which will provide clarity on their motivations.

Key questions

  • How many staff do you have?
  • How many are on the team relevant to me?
  • What is your staff turnover?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many clients do you have?
  • Are you near or at capacity?


One of the key areas that differ between agencies is their preferred methods of communication. Certain agencies are ingrained in traditional methods, favouring face-to-face meetings and routine phone calls, whereas newer agencies may have embraced SAAS tools.

Your business may already have established processes, e.g. internal project management software. Whilst your digital partner doesn’t need to be exactly aligned, there has to be a clear understanding from day one how you could work together.

Key questions

  • Do you provide one point of contact or numerous?
  • Who would I be working with and can we meet prior to joining?
  • You need to make sure your personalities match up, they know what they are talking about and have the required experience.
  • How frequently are we going to be meeting?
  • Do you prefer phone, email or ticket-based communication?
  • What are your core office hours
  • Do you have any emergency out-of-hours support available
  • Do you use any communications programmes like Basecamp or Asana?


Technical complexities of your project will differ depending on any number of factors. If you have a generic project, the chances are the majority of agencies will be able to deliver the majority of your brief. However, if there’s any elements that are complex, rare or specific to you- it’s vital that you fully explain what they are and ensure the potential partner understands them.

Key questions

  • Do you outsource?
  • If so, is it abroad or an additional freelance resource?
  • What is your tech stack?
  • Who do you host with?
  • What platforms do you work with?
  • Do you prefer to have things dictated or would they prefer a collaborative approach?
  • If you have a technical request, have they worked on something similar?

Specific to your industry

The person who will know your industry best is you. The industry trend has seen more agencies that specialise in specific industries or niches. There are pros and cons with choosing one, which could almost be a whole separate blog post.

One bonus is they will likely require less time to understand your business model and competitors. On the other hand agencies with a broader focus may pick up on different industry trends and have a more rounded view of digital marketing.

Key questions

  • Have you worked in this industry before?
  • Can you show an example?
  • What was the impact of your work with them?
  • If you haven’t worked in this industry, what is the closest comparison
  • Can you provide references that we can speak with?
  • Will there be any conflict of interest with your existing clients?

Project management

One of the most undervalued aspects of a successful client relationship is how project management is facilitated. The best agencies will have defined processes with clear timescales, internal champions and accountability.

Key questions

  • What are your anticipated timescales?
  • Are these broken down into steps?
  • Are steps concurrent or one after another?
  • Do you do testing/ QA?
  • Do you test across a range of devices?
  • How do you ensure the website is future-proof?
  • How do you measure success? Do you work towards any specific KPIs?
  • Do you offer post-live support packages? If so, how many hours can you cope with per month?

Whilst the onus will be on the agency to produce the majority of the work, you have to ensure you are holding yourself accountable by sharing content and feedback when required to ensure the project stays on track and meets your expectations.


Design matters! It takes a short 0.05 seconds to form an opinion and only 2.6 seconds for eyes to settle on key areas on a webpage. More often than not, initial impressions will determine whether a user stays or leaves. Depending on the project, function over form may be more applicable. Even still, a thorough design will help build trust.

Key questions

  • How does your design process work?
  • Do you have separate designers and developers?
  • How many design revisions do you allow?
  • Do you design around content/ copy or design first?
  • Can you help us with brand guidelines
  • Do you use mockup software like Adobe XD or Figma?
  • Do you utilise templates or themes?
  • Why would you suggest a certain CMS?
  • How do you ensure a website is mobile-friendly?

Want to learn how to write the perfect branding brief? We have an article for that.

find a marketing agency

Other important questions to ask during a partner meeting


Key questions

  • What assurances can you provide that your work will fit our standards?
  • How do you break down the cost?
  • Am I in for a period of time?


Key questions

  • How do you break down the cost?
  • What is your hourly rate?
  • Is this the same across your departments?
  • Do you typically work on a retainer?
  • If so, do you have a minimum contract length?
  • What is the notice period?
  • What isn’t covered in the contract that you would suggest including?
  • How do you structure pricing for a web project?
  • How does your pricing compare to your typical competitors?

Digital marketing specific questions

Whilst there are sections of this that will apply to selecting any sort of digital marketing partner document has been heavily geared towards selecting a website partner.

  1. This has been mostly geared towards websites
  2. Can be important but not vital they can do wraparound services

Key questions

  • Once the website has gone live, what services would you recommend to promote it?
  • Do you offer SEO/ PPC?
  • Do you offer photography/ videography?
  • Do you offer copywriting services?
  • How do you report the success of the campaigns?

What to expect after the meeting

Great, you’ve had an efficient and (hopefully) enjoyable conversation! By now, you should have some idea whether there will be legs. It’s important to establish what the next steps are so you are both on the same page.

  • What are the next steps?
  • What is the timescale for a proposal?
  • Do you need a second meeting to map out technical aspects?
  • If it is apparent they can’t help you, can they point you in the right direction?

Telltale signs to look out for

Throughout and post-conversation, you may notice red or green flags. Whilst they can’t be blanket applied to every agency you speak with, they are a good general rule of thumb. Below are easy signs to watch out for.

Red flags

  • Standard proposal with zero personalisation
  • The proposal takes overly long to come back
  • The promised deadline for the proposal is missed
  • All their reviews are in the space of 2 days
  • They claim to have 20 staff but only have 3 on LinkedIn
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Their sales tactics are overly pushy and offer significant discounts straight away

Green flags

  • You don’t walk away feeling like you have been sold the dream
  • They are well-established with good social proof
  • They get members of their team involved early
  • They practice what they preach. Build websites – is their own any good? Do copywriting – is their own any good? Do SEO – where do they rank?
marketing agency manchester

Our conclusion

Selecting the right digital partner for your business is a critical decision that can significantly impact your online presence and revenue. By doing your due diligence, establishing clear non-negotiables and taking your time to assess potential partners, you can ensure you make an informed choice.

Crafting a detailed brief, asking the right questions and evaluating red and green flags will help you identify a partner who not only understands your business but also aligns with your goals and values.

Remember, a well-chosen digital partner can future-proof your business and drive long-term success! So, get in touch with Pixel Kicks and kickstart your business with us.

Key takeaways

  • Establish clear deliverables
  • Seek references
  • Take your time

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