How do you find the right digital partner?

pepper square

Pepper Square

4 min read




Enterprise marketing managers are already under pressure as they have to keep working with multiple stakeholders while managing tight budgets and goals. It’s best to avoid giving them additional anxiety by evaluating the partnering agency for its capability and culture in advance before you sign up with it.


Digital agencies can increase profits by outsourcing the digital implementation while continuing to own their customers and the digital and creative strategy.  The same is true for traditional agencies that lack the digital expertise to service their existing customers who want to migrate to digital.

Instead of deviating from their core competence, agencies can focus on the creative and outsource the digital implementation to those who understand the entire process of digital strategy right from User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) development, to backend programming, testing and marketing.

Emerging companies

Emerging companies who have put their life into an idea must determine whether the partnering agency understands its entrepreneurial spirit and culture. Is the agency hands-on and can it translate the essence of their idea into design? Does it appreciate frugal economics and have the flexibility to achieve speed?

Leadership and expertise
Whether you are an enterprise, emerging company or a traditional agency looking to outsource digital projects here are some points to consider:

  • Leadership and expertise
  • Digital focus
  • Discipline and work culture
  • Trust and transparency

Can the agency transform the company vision into a positive experience where the outcome can be measured? Does it have the expertise and responsiveness to advise on conversion, competition and crisis? Does it have a team that can map business with the creative? How fast can it respond, do you need to wait till their manager gets to his own manager? Can it work as your extended team?

The agency you select should be responsive and be able to define a digital roadmap around your corporate strategy. It should have the technical knowledge to integrate traditional marketing into advanced mobile and web strategies. It should be able to recommend appropriate new technologies that lead to a great result and return on investment. Only an established agency that has the experience and processes can deliver outcomes swiftly and consistently. It would be a good idea to check how many projects they have delivered and for how long they have been in the digital business.

Digital focus
Some agencies moonlight as digital services.

It is always better to go with a dedicated team that is focused on digital. You do not want an agency whose focus keeps shifting with trends, or you will end up having to explain your business to rookies looking to make a quick buck and an even quicker exit. Find a digital partner that is committed and passionate about its work so they understand your needs better and respond with insights and not jargon.

Ensure your digital partner understands the entire process of strategy, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) and backend programming, testing and marketing. Understand their engagement model in order to get a better grip on the project time and effort spend, so it will help you map your budget better.

Discipline and work approach
Balancing creative freedom and on-time delivery.

Creative freedom is fine but do they have the internal discipline to deliver on time? Marketing and production managers have to work with multiple teams and managing the communication flow from one team to another both internally and externally is a complex task. For this reason it is better to work with a partner who has established processes that allow you to track every piece of information and ensure a smooth project from start to finish.

Is the agency open to collaborative tools that help in managing projects more efficiently?  What happens when a key team member falls sick, goes on leave, worse, quits his or her job? Do they have shadow resources available, or do you have to depend on their key team members who are inflexible and hard to access?

Creative freedom is fine but do they have the internal discipline to deliver on time? Can they work collectively as an extended team with joint discipline? The inability to articulate timely information and feedback affects both delivery and quality. In a nutshell, if they can't commit to writing it down, they probably can't execute it. Therefore it is good to check in advance what kind of work processes they have to ensure that projects are delivered before the deadline.

Trust and transparency
The most crucial yet intangible aspect.

Finding a partner who not only understands your pain points but can also deliver a customer centric solution is easier said than done. Perhaps this is the most crucial yet intangible aspect of any working relationship.

The most successful agency is not necessarily the right partner for you if their values do not align with yours. Meeting with the team members and an exchange of open communication can give you clues to their work culture.

Are they flexible and transparent in their engagement, what kind of service level agreements (SLAs) and governance do they have? Do they have the courage and experience to recommend what’s best for you rather than what’s more profitable for them? In business it is not always the right price but the right outcomes that help in establishing trust.

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7 Responses

  1. Pritha Upmanyu
    May 14, 2015 at 7:48 am

    It’s a great post. In todays scenario where everything is getting digital so its very much needed to find out the right digital partner. As you shared four things(Leadership and expertise, Digital focus, Discipline and work culture, Trust and transparency) to be taken care of while deciding the right digital partner according to company needs.

  2. Samson Ratnakar
    March 22, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    ‘Market Experience’ plays a major role in selecting the right digital partner. It’s always helpful to go with a company which is familiar with the industry and target market segment, as they will have more exposure and knowledge about the industry’s best practices and competitor’s activities/strategy

  3. Anil
    December 26, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Globalization comes hear, I believe this depends on the client location and the way of distribution system on there end.

  4. Abhinethri R S
    September 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Valid article.The trustworthy digit maketplace will be the best platform for any business to be successfull.

  5. Ranjith
    April 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    organization’s marketing success largely depends on the selection of a digital partner. Digital partner is strength and means to realize the innovation and gain competitive advantage.

  6. March 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Informative, thanks for the post.

    Of -course it is really ‘A Big-deal’ in finding right digital partner for the business ventures.
    It’s because your website is the only best online marketing tool which builds credibility & positive impression with the new visitors.

    Websites not only provide global reach, not only help to increase sales. Websites carry much more potential. Therefore hiring the services of a proffessional and specialized agency is very much essential.

  7. December 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Reading about this post not only gave an insight about the different levels of approaches to finding the right digital partner, but also PSQ’s strategy in incorporating these ideas. it’s indeed a cut above the rest and an avant-garde concept in the ever volatile marketing trends. this is so stupenduously written.