The world of e-commerce has never been more competitive. Like it or not, every business is online. Whether you have a strong digital footprint or you are only on Yelp, you must take it seriously or your competitors are going to get ahead of you.

Hiring a creative digital agency for your business will put you in a position where you can actually compete. Personalization is the most important piece of customer experience, and an agency is best positioned to help you create one that will translate to more revenue and more customers.

I'm no stranger to the digital world, in fact there are only a few really great digital agencies out there who will take the time to really know and understand your brand and voice. Aside from The Avenue West (how could I not recommend my own company?), Hawke Media, A Hundred Years and CCG are three LA agencies I highly recommend.

CCG works with non profits such as Fu*k Cancer, and leading brands such as Beats By Dre to further build their profile, while A Hundred Years works exclusively with social impact organizations and Hawke Media specializes in hyper-targeted campaigns for digital companies.

Before you start thinking about hiring an agency for your company, you should ask yourself a few questions.

Are We Ready?

Companies often ask the question as to whether they should hire a digital agency when they start to grow. The most effective marketing teams are those that adopt a hybrid approach and start sooner rather than later. They use their in-house resources and an agency to maximize efficiencies and messaging.

CCG, like we do, believes that we as agencies can do more for their clients through working with in-house teams. CCG's CEO, Jeffrey Stewart says, "great branding and thought leadership should not be reserved just for the biggest brands." And he is exactly right.

An amazing agency should be an extension of a team to accomplish the near and long term objectives, and should highlight you the way that most makes sense for your brand.

What Challenges Can an Agency Help Your Business With?

The concept of a digital agency can often feel like smoke and mirrors. In fact, I've written about that a few times. To understand whether you need one you need to think about the core challenges you face.

When a company comes to us, we usually see that the issue is communicating brand identity. The secondary issue is usually crafting a customer experience that your target market will fall in love with. It's not all about flashy or expensive marketing campaigns, but it is about perception.

If your target audience and customers aren't responding to you and your lifetime value is low, it's time to bring in outside help.

How is Success Measured?

To make the most of an agency, you need to have clear boundaries that define success and failure. When a small business doesn't get what they want from a digital agency it usually happens because nobody knows what is considered success. For example, does your business have key performance indicators (KPI's) that align with your business objectives?

Both parties can have exactly the same goals, but have different ideas for how they can achieve them. The agency and the small business have to come together to decide what, when, and how.

What is the Main Component of a Successful Campaign?

Once you can count on the agency to deliver quality work, speed becomes a main aspect of a successful campaign, according to Stewart. He says that the company always adopts a sprint mentality in all areas. This sense of urgency is what takes advantage of the entrepreneurial urge to keep innovating and keep getting better.

Stewart says, "This is what has made CCG so successful. We are never satisfied with what we have. I would say to any business thinking about hiring a digital agency to consider whether that agency is as urgent as you to succeed."

So, Should You Hire a Digital Agency?

Most companies will find a use for a digital agency at some point. But it's important to understand where a digital agency fits into a company's team. It will never serve as a vehicle for taking over your marketing department without any internal aid. Even if you are the only point of contact, know that you will have to spend time working alongside your agency to be successful. The best agencies act as support mechanisms, so use them as such.