Ever get that nagging feeling your digital sales and marketing aren't quite hitting the sweet spot? Or maybe there's a suspicion you're always a step behind the new tech trends?
If you're silently agreeing, you could be wrestling with a problem known as technical debt.
What is Technical Debt?
You might be wondering, "What on earth is technical debt?" Let's break it down.
Technical debt is "digital neglect.” It's what happens when important technical tasks and updates to sales and marketing systems are continuously postponed or overlooked, causing a buildup of issues that can have a number of unintended or negative ramifications. These might include your website going down, the sales team not receiving sales leads from your website, a security compromise, high email bounce rates, higher software subscription costs due to a bloated database, etc.
Think about your business like a shiny car. To keep it running like a dream, you've got to give it a bit of TLC: regular oil and fluid changes, new windshield wipers, occasional new tires, and the periodic wash. But let's say you start skipping on these jobs. Before you know it, your car starts coughing, spluttering, and grumbling every time you drive it.
Well, in the digital world, technical debt is just like that.
When we put off important updates, let our databases turn into digital junkyards, or overlook necessary tweaks to our website, we're racking up technical debt.
This routine maintenance stacks up and can bog down your business's online performance, hold back your growth, and potentially throw a bit of mud on your shiny online reputation. So how do we shift gears and get back in the fast lane? Let's dig in.
Technical Debt Affects Every Department, Even Sales and Marketing
While technical debt affects every department in your organization, we want to focus this article on sales and marketing, as those drive company revenue growth.
Let's be real, technology has its fingers in every pie of your business. Whether we're talking sales and marketing, running your website, playing nice with your CRM, making customers smile, or keeping your online reputation spotless – you name it, there's some kind of software or platform pulling the strings.
Solving for tech debt needs to be part of your digital marketing strategy. How do you know if it’s an issue for your company?
Here are some symptoms:
- You've noticed your digital marketing metrics are slipping.
- Your website traffic is declining slowly.
- Email deliverability rates are dropping.
- You’re not getting contact form submissions from your website.
- Your sales team has to rely almost solely on prospecting and cold calling.
- Your contact database (maybe Salesforce) is a mess. Contact information isn’t current for more than 15% of your database.
- There’s so much unused information in your HubSpot portal that you can’t find things easily.
- Your website is more than 5 years old. You grimace at the thought of replacing it, but know it needs to be done because everyone at the organization talks about it.
- You’re having trouble recruiting employees because your social media platforms aren’t up to date.
Sound familiar? It's time to build a plan to face technical debt head-on. Let’s look at a plan that can help you ward off technical debt proactively and keep your sales and marketing engine purring.
1. Give Your Website Regular Care
Your website is the star player of your digital sales and marketing strategy. Keeping it running like a well-oiled machine means regular maintenance.
So, what’s there to maintain?
- Making sure your content is up-to-date and factually correct is important. Content needs to be kept relevant to your ideal customer. That means adding content regularly.
- Hosting software needs to be upgraded periodically for security and performance reasons. This is something your web host or IT team will need to handle and requires collaboration.
- Your SSL certificate secures your website. It needs to be renewed and checked regularly.
- Content management systems, like Wordpress and plugins, need to be upgraded at least monthly for performance and security reasons.
- The entire website – databases, files and your content management system – needs to be backed up to a secure, shared drive at least once a month for disaster recovery purposes.
- Search engine optimization should be reviewed monthly and any critical or high priority issues fixed.
Remember, a well-maintained website doesn't just run smoother, it's also more secure. Plus, it's like rolling out the red carpet for your visitors, giving them a VIP user experience that can build trust, increase engagement and ramp up your leads and conversion rates. So keep it fresh, keep it updated, and watch your website shine.
2. A/B Testing: Your Companion for Website Optimization
Maximizing marketing value means understanding what works for your audience and what doesn't. This is where A/B testing comes into play. By testing different elements on your web pages, you can identify the factors that drive user engagement and leads, and those that don't.
Whether it's headlines, call-to-action buttons, images, or page layout, A/B testing provides insights into what resonates with your audience. Leveraging these insights, you can optimize your website for higher effectiveness and conversion rates, driving more leads and sales.
A/B testing is also important to improve your email marketing. Testing layouts, content types and more can improve engagement and customer experience.
3. A Clean Contact Database: Fuel for Efficient Marketing
A well-maintained contact database is important to your internal teams (sales and customer service) and respectful to the people in your database. Cleaning your contact database involves:
- Removing or merging duplicates
- Archiving and cleaning outdated information
- Updating contact and company information
- Removing contacts that no longer are of interest to your organization
- Purging contacts from your marketing database that have unsubscribed, reported spam or are plain disinterested in what you’re sending
- Removing contacts from outside your sales territory (for example, removing international contacts for companies that sell only in the USA)
By doing so, you ensure that your marketing efforts reach the right audience at the right time. This streamlining process also helps in segmenting your audience better, providing more personalized experiences that lead to higher engagement and ultimately, better sales.
4. Regular SEO Audits: Maintaining Your Online Visibility
Staying on top of search engine rankings is essential for your online presence. Good rankings = more visitors, so it's crucial to periodically review your website for SEO errors. Regular SEO audits help identify and fix issues such as broken links, slow page load times, or outdated content that could be negatively impacting your ranking.
If you originally built your website with SEO in mind, then why do you need to continually revisit SEO and improve the website? Here are some viable reasons that yield business impact:
- Find content that ranks on page 2+ of results but could be optimized for page 1.
- Identify missed opportunities as content/pages/assets were added to your website. For example, your in-house team might have forgotten ALT tags on images, or to write compelling meta descriptions for pages.
- Identify technical issues caused by server software (or lack of updating server software).
- Implement new coding approaches or plugins that improve core web vitals.
- Review caching policies that affect load times.
By proactively addressing technical and on-page SEO issues and addressing them proactively, you can ensure your website enjoys higher visibility and attracts more organic traffic.
5. Streamlining Marketing Automation Software: A Path to Better Efficiency
A marketing automation strategy, when managed correctly, can streamline your sales and marketing efforts.
You can probably tell we prefer HubSpot, but this item applies to any marketing automation platform. Let’s look at some HubSpot examples that you can apply to other platforms as well.
- Are there errors or problems with automated workflows that need to be examined? Are the workflows working as intended?
- Are the automated workflows you set up still needed, or are they obsolete?
- Are your workflows supporting the customer journey?
- Are your sales email sequences effective? How are the open rates, response rates and meeting rates? Do they need to be improved or tested?
- Are your dashboards and reports still used by team members to gain business insights and make decisions?
- Is your sales team supplying all the information on contacts and deals that you require to effectively report on sales results and activity?
- Is the information shown on contact, company and deal records relevant and helpful?
- Could you automate reminders and processes for the sales or customer/client teams when certain events occur?
- Are your integrations with third party software platforms working properly? Have you reviewed any errors and fixed the root cause?
Cleaning up your HubSpot portal involves getting rid of outdated or irrelevant data, optimizing your portal and making your team more efficient.
Investing time in streamlining your HubSpot account can significantly improve your organization's efficiency. It can also provide a clearer picture of your sales and marketing performance, helping you make informed strategic decisions and adjustments for future growth.
Investing in Your Digital Presence: Reaping Rewards Today and Tomorrow
Investing in your digital presence goes beyond just eliminating technical debt in sales and marketing. It's about constantly updating and optimizing your tech stack to provide a seamless customer experience.
This active investment is what sets successful companies apart. They not only deal with technical debt effectively but also leverage it as an opportunity to innovate.
More importantly, an active approach towards managing technical debt keeps you in tune with your customers' evolving needs. As you update and optimize, you gain insights into what your customers want, what they engage with, and how their behavior changes over time. This allows you to pivot in real-time and stay one step ahead.
Your internal team will thank you, too. By having automations that help move deals forward or identify sales opportunities that need work, your sales team will be more effective.
Don't let technical debt slow your growth. Proactively managing it not only enhances your current performance but also prepares you for the opportunities that tomorrow brings.
Remember, the cost of maintaining your digital assets today will be significantly less than the price you'll pay for accumulated technical debt in the future.