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5 Big Reasons Why Marketers Need to Know Code

ONE OF the biggest marketing changes is the growth and adoption of marketing technologies. In fact there are over 3,500+ marketing-tech companies (2015, there’s so much more now); growing at more than 1,000 companies per year.
Every part of the marketing process – from CMS to PPC – is road-mapped and implemented into the overall digital strategy. As marketing technology grows more complex, a non-technical digital marketing manager can become a passenger, using tech without understanding why.

In this post we’re going to explore how even basic coding skills can help you send better emails, manage content more efficiently, hack your PPC back from the dead and improve your ROI! Bonus: Extra respect from your web development team.

1. Content Management

“As I see it, code literacy is a requirement for participation in a digital world,” claimed Douglas Rushkoff. Essentially, Rushkoff was saying “Learn programming or be programmed!”
There are aspects of software that allow us to be lazy when it comes to code. Amazingly talented developers have put together tools that make code as simple as point and click.
Content Management Systems like WPEngine (WordPress) are the most common websites and are often the most under-utilised. Thanks to intuitive templates, building a website / landing page is mostly just problem-solving, click, drag, creative flair and a lot of patience.
Templates reduce workload when creating a website but are – like most templates – limited. A code-equipped marketer code can work around restrictions. How? Tried and trusted HTML & CSS, the way your website is laid out and the way it feels.

CSS and HTML’s visual language has evolved since the 1990s, which is why they’re used so broadly for just about anything. Turn your landing page into a high converting one with some clever customisations.Left: Initial Website Experience. Right: Second Scrolled Panel. Beautifully smooth, intuitive UX & UI. Something seemingly simple like button placement can become overly-complicated. With a basic knowledge of coding, marketers can create a button, position it, and have it target the right section. Perfect!

This list is full of creative websites that demonstrate what you can accomplish with a bit of web development lingo.
Want to style up your emails? No problem. Mail-automation companies like Mailchimp also have templates, but the real magic comes from the code-your-own option. Match your mail to your business’ digital presence – not someone else’s.
So, all of your content is uploaded and ready to go, your site looks amazing and your ads are… err… underperforming? Keep reading to find out why and how you can supercharge them

2. PPC & Growth Hacking

There are seemingly endless ways to improve your PPC performance. You could spend hours researching blogs on how you can optimise your; keywords, targeting, tracking, copy and reporting etc. – all of which have multiple time-consuming processes involved.

So let’s take away some of the pain-per-click by putting the power back at your fingertips, starting with the basics. Have you ever wondered how a conversion event is processed? Answer: lines of code… of course.
JavaScript (Js) – one of the most popular programming languages – controls the tracking codes for Google Analytics, Facebook Pixels and a litany of other data-capturing methods.
Now, all of these websites come with standard scripts so you may not need to edit anything at all. If it’s not working though, all you need to do is making a quick-fix to the event you’re tracking? Basic Javascript tweaks and when you’re more comfortable – custom scripting!

Custom-scripting is another clever coding boost that can save your PPC time. Want to qualify leads based on how far they got in the checkout? No problem! Want to automatically disable failing ads? Scripting time saving code can keep you focused on optimising your campaign.

Some of the most loved creative moments in history have come from going off script after all…AirBnB skyrocketed to fame using a clever ‘trick’ that allowed them access to Craigslist’s enormous user-base. After listing, AirBnB would prompt landlords to list with one-click on Craigslist, that directed you back to the AirBnB listing. If you didn’t know, AirBnB is the biggest player in property rental… while owning no property at all…

Extra incentive to landlords was the “make $500 extra per month” offer, due to the increase of listing traffic. A simple, but eye-opening hack that shows how powerful even a little coding can be.

As mentioned above, PPCs have an endless amount of tracking, refining and targeting to accommodate for, so even if they don’t want to learn how to script, knowledge alone will be enough to inform their development team of specific tasks.

Your copywriter, content manager, graphic designer and the rest of the marketing team will see you as a champion of PPC when all of their great work reaches the right people. Now it’s time to use data to evolve your content.

3. Data Mining

Coding helps data analysts quickly discern why Steve (left) bought a carrot for that price off that faceless businessman. Ah Excel, an analytic marketers tried and trusted data collation tool.

Excel mastery can make a search marketer’s life far easier, but learning a coding language like MySQL can make it easier and infinitely customisable. Like me, I’m sure most digital marketers felt like a hacker when they learned about the V/HLOOKUP functions.

MySQL is a query language not too dissimilar from this function. Think of it like a dynamic spreadsheet that allows you to make sense of data-sets far quicker than perusing through Excel. MySQL is just one of the languages that allows marketers to understand data, craft a narrative and with PPC hacking, create high converting, dynamic content.
Now for more advanced data structuring, there is Java or Python – but we won’t get too deep into the data mine here.
If you’d like to learn more about how a skilled programmer does it, check out – The Ancient Art of the Numerati.

This insightful book is free under the Creative Commons license, so download your free PDF.

There is a lot of change on the horizon for marketing, being at the forefront of the technology age allows you to slot into a marketing role at most companies. Every industry needs to be marketed and every business needs tech (well… most).

4. Align Developers & Marketing

Like marketers, development teams also have KPIs. One of the biggest strains on cross-functional teams is each department assuming their KPIs are most important. The reality is, through communication marketing and web development team’s goals can sync to the overall business strategy.

According to an Amazon Small Business Report, 51% of marketers hold their website as their highest priority. Therein lies the huge crossover in the marketing / development venn diagram, but also that’s where the trouble starts.
The need to drive sales and retain customers and the list of other marketing activities goes on and on – which can lead to arbitrary, time-consuming web-requests. Small edits, copy changes, imagery fixing – things that a little bit of coding or even CMS knowledge could fix.

Since a company’s website is often the primary lead generation vehicle, events like website overhauls can have drastic results on a digital marketing teams analytics. Any lull can and will be costly, so it’s imperative that any necessary changes are performed swiftly.

A technically informed marketing manager can communicate with their development team to ensure they get the high priority changes / fixes and can map the lower priority changes.

Learning the basics of coding as a marketer will help you maximise your interactions with the web development team, improving their workflow and yours.

5. Future Proof Job Security

The infusion of technology into just about every industry has brought about wholesale changes. Banks are being downsized, dresses can now be display ads and processes are being automated across the board. There is a necessity for all roles – not just marketers – to evolve.

In fact, 61% of CEOs surveyed globally said they were concerned about the rate of technological change in their organisation. Developing the ability to be a guiding presence over your company’s marketing team could give your CEO the reassurance they need.

No, you don’t have to sit down and script thousands of lines of code – you’ve got work to do! All things being equal, learning how to at least understand a few lines of code could be the difference between you and the next marketer.
Digital marketing in particular is such an attractive field, coding will most definitely give you a competitive advantage in job interviews or performance appraisal.

You will also allow you to discern which aspect of your marketing tech adds value to your business and which subtracts.
If resources are limited in an area of your marketing strategy, you’ll understand what’s needed to fix it. Whether it’s small bugs that you can fix, one for the development team or necessary outsourcing.
And if you nail all of the tasks on this list, who knows? You could be the next Chief Marketing Technologist in no time, like the data science marketers at the top of the page!

For more information on how a little coding can benefit your profession, download a brochure for our new course – Tech Fundamentals for Business Professionals.

Modern marketing needs modern marketers, learning even a little code brings you right up to speed.

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