6 Practical Reasons Marketers Should Learn to Code

December 10, 2014

2:30 pm

While marketers don’t necessarily need to master Ruby, basic levels of HTML, CSS, and maybe even JavaScript or Python can help improve a resume for someone in the digital marketing arena today.  Here are 6 concrete reasons why marketers should learn to code.

  1. For SEO to be Effective, Marketers Should “Read” a Page’s Skeleton in HTML

SEO and Marketing have fused together so much because SEO relies heavily on content, so many marketers consider themselves SEO specialists as well.  In order to optimize a page, marketers must be able to read the page’s skeleton — which means reading HTML.  In order to find, change, and edit meta descriptions, title tags, keywords, or headers, you need to be able to find them by looking at the “bones” of the website.

  1. To Make a Webpage Look Nice, Marketers Should Understand HTML and CSS

While looks aren’t everything, a messy webpage or blog is less likely to get attention than a clean, attractive looking page. Marketers are almost always in charge of blog creation and posting (as well as website content changes).  If you’re looking to do any of the following without bugging the programmers on your team, learn basic HTML and CSS so you can:

  • Embed Images, Audios, and Videos
  • Format (Bold, Underline, Appropriate spaces)
  • Assign Headers
  • Change Colors/Fonts/Themes/Tables

All of that, plus more, takes a very small amount of time with basic HTML and CSS knowledge.

  1. To Embed, Track, and Understand Analytics, Marketers Should Understand HTML and Basic JavaScript

Marketers must measure their campaigns to understand the impact and any necessary changes needed to be made.  While Google makes their analytics pretty simple to understand, marketers need to know how to make changes based on analytics data, embed tracking codes, and understand which pages users are visiting.  For example, Google Tag Manager allows marketers to put tags on websites such as tracking and optimization tags, which are snippets of JavaScript that sends information to a third party. Understanding this concept at its core requires a basic knowledge of JavaScript, as well as HTML.

  1. Effective Email Marketing is Better Without a Template (aka Changing the HTML and CSS)

While email marketing services like MailChimp, provide nice templates for marketers to use, customers always appreciate that extra touch, which means knowing how to customize a template.  While uploading content to the email template is simple, changing how the template looks requires a bit of programming knowledge.  Having this knowledge will get you better looking (and most likely better performing) email campaigns.

  1. To A/B Test, Marketers Should Know HTML and CSS

A/B testing is not just for website homepages – blogs and internal company pages can be A/B tested to test effectiveness and conversion.  While this task may fall to the developers on the team, it’s more effective to have it handled by the marketers, as they have an understanding of the customer and where/why they will click on certain parts of the website.  In order to move a “Contact” button or social share button around, marketers will need to understand HTML to move it and CSS to make it look nice.

  1. Knowledge of JavaScript Can Automate Google AdWords

Especially at a smaller company, the marketer is the social media ad person as well (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google ads).  Google launched Adwords scripts, which allows you to programmatically control your AdWords data with simple JavaScript in a browser-based IDE.  Luckily for marketers, only a basic level of JavaScript is necessary, but this allows users to create more powerful, efficient, and effective ads.

Demian Squiersky, Head of Marketing at Wideo, a DIY animated video production platform, worked in front-end development before moving to marketing.  We asked him if his experience helped him transfer to the marketing world and advice on marketers learning to code.  He notes:

“Now with the power of Google Ads, some, even very basic, knowledge of JavaScript is a huge plus.  Google scripts, for example, can automate reporting on Google Ad – taking the data from the past 7 days and sending it to you or the client.  Scripts can automatically move campaign keywords performance by raising funds towards those performing higher. Knowing a basic level of JavaScript has enhanced our campaigns.”

Marketers that have basic coding skills communicate with the greater team better, as they have a good idea of what is practical for a website.  Communicating with developers can be tricky, but with an understanding of their “language” the entire team can run more effectively and smoothly.

Image Source: localsearchgroup.com

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Gonzalo worked in the Spanish construction sector during the booming years, but when the crises hit he lived first hand the need to change careers. As the co-founder of Ironhack, a coding bootcamp offering intensive 8-week courses in Web Development and Mobile iOS, he thrives to empower anyone willing to pivot their career into technology as he did. Follow him @ironhack

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