Hey marketing professionals, you must learn software development

6 mins read

As a business function, marketing hasn’t changed for over a century. But in the past decade, marketing has seen a tremendous disruption in methods and tactics as a result of the internet and mobile technology becoming part of the fabric of everyday life.

The tools used by marketing have increasingly become digital. First starting in the creative space with the advent of graphic design and video editing, and now advanced analytics and conversion analysis of landing pages and social engagement.

If you’re in marketing, you’ve already experienced this disruption – however, you might also be experiencing some complications resulting from the collision with technology. This is increasingly forcing marketing folks to learn and understand technology at a deeper level.

In fact, marketing and technology are now becoming so aligned, the technology budgets for marketing inside of larger organizations will eclipse the traditional IT infrastructure budgets.

Yet there remains a huge gap between marketing and tech. If marketing has become digital, and by definition, software-driven, then why hasn’t marketing processes and management mirrored software development and management processes?

Every facet of digital marketing is run by software and code. So it stands to reason that advanced digital marketing teams would want to learn more about things like code and integration. If for no other reason, this will provide marketing teams with the insights they need to make more informed decisions around their digital marketing strategy and management.

Understand The Engineering

First, digital marketers must understand the marketing technology landscape. If a marketing professional doesn’t grasp the fundamentals of software development, how can it possibly manage the process to deliver integrated funnels that connect social and ad traffic to websites, landing pages, mobile application downloads, and ultimately conversions and sales?

All that data moving from one place to another is enabled by software and integration between tools and platforms. Web services and API integrations are all based on code.

It is essential that marketers not only understand the online world from a user standpoint, but also the various technical foundations of the systems they use.

This means things like knowing all the parts that go into a website: HTML, CSS, Business Logic, Database, as well as the server management, protocols, and other things required in order to manage the development process.

You’re at a significant disadvantage against more knowledgeable competitors who learn what’s going on beneath the surface.

Agile Process Management

Next, we have the issue of how marketing technology and software is managed and used. In the pre-software era, it took a significant amount of time to plan and develop digital marketing campaigns. Mass media and broadcast had its own development process driven largely by creative directors and artists.

Now that we have software tools at our disposal, we’re able to launch a test for a complete messaging strategy in a matter of hours or days. Then we can iterate and improve until we are getting the results we’re after – or even abandoning a failed idea without spending huge amounts of money to test.

Having access to data on a real-time basis gives us the ability to know exactly where we need to change things like copy, media placement, calls to action, and other elements. We can split test every aspect of our messaging and visual media to optimize the results.

Adopting agile management processes to define goals, assign tasks to resources, and coordinate complex projects quickly, on-time, and under budget is a must.

Effectively Communicate With Highly Specialized Competencies

Most of all, as digital marketers, we need to understand the competencies that go into the development of software and digital marketing campaigns.

Simply having creative skills isn’t enough anymore. When software teams develop applications, there’s a food chain of disciplines from database architecture and administration, to system administration for servers and email, to analysts who craft a workflow around how we want users to engage with the system, to coders who write logic to move and manipulate data, to user interfaces that present the data in a simplified, functional way to the users.

Being able to communicate effectively with the various resources around the desired goals is of utmost importance in the success of delivering a complex, software-driven digital marketing campaign.

Whether you’re integrating landing pages with marketing automation platforms or passing sales qualified leads into the CRM system for sales, these all require an understanding of the competencies and activities that go into connecting things together.

Not all marketing is digital, but all marketing has a digital component – and that means learning the tools and underlying technology to be more effective.

Boost your digital marketing team’s effectiveness by embracing the technical side of marketing.

Learn what’s taking place under the hood. Don’t be afraid to jump in and try your hand at learning some code.


Michael Hiles

CEO 10XTS, INTJ, chaotic good, PDP/11 in '79 (THAT kid), info architect, Milton Friedman, data science, semantics, epistemology, coffee snob, OG hip hop

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