Coding for Marketing: Using Programming to Level Up Your Skills
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As a marketer, you’ve probably run into situations before where you’ve had to wait on programmers to deliver something you need. You come up with the idea, sketch out its implementation, and then send the spec off to the development team. And now you’re sitting around hoping that it comes back when you need it.
How can you avoid feeling so dependent on programmers? By learning to code yourself, of course! We’re going to show you how you, a marketer, can pick up coding skills without breaking the bank or having to pick up a four-year degree.
Should Marketers Learn To Code?
In short, yes: marketers should learn to code. Marketers should know that you don’t need to master complex math or theoretical computer science so you can code. Think of it as just another one of the skills you can pick up to become a better marketer.
Early on in your coding journey, you’ll cultivate a better understanding of what can be achieved with code and be able to communicate with the development team better as a result. But eventually, you’ll gain the ability to see your ideas through by coding them yourself.
In going through that journey, you’ll have made yourself a better marketer and more valuable to your company, which is why marketers should consider learning to code.
Related Read: What Does a Digital Marketer Really Do?
Benefits of Coding for Digital Marketers
Improve Your Skills
Let’s start off by focusing on the personal benefits of learning to code. When you learn to code, you’re picking up new skills in an area that you hadn’t explored before. You’re learning new ways to think, solve problems, and implement solutions. These are all things that are beneficial to any professional.
Contribute to Your Team in New Ways
With the new skills that are now part of your arsenal, you have the ability to contribute to projects in ways that you couldn’t before. You’re slowly becoming a swiss army knife of a team member; someone who has a range of skills in different departments. That’s both personally empowering and valuable to a marketing team.
Increase Your Value to Your Company
Companies are always looking for people who have diverse skillsets. Not only are such people able to contribute to projects in different ways, but they’re also more likely to be able to lead teams that require inputs from different departments. For that reason, you become more of an indispensable asset to the company when you learn how to code as a marketer.
Programming Languages To Learn as a Marketer
The world is on the Web and that’s where your coding journey should start. HTML is a markup language that’s used to structure web pages. It tells browsers where to put images and text and whether the content should be formatted as headings, paragraphs, lists, and so on.
CSS is the design language of the Internet. If HTML is creating blueprints and building walls, CSS is painting the house and doing its interiors. All of the elements that you see on this page have the visual aesthetic they do because of the CSS code that underlies them.
Marketers can benefit greatly from having a fundamental understanding of HTML and CSS. It gives you the ability to create landing pages on your own and dig into source code to figure out why a particular element on a web page is behaving the way that it is.
Python is a programming language that has gained popularity for its simple syntax and powerful applications. It can be used everywhere from software engineering to data science and mobile app development.
Marketers will love Python because of how it can be used to automate various tasks. All of the work that you do in terms of gathering marketing data from various sources, analyzing it, and visualizing it can all be automated using Python.
Structured Query Language, or SQL, is a language that you can use to access the contents of a database and manipulate it.
Let’s say all of your customer data is in a database. There are a ton of insights in there but you need to be able to mine them. SQL helps you process that data and carry out things like cohort analysis, campaign performance reviews, and customer segmentation.
How You Can Use Programming as a Marketer
So much of a marketer’s job involves testing different versions of landing pages or advertising assets to determine which version is performing best. By learning to code, you can create those web pages and other assets yourself. When it comes to testing them, you need some data analysis chops, which we come to next.
You can perform powerful analyses by learning some programming. Python, for example, comes with inbuilt libraries like Scrapy, which you can use to scrape data from the Internet. You can then use a library like Numpy to carry out various mathematical operations for data analysis. SQL can also come in handy to query databases and manipulate the data stored in them.
The presentations that you have to create as a marketer become supercharged when you know how to program. Part of that will happen because of your ability to source data and process it better.
Along with that, you can also visualize the data better using Python. Visualization libraries like Matplotlib and Seaborn can be used to create beautiful charts and plots with just a few lines of code. So say goodbye to the same old Powerpoint templates.
Scripting and Automation
Where To Start as a Marketer
Focus on Your Career: How Do You Want Coding To Help You?
A little introspection is in order before you get your hands dirty with code. What you need to establish right at the outset is what you’re trying to achieve by learning programming. Do you want to design landing pages yourself? Would it be nice to automate your reporting process? The rest of the process will shape up based on the answer to this question.
Your goals can, of course, change over time. But you need to prioritize one of them and stick to that learning path until you gain an adequate level of proficiency in that area.
Pick a Language To Learn
Take a Course
There’s no dearth of courses for marketers looking to learn to code. A lot of them are even free.
Make sure to choose a course that suits your learning style. Some learners are good at working through material independently, in which case you can choose a self-paced online course. You could also consider cohort-based courses, where you get the advantage of being in a community of learners guided by a teacher.
Get a Mentor
A lot of professionals undervalue mentorship, much to their detriment. A mentor has the ability to take stock of your specific situation and give you the right advice on the kind of introspection you need to do and possible future steps.
Since you’re a marketer learning to code, should you get a mentor who’s a marketer or a programmer?
There’s no one right answer to that. An experienced marketer will be able to guide you in terms of where the industry is headed and help identify the coding skills that will hold you in good stead. A programmer can give you more specific input when it comes to doubts relating to syntax or building applications. You could choose one or the other based on what kind of guidance you think you need.
Contribute Where You Can
Learning how to code is only half the battle. You have to start applying what you’ve learned in small ways in order to know whether you’ve actually picked up the skills you want to.
Open source projects can be a great starting point for new programmers looking to contribute to projects. So make sure that you learn how to use Github along with your main programming language so that you can start going through source code and understand how to make contributions to it.
Volunteer for Related Projects
You will, most likely, be able to work with the development department on small projects when you’re starting off. Start by getting in touch with a manager in the department to see if you can work with one of the developers there. Make sure to be specific about what you’re trying to learn.
Volunteering on projects will fill up any gaps there are in your understanding of a programming language and its implementation. Once you’ve done that, you’ll soon be able to write programs and build apps that can contribute to your work as a marketer.
FAQs About Coding for Marketing
Is It Hard To Learn Coding as a Marketer?
The answer to this really depends on how you go about studying coding and the desire that’s driving your learning. There’s nothing innate to coding that makes it hard to learn for anyone. You just need to dedicate time and effort to it and choose a learning resource that works for you.
What Programming Language Is Best for Marketing?
Can I Earn More Money if I Know How To Code?
Learning how to code can help you command larger paychecks as a marketer. This is because you bring a more diverse skill set to the team that way and are thus more valuable than the average marketer.
Since you’re here…
Want to bring your marketing skills into the 21st century? Check out our free digital marketing curriculum for new ideas and insights.