As I’m sure you know as a marketer, nothing ever stays the same. The tools, technologies and assets that we have available to us have evolved dramatically since digital marketing come to forefront of many companies’ marketing focus.
One of trends that has matured over the years is the ever increasing integration of marketing channels with each other. And whilst David Cameron is yelling victory of halting ever increasing unison with our European Union neighbours, a fully integrated marketing campaign covering traditional and digital, offline and online, desktop and mobile, should be your standard.
As a marketer you’ll be expected to know your PPC from your SEO and how the different channels, tools and assets that you have available to you can work together to provide the best ROI.
But what about code? Code is fundamental to everything that we do but often code is seen as the domain of the developer. Something that is alien to marketers or simply ‘someone else’s job’.
Whilst there’s no requirement for you to be able to develop and build your own app or website, understanding code and even how to code simple websites or apps can help in several areas of marketing.
Why learn to code?
I have to confess, I learnt how to build websites many years ago, self-taught and it’s a skill I still use today, even though I work in an agency with skilled designers and developers. If I can do it, then you can as well.
Understanding your assets better (websites, landing pages, emails, apps etc.) will mean you can plan your campaigns better, in context and within feasibility. To use an analogy, understanding how your car works mean you can work out and fix problems yourself without relying on someone to help. This is quicker and more efficient.
On a website, a CMS is great but relying on them may mean you are limiting your creativity. Supplementing the efficiency of a CMS with your own code can mean you can get the most out of your website without waiting for a developer to help you.
What code should I learn?
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the most common language to build websites and with HTML knowledge you could build your own website from scratch. HTML is made up of tags that are then rendered by web browsers and your website is displayed.
Simply understanding the difference between a <p> (paragraph tag) and <br /> (line break tag) can often save you time from wondering why your paragraphs aren’t displaying correctly.
Understanding HTML will undoubtedly help you with SEO but it can be used in many areas of digital marketing.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a type of style language which focuses on how website and content looks. From the fancy to the boring, CSS will be used to design your content.
The colour, font family, line spacing and more can all be controlled by CSS. How your links look, what cursor your website uses and any fancy hover effects can all be created with CSS.
Understanding HTML and then building on that with CSS will mean not only can you control what content appears on your website but also how it looks.
And as marketers, we all know just how important the relationship with design creative and content is.
Most importantly perhaps is the integration of differing web technologies with your website. Through APIs, you can connect to a wide variety of tools and services.
Where to go and learn it?
But where can you start? As the saying goes, the first step is the hardest. But learning to code doesn’t need to be difficult.
There are countless free online tutorials for you to start with.
Finally, there are short courses that can introduce you to coding with a tutor on-hand to help. City Short Courses and General Assembly have a vast number of coding short courses for you to pick from.
So, in conclusion, understanding the building blocks of your most important and often used marketing assets can make you an even slicker marketer.