Is Coding a Necessity for Digital Marketers in 2016?

October 6, 2015

The digital marketing activity is fast evolving. The trends so far signal more disruptions of the digital landscape in the coming years ahead.


In the skill sets required of a digital marketer, coding is seen by many marketing professionals as not too essential or the exclusive domain of the technically minded guys.


No doubt, digital marketers with programming knowledge are valuable assets to their organizations. However, there are very few professionals whom have stretched themselves beyond creating words to coding for web. I am privileged to have programming background- I learnt how to code at early stage in my career. With this, doing my job as Marketing Team lead for my company is easier, and encouraging other team members to demystify programming languages by paying little attention to learning it. In reality, coding isn’t as difficult as it seems.


As marketers, do we seriously need to know how to write those ugly codes to be successful?


I would say a diplomatic No. However, acquiring programming language knowledge is imperative for what we do and challenges ahead of us as marketers. Html, CSS, JavaScript, SQL and a scripting language are safe tools to navigate the digital world we find ourselves. As Douglas Rushkoff has rightly said” As I see it, code literacy is a requirement for participation in a digital world”.


From data and analytics, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, content marketing, email marketing, social media, customer experience, and mobile marketing, we will constantly need to deal with snippets of codes, tweak landing pages, design html email templates, build small project websites , making meaningful inference from big data staring at us.


Among digital marketers, there have been arguments whether marketers need to add coding to their plethora of skills. Those who are not in support of coding skills for digital marketers say it is jack of all trades; developers should deal with codes while those in support say it places the destiny of digital marketers in their own hands, and gives them more control.


There are obvious benefits to knowing how to code in addition to marketing skills:



  • Firstly, you are not scared to death when you see the back end or code view of a web page.
  • You are able to tweak a landing page to your preference, integrate analytics tracking codes, build small website projects without delay from your developer, whether in house or third party.
  • When major upgrade is required on your company’s website as a result of new digital strategy direction, you are able to communicate effectively with your development team.
  • You develop the programmer mindset- affinity for unordered data, ability to lock in and not stop until the job is done.
  • You are comfortable consuming big data and analyzing them to understand users experience.

On a final note, as digital marketers, learning how to code for the web should be for literacy and fluency.  Not nice to have only. What is worth doing is worth doing well.  You are already competent or expert in digital marketing; why don’t you take a walk out of your comfort zone, and refresh your minds.


Let me know how useful coding is to your skill set and kindly share with friends and colleagues you believe can find it useful as well.

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