Reasons Why Marketers Should Learn to Code

There are countless valuable skills that a marketer should have, but one that is still slightly overlooked is the ability to code. I might be a little biased — especially since the word developer is in my job title — but coding and programing are only going to increase in value as our world becomes more and more digital in nature.

Maybe you are a little skeptical about whether or not you can do it or even want to do it. Maybe you have a fear of being described as a “nerd” or “geek.”  No matter what, anyone can learn to code and gain the benefits that come with it. Below I have listed several reasons why I think it would be valuable for any marketer to learn how to code.

1. Greater Digital Literacy

When you learn to code or program you gain knowledge about how things like computers and the internet work. When you do not understand how to code you can only scratch the surface of the tools around you. When you learn to code you gain valuable answers to things like “how are websites hosted?”, “what is an API?”, and “why does that image look funky on my website?”.

2. More Fluid Collaboration

Tying closely to the first reason, Greater Digital Literacy, when you learn to code you decrease your friction when collaborating with other technical parties. If you work directly with product developers, data scientists, or web designers, learning to code can benefit your collaboration. You will be able to communicate on a different level with them and understand their concerns or point of view. You also will be able to provide more in-depth feedback regarding development efforts, and you will have a greater understanding of timelines and results.

3. Enhanced Decision Making

Coding has helped my decision making in two aspects. First, because of programming I see problems and workflows more completely. Coding made me practice the mental tactics of working through problems and finding the quickest or the best way. It has also made me accustomed to “If-else” logic that is prominent in CRM and marketing automation systems.

The second way that coding has helped with my decision making is in selecting new software vendors or digital agencies. When you understand how systems and programs work you are able to detect inflation in vendor quotes. This knowledge can easily save your company thousands of dollars.

4. Greater Understanding of Problem Solving

One of the greatest benefits of learning to code is the enhanced skills of problem solving. Steve Jobs said, “Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”  Instead of just accepting problems as they come you learn to methodically troubleshoot the issue. You learn to dissect the problem logically and then work through it prior to moving forward in any particular direction.

When you learn to code your paradigm is expanded. You start to think beyond standard functionality and start to realize the full potential of the digital channels around you. Instead of a boring, old email, you can have an email that is personalized and dynamic. Instead of accepting limits of basic lead attribution, you create your own rules — this is all possible when you learn to think about problems as a coder.

5. Makes Your Life Easier

When you learn to code, it is not about creating the next Facebook or Airbnb, it is about understanding and solving problems in your own life. Treehouse writes on their blog about a video producer, who, after taking a quick course, was able to write a script to help manage his folders for video organization. In my own work, I just spent a few hours writing a small program that will in turn save my fellow team members hours of work performing a menial task. Whether it is just learning how to take Excel to the next level or it is writing programs to run automations on your desktop, learning to code can will make life easier for you and your team.

6. Help with Data and Analytics

Data and Analysis is arguably a technical role anyway, but even if you are someone who does not work heavily with marketing analytics, learning key aspects of coding will be extremely beneficial. The first and most obvious benefit would be in learning languages that deal directly with data and databases such as R, Python, or SQL. With knowledge of these languages you will be able to do things like manage databases or determine statistical relevance. In addition, learning simple functions and expressions (like DAX) will make working with tools like Excel or PowerBI vastly easier.

The other basic skill you will learn is understanding the different types of data such as booleans, integers, datetimes and strings. Understanding these are very important when setting up new marketing systems or when you are working with business intelligence tools.

7. Better the Experience for Your Customers

Paul Boag says in his blog post about User Interface Design, “If we first help a user complete their task, we will find them much more open to going on to complete our call to action.” When we make life easier for our customers, we also make it more likely for them to become our clients. As marketers, we set the initial opinion of our customers to our brand. If our websites are challenging to navigate, or our disconnected infrastructure makes our messaging awkward, our customers are going to have a poor initial opinion of our company.

Connected experiences and refined digital interfaces are only possible because of coders.

Bonus Reason: Makes You More Self-Sufficient

Especially if you work for a smaller company, being multifaceted in your skillset is important. It helps keep you from relying on expensive agencies for small adjustments you can make yourself with just a little training.

Final Thought:

The nirvana of marketing is to obtain micro-segmentation with the economy of scale. If you can obtain this you will be able to communicate to your audience the right message at the right time. To accomplish this you will need a team that is highly collaborative, a team that methodically works through problems, a team that utilizes every piece of data, and a team that can take advantage of modern technologies. I propose that this idealistic state can only be achieved right now by writers that can code, designers that can code, analysts that can code — a team of marketers that know how to code.


Photo by Émile Perron on Unsplash

How To Create Randomized Subject Lines In Marketo

In this tutorial I will show you how to set up the script and token in Marketo so you can send emails with randomized subject lines.

Why should I add randomized subject lines to my Emails?

It might seem like an odd feature to add to your email sends, but the reason I originally added it was for a follow up email that was being automatically sent to leads that didn’t respond to the prior emails. I wanted the subject line to be random, in case the recipient would receive this campaign multiple times. I thought that adding randomized subject lines would add a nice human element to a seemingly automatic email. Since the first implementation of it, I have also added it to form and white paper auto responders. It adds a nice level of customization and freshness to people that are heavily and actively engaged with our content and product demos.

Step 1: Create a Email Script Program Token

Adding Marketo Email ScriptTo create the token, first go to the root of your program and then go to the My Tokens section. From there you would select the Email Script option and then name it appropriately. For more information about adding a Email Script token section to your programs check out this helpful article from Marketo.

Step 2: Edit Your Token and Add Script

After you have created your email token, double click to edit it. The code editor will come up. From there you can paste in the following code:

You can see in the code example that first I created a list (or array) of possible random subject lines to pick from. You can easily replace my options and add as many of your options in this list as you like.

Next I created a random integer. The function $math.random picks between a span. In my example it will pick a random number between 0 and 7. This corresponds to the array I previously created. The number 0 corresponds to the subject line of “Meeting with your account manager” and the number 1 would correspond with “We would love to meet” and so on and so forth.

Then I created a variable ($subjectLine in my example)  that is the corresponding subject line from the random number.

Finally I printed the variable so that when the token is used the token will return the random subject line.

Step 3: Add the Token to Your Email

The final step is to add the token to the subject line of your email. Once that is done, whenever your email is sent it will run the email script and pick a random subject line email from your list of options! Additionally, for more information on adding email script tokens to your email, here is Marketo’s article about it.

Marketo Random Subject Line

I hope this tutorial has helped and that you have fun with it. Let me know your thoughts!