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It happened again.
You’ve gotten yourself through another complex technical marketing project, for now, but you can’t help but acknowledge the sinking feeling that you can only “wing it” for so long.
It’s no secret that marketers need to become increasingly technical. With each passing day it seems as if technology is getting more and more beyond our abilities, and the digital superstars appear further beyond reach than ever before. For those who didn’t grow up as digital natives, this can be incredibly overwhelming.
This overwhelmed feeling can be inspired by a number of reasons:
Marketers in this situation regularly conclude that there are only two solutions out of this problem; the most common of which is the most dangerous - to avoid becoming technical altogether. The alternative is to become a developer themselves.
The second option, whilst undoubtedly a much better idea than the first, takes some serious immersion and potentially years to actualise.
Realistically, a transition into a more technical role doesn’t need to be that drastic. The most adaptable marketers are discovering there is a comfortable middle ground for those who are diligent enough to learn.
You can still be a marketer at heart and manage the complex technical environment all the while securing your job and earning the respect from your more technical colleagues.
It’s simple: learn the basics of programming.
You don’t have to become a developer or programmer to appreciate the concepts it can teach. Learning to program equips you with critical skills that can be transferred to all other aspects of your marketing activities.
Fixing a broken process, learning about dependencies, conditionals and controls, how to think in a systematic way and how to structure strategies with adaptability and scalability in mind.
These are just some examples of concepts that can be learned even without writing a single line of code.
In essence, learning to program teaches you how to translate abstract ideas into concrete processes.
So where do you start? We’ve put together three key ideas that every marketer, including you, needs to know to better work with and communicate with your technical team:
You’ve probably thrown around the word “Developer” or “Dev” as a catch-all term for anybody who works with code, just as we would describe “creatives” or “suits” around an agency.
Whilst most developers and programmers are fine with this, it helps to be mindful that your technical team has a hierarchy of skillsets, and distinctly different roles.
Depending on where you’re from, Programmers, Developers, Coders, Architects and Engineers can be used interchangeably with each other in smaller teams, but in more sophisticated technical environments they can have very different functions.
Here’s the quick and dirty of it:
Tip for marketers: Before putting together your next technical brief, consider your audience.
You’ve probably heard the word “agile” a bit around the workplace and drawn a conclusion that it means that developers should be able to adapt to your change-of-mind and last minute requests in an “agile” manner.
Don’t be one of those marketers.
Agile and its older counterpart Waterfall are actually methodologies that can make you a very effective marketer, or least one who is loved by the technical team you work with.
Agile development is entirely based on iterations where design, development and testing phases are needed to complete a project and are conducted in parallel with each other in the form of short-term ‘sprints’ or planning cycles.
Most developers LOVE the agile methodology due its focus on evolving priorities and a disciplined process. In other words, no more annoyingly ambiguous briefs from the marketing department – if you want something included or changed into a development, it may have to wait till the next cycle.
This may seem a little counterintuitive to marketers, but the reality is it works in their favor: agile takes the philosophy that no product is ever complete and helps translate campaign requirements into tangible items that can be tested for early feedback, ultimately preventing the likelihood of a creative flop or blown out budget.
Waterfall development follows a more traditional, sequential approach where the completed requirements are developed in phases (eg; phase a, b, c etc).
The benefits of Waterfall development include the ability to work backwards from a goal and see a realistic start and end date, which is still much preferred by larger organisations since it presents the illusion of certainty.
Waterfall methodology doesn’t respond particularly well to change, effectively pushing projects out of budget and out of scope if we change our minds about something.
Tip for marketers: make an effort to move away from Waterfall projects and employ a more agile-like approach to campaign development.
According to Wikipedia:
“In computer science, conditional statements, conditional expressions and conditional constructs are features of a programming language, which perform different computations or actions depending on whether a programmer-specified boolean condition evaluates to true or false...”
Let’s simplify this: Conditional logic is a fundamental programming concept that developers use to command an action on the condition that something else has happened.
Or to put it another way, it’s essentially an instruction that follows this format:
“When or if something does ‘this’, do that instead.”
This is also known as an if/else statement.
As marketers, this should intuitively make sense to us. With the rise of marketing automation, we often design systems and brief developers on tasks that incorporate conditional logic all the time.
Consider an email campaign that is triggered by some kind of user action:
“If the customer clicks through to landing page and does not proceed with a purchase, send the customer an email offering 10% off for 24 hours only, otherwise if they do buy, do nothing.”
Learning how Conditional Logic works may help you better structure your development briefs by visually representing the smaller components of a system. Your developers will love you for it, since it shows deeper and more structured thought process, making their jobs considerably easier.
Understanding these concepts will not make you an expert by default, but they will at the very least give you an opportunity to start a conversation with a developer or earn their respect through appreciating the nature of their work.
P.S. If you’re looking for an advantage when it comes to getting clients on board, schedule a demo with the team at Core dna and see how we can help your agency deploy quicker, with better security, and hassle-free maintenance.