do digital marketers need to know coding

Do digital marketers need to know coding ?

These days, it seems like learning to code is a must. Whether we’re talking about preschoolers or coal miners, everyone is told that coding is THE skill of the future !

In this context, it is only normal that more and more marketers are asking themselves : “Do digital marketers need to know coding ?”

In my opinion, the answer is no ! Whether we’re talking about analytics, landing page building, reporting or other common marketing tasks, you can be assured that there is a no-code tool out there that can you can use, without having to write a single line of code.

That said, coding can definitely be helpful when you need more personalization, so today, we’re going to go over in the best programming languages for digital marketing, and how they can improve your marketing efforts. 

Contents

Python for digital marketing

Even if you’re not a developer, chances are that you’ve heard about Python. Indeed, it’s relatively easy to learn (yes, even for beginners), and it has a very rich ecosystem, which means that most of the questions you have about Python have probably been already answered somewhere on the web.

How is Python used in digital marketing, you ask ?

Well, as it’s a very versatile language, it can be used in various ways : 

Automation

This is why I personally decided to start learning Python. I found myself doing a lot of repetitive tasks, like exporting ads campaign results every week for reporting. Using Python and the Facebook Ads API, I’m able to generate automated reports and save hours of work every month ! 

Even if there is a lot of very good no-code automation tools on the market (my favorite ones are Phantombuster, Integromat & Parabola), there are times when I need to do something very specific that is not supported by any tool, and knowing some Python basics really helps.

The best part ? You don’t even have to be a Python pro to do this ! 

My Python proficiency is still very limited, but I’m still able to automate some tasks when I need to.

do digital marketers need to know coding
an example of a bot I made to send automated messages to a Meetup group with more than 1000+ people

Web scraping

This is one of my favorite ways to use Python for marketing !

Let me show you why I love it so much : Imagine that you want to retrieve a list of all the pizzerias in New York, with their address and their number. You can go on yelp.com and copy/paste all of the addresses by hand, or you can build a scraping bot ! 

Web scraping is a great way to extract large amounts of information from a website automatically, and it’s actually more simple than it sounds thanks to scraping framework like Beautiful Soup or Scrapy.

The benefit of using Python for webscraping instead of no-code tools is that it’s 100% free, and since you’re writing the code, you can do pretty much anything you want.

Is web scraping legal ?

Yes and no ! To ensure that you're on the right side on the law, you can add /robots.txt at the end of your target website to see which pages the website owner doesn't want to bots or crawlers to visit.

Data analysis

Finally, Python can also be used to analyze customer data in-depth : predict customer churn, forecast customer lifetime value, and build customer segments based on their product purchase patterns.

Doing data analysis is more of an advanced skill, so here are some courses to start learning (I’m not affiliated with any of those courses btw) : 

Javascript for digital marketing

See the little surprise above ? This is made possible by JavaScript ! 

Indeed, Javascript is a language that allows you to implement complex features on web pages : animations, multimedia, images, dynamic content, etc.

In marketing, it’s principally used for tracking and web development.

Analytics

With Javascript can help you solve a lot of your analytics problems : 

  • Sometimes, Google Analytics is not enough, and you need to know more about the behavior of the users on your site. With Javascript and Google Tag Manager, you can write custom scripts to track very specific events or actions.
do digital marketers need to know coding
here's an example of a script I made in Google Tag Manager to create personalized cookies 🍪
  • Javascript can also help you improve your conversion rate & landing page optimization efforts. For example, if you want to make your landing page as personalized as possible and improve your conversion rate when running Google Ads, you can dynamically inject the keywords of the ad in the landing page using Google Optimize and Javascript. You’ll find a tutorial showing you how to do this here.

Web development

You have probably experienced the frustration of wanting to make changes to your landing page, and not being able to because you don’t know how to code 😥

As JavaScript is used in almost all websites, learning this programming language will make you less dependant on developers whenever you want to test new things, especially when you work on new page builders like Webflow.

You can start learning JavaScript : 

HTML/CSS for digital marketing

If Javascript takes care of all the complex stuff, HTML and CSS make sure that everything looks good and pretty ! 

HTML is used to structure and display the webpage with headings, data tables, and other elements, and then CSS applies style to this content, such as colors, fonts and much more. 

Like Javascript, learning those programming languages as a marketer will give you more freedom to experiment with changing the design of your sites without needing a developer. It can also be useful for technical SEO.

Does SEO requires coding in HTML or CSS ? No, but since it’s the languages that search engines use to read your sites, knowing them is a way to improve the way you structure your content for search engines.

If that sounds like something you would like to learn, here’s some links : 

Final thoughts

And that’s it for today ! I hope that you know have more information on whether digital marketers need to know coding or not.

Before you leave for good, here are some words of wisdom that summarize perfectly my thoughts on this topic : 

“Programming is important … in the right context, for some people. But so are a lot of skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing.”  Jeff Atwood, Please don’t learn to code