They say knowledge is power, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to marketing. The more you know (especially about the industry and how it functions), the more well-rounded of a marketer you become. But beyond mastering the art of a great marketing strategy, there is one skill set every marketer should have some knowledge of basic coding.
Many of the most popular online platforms and tools used in marketing, like Google Analytics and WordPress, use HTML and CSS for functionality.
As a refresher, HTML is the code that controls the content on a page. It’s responsible for the text, image, and video content on a website. CSS controls the style and displays font, color, size, layout, and additional styling components. HTML and CSS are just two of the dozens of coding languages used to create digital assets, and they are among the most well-known and widely-used.
Learning to write some CSS and HTML functions can give you a leg up when searching for a job, give you the tools to pursue your own passion projects, and encourage you to continue expanding your skills.
Don’t panic if you don’t know them yet. Not every marketer is expected to know how to hand-code everything, start to finish. But a general understanding of how to leverage HTML and CSS will serve you well in your profession. Here are a few reasons why every marketer should know basic HTML and CSS:
1. Maintain your own blog, website, and portfolio.
As a marketing practitioner, you likely keep a blog or personal website. If not, you should! An online marketing portfolio or marketing-related blog is a great way to stay engaged with the industry, share your insights, and market yourself for freelance purposes.
And thanks to templated website creating platforms, like Squarespace and Wix, you can build a professional portfolio or website in under an hour. But if you have a specific vision for your site not found within the available templates, you can lean on your CSS and HTML knowledge.
Add your personal touch to your marketing portfolio with customized content sections that showcase your knowledge and skills. The trick to any good portfolio is finding simple, impactful ways to show your work and personality. Understanding the limitations of a basic portfolio site (and how to reach above them) is the perfect opportunity to flex your coding skills.
2. Take the lead on new marketing initiatives
The ability to get creative and spearhead new projects are vital skills for any marketer. Couple that with some coding knowledge and you’re perfectly positioned to impress your team with new initiatives.
For example, chatbots are an increasingly-popular marketing tool and used for everything from customer service to personalized shopping. You can create very basic chatbots without coding knowledge thanks to easy-to-use frameworks available through messaging platforms like Facebook and Slack.
These frameworks allow users to build and deploy bots using pre-coded components. However, for something more functional and sophisticated having a basic understanding of HTML is crucial. You’re able to make customized tweaks to set your bot apart from the pack. Not to mention, you can pepper it with branded details.
Plus, you won’t need to rely on developers to execute on your vision unless you have some very complicated requirements.
3. Impress prospective employers
Staying up to date on the latest marketing trends will serve you well in your current role and in the future—especially if you’re looking to change jobs or go for a promotion. Mastering some low-level CSS and HTML shows you have a passion for work, a love of learning, and are capable of more than just your current role.
Demonstrate your versatility as a marketer and push yourself to understand how you can more effectively impact the organization. Ask to sit in on additional projects to learn as much as you can about the organizations' different initiatives.
Plus, coding skills make you a more valuable employee. When you understand how to make text, color, and font updates, you no longer have to wait for website changes to be made by someone else.
So while everyone else is submitting a change ticket to the IT department, you’re off to the next project. The more practice you have making coding changes, the more comfortable you’ll feel diving into new technologies and be helping out on different projects.
4. Connect with other departments.
Learning some basic HTML, or simply understanding how coding works, can help you break down walls and improve communication between departments and teams. When you can see where someone is coming from and appreciate the nuances of their position, you have a better chance of working cross-functionally.
You’re also more likely to gain an ally if you take the time to figure out how a different department operates. And you can never have too many friends in the development department. As you become more familiar with coding and development you can ask professional developers questions to better understand the process.
Additionally, establishing contacts in different areas of a marketing organization is good for networking. As you grow your career, you can reach out to colleagues in different areas of the marketing space.
As you can see, learning some fundamental coding can help your career in a lot of different ways. Now that you understand the importance of learning some basic HTML and CSS, it’s time to get started. Check out these free coding resources:
- The Odin Project teaches CSS, HTML, jQuery, and more, free through in-person or online study groups.
Look for free or trial-based courses that let you sample the program before committing long-term. Or do a Google search for basic coding courses on CSS and HTML to find a program that fits your needs. You can take courses online or on a campus, depending on your learning style.
If you find a program that requires tuition, consider approaching your employer about tuition assistance or reimbursement.