I might be an analyst now, but I wasn’t always one. I started my career as a digital marketer, so I know the ins and outs of this job, the heartaches and the pain.
This week I got talking to a fellow marketer and, to my surprise, I realized that the developers’ misconceptions about what marketing people do are still very much alive.
I thought that by now people would have understood that developers can’t earn a living without the marketing team and the other way around. But here we go again.
So what’s the whole buzz around marketers? Why are they even around?
Here’s an article I wrote on the topic a couple of years back, that is still as as accurate as ever.
Marketers are probably those annoying dudes with unreasonable requests. You probably joke around at their specifications writing skills and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that you think the company hired too many of them.
After all, what do they do every day besides checking Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or just generally surfing around random websites?
I understand how you feel, but there are six things I would love you to know about them…
1. Everything marketers do, they do for growth.
Growth is not measured in bytes, queries, logs or lines of code. It’s measured in dollars and users, and it’s their job to put the user first.
They don’t care about features, they care about benefits. They don’t care about the backend, they care about the frontend. They don’t care about architecture, they care about user experience.
And it’s their job to be where the user is: on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. It’s their job to read all the articles that the users are reading because it helps them understand them better.
It’s their job to reply to the unhappy users and it’s often their job to say no to other users.
And dear developer, I’d like you to know that every time marketers meet a happy user, they make sure that the whole world knows what a great product you have built and how happy the users are because of it.
2. Marketers don’t always know, so they test.
It’s their job to discover how the product can be improved, so that users will be happier.
By simply looking at a feature it’s almost impossible for them to know how it can be improved.
User behavior is so complex that, even with the most advanced analytics in place, they are only able to see where there is a problem.
Once they spot that problem, they usually brainstorm and look for testing ideas to help make things better. That means that they will often come to you with requests for changes to existing pages, simply to tweak the design or copy.
And, because they don’t want to be biased, they run these ideas through AB testing services. These services often require that you place code on the website so that they can deliver the tests.
I imagine that you know how these services work and how to implement those codes. So please help them out with this one because it’s crucial to find the right growing path.
3. Marketers need accurate analytics
Marketers love to base their decisions on data, but when they don’t have it they have to go with the next best thing: their intuition.
I know, I know… they sound annoying each time they need more data, but it’s the only way they can move towards a data-driven culture.
And no, they don’t know how to create technical procedures, do RegEX searches on logs or query databases. They just need an answer and if they can’t get it directly from you, they need at the very least data that could be used in excel to get their answers.
At best they only have a few hours to get an answer. When they can’t get it, they use their intuition and hope for the best. Believe it or not, it’s better to do it this way than to wait on and on before deciding to act.
And no, they can’t go to Google Analytics or any other web analytics service and just create an account and get their answers.
Default implementations are for default companies, and yours is nothing like that.
Marketers need custom implementations which means custom tracking codes, and coding is your turf. You’ll need to work together on this one so that marketers get the answers they need.
4. The more marketers test, the more they learn.
Marketers don’t change things just to annoy you. And yes, they’ll occasionally remove features that you’ve spent $150 000 working on.
Their goal is to make the company accelerate at warp speeds. They couldn’t take even a single step toward that without the engines and engineers like you.
Once the engines are set, it’s the marketer’s role to make sure you are heading along the right path. At first you’ll be like blind people poking around to find a path. In time you’ll get laser vision eyesight but, until you get there, it’s inevitable that you’ll break a few things along the way.
What I can tell you is that with every mistake and with every fail, you learn. Sometimes, the engine room can be dark and you don’t have the time to see where you are heading.
So, remember, you are in this together.
5. Marketers don’t need the details
I know. You wish marketers would better understand what you are doing. I hear you.
While I agree that they need to understand how everything works, they don’t need the details. They don’t care about the latest coding technologies, the database version or the Linux distribution on the servers.
When they ask for a new feature or for any change, they need to understand the repercussions of implementing it.
Together you will need to decide whether to go ahead or change things, and to do that they need to understand why you believe that particular idea is a good one (or not!) and what resources are needed to implement it.
6. Marketers love what you do
Maybe they don’t say it or show it, but it’s true, they really do.
Most often they wish they could build great things like you, that users love. Many of them even tried a few times to start learning but the truth is, it wasn’t their thing.
So let them stick to what they know best: making sure that your work reaches and touches as many users as possible.