As a developer or IT guy, you live in a world of black and white. X line of code makes Y happen, and you like it that way. You're systems. You're data. You're logic. There's no need for you to understand what's going on in the mind of the crazy creatives across the office, right? Oh, and can they keep it down over there?
Believe it or not, understanding marketing is more important for technology teams than you might realize. Though some developers create systems that simply power machines, most developers – especially those working in web development or digital marketing – are ultimately creating products for people. Websites, software, email and other technology don't live in a vacuum; they're a set of tools in a marketing toolbox (like billboards, brochures or direct mail), and understanding the marketing team's end goal can make or break the success of your project (and make your life a lot easier).
As a MarTech firm (defined as “blending traditional marketing practices with the latest technology to reach audiences and achieve results”), we understand the careful balance between these two worlds. Our developers have to be given room to focus, code and build tools that work – but it's also easy to get lost in the world of functionality and not think about the end user experience. That's where marketing comes in. While development teams think about product and function, marketing teams think in terms of strategy and end goals. And for developers to create products that truly meet those goals, the two worlds have to collide — as scary as that might seem sometimes.
For us, the collision happened during the build of our first website on the initial version of TAG Tools, our custom content management system. We were building a site for a church, and Martha, the administrative assistant, was going to be managing the site. Our developers completed the site, proudly showing off how well TAG Tools worked…and it did work. However, we knew Martha would never understand how to navigate the complicated admin and make site updates. From that day forward, we built technology for the end users, and that is now not only reflected in TAG Tools, but in everything we create.
If you're still operating with the tech team in the basement, only coming up for free pizza, and the marketing team living in a world of long brainstorming sessions and pretty pictures, it's time to start blending the lines. It doesn't happen overnight, but here are some basic questions all developers working in the marketing space should ask before starting a new project:
- Who will be the target audience for the website or software product? Is it consumers? Other businesses?
- What is its purpose? Will it provide more information about an organization, product or person? Is it a way to capture email and offer downloads? Or is it a software tool we want people to subscribe to and use?
- How will the client use it? Will it be emailed out to existing customers? Will an ad campaign send people to it? Will it stay relatively static or will dynamic content be added often?
- What do you want the user to do when they're there? What does it look like for them to interact with the system? Can you make a flow chart of how that might like look?
- What other support materials will be created to go along with it?
- What is the end goal of the campaign?
Not only will you have a better understanding of the end user goals, you'll help your marketing counterpart to think in specifics and map out the scope of something that's likely, right now, an exciting vision in their head — which will result in much fewer edits down the road.
The good news is that it's not all on your shoulders. More and more organizations are now hiring "marketing technologists", people who can bridge the gap between marketing and technology, and you can think about both the "why" and the "how". This blended role can help speak both languages, gathering strategic information from marketing and translating into technology language.
Today is the day to start bridging the gap. Whether it's a baby step, such as inviting a developer to a strategy meeting, or creating a brand new marketing technologist position, MarTech is the future, and it’s more important than ever to work together.
Do you need to help bridge the gap between your development and marketing team? How are you currently doing this or what are some ways you can help both sides of the fence collaborate better?
We would love to come alongside you and help make your organization's transition to MarTech as smooth as possible. Contact us today to see how we can help with the process!