Marketers who can code: demands versus supply

October 7, 2016

Back in 2014, Hubspot was calling on marketers to learn code. Yet, here we are in 2016 and only 3% of all marketers have a reasonable knowledge of HTML, research from Venngage reveals.

So, is it a case that Hubspot was wrong to suggest that marketers would come to need coding skills in order to get by day-to-day, or was it simply ahead of curve?

Well, Hubspot is still convinced as to the value of marketers learning code, creating an infographic, entitled ‘7 Skills New Marketers Need to Succeed’, at the start of the year, where “basic coding” sat alongside social media skills.

But though it’s all well and good Hubspot telling marketers they need to find the time to learn code – it’s the opinion of the individuals and companies that employ marketers which really counts.

The demand for coding skills

In order to make a judgement on how in-demand coding skills are in the marketing community, Venngage analysed 150 marketing job posts on US-based recruitment website The Muse.

We’d have liked them to have used UK data, of course, but beggars can’t be choosers.

From the posts, Venngage concluded that code skills are “definitely in demand”, but the results would suggest that technical skills are more ‘desirable’ than ‘essential’ for marketers.

Around just one in five posts targeted at entry and mid-level marketers recommended having HTML skills, while just one in ten (11%) posts aimed at the group demanded CSS skills.

About 15% of posts across all the job levels mentioned having SQL, while a handful of posts specified other more advanced coding languages.

There were hardly any higher level posts to be found that demanded coding skills due to a tendency to those roles being staffed by people who were around before the Internet took over, Venngage suggests.

However, that’s not to say that marketing directors are fine with marketers not having a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS.

With content management systems often requiring marketers to be HTML-savvy, having a basic knowledge of coding in the marketing team could save a business significant time and money over the course of a year.

The supply of coding skills

To gauge the supply skills that most marketers offer, Venngage analysed a huge sample of 436K marketers on LinkedIn.

It’s here that it discovered that less than one in 30 marketers have HTML listed among their skillset. It was even more disappointing as far as CSS and SQL are concerned – those skills were listed by only 1.5% and 0.6% of marketers respectively.

When lined up with The Muse findings, it suggests demand for HTML skills outstrips supply seven times over, while there is an even greater deficit between demand and supply of CSS skills (10x).

This would indicate that marketers would be wise to get themselves comfortable with HTML and CSS sooner rather than later. Not just for employment reasons, but to give themselves a better understanding of what is possible from a technical standpoint in their current role.

As Hubspot put it back in 2014: “Imagine going beyond looking at what others have done, and through to understanding what code can do so you can come up with new and innovative tools that truly delight your customers.”

It’s not just your customers that could potentially benefit from your marketing team having a greater technical knowledge; you might feel inspired to set the foundations for a piece of technology that revolutionises your day day-to-day business, from a marketing point of view.

After all, marketing today is equal parts technical and creative – the two aren’t mutually exclusive.  

Dan Vivian - Business Development & Marketing Director