There are several schools of thought when it comes to technology and marketing. There are marketing purists that hand-off all of the tech side to colleagues. Then, there are those that lap up every new aspect of digital marketing and become fully engaged in both the technology and its applications for marketers. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, knowing a bit about the tech side, notably HTML and web coding, can have huge advantages.
Whatever your role in marketing, you are likely familiar with basic HTML concepts like the <H1>, <H2> heading structure, using tags and attributes, and the need for code snippets that link to analytics tools.
Understanding the concept is one thing, but it doesn’t take much effort to start seeing the practical reality, pressing CTRL+U in Google Chrome instantly reveals the underlying HTML of any web page and makes it easier to see the structure of sites and content.
Looking at web content, both your own and that of competitors is easier when you understand what is going on under the hood. For those working in a marketing team, knowing how all the different parts work through HTML, CSS and how APIs call other applications is at minimum a professional courtesy, and for those that are doing their marketing solo, a vital part of the digital toolbox.
If there is one single benefit you can find from knowing a little HTML, it is the ability to identify a color on a web page. Perhaps you choose one from a color menu or wheel and can’t recall which one or you just found an outstanding color on a website and want to use it. Through a quick HTML inspection, you can find the color’s HTML code and use it to your heart’s content in your designs and marketing.
You will also get a better understanding of the use of H1 and H2 tags for SEO. This can help you improve your search engine rankings.
HTML isn’t just for web pages, modern emails are also built using HTML, and understanding HTML means that you can make better designs, add neat features, ensure your tracking is optimal, all of which leads to better email user engagement, open rates, and clicks.
The key advantage is that you can estimate open rates with HTML emails, something that doesn’t work with plain text ones. This is typically done by placing an invisible graphic, usually just one pixel in the email. It is downloaded from your server, activity which can be monitored through a simpler counter. As a non-intrusive way of seeing how many people open the email, this is just one great HTML tip that you can take advantage of.
The second key benefit is that you can make emails look consistent with your company website or branding using the same HTML features. Again, you can color match your emails to features on the website that the mail links to, creating a consistent experience, or use website features within the email by borrowing the HTML design.
Of course, it isn’t a big worry if you don’t have a grasp of HTML for email. As there are email service providers and HTML email signature builders that make it easy for any one to create beautiful emails.
Even if you are lucky enough to have a coder or a whole team to help out with your marketing efforts, understanding what HTML does and how it works helps you better understand what is possible, and the limitations of code.
Much web content is now designed using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to make a website look consistent and reduce the amount of effort needed to update them. A little knowledge of how CSS works will also improve your understanding of how sites can look, and how to make them look appealing from a marketing perspective.
By avoiding demands for over-complex creations, overly-fussy designs, and marketing content that won’t appeal, your relationship with developers will be better. And talking a little bit in their own language, or understanding their queries, makes the relationship with designers or developers an easier one for all concerned.
While most HTML designer tools have a range of menu-based and drag-and-drop web design features, there are still quite a few tricks that are easier to do with a dash of HTML knowledge.
For example, HTML 5 updated the <small> tag to easily make all the usual boilerplate, legal and other text in a similar style. Doing that in HTML can be easier than burrowing through menus to try and find it in the settings.
A range of other tricks can make text stand out, with highlights, background images, and other effects. These gimmicks should be used sparingly, but if you want to attract attention to a specific message, they can help make marketing look distinctive and unusual, all with a little HTML knowledge.
Sometimes, we all come across a neat feature on a website or email and wonder how the creators did it. Since all HTML is accessible, you can pop the page or email open and take a look. Whatever the trick was, it should be identifiable and you can share it with others to see how you could take advantage of it.
Even if it isn’t a specific HTML trick, you should be able to find the API, service, or application that created a smart menu system, clever use of imagery, or another element that would look good in your own marketing. Whatever the cool companies are using for their sites, there is no reason yours cannot look just as good.
As the marketing industry becomes ever more digital, understanding the tricks behind what customers and prospects see on screen is useful for all marketers. HTML and CSS are a major part of that language and knowing how they apply to your marketing efforts is likely to help in your work
Knowing a bit about HTML, CSS, and other digital technologies can also help during interviews when you are looking for another role. And, wherever you end up working, that knowledge can make relations with technical staff easier, agencies or other roles easier and more productive.
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