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Learning the Latest Language: Digital Fluency

A scant 20 years ago, it was considered extremely advantageous to have a second language. In Canada, French can help secure a job in politics or government; in the United States, Spanish is rapidly becoming the “unofficial second language” of the country. However, with the development of the Internet and the mass acceptance of digital and online communications, there’s a language that’s not featured with the same sense of importance: code.

Learning How to Code or How to Program

how to code and what coding is

Just as a basic understanding of a second language can be enough to open doors, a basic understanding of a programming language can make you a more marketable asset, or give you more control over your digital tools. It’s especially important for marketers and communications professionals to have a fluency in some digital skill set, given how often we are recommending these tools to clients and businesses.

There are fewer barriers to entry than ever before. Several websites now offer “coding classes” or Programming 101 for any language you can imagine: CSS, PHP, HTML, C++, Java, etc.

Also, more often than not clients are no longer looking for traditional media buys alone; they are recognizing the importance of having a digital footprint, and want websites, social media and eCommerce sites added to their marketing plan.

And rightfully so! Digital marketing and having an online presence is a relatively inexpensive way to be in contact with your customers. Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are two popular ways to put your name in front of consumers who are looking for your product or service.

Traditional media (print, TV, radio) cost more to generate quality leads, and on the whole are less likely to generate quality leads if not used appropriately.

Despite consumers or clients generally believing that traditional media is best for advertising, print, radio, and TV advertising campaigns are rated poorly for their B2B lead generation capabilities, according to results from a Software Advice survey conducted in partnership with Eloqua and

From the same survey, just 4% of respondents rated leads generated from print, radio, and TV ads as high quality, tied with display/CPM advertising at the bottom of the list of 14 identified channels. On the other spectrum, 40% rated the leads generated by email marketing (house list) as high quality, with organic search (SEO – 36%), telemarketing/cold calling (35%), and trade shows and events (35%) also seeing a significant proportion rating their leads as high quality.

This is not to say that traditional media has no place – absolutely not the case. Simply put, it’s important to know your audience, as any great marketer will tell you. Large companies do product market research constantly, and decide which products to release in what countries. Did you know you can’t get ketchup or dill pickle chips in the States? Alternatively, the new Lays flavours from their competition will not be available in Canada either; there is a separate “Do Us a Flavour” campaign for Canucks.

But, back to digital fluency. With the amount of talk surrounding the importance of digital marketing, it’s critical to understand the language.

This video highlights that need well:

So sign up for a quick class on CSS or HTML. Talk to your digital strategist about SEO and SMM. Figure out what dialect of the digital language you wish to speak, and that knowledge will take you far.

Join The Conversation

  • Lizzie Maldonado's picture
    May 9 Posted 4 years ago Lizzie Maldonado

    Great post! I'm a believer that marketers today need to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of programming and coding — there's a site I like for that called Code Academy, have you seen it? 

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