Why every marketer should learn JavaScript (feat. Mike Arnesen)
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Why every marketer should learn JavaScript (feat. Mike Arnesen)

– In this video, Mike and
I are gonna talk about why every marketer
should learn JavaScript. On more, coming up right after this. (upbeat music) Hi there, and welcome to another
video of measureschool.com, where we teach you the data-driven
way of digital marketing. My name is Julian, and on this channel, we do marketing tech
reviews, tutorials and the occasional interview
just like this one. So if you haven’t yet,
consider subscribing. Now, this week I had the
chance to talk to Mike Arnesen, he runs upbuild.io, a
boutique marketing agency that actually helps people out with technical marketing specifically. So they do SEO, CRO and analytics as well. Now, if you wanna find
out more about upbuild.io, head over to their website and their blog where they also have some great tips on newest marketing tech,
tips and tricks on how to do a little bit more
of the technical things in digital marketing. But in this interview, I
talk specifically with Mike about his technical skillset
and why he thinks that marketers should
definitely learn JavaScript if they want to become
a technical marketer. Now, we’ve got lots to
cover, so let’s dive in. (upbeat music) Let’s talk about the topic we
wanted to talk about today, why marketers should learn JavaScript. So could you give us a first
take of why do you think JavaScript is so important
to learn as a marketer? – Yeah, I think we talked
about understanding the underlying principles of
how things work on the web. Like it or not, JavaScript
is the leading backbone of a lot of the technologies
we experience today. So web sites are increasingly
more reliant on JavaScript. Some sites are almost
completely built in JavaScript, if you’re talking about like a Node site or an Angular.js site. That’s so JavaScript heavy
and understanding that is so helpful. Google Tag Manager, that is, at its core, it’s an abstraction of JavaScript. You need to understand
JavaScript to understand how GTM works, and yeah,
they make it really usable and friendly for someone who
doesn’t have that background, but understanding that will
make the lock click in your head to just be like, oh, wow,
here’s this hidden power of it, and it just really expands
on you very quickly once you understand like,
oh, if I understand more about JavaScript, this really just becomes something hugely powerful. And then, of course, SEO. SEO is ensuring that a computer program can experience your site the
same way that a user does. So if a user is seeing a
site that’s just very complex with JavaScript, there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of interactivity. You need to be able to
understand why or why not is that going to transfer over
to a program, so it’s like, because Google’s getting pretty good at rendering JavaScript and processing it. But the other search engines
are not that far along. Google still has, I think, my general belief about Google
is Google likes to think they’re a couple years ahead
of where they actually are in terms of, they’re
like oh yeah, don’t worry about your site, it’s great, we’ll parse all the JavaScript and process it. Tends to actually not be
the case most of the time. So you still need to understand like okay, here’s where we’re
running into roadblocks, here’s why that’s
happening, and maybe here’s where we can solve them. And I think by understanding JavaScript, you get to solve SEO
problems, analytics problems, and be more conversant with
your development partners and the people you’re
working with every day. – So yeah, just to add
to that, I would say that there are a lot of use cases,
there’s even the PPC use cases in order to write AdWords scripts. There is, if you do any
kind of CRO implementations of A/B testing– – Absolutely. – There are so many
fields of the marketing that JavaScript touches. Obviously, you should know a little bit of the backbone as well like HTML and CSS, but JavaScript is the
meta skill that basically renders everything, it’s the superpower that renders everything
useless in that regard. So let us talk a little bit more about the communication
part, so once you become proficient at JavaScript,
what do you think are the implications on
talking to developers and communicating maybe
also with your clients? – Yeah, I mean, for me
personally and the people on my team, it’s been, I kinda
had a pretty okay familiarity with JavaScript, but really
in the past two years, I’ve really made an
intentional effort to ramp up what I know and adapt to my
knowledge, so I’m taking like, every couple weeks I’ll hop
into a course at Codecademy and learn more about like hey,
why is Angular 2 different, what’s going on there. Or like TypeScript and stuff like that. Having a baseline understanding of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, stuff like that, I understood enough of okay,
here’s why accessibility and content rendering is
really important for SEO. But I was always like, well,
this is like SEO best practice. Everybody should make
sure their site renders, of course, obviously. So when I ran into a site
that was built on Angular or React or Node or anything like that, and it didn’t render with that JavaScript, I would kinda get annoyed ’cause I’m like, how did these people not
know that, of course, they should totally do it. But once I dug deeper and understood more complex topics
around, like let’s continue with the Angular example. So taking three courses in
Codecademy with Angular 2. And you know, like other
JSON technologies, like Ruby, for that matter, just like
seeing the similarities there. It suddenly clicked and I was
like, I know why developers have chosen to do this now. It makes sense, it’s
totally powerful to be able to dynamically pull
stuff in client side and kinda build out experiences on the fly and not put everything at a unique URL that needs to load up,
query a server side database and bring in the information,
it can be kinda slow. The benefits became very clear. And at an interpersonal level,
that made it so much easier to be able to come to development partners from a place of empathy and be like hey, I totally get why this is awesome. Angular actually is cool. Unfortunately, there’s a
little bit of workaround we’re gonna have to figure
out because here’s X, Y and X about the reality of SEO
today, so let’s just figure out a happy middle ground, instead
of coming at it from like, hey, this site sucks, it needs to change because search engines can’t get at it. You can come from a different approach once you understand it more
and speak in their terms and convey that same passion
about the cool technologies. It’s super super helpful
for building relationships and getting problems solved together. – Absolutely. What are some use cases for you and the work that you
have done with JavaScript? Yeah, what are some use cases where you used it on clients’
projects, for example? – Yeah. Here’s a cool example that we,
I mean, I guess that involves pretty much everything. We work with a lot of,
maybe we don’t work with a lot of clients that
have a lot of layers, but we work with a couple
bigger organizations that have a lot of different divisions. So we work with a non-profit,
they do medical research and so we worked the fundraising arm. And they really needed
to basically have a popup on their site that was going
to ask people to donate. They were gonna have a
big campaign, and they had essentially run out of
budget with their developer. And the developer didn’t
have a lot of time either, so even if they had the budget,
it might not have happened. And they were like, “Well, we wish “we could have this
popup come up on our site “that’s going to ask people like donate, “drive them to our donation page.” And we were like hey,
let’s take a crack at that. So what we ended up doing, so essentially, no one involved on our side or with our client’s direct contact could really access the
code base of the site. So if we wanted to like upload the file, it’s not gonna happen. If we want to change content,
it was not gonna happen. So we got actually a
file in Adobe InDesign, and they were like, “Hey, this is what “we want this to look like.” So we actually went to,
we just used Codepen to mock up what this
code is gonna look like, we got the HTML, the CSS, the images, uploaded the images to our server. Basically made the popup together in functional, responsive HTML with the JavaScript components. And then we actually hopped
into Google Tag Manager and said hey, let’s
create a custom HTML tag, let’s put all the code
in there that’s required and have that fire after six
seconds of being on the site, which is what the client
wanted, and we actually got it right in time for when they needed it. So we got to basically hop in,
get around all the obstacles using our understanding of
JavaScript and Google Tag Manager which is fantastic, I’ll never not be in love with that tool. To actually get real business
results for a client. For me, that’s the most exciting thing about knowing JavaScript,
and Google Tag Manager, for that matter, is being able to overcome or go around problems as they
arise and just be like hey, we need to keep moving forward. These tools make it
incredibly easy to do so if we just know enough to be
able to ask the right questions and dig for the answers. – Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just a disclaimer,
you told me that before, it’s probably not best practice
to do that all the time, but in the end, it’s a viable method, and I will say that also
scraping from websites via Google Tag Manager, it’s
definitely a viable method to get around obstacles, it’s
not best practice, but… – Yeah. – If speed is the thing
that you need right now, then you should implement
it that way and maybe then talk to the developer later on when they have time and the budget to implement that properly
on the server side as well. Great talk, first of
all, but where can people find out more about you
and what you’re up to, and maybe a little more about Upbuild? – Yeah. So people can find me at mikearnesen.com. Pretty easy spot to get to,
also mike_arnesen on Twitter. It’s kinda my two main
channels where I do stuff, and then my company is
upbuild.io, so people can check us out there, we try to blog about what we consider cutting edge
technical marketing stuff so hopefully there’s some
good tips there for people who are interested in learning
more about this stuff. – Yeah, absolutely, it’s a
great blog and I also read that story about, your
building story of Upbuild. That’s something people
should check out, definitely. – Awesome. – Thank you. Thank you, Mike, for being on the show. – Thank you for having me,
it’s been an absolute pleasure. – Thank you. (upbeat music) All right, so there you have it, this is why you should learn
JavaScript as a marketer. There are daily new use
cases for JavaScript, really. So if you haven’t yet, then
you should definitely learn it. There are new technologies
coming out, obviously, but also in our marketing
field, there is PPC, SEO, CRO that you can use JavaScript in, there are automation scripts
such as Apps Script or Google AdWords Scripts that
also run purely on JavaScript that are definitely worth digging into if you know already JavaScript. And obviously, Analytics and Tracking and Google Tag Manager is
very much based on JavaScript, and so it’s very worth
learning that skill. Now, you might have noticed
that we have cut this interview a little bit short. If you wanna see the full version, then head over to
techmarketer.io/mikearnesen, where I dig into a little
bit more of his skillset, how he built his career, and
how he helped his clients out with his digital marketing and
technical marketing skills. So check it out at
techmarketer.io/mikearnesen. Now, if you wanna see
more of these interviews, then hit that subscribe
button right over there, ’cause we will bring you
new videos every week, and we also have already some interviews that you can see on our channel as well. My name is Julian. Till next time.


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