If you Google “the Godfather of Martech,” Scott Brinker’s name immediately appears. And it’s likely no one has observed the explosion of marketing technology to the same extent as Scott. He is the creator of the annual Martech Landscape supergraphic, editor of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, and VP of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot, a software platform for marketing, sales, and customer service.
Recently, we sat down with Scott to discuss one of the biggest trends shaping the ever-growing martech landscape—the emergence of no-code technologies. Research from Scott and WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising companies, dubbed no code as the first of five major trends poised to shape marketing strategy over the next 10 years. And Gartner predicts that half of all new no- and low-code buyers will come from outside the IT organization by 2025.
In this conversation, Scott digs into what no code means for the future of marketing, why the escalation in adoption is happening now, and how no code is leading to a movement of “citizen creators''—marketing folks who create what they want, how they want, without relying on technical expertise.
Marketers might not realize it, but they’re already using no code
“My interpretation of no code is fairly broad. I think it encompasses a wide variety of things where previously you needed a specialist or an expert to execute—whether that’s building a web page, setting up a workflow, or analyzing data,” Scott says.
When defined this way—that no code is less about what you do than how you do it—the range of examples extends much further than common programming tasks. And, while it’s not a term you see in the LinkedIn bios of many marketing peers, low-code is an approach many of us have taken in favor of moving quickly and bypassing the backlog for technical or creative support.
“No code is this incredible way of empowering general business users. Not only do you have specialist no code tools like Airtable, but you see the concept of no code proliferating throughout many, many products,” Scott says.
“I think of Canva the same way: there are some instances where you still need a professional graphic designer, but there are all these other use cases where you can design it yourself in Canva and it's done.”
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The timing of no code adoption is no coincidence
“Marketing, perhaps more so than any other profession I can think of, has gone through such tremendous change over the past decade,” Scott says.
The changing role of marketing, exacerbated by the pandemic and the seismic shift to digital, is also reflected by changing expectations across the rest of the organization. Research from McKinsey shows that 83% of global CEOs look to marketing as a major driver of growth. And yet, to meet escalating revenue targets, modern marketing teams must rewire the way they work—breaking down silos, adopting a return on investment (ROI) mindset, escalating analytics, and hiring holistic talent.
“I don't think it's coincidental that marketers are embracing no code right now,” Scott says. “These technologies allow you to adapt much more quickly to changes in the environment… and those changes do not seem to be slowing down.”
In the face of digital transformation, we’ve found successful marketing teams turn to no code for three reasons: connecting data, building logic on top of that data, and turning data into action.
Read more about how marketing teams are using no code in our ebook, ‘Rise of the No Code Marketer.’
Success is about asking and answering your own questions
Image caption: The Martech Landscape Supergraphics
Every year, Scott releases the “Martech Landscape”, a supergraphic of company logos illustrating the number of marketing solutions available on the open market. This number has grown from 150 tools in 2011 to 8,000 tools in 2020—the jump between 2019 and 2020 alone was 13.6%.
But don’t be distracted by the number of tools; Scott cautions that successful marketing teams aren’t focused on increasing their technology, but on architecturing their technology to solve specific use cases across the team.
“When you look at the very specific use cases of how a company serves their customers and how they execute their operations, really every business is a snowflake,” Scott says.
It’s possible to achieve this extreme focus on use case with no code—tools that actualize overused buzzwords like “customizable” and “flexible” in a way seasoned marketers don’t expect. No code allows your team to create automations, build workflows, dream up creative assets, and connect data (and change all this, when needed) in a way that solely answers the needs of your customers and your operations.
“Marketers in particular wake up every day and have questions like, ‘I wonder about X? And what's the relationship between this set of data and this other set of data?’. The no code paradigm, especially in analytics, allows people to self service so many of those answers,” Scott says.
The future brings greater ownership and limitless creativity
“People don't want the software telling them how to work, they want to tell the software how they want to work,” Scott says. “And this is where no code comes in: the technology is yours, you craft it, what would you like it to do?”
According to Scott, the future will see the traditional intersection of technology and people flipped on its head. Where once software prescribed how marketing teams worked—and teams stitched those workflows together with overly manual, duplicative tasks—modern marketing teams will have true ownership over their software, freed by the possibilities of no code.
“Over time, as no code tools get more powerful, and people get more experienced with leveraging them, the sophistication of the things that we’re able to build continues to rise,” Scott says.
“It’s classic disruption innovation: No code started out solving really low use cases, now we're solving mid-end use cases. The curve ultimately leads to creating things that today require whole teams of sophisticated software engineers to build, but five years from now, eight years from now, no code tools will be able to do that for us, too. It's an exciting journey ahead.”