Why the Marketer-Developer Relationship is Make or Break
July 29, 2019

Jamie Tischart
Twilio SendGrid

The relationship between marketers and developers is one of the most essential for business success. Together these two teams define and control the customer experience. However, anyone that's ever worked in an office knows that miscommunication and misunderstandings are inevitable in this kind of working relationship. Twilio SendGrid recently dug into the inner workings of this vital partnership and what we found highlights how it is evolving with digitization, how this dynamic impacts business outcomes and how the right technology can strengthen the developer-marketer bond.

This relationship evolves as the need for speed, agility and responsiveness continues to grow for both the developer and marketer. But, both groups overwhelmingly agree on the key element of business success: the customer experience. Eighty-nine percent of developers and 86 percent of marketers agree that every touchpoint and interaction with customers matters. Both marketers, 79 percent, and developers, 83 percent, understand how important their partnership is to the relationship with the customer and the overall success of the business. The sheer scale of customer interactions and the need to drive dynamic customer experiences has brought the two worlds closer than ever. Customer personalization and delivery speed requires automation, data analytics and machine learning — skills that developers bring to the relationship, while marketers bring a firm understanding of the market, the customer and the business. The highest levels of success come when developers and marketers are in sync.

But this is easier said than done. Developers and marketers think and talk about their needs, expectations, goals and challenges differently therefore, agreeing on a common terminology and language can go a long way towards laying a solid foundation. After that, each side needs a good understanding of how the other's department functions and what complexities they deal with regularly. A simple task for one department may be full of complications for the other which makes understanding these differences critical.

Areas for Improvement

There is always room for improvement between workplace departments and disciplines. That's true of both marketers and developers. While developers seem to understand that the marketers' worlds have become more technical and data-driven, marketers are 12 percent less likely to agree that developers are aligned with them on the importance of the requests being made, from troubleshooting an error to building special functionality for a client. There is also a discrepancy between expectations and planning cycles with fewer marketers than developers feeling like they can get their requests delivered quickly.

Right now, both marketers and developers can take steps to be better aligned on planning and expectations. They should take time to establish working agreements about required lead times, planning cycles, and when exceptions can be accommodated. They can also reconnect outside of specific projects to share context about goals, challenges, and opportunities. Maybe most importantly, after gaining a better understanding of the other's circumstances, the two should work together to forge a common language. A common language will make communication smoother and misunderstandings less frequent. Luckily, technology can bridge the gap between marketers and developers and be the base for the common language needed to drive rapid and compelling customer experiences.

A Symbiotic Partnership

The marketer-developer relationship can truly make or break your business. A dysfunctional connection can frustrate everyone involved, including customers. But a symbiotic partnership based on common understanding can be the key to successful scaling. New technology means that the lines between marketers and developers are fuzzier than ever, but it can ultimately be the tool that builds the most successful developer-marketer relationships.

Jamie Tischart is VP of Software Engineering at Twilio SendGrid
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