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The State of MarTech Report

There has never been a more exciting time to work in marketing and technology. The world was already digitising rapidly, but the pandemic has accelerated this digital transformation. Companies that have been forced to adapt to evolving customer behaviours to survive now have an opportunity to thrive.

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Low Code/No Code Best Practice Guide 

Introduction

One of the trends we’ve been tracking lately is the growth of low code and no-code development. It’s been gaining traction in recent years, and holds a lot of potential for marketers.

Even if you haven’t heard the phrase ‘low-code and no-code’ (LCNC), there’s a high likelihood that you’re already using LCNC tools. We think no code / low code will become core to martech thanks to the potential if offers to marketers.

In this guide, we’ll talk about how low-code and no-code can help marketers do their jobs better and we’ll outline some considerations in terms of how low-code and no-code solutions can be deployed within an organisation that already has its own internal development capabilities.

This guide was created with the help of insights from key industry experts, including Scott Brinker, and Dan Allen from Credera.

What is low code / no code?

At a high level, when we refer to low-code and no-code, we are referring to tools that make it easier for non-technical people to create digital solutions.

Nowadays, with the onset of low-code and no-code (LCNC) platforms, software development is now transitioning beyond traditional software developers to what are being called “citizen developers”. Essentially, anyone can create software.

A citizen developer is somebody who uses low-code and no-code tools like Bubble to simply drag and drop icons to create and update applications. Citizen developers create and customise existing software to suit a user's specific needs and improve operational efficiency.

Generally, they are non-IT trained employees who become software developers, using IT-sanctioned low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms to create business applications. Citizen developers can be more agile as they can respond quickly to business requirements.

The citizen development approach not only speeds up the development process but it also reduces backlogs and frees IT colleagues to prioritise more important businesswide issues.

Low code /no code is an exciting prospect for marketers as it means that any kind of business user can create applications to make their jobs more efficient and effective. So, for marketers, it’s an opportunity to bypass the tech team and speed up projects.

You might be wondering why we say low-code and no-code? That’s because we’re referring to a spectrum of development tools, ranging from those that can be used by beginners to those requiring some coding skills.

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What is no-code?

No-code is a method of programming that, as the name suggests, doesn’t involve writing code.

No-code tools substitute for common programming tasks. For example, the coding process can be powered by a GUI (graphical user interface), where people can use templates, drag-and drop-functions and logical sequences to bring a digital product or process to life.

These tools take a visually oriented input and generate code in the background.

No Code is commonly only code-free from the users' perspective. There is still plenty of code in the background, but the interface has been built to allow a non-technical user to interact with it – often visually - and the code is generated automatically in the background.

Nontechnical professionals use no-code platforms to build software applications without writing any code. No-code development should not be confused with low-code development, which does require some coding.
In fact, the main difference is the use case. Sometimes developers will use no-code tools to simplify or expedite coding. In other words, they’re combining their ability to code with the use of no-code and low-code tools.

Some coding required. Traditional developers use it to simplify and speed up coding. 

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In a true no-code platform, a business user does not need to know how to code in order to create a piece of software.

The platform handles the technical heavy lifting. This allows business users like marketers to focus on the creation of effective tools and apps that align with their marketing requirements.

What is low code?

Low code requires some coding skill, but is still accessible for less technical marketers. As with no code, it removes the technical barriers and allows non-developers to create and customise websites and apps.

One example of low code is tools such as MailChimp which allow marketers to build and design email campaigns using drag and drop.

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Low code goes beyond the no code approach by providing the option to use code or scripting. Low code tools use a variety of approaches including the visual approach of no code, but with the added ability to add custom functions and features with new code.

The benefit of low code over no code is that it allows for a higher degree of customisation than no code only. This does require some technical knowledge, but remains accessible.

No code / low code empowers businesses to create software faster than a traditional code-based approach. App development projects tend to reach completion upwards of ten times faster than traditional coding projects.

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How marketers are using low code / no code

The level of functionality in no-code products is so high that marketers can use them without any programming background. In fact, many marketers are already using no-code tools.

LXA”s Martech Report 2022 found that 49% of respondents had added no code / low code tools to their marketing stack, thanks to the potential it offers for non-tech staff to create and customise software. (1)  

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While marketers are using no code/low code platforms such as Bubble or Creatio, many tech tools now contain no code/low code capabilities. It’s something that is being adopted across many categories of software.

“No code/low code has almost gone the same way AI has. It’s not really even a category anymore in my opinion. It’s a capability, a paradigm, that is now being adopted across software in every category that you can find. If we clear away the hype, what we actually see as a genuine trend is that, more and more software applications give you the tools to either customize them, or create things that previously you would have had to have a software developer or engineer custom build for you. The software itself has evolved to a level where it’s just a lot more malleable by more business experts, rather than technical experts’’ - Scott Brinker                                                  

In martech, we’ve been using many no-code tools for some time, integrating automation and customer journey orchestration products without thinking that architecting such sophisticated customer experiences would have required a team of developers not that long ago. Now it’s drag-and-drop.

As Scott Brinker explains:

“The essence of ‘no code’ is about empowering people to do things that previously were limited to specialists. Marketers are already using no-code tools across the full spectrum of marketing operations.”

Marketers are using tools for advertising and promotion that facilitate self-serve advertising across display, social and mobile. There’s also a huge choice of tools to help marketers with content creation, distribution and analysis.

Content management systems are one such example. Wordpress brought about a new age where anybody could create and publish a simple website without any understanding of HTML or CSS.

For marketers who need to manage websites and publish content, the CMS offers a degree of independence from technical colleagues. Yes, colleagues may be needed to fix things here and there, or add new apps, but day-to-day use of these tools requires no coding skills.

Landing page builders allow marketers to design, create and publish new pages from start to finish. This can be done from scratch or with the use of pre-made templates.
Other content creation, such as visual communications has been democratised by no-code tools. There was a time when creating slide presentations was a very skilled task that was out of reach for most people. Today, anyone can create visual content using tools like PowerPoint, Keynote and Canva.

People without sound engineering skills can use tools like aiva.ai to create music, or use tools like Descript to create, edit and transcribe professional-quality videos and podcasts.

Social marketers have come to rely on publishing tools like HootSuite and Buffer to automate social media posts across multiple channels.

No code/low code tools have also removed barriers for businesses to sell online. While moving into ecommerce previously required the technical skills to create online storefronts, and for order fulfilment, ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and Squarespace allow anyone to create an online store. Fulfilment, order management, payments and customer support can be handled via a range of plugins.


In short, low code/no code is already here, offering marketers greater flexibility and opportunities to make software work for them. It also offers the opportunity for marketers to improve their skills (and careers) by adding new capabilities to the roles.

Low code/no code: the opportunities for marketing operations

 We live in an era of exponential change. As the flow of technological change accelerates, individuals and organisations need to adapt by acknowledging change as a permanent factor.

At the same time, marketing as a function is in a constant state of flux​, not because consumers are changing all the time, as some analysts would have you believe. Rather, markets by their nature are dynamic which means that it’s the environment where marketers work that changes.​

Exponential technological change, new customer journeys and increasing evolution of business models presents a challenge to marketers who want to manage their careers, and for organisations who need to continually innovate.

An organisation's sustainability now depends on evolving skills and capabilities to meet emerging customer needs.

In the 1960s, Gordon Moore, Co-Founder of Intel observed that we could expect the speed and capability of computers to increase every couple of years while also paying less for them.

Another tenet of Moore's Law asserts that this change is exponential.The result is that today, entrepreneurial ideas are not limited by computational scarcity, or perhaps more importantly for marketers, lack of skills​. That’s because the tools to innovate have been democratised by no-code tools.

Scott Brinker revisited this curve to create Martec’s Law and illustrate what he describes as the greatest management dilemma of the 21st century. (2)

This dilemma is the relationship between the two curves: technology is changing faster than organisations can absorb change. This represents a problem and an opportunity for marketers.

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The challenge marketers face is that the rate of technological change isn’t going to settle down. To put that into perspective, the next five years will see more change than the last five.

As marketers we’re the eyes and ears of our business so it’s up to us to keep an eye on the horizon to identify emerging trends and their impact on customer and competitor behaviour.​
The opportunity is that we’re on the cusp on an explosion of new innovations in virtual reality, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, conversational interfaces, AI and so on. By doing this course, you’re participating in that innovation because you’re equipping yourself with the skills to lead change within your organisation.

Let’s look at some of the specific technological challenges facing marketers.

Technology changes quickly. That’s understood. However, organisations change less quickly. No-code solutions can bridge this gap, helping organisations keep pace with customers’ expectations by empowering marketers.

Marketing technology tools give marketers the access and speed to make change happen more quickly.

A common challenge that marketers face is in deploying technology effectively. This requires knowledge and skills, especially as each martech solution comes with a learning curve and a potential requirement to update workflows and even team structures.

Alongside this is the challenge that the average enterprise martech stack can contain a multitude of tools and platforms. The latest data from Zylo revealed that the average organisation has 323 SaaS apps in its stack. (3)

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Even companies with fewer than 500 employees are onboarding an average of four new apps every 30 days. This means that marketers need to be able to integrate these tools together to facilitate data flow for superior analytics, faster insight and optimised digital experiences.

Relying on development colleagues to integrate tools can be costly and slow. Equally, vendor-based systems don’t always align with existing workflows. While it might be possible to configure systems, sometimes it can be easier to change the organisation to suit the system rather than vice-versa.

The need for fast and cost-effective solutions and integrations has led to a rise in LCNC platforms which empower marketers to build their own solutions in house. This has the potential to change the marketing landscape.

The benefits of low code / no code for marketing operations

1. Marketers can become makers

In marketing operations, LCNC empowers marketers to build their own, customer centric solutions. It used to be that when marketers needed to create or update digital experiences, they needed developer support or they’d purchase some off-the-shelf software.

Now, the use of LCNC tools enables marketers to create digital experiences themselves instead of handing these tasks over to professional developers.

 The promise of low code / no code is that anyone can be a developer. The tool handles the technical heavy lifting, which allows the marketer to focus on the creation of effective applications and integrations to fulfil business requirements.

 For many marketers, LCNC tools help to digitise and automate tasks and processes faster and cheaper than submitting tickets to development support desks or hiring development talent.

2. Increased innovation

Low code / no code tools turn marketers into makers, but it’s more than just creating without code. It’s about creating without limits because these tools free marketers to create solutions without the need to consult with technical colleagues.

Effectively that means that marketing ideas are no longer limited by a lack of technical resources.

Equipping marketers with skills to create marketing related applications shortens time to develop and time to market. This empowers marketers to act quickly to deliver customer-centric experiences, often without any help from developers or IT.

For example, WYSIWYG applications allow marketers to build and publish beautiful UX and UI elements on websites and mobile apps without developer support.

3. Greater collaboration

Low code / no code can help to make development more of a team sport. Gone are the days of lengthy requirements documents. Instead, you can create cross functional teams to work on a single solution together. This produces better outcomes for everyone.

Effectively that means that professional developers and marketers can develop on the same project with the same tools in the same platform on the same data to unlock the needs of their company and their clients.

This is a fundamental change in how organisations work with software and does development which is traditionally centralised

4. Decentralised self-service and reduced IT backlog

As marketers become empowered to build their own solutions, there is less reliance on IT, which frees them up to work on higher value projects.

In the past, many companies implemented a centralised service to handle software development tasks. For marketing, these tasks included creating web pages, assembling email lists, analysing campaign results and producing specialised content.

Marketers had to route requests through this centralised team which often became a bottleneck that delayed projects.

Now, marketers can take responsibility for specific marketing tasks that previously had to be completed by development colleagues. That’s because LCNC tools enable decentralised self-service capabilities to marketing teams.

No-code development helps because IT colleagues can let marketers use approved no code tools rather than having to provide technical support.

“The rise of No Code will free up our experts’ time to deliver the more complex use cases which No Code platforms simply can’t yet achieve. It will lead to even more effective, clever use of marketing technology and result in improvements to customer experience. This, in turn, will lead to higher revenue generated through omni-channel marketing automation.” - Dan Allen, Managing Consultant specialising in MarTec at Credera UK 

5. Improved security

With any new approach to software development, we need to be aware of potential security risks. After all, at the heart of secure programmes is secure code.

Creating applications with custom code can lead to security issues. In fact even the majority of tested apps will contain one or more session management vulnerabilities and others with input validation errors.

That’s why applications built with custom code will require extensive testing and ongoing management to keep them secure and up to date.

Of course security of code is also an issue with LCNC. That’s why it’s really important to audit the LCNC platform you want to use to make sure they follow best practice when it comes to secure coding, data privacy and code testing.
Issues can include things like low visibility of code, as using low code & no code platforms inevitably means utilising code that can’t be seen or inspected easily.

That’s why access control is another consideration. If a key feature of low code no code is that it makes it easy for people who are not developers to create software, then it’s also really important to consider access control so that best practices are maintained and users only have visibility over what they need and nothing more.

 If end-users have the ability to make decisions about editing applications built, without using an enterprise-level policy, then there is potential to expose the business to significant risk.

In addition, LCNC solutions will have their own built-on security features which means that security and compliance don’t necessarily need to be concerned.

6. Reduced operational expenditure

Low code/no code reduces operational expenditure as less time is needed to manage building and debugging in-house software and/or investing in off the shelf enterprise marketing solutions.

Packaged software applications are expensive and costs can reach hundreds of thousands of pounds to purchase and deploy. Building apps in house also requires experienced software developers who command high salaries, which makes this an expensive option.

 By developing your own software using a no-code platform like Bubble, you'll spend a fraction of the budget you'd have to set aside to develop software the ‘traditional’ way.

The rise of No Code will free up our experts’ time to deliver the more complex use cases which No Code platforms simply can’t yet achieve. It will lead to even more effective, clever use of marketing technology and result in improvements to customer experience. This, in turn, will lead to higher revenue generated through omni-channel marketing automation.

In summary

Low-code and no code tools are not a replacement for traditional development techniques or enterprise software, but they can be an important addition to any company’s tech stack.

These tools, and the software which incorporates these capabilities, offer marketers the ability to be flexible, and

In a competitive market, low code / no code can be a faster alternative to building out IT capabilities, allowing firms to develop new apps, websites and create better customer experiences faster than their rivals.

The rise of no code / low code applications and platforms can potentially create new roles within organisations, and certainly makes the role of marketing ops more central to business success than ever before.

Web developers won’t become less important, but will simply be able to work on higher value projects. The shift towards marketing makers is happening thanks to the benefits provided by the low code / no code - speeding up digital transformation, time to market, and reducing costs.                                                                                                        

“No code / low code will become core to the martech space as marketers understand the possibilities it offers. For this reason, we have developed a training programme to help marketers learn more about this tech and the potential it offers.” - Carlos Doughty, CEO & Course instructor, LXA                                Citations

1 Source: LXA / Moore Kingston Smith, ‘The Martech Report 2022’, LXA, October 2022. (https://www.martechalliance.com/martechreport)

2 Source: Scott Brinker, ‘Martec’s Law: Technology changes exponentially, organizations change logarithmically’, chiefmartec.com, June 2013. (https://chiefmartec.com/2013/06/martecs-law-technology-changes-exponentially-organizations-change-logarithmically/)

 3 Source: Scott Brinker, ‘SaaS stacks keep growing. Is there also a relationship between choice and utilization?’, chiefmartec.com, April, 2022. (https://chiefmartec.com/2022/01/saas-stacks-keep-growing-is-there-also-a-relationship-between-choice-and-utilization/)

 

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