What comes after HTML? The SeQueL

I’m fully aware of how corny that title is.

*Finding Dory…The Sequel to Finding Nemo

But! It’s time to talk about something a little more complex than HTML, and that is SQL. AKA Structured Query Language – which is a special-purpose programming language. Fun, right? There’s a lot more to it besides the acronym, though. SQL is basically a language that helps you manage your infobase, and I’m specifically going to be talking about managing a customer database. That’s certainly not the extent of SQL though, it can be used for just about any database under the sun.

It’s complicated, and really this is the first time that I’ve dealt or even attempted to learn SQL. CodeAcademy has a great SQL course that is supposed to take about 3 hours to completion (probably takes more or less depending on your experience!). I’m not going to go into the details about the language itself, because I’m a newbie and my knowledge is about 3 hours old. I don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction or give you false information, so be sure to check out CodeAcademy, or W3 Schools (I haven’t used this on my own, but I’ve heard good things).

Anyways, as I mentioned before, it’s used to manage your databases, and this can be implemented in a number of ways. What first comes to my mind, is email outreach. We talked about email marketing a few blogs back, and we’re going to talk about it a little bit here again.

You know those pesky emails you get from companies with subject lines along the lines of “Hey! It’s been a while!”? Well, you can thank good ol’ SQL for that. You can use SQL to look up in your database customers who haven’t made a purchase in the past how many ever months, and shoot them an email with a special promotion. This is obviously incomparably more efficient than doing it manually. Imagine the marketer for a company like Nordstrom trying to find the segment they’re targeting manually to email them. Yikes.

Want another example?

I’m just searching through my inbox, and I stumble upon this gem:
Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 9.37.13 PM.pngWithout revealing too much about how grossly addicted to Starbucks I am, let’s just say that Starbucks most likely ran a SQL query to target accounts which have a certain number of points saved up in their rewards program, and sent them a “special offer!”. If you were to scroll down on the email, you would see that they specified that I have X number of points, and that’s why I earned this breakfast sandwich offer. That’s right, I earned that breakfast sandwich. I’m just taking a shot in the dark here (haha, coffee lingo, shot in the dark) that they run queries based on the number of points saved up in an account and give each range a separate offer depending on how loyal of a customer the customer is.

Un otro ejemplo! (another example – fun fact: i’m a Spanish minor)
I recently ordered a phone charger set from Amazon because I stupidly lost my original charger and I hate myself for that. But anyways. About a week after receiving my charger(s) in the mail, I got an email from the seller stating that they would love to hear back about my experience with it and if I could give them a good review on Amazon. Here’s what likely happened: just like Starbucks, the Seller ran a query through SQL on their database to retrieve all recently sales of the specific product that I purchased, and shot us all an email asking for feedback.

As you can hopefully gather, using SQL is a great way to manage your customer satisfaction and engage customers who may have recently purchased or haven’t purchased in a long time. Those emails you get giving you special offers, those might not be going to every purchaser on their list. You are likely part of a select group that they are targeting in order to receive more conversions. Does that make sense? So, if when a companies lovely registered members sign up, the company asks for your birthdate or something similar, it could be because they want to send you a happy birthday email (and they’ll use SQL to do that!).

Why is SQL valuable to a marketer?

Just like HTML, SQL is super valuable to a marketer. Once you have the skill set nailed down and are confident in how to apply it to real life, you’ll be an incredibley valuable asset to your company – because you won’t be that “annoying ass marketer that bothers the Dev guys all the time”. Lets face it, Developers have WAY more important and cool stuff to deal with, so bothering them with something as simple as a stock email to your customer database is going to annoy them. Stay in yo lane!

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 11.58.40 PM.png

That’s about all I’ve got on coding. We’ve covered HTML and SQL a little bit, and talked about why it’s valuable for a marketer to have those skills. So, if you’re yet to decide if you want to teach yourself those handy dandy languages, just know that you have a MUCH higher chance of getting hired if you do possess those skills. Check out CodeAcademy or W3 Schools if you’re interested.




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