State of the Marketer-Developer Relationship in 2019

Read on to learn about how the dynamic between marketers and developers impacts business outcomes

State of the Marketer-Developer Realationship in 2019

Chapter 1: The dynamic between marketers and developers impacts business outcomes

At Twilio SendGrid, we build solutions for both developers and marketers—two key players in every organization. In support of our work, we spend time talking with each type of user on a daily basis, and at times, we hear threads of dissidence between these partners.

For developers, these threads surface when marketers lack appreciation for the scope of work required for a given request or bring them into planning discussions too late. On the flip side, marketers express frustration when they feel blocked or unsupported by the engineering teams they rely on. 

“[A recent] project was a big scramble at the end. It seemed like a lot wasn’t thought through from Marketing. Seems like they do that a lot: come up with an idea and want to implement as quickly as possible.”

Software Engineer, mid-market software company

“I think software engineers don’t always have a true perspective on business necessities. I think that’s true of any segment.”

Director of Marketing, mid-market retail company

As companies across markets and industries become increasingly digitally-oriented, the need for seamless collaboration between marketers and developers is ever more critical. Reaching business growth goals requires exceptional customer experiences that can only be achieved when these teams are working together at their best.

Large group of graphic designers cooperating while working on computers at corporate office.
Large group of graphic designers cooperating while working on computers at corporate office.

To understand the baseline status of the marketer/developer relationship in the market, we surveyed 500 marketers and developers at companies of all sizes to learn about their priorities, degree of partnership, where they’re seeing success, and where they’re feeling challenged.

We discovered that more often than not, marketers and developers are in a great place when it comes to their working relationships. They’re strategic partners with shared goals—a reflection of the reality that marketers’ worlds are more technical than ever, and developers are engaged in how their work drives the business.

In this guide, we’ll share what we’ve learned, provide insight into how the most collaborative partnerships are fostered, and show how Twilio SendGrid makes it easier for marketers and developers to work together. 

Chapter 2: Aligned motivations, goals, and mutual respect underlies productive partnership

Marketers and developers alike are engaged with the big picture when it comes to their work. Gone are the days of simply cranking out marketing assets or tickets to check them off the list. Instead, both players report high levels of confidence for how their work impacts overarching company business goals.

Tellingly, we learned that marketers don’t stand alone in their obsession with customer experience, a critical driver of success for any business. In fact, at 89%, developers agree at a slightly higher rate than marketers (86%) that every touchpoint and interaction with customers matters.


Underscoring the importance of this alignment is the degree to which both marketers (79%) and developers (83%)  agree that they need to partner effectively with the other in order to succeed in their role. Luckily, they’re in a great place, with a positive relationship centered on mutual respect and close connection.


Developers cultivate this partnership by recognizing that marketers’ worlds have become more technical and data-driven; a fact that 73% of marketers report to be true. They’re able to support marketers’ technical needs in part because they’re aligned with them on the importance of the requests being made. Of note, marketers are 12% less likely to agree that developers are aligned, highlighting an opportunity for marketers to explicitly check in on this front when making requests.


In turn, marketers respect that developers are engaged with the business and are motivated to drive real impact. They honor this by communicating the “why” behind requests and taking time to follow up with developers with performance results. 

“I rely on developers to implement various tracking codes on our site and run queries so I can access that data. They also create dashboards so that I can run reports on our customer data. The goal is to evaluate our marketing performance and determine which channels to focus on.”

SEM Manager, mid-market financial services company

A rare area of discord between marketers and developers? The time it takes for developers to accomplish marketers’ requests. A third fewer marketers than developers feel they can get their requests delivered quickly, which may reflect differences in expectations and planning cycles.

Best practice tip:

What you can do to cultivate a great partnership

• Take time to outline as much detail about your requests as possible, including the business goals you need to achieve.
• Involve developers in software evaluations as early as possible.
• Close the loop with performance and impact of your developer's work.

• When possible, arm marketers with solutions they can use to self-serve to meet their needs.
• Communicate the work required to accomplish a given request and any trade-offs that need to be made.
• Check in with marketing stakeholders on longer projects for status reports.


• Take time to establish working agreements about required lead time, planning cycles, and when exceptions can be accommodated.
• Reconnect outside of specific projects to share context about your goals, challenges, and opportunities.

Chapter 3: Marketers and developers share ownership of email communications

Both marketers and developers report being directly involved across a number of critical customer communication channels, from marketing and transactional email to display advertising to SMS. While Twilio has APIs and solutions for each of these channels, we’ll focus on email insights in this report.

Marketers and developers are highly aligned when it comes to what they most need from an Email Service Provider (ESP). Both are looking for a single solution to use for all email they send, one that provides best-in-class deliverability and is unfailingly reliable.


“[The one thing I’d like an ESP to do perfectly for me is] to be reliable, and to work 99.9% of the time. Downtime creates problems.”

Marketing Executive, enterprise business services company

Another surprising learning is that more than half of marketers are directly involved in transactional email, and more than half of developers are directly involved in marketing email. This speaks to the acute need for a single solution to make collaboration across all email easier and more effective.


How Twilio SendGrid helps

As a single platform for all email you send, we offer tools to help marketers and developers collaborate and optimize the entire email experience.

  • UI-based template management for both marketing and transactional emails.
  • Email Testing for all emails to ensure rendering is optimal.
  • View stats across email sent via Email API and Marketing Campaigns.
  • Activity to troubleshoot down to the individual recipient level.
  • Expert Services for coaching and optimization across all email.

This shared involvement across both marketing and transactional email is reflected in our finding that marketers and developers work closely together in selecting their ESP. While both feel a strong sense of ownership as final decision makers, they acknowledge the other as a key influencer. Fewer than 10% of respondents would purchase a new ESP without involving their counterpart. Instead, they acknowledge the joint ownership of customer communications and its importance to the business.

After they’ve found an ESP that meets their needs, marketers and developers partner to accomplish email goals. Both reported “integrating their ESP with databases and other tools” and “Gathering data to measure performance” most frequently among the common areas of collaboration. This speaks to the importance of customer data as a key input to successful email marketing, as well as the need to demonstrate the ROI of email to the business.


“Often staff ask for a product that has ease of use and can accurately provide real-time data with true marketing value, not just simple numbers.”

Chief Information Officer, enterprise healthcare company

Marketers and developers are also on the same page as to the high cost when an ESP isn’t easy for developers to support. Requests take longer to get prioritized and shipped, leaving marketers in a holding pattern to get their work done, and developers feeling pressure and frustration from their stakeholders.

“I love seeing developers love working with software we choose. I ask them, ‘what’s the integration like?’ If they love working with it, it tells me they haven’t experienced any problems that would create roadblocks or create issues with the rest of our system.”

Director of marketing, mid-market retail company

Given how important marketers and developers see their working relationship, it’s not surprising that both are motivated to find an ESP that makes collaboration smoother and more effective.

Chapter 4: How Twilio SendGrid Delivers

We started as a platform for developers over a decade ago. Since then, we’ve organically expanded our offerings to serve the needs of marketers as well.

We followed the lead of our developer customers as they became increasingly integrated with marketing colleagues in their organizations. We listened—and continue to listen—to unearth every opportunity to build solutions to help these partners work together in ways that allow each to bring their best to the table.

The result of this work is a single platform where marketers and developers come together to elevate the email experience for recipients across all email they deliver, which ultimately drives business growth.

Chapter 5: Methodology

This report uses findings from an online survey of 585 email professionals in the United States that was completed from February 28th to March 9th, 2019. Of the email professionals who responded, 286 were identified as marketers and 200 were identified as developers.

The survey examined the challenges respondents face with regard to email, the benefits of email service providers they value, and how marketers and developers interact in their day-to-day. Survey participants were invited to take the survey through invitation and were incentivized through a panel provider’s established points program.

All participants were 18 years of age or older and are responsible for either marketing or transactional email at their company.


Get Started with SendGrid

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