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Marketing salary surveys show key qualities for gaining digital marketing jobs

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 10 May, 2016
Essential Essential topic

What are employers looking for from digital marketers?

A 2016 marketing salary survey from Marketing Week is interesting reading since it sheds light on some of the issues marketers face in their roles, and highlights issues that are important for managers and HR departments to consider if they want to hang on to their marketing talent. It also highlights the demand for keeping digital skills up to date with the latest marketing trends, and a general willingness among marketers to invest their time and effort into developing their skills, which is always great to see.

The survey uses results from 4,300 marketing professionals. So although there may be some selection bias in the sample, it is plenty for inferring trends in the industry.

At Smart Insights, we're keen to support the development of digital skills as shown by our Managing Digital Skills survey. So, for us, a key finding was that only 16% say their company does training ‘very well’ despite 89% rating training as important to them. Marketers clearly rate training as key to developing their careers, but managers need be more willing to devote resources to increasing their staff's skills.

Marketers are extremely likely to consider changing jobs. 9 out of 10 Marketers think they are likely to have changed jobs by the time 2019 comes around. Is your marketing department ready for that kind of turnover? Could investment in training for skills development help?

marketers considering changing jobs

Expectations Vs Reality for the quality of work place

The chart below is interesting because it shows not only what marketers feel they are getting in their roles, but also what they think is important but is missing. Marketers are pretty happy with their levels of autonomy, the working environment and the challenging nature of the work they are given. In no area were less than half satisfied, so overall a fairly positive picture, but the biggest gaps between marketers rating of it as important and the number which were satisfied was in career advancement, training and pay. So these areas you may need to look at if you're a manager looking to retain your talented marketing department.

marketing salary surveys

Pay by industry sector

For those considering a career move that might involve a change of sector, there are major pay differences, which may inform your choices. Remember though that these are averages across the whole sector, and may reflect differences in seniority and experience of those that took the survey, rather than actual pay differences between similar roles in different industries.

pay by industry sector

As well as looking at pay, it's also interesting to look at what additional compensation marketers are receiving, as these can be a key way to retain staff and motivate them. Private medical cover is common, as are bonuses.

marketers bonuses

Salaries among B2B Marketers

Thanks to a recent survey by the folks over at B2B Marketing, there is B2B specific data on marketers salaries in that sector. It looks like on average B2B marketing salaries are at the high end of the overall industry average. There is a worryingly large gender pay gap however, which the industry should work hard at addressing.

B2B marketers

Interestingly, according to B2B marketing's data, slightly over half of B2B marketers have received a pay rise in the last year. Also noteworthy was the importance of education. £46,000 was the average salary of B2B marketers with a bachelor's degree, whilst £54,000 was the average for those with a Masters or a Ph.D.

Previous salary survey findings

The previous research from Michael Page and EMR Recruitment in 2015 shares trends in recruitment salary and skills trends in the world of digital.  Both surveys have highlighted optimism by digital professionals and employers as there are clear signs of continued growth for digital skills.

Some of the marketing respondents who were surveyed said that they are focused on trying to keep their digital skills up-to-date through on the job training and self-learning.

Over the past year, EMR's report shows that marketing professionals are now more satisfied with their salaries and bonuses - are these respondents just working for fantastic employers, or is it true across the UK!.

Michael Page's interactive salary checker tool is a great way to check out salaries by county, sector, and digital specialism. Here is an example of salaries for roles in Yorkshire and the North East:


For more detail on typical company requirements for each role, the Smart Insight's Digital Marketing Job Description and Template gives typical activities and personal attributes relevant both for companies advertising digital roles and candidates seeking new roles to enhance their skills.

EMR's '2015 Salary and Market Trend Report'

You can download the full report, here are some highlights:

  • Strong growth for marketing roles and substantial increase in salaries and bonuses

Salary survey

Salary growth

  • It's interesting to see that there is still a gender imbalance in terms of promotion to senior roles being dominated by men, though there is an increase in female respondents taking on more managerial roles

female led marketing

closing gender gap

  • Although pay is increasing, so are working hours. Many times for marketers found their hours increasing rather than decreasing. This could be a good thing as it could reflect growing demand for marketing services, but if it leads to workplace stress it may not be beneficial.

marketing working hours

  • Only taking up to 3 months to find new roles, where the top 3 reasons are for more challenging work, a higher salary or improved career prospects.

Some great advice from businesses across sectors and those working both in permanent and on freelance contracts, on how to enhance your career and prediction to what the future holds

What qualities are employers looking for from digital marketers?

The research shows that companies are not just seeking digital marketing knowledge, but hands-on experience and proven successes. Interest in the developments of the digital industry, all-round marketing experience and commercial awareness are all ranked as very important:

So, it's important to show a genuine passion. Being active in social media, following the interest or even better, publishing or contributing to a blog can help here. The ability for candidates to apply digital campaigns or knowledge to real business objectives and to add to the bottom line is now essential for employers. Perhaps surprisingly, social media is the least important quality, with 15.5% saying it was not important or not relevant.

Michael Page asked their clients, “What’s the best piece of advice you would give to candidates who are looking to develop their digital skill set?" Going on courses, attending seminars and reading are all important, but of course, nothing beats hands-on experience. An understanding of what works well for your sector and keeping an eye on the competition or those brands that ‘do digital well’ is also recommended and is another way to show your passion.

This summary of requirements for digital team members is also relevant to consider when recruiting for digital roles. It’s not surprising that experience and commercial experience are most important, but think what is the best way you can assess these to differentiate team members?

Where do employers turn to fill digital roles?

The research also shows where clients turn to fill these roles. Encouragingly, for those looking for work in digital, 80% of clients surveyed have experienced a shortfall in digital expertise in their marketing department. Agencies are still the main source, but it seems 24% now try to recruit their own permanent employee. Use of interims is also quite high (20.8%).

How should roles be structured in digital teams?

We’re often asked what the ideal digital marketing team looks like in terms of roles and structure. This will naturally depend on the type of business and its size, but there are some common activities that need to be managed. To help here, we have a Digital team structure template that can be used to compare digital roles and structures to your current situation to help plan and justify future changes.

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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