‘The highest paid CMOs are the best digital performers’

The highest paid CMOs are the ones that can demonstrate they have transformed their brand’s digital marketing performance and have strategic alliances with other c-suite executives, according to a new survey.

cmo salary 460

The “CMO Compensation Report”, based on a survey of 345 senior marketing execs globally conducted by the CMO Council, found that CMOs earn an average base salary of $200,000. However, of those who cite “developing improved digital marketing and online customer engagement capabilities” as one of their key accomplishments, 51.8 per cent earn more than the average.

The highest paid marketing execs have also used big data to optimise customer analytics and insights and deployed marketing automation solutions to improve campaign effectiveness. Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, says that with digital being the “hot topic” right now, the number one project marketers should be focused on to improve their salary is giving their digital marketing a makeover.

“This extends marketers’ domain into customer service, support and experience, it drives revenues and feeds into ecommerce. Digital marketing underpins operationally many facets of the business,” he says.

Neale-May adds that digital is also important in “empowering marketers”, enabling them to measure and prove the success of investments in a way they haven’t been able to before. The best paid CMOs are those that have implemented a performance measurement dashboard and can therefore prove return on investments such as websites, digital campaigns and content, with 61.5 per cent of them earning more than $200,000.

This feeds into another area where highly paid CMOs excel – engaging with other executives in the c-suite, in particular chief information officers and chief finance officers. Of those that said they “formed an alliance with the CFO”, 54.4 per cent are among the highest paid. For CIOs that figure is 52.9 per cent.

Neale-May says it is imperative that marketers integrate themselves with their peers in order, for example, to gain access to data, an area he calls marketers’ “number one speed bump”.

“It is all well and good to go out with a flashy campaign and a big promise but that might not be concurrent with what the brand is actually delivering. That is why engaging with the rest of the c-suite is so important. Back office and operational issues can all impede customer satisfaction,” he adds.

The report also notes that while a lot of attention is paid to the title “CMO”, it actually has very little bearing on how much a person is paid. Of those earning more than $500,000, just 8 per cent hold the CMO titles, while 27 per cent have a role as vice president of marketing and sales and 23.2 per cent have the title head of marketing.

There are also an increasing number of senior marketers with “other” titles, such as chief customer officer or chief creative officer and they are even more likely to earn the top pay, with 30.8 per cent taking home more than $500,000.

“People are pushing for the CMO title but it isn’t needed, it doesn’t matter in terms of pay. There are now a plethora of new ‘CMO’ titles relating to revenue, digital, experience, relationship and innovation that are fragmenting the c-suite and show different facets of the CMO role,” he says.

The key accomplishments of the highest paid marketing executives are restructuring marketing, improving accountability and building digital capability, according to the report. However, this has in turn led to increasing pressure on CMOs to help increase revenues and figure out how to drive growth a feeling of dissatisfaction about their remuneration.

Some 48 per cent of CMOs feel they are not being fairly compensated relative to the rest of the market and other executive positions and the sector has a higher turnover rate than almost any other in the c-suite, according to the survey.