Marketing salaries revealed: talent pool for digital needs more supply

CRM, SEO and PPC managers are among the most sought after candidates in marketing with in-house expertise becoming more of an asset.

New research released by Robert Half, as part of its 2023 salary guide, has crunched the numbers and revealed the level of starting salaries marketers can expect in a number of roles and skillsets, ranging from assistant to heads of departments.

The study indicates that a UK-based SEO or PPC specialist with an “average” level of experience and holding most of the necessary skills to do the job can expect to earn just over £40,000 a year.

But if you have an “above average” level of experience and some specialised certification to your name, then demand for your talent soars and £57,000 per annum is a guide to the salary you can expect. A look at the table below can give you the comparisons.

A social media manager sits slightly below in the salary ranges – but if your skills are in high demand then you can perhaps look to seek just shy of £57,000, dropping to £26,500 if your experience is at a low level.

But, the specialist recruitment firm warns, starting salaries are not a one-size-fits-all means – and your level of experience, skill set and any extra certifications or specialisms you hold can cement the demand for your talent.

What’s the starting salary you should be looking for in a new role?

The analysis divides the starting salaries into percentiles that potential candidates can benchmark themselves against:

  • 25th percentile: Candidates with little or no prior experience in the position who are still developing relevant skills. Demand is low for this group.
  • 50th percentile: Candidates with an average level of experience that has most of the necessary skills. Demand is medium.
  • 75th percentile: Candidates with above-average experience and most or all the necessary skills – who may have specialised certifications.Demand is high.

With this in mind, take a look below to see where you might sit. If you’re looking for a local comparison, then you can benchmark yourself here.

Shelley Crane, Market Director for Marketing, HR and Executive Support, Robert Half, said: “Following a huge shift towards online delivery during the pandemic, which allowed marketers to show the direct impact of their activities, business leaders are now fully embracing digital marketing.

“Many are investing in online lead generation and customer experience, which will boost the bottom line, driving demand and ultimately, salaries in the sector.”

But Robert Half noted that employees have felt their workloads rise significantly, meaning employers expect more from people and requirements of marketing roles – including junior staff delivering what is expected of their more senior colleagues – which can skew the demand for salaries as organisations fight for talent.

Crane commented: “The worrying trend is the unmanageable workloads that many working in marketing are having to endure. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, there is a real danger that excessive stress can lead to burnout, so employers must support their staff through these difficult times.

“The ramifications on the employer brand could be disastrous, having a negative impact on candidate attraction, employee engagement, loyalty and productivity.”

Where’s the skills and role demand?

The research cements what we in the industry already know – that digital marketing skills are among the most sought after in the industry. Equally, we know that businesses are accelerating digital marketing strategies But what gaps in skills are they finding?

Those listed by Robert Half’s research as towards the top of the pile were SEO, PPC and Google Analytics.

“Organisations invested heavily in SEO and PPC to ensure their pages got noticed, and now they are looking to increase efficiency and effectiveness to boost lead generation and brand loyalty,” the report noted.

There was also demand for knowledge of CRM platforms like Salesforcce and Hubspot, while content creation or copywriting was listed as a key sought-after skill.

In terms of roles, manager level was the most in demand – with the research highlighting the following areas:

  • CRM
  • Digital marketing
  • SEO
  • Content
  • Events

The move to in-house?

The research also unveiled a lower reliance on external agencies, with organisations investing in growing their in-house capabilities, and becoming keener to hire for more specialist and digital marketing skills.

Reasons include aiding cost saving, but also a need to grow engagement and retention with in-housing seen as a way to better integrate people and teams.