Better CIO/CFO relationships see CMO salaries soar

First CMO Council benchmarketing report on chief marketing officer compensation finds digital marketing skills are a key ingredient in securing better salaries

Marketing salaries are higher for those directly reporting to the CEO
Marketing salaries are higher for those directly reporting to the CEO

The highest paid CMOs are the ones who have developed strong alliances with the CIO and CFO and report directly to the CEO, CMO Council’s forthcoming report on the state of marketing leadership globally has found.

The new global CMO Compensation Report, which aimed to benchmark CMO compensation and marketing reporting structures, and is set to become an annual release, is part of the association’s eighth edition of its State of Marketing survey, which will be released in coming months. The research was based on responses from 345 of the 525 participants in the wider research piece.

According to the CMO Council, CMOs earning the highest levels of base compensation tend to be those focused on driving business performance through key metrics such as top-line growth, market share and efficiencies.

B2C marketing leaders were also found to have a higher salary base than either those in B2B or in hybrid organisations, and compensation overall was directly tied to the size of the firm, with larger organisations paying CMOs better. However, base compensation was not tied to the number of people the CMO manages.

On average, CMOs receive a base salary of US$100,000-$349,999 per annum. The largest majority (42.6 per cent) in Asia-Pacific earn between $100,000-$199,000, compared to the largest percentage of North American CMOs (44.4 per cent), who earn between $200,000-$349,999.

Those making more than US$500,000 a year are more likely to report directly to the CEO, with key accomplishments including restructuring marketing to drive results, improving the yield/accountability of marketing, and building digital capabilities. Those on less than $100,000 are not surprisingly, the least likely to be valued by top leadership.

CMOs with superior digital marketing skills also tended to see their salaries rise as their organisation’s digital marketing performance improves.

In a sign of the continuing evolution of the role of marketing and the confusion still around job functions, titles such as CMO, VP of marketing or senior VP of marketing don’t always correlate with better base compensation. For example, the report pointed out professionals holding the VP of customer experience or director of marketing roles had a higher average base compensation than those with VP of marketing title.

What was also obvious in the report was the dissatisfaction marketers feel about their overall financial entitlements. Less than half of all those surveyed, in fact, believe they are fairly paid.

“This high degree of dissatisfaction suggests that either CMOs are actually underpaid relative to key benchmarks identified in the report, or that CMOs just believe they are underpaid,” commented report author, Dr Kimberly Whitler of the Daren School of Business at the University of Virginia.

“This important finding may be a key driver of CMO turnover and suggests both a greater need: 1) to understand why CMOs believe they are underpaid, and 2) for more collaboration between executive recruiters, CHROs, and CEOs to ensure that CMOs are fairly compensated.”

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