Salary Snapshot- Marketing Leaders
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Let’s talk about money!
As a recruitment partner to Canadian tech companies, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of high-growth start-up and scale-up leaders about their experiences, aspirations, motivations, and of course…. their compensation strategies!
When establishing a target compensation range for a new search, clients always ask us “What are you seeing in the market right now for a role like this?” Since we’re having these conversations on a regular basis, we thought we would pull back the curtains and share some insights to help you create a competitive compensation package. And if you’re on the hunt for your next challenge, we hope you’ll find this data to be useful in the negotiation process.
In our final edition of the 2022 Salary Snapshot series we’ll be taking a close look at compensation data for Marketing Leaders and some of the forces that have been influencing these numbers.
Of all of the leadership roles we specialize in, Marketing professionals may be the biggest snowflakes of the bunch - and before I become the subject of any scathing LinkedIn posts I should clarify that I’m referring to the unique skillsets that vary from marketer to marketer, and not how sensitive they are.
Snowflakes and the T-Shaped Marketer?
Digital marketers generally can be bucketed into two broad categories - specialists and generalists (better known as ‘T-shaped’ marketers). T-shaped marketers have broad skill sets with some deeper expertise in 1-3 areas (hence the ‘T’ shape, as shown below). When hiring at the Director level and above, you’re almost always looking for the latter.
Source: Elements of Agile Marketing
The varying combination of skills and experiences in every marketing leader, means no two searches are the same (see: snowflake analogy). The marketing function for an enterprise Saas business is very different from a B2C business. Marketing products that are sold through channels differs greatly from strategies used to sell direct. Leading marketing for an unknown and lean start-up is entirely different from launching a new product for a well-known tech giant. So every Marketing Leadership search is hyper, hyper targeted (two hypers, because executive headhunting is always hyper targeted).
The complexity of Marketing Leadership is further increased with the evolution of the marketing ‘tech stack’ and need for data-driven decision making. In every recent Marketing Leadership search - whether enterprise or B2C - our clients have prioritized expertise with data analytics and marketing technology. And it is no wonder. Innovation in marketing enables companies to measure marketing effectiveness, costs and results in real time, enabling agile decision-making and insights that can immediately impact bottom line results. In many tech companies, the marketing function has totally eclipsed sales as the function that not only builds the prospect funnel, but also drives demand right through to close.
It appears that this sample aligns with the broader marketing hiring trends, as LinkedIn published a report showing that analytics and marketing technology are 2 of the top 8 most valuable digital marketing skills to employers right now. We’ve even seen an evolution at the highest level to reflect this focus, with some larger organizations opting to hire a Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO) or Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT), as the lines begin to blur between technical and business orgs.
As the complexity of the marketing profession increases year over year, so too does the demand for talented leaders with incredibly diverse skillsets, and compensation always follows suit.
Let’s dive into the numbers
We’ve analyzed a spectrum of Marketing Leader compensation packages at the Manager, Director and VP levels, to share both the high-level summaries and some of the related insights on how your peers are crafting plans with a mix of base and variable pay.
Below are snapshots for the three groupings of Marketing Leaders that emerged from the data, along with some very interesting insights.
Keep in mind: We support start-up and scale-up organizations, so most of these data points represent Marketing Leaders from organizations who have gone through a similar growth journey (start-up and scale-up leaders). We also look for the cream of the crop within this group - the best of the best. So our sample is from product-oriented tech companies with talent who've demonstrated staying power. Consider these numbers the top 20-25% of the market - which, in most cases, is exactly what you’re looking for.
What are you looking at?
This data represents volunteered current compensation (CAD) aggregated at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles.
Each individual was part of a SasS startup or scale-up based in Canada or the US at the time they were in conversation with a member of the Artemis Canada team. USD salaries have been converted to CAD at a multiple of x1.29. Each datapoint was collected between January 1, 2021 and present day, from marketing executive searches completed by Artemis Canada.
The structure of compensation plans vary for Marketing Leaders, but we’ve seen the majority structured as base-heavy with a 10-30% bonus plus an equity stake. We’ve opted to show data as total on-target earnings rather than separate out variable incentives.
It’s clear from this snapshot that the earning potential for Marketing Leaders in the tech industry is quite healthy, even at the low ends of the distributions. Digital marketers are experiencing an all-time high demand, and their compensation packages reflect this. LinkedIn’s 2022 Marketing Jobs Report shows a 33% increase in digital marketing job postings over the previous year, with 62% of currently employed marketers at least considering looking for a new role this year.
At least a small part of this increase in demand in the tech industry can be attributed to the emergence of the product-led growth strategy. In our Product Leaders snapshot we talked about this being what can be considered the ‘golden age’ of the product management profession, and the same can likely be said for Marketing Leaders as the two are inextricably linked together in a product-led organization.
Good marketing is absolutely essential to a high-performing product-led growth strategy. Top leaders are masters of their market, they know how to link all decisions back to the customer experience, and they understand how to use this knowledge to drive revenue. You could make the argument that a Head of Marketing is the most important first leadership hire for a startup, and that it has the potential to make or break your growth plans. Its a sad commonality in the tech industry to see promising founders and products fail, not due to a lack of great ideas and innovation but rather a lack of go-to-market expertise. Products never sell themselves (even in product-led orgs) - behind every great product success is a talented team of marketers that deeply understands their audience and how to reach them.
Another factor driving up marketing wages at the high end and also creating huge variability in what can be commanded is the sheer volume of skills and tools that marketers can master. The field of marketing has reinvented itself arguably more than any other profession on the planet. Data-savvy marketers with advanced analytical skills are fast becoming the most sought after on the market, and with that skillset comes an entirely new marketing tech stack that needs captaining. Top level modern marketers have evolved to become savvy technologists, talented creatives and shrewd businessfolks, all bundled together. Those with mastery in all of these areas are worth their weight in bitcoin.
Editors note: how much coffee do marketers drink to keep up with all of the new trends and technology? Serious question.
The current demand for talented Marketing Leaders coupled with the sheer volume of skills needings mastery and the level of impact (positive or negative) they can have on an organization's success are driving forces behind compensation packages that have reached new heights in the tech industry.
What about pay equity?
In many of our previous Salary Snapshots we’ve seen refreshingly balanced wages between male and female candidates, and in many cases the latter being the higher earners on average. Based on the data from our most recent searches, this is NOT the case for Marketing Leaders in the tech industry.
The data is showing an interesting trend where the wage gap grows with the level of responsibility, ranging from a 7.9% disparity at the Manager level up to a staggering 26.5% difference among VPs (which was the largest group in our sample for this report). This is by far the largest gender wage gap we’ve seen across all of the roles we’ve analyzed this year.
What about Start-ups and Equity?
Across all roles, individuals who are part of earlier-stage companies tend to be on the lower end of the salary range but receive a larger share of equity to compensate for a lower base salary. Also without surprise, more senior marketing leaders receive equity as part of their comp package.
Leveraging equity as a key component of compensation not only enables companies to conserve cash but also ensures that your team is aligned around success. The downside of highly leveraged compensation plans is the exclusion of great candidates who have financial commitments that preclude them from roles with lower than market salaries.
With the tech talent market coming back into balance, sought-after Marketing Leaders will continue to command large compensation packages, but those packages could start to look different as companies reshuffle the balance of cash and equity.
What’s behind the data?
Our snapshots are not typical salary surveys, as they represent only the data we’ve collected from a handful of recent searches. We find it to be pretty useful and topical information, as it represents current data from a sample of individuals who we’ve carefully selected as having credible and validated experience with successful local companies.
Each Salary Snapshot represents between 40 – 120 sources.
Each source is an individual who we deemed a promising candidate for a role within a high-growth tech company. Most are gainfully employed and many were recommended as exceptionally talented. As a result, our salary numbers might be skewed towards the top of the range.
We elected not to show compensation figures related to equity or options. Though this was a significant aspect of the comp package for many execs, it’s often tough to put an annual dollar value on equity.
Specific details that would identify an individual or their employer will not be shared for obvious reasons.
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