Digital Marketing Salary Trends [2023 Guide]
In this article
A recent survey from McKinsey found that, “83 percent of global CEOs said they look to marketing to be a major driver for most or all of a company’s growth agenda.” With the widespread adoption of mobile, video, and social media, digital initiatives have come to the forefront of marketing. This has in turn created a plethora of opportunities in digital marketing. Last year, LinkedIn reported a 33% year-over-year increase in digital marketing jobs. Today, there are over 280,000 digital marketing jobs listed on LinkedIn, with around 12,000 new jobs added each week.
Beyond traditional full-time roles, there is also a growing demand for freelancers, contract jobs, remote positions, and more.
However, qualified professionals in digital marketing are scarce. Studies have shown that it’s often hard to find specialists in areas like SEO and email marketing. This talent gap has had a profound impact on digital marketing salaries.
In this blog post, we explore the various roles available within the digital marketing landscape. We also outline the skills and qualifications needed for these roles, along with the salaries each position offers.
Factors Affecting Digital Marketing Salaries
While digital marketing is often discussed as a unified field, its individual roles can vary greatly. For example, a copywriter might be doing entirely creative work, which is vastly unlike an on-page SEO specialist, whose job is more technical. An understanding of content might be common to these two roles, but the digital marketing skills and attributes needed for each are very different. As a result, the salaries are also varied. The digital marketing salary you can command depends on a range of factors, such as educational qualification, experience, skills, and location. Let’s explore each of these factors.
Your Educational Background
LinkedIn finds that over 94% of digital marketing professionals have at least a bachelor’s degree. For most marketing roles, a bachelor’s degree in business, advertising, communications, or journalism might be enough. Several marketers even begin their careers even without a formal college education. However, additional qualifications in digital marketing will help you command a better salary. Specialized courses in specific digital marketing areas—such as search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and data analytics—can accelerate your career and help you negotiate for a higher salary.
Experience plays a key role in determining a digital marketers’ salary. Usually, the more years you’ve spent working in digital marketing, the more you can expect to make. On average, a digital marketing specialist earns $52,000, a mid-level digital marketing manager earns $70,000, and a senior-level digital marketing director earns $105,000.
Related Read: A Day in the Life of a Digital Marketer
However, experience is not just measured in years. You can also gain experience in a specific industry, or with specific tools and skills. For example, a mobile marketing manager or analytics specialist might make more than a marketing copywriter, given the demand for these skills and the scarcity of qualified professionals. This is also true of digital marketers with experience in industries like healthcare and artificial intelligence.
Digital marketing requires a variety of hard and soft skills, which range from link building and technical SEO to strong communication and interpersonal skills. According to LinkedIn, some of the most in-demand digital marketing skills include copywriting, search engine optimization, social media marketing, project management, audience building, and data analysis.
Your location can play a key role in determining your salary. For example, a digital marketing manager in the San Francisco Bay Area typically earns an average of $67,500, while the same role pays only $60,000 in Houston and Minneapolis. However, it is also important to note that remote work is becoming more commonplace, which is reflected in those salaries too.
The Organization You Work For
Technology startups tend to offer top salaries for the best talent. The same goes for larger, data-driven companies. According to Indeed, some of the top companies offering more than $100,000 a year for digital marketers include Fortira, Deloitte, and Accenture.
6 Jobs Commanding the Best Digital Marketing Salaries
Advertising, content, social media, video marketing, and mobile apps all fall under the umbrella of digital marketing. However, not all digital marketing specialties are equally lucrative. Let’s examine these positions, and their salaries, in more detail.
Digital Marketing Specialist
What They Do
A digital marketing specialist develops, manages, and oversees digital marketing campaigns. A digital marketing specialist is also responsible for running advertising campaigns, managing social media, executing content strategy, tracking performance, and optimizing results. Often, they also manage budgets and teams too.
A digital marketing specialist is typically in charge of coordinating and liaising between different specialists. They work closely with SEO/SEM specialists, writers, editors, and social media strategists to execute campaigns. To do this, they need the following skills:
- A foundational understanding of each digital marketing function
- Business acumen to develop strategies
- Research skills to perform competitor analysis etc.
- Analytical skills to measure performance conducts A/B tests, etc.
- Interpersonal skills such as logical reasoning, communication, problem-solving, collaboration, etc.
A digital marketing specialist makes an average salary of $52,831. With specialized skills and experience, you can command higher salaries. For instance, when a digital marketing specialist moves to a managerial role, they typically earn a salary of $75,230. Los Angeles and Seattle are the highest paying cities in America, as they pay 16% more than the national average. New York City follows closely, at 14% above the national average.
What They Do
An SEO specialist researches, analyzes, and identifies opportunities to improve a website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. There are two kinds of SEO: on-page and off-page. An on-page SEO specialist researches keywords, ensures that content is optimized for search engines, publishes content, and tracks performance. The off-page SEO specialist creates backlinks and identifies opportunities for guest posting. Depending on the size of the organization, one person might do both these tasks.
The SEO specialist is a technical role, requiring skills such as:
- Identifying keywords
- Understand competitor strategy
- Analytics skills for reporting, presentation, and strategizing
- Proficiency in SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Search Console, etc.
Since SEO is a relatively new field, the pay scale can vary, depending on experience and skillset. The average salary of an SEO specialist is $52,000. You can earn around $80,538 yearly as an SEO manager. New York is one of the top cities to work as an SEO specialist, where you can earn about 19% more than the national average. This is followed by Dallas, which offers 7.5% more than the national average.
What They Do
An SEM specialist manages and implements paid search, display, social, and other marketing campaigns. Their primary role is to ensure the success of advertising campaigns. Each day, they research keywords, design campaigns, write copy, create visuals, strategize campaigns, execute them, monitor performance, and optimize their campaigns. Depending on seniority, they might also manage budgets and teams.
Key skills needed for an SEM specialist include:
- Knowledge of search and display advertising
- Understanding of online advertising models like pay-per-click (PPC), social media advertising, and influencer engagement
- Ability to manage budgets effectively
- Analytics and reporting skills
An SEM specialist makes an average salary of $54,984. An SEM manager with a few years of experience can expect to make $76,429 per year. Seattle is among the top-paying cities for SEM specialists, according to Payscale.
Social Media Specialist
What They Do
A social media specialist increases brand awareness by developing and executing creative digital content for the company’s various social media platforms. They maintain a social media calendar, create social content, write copy, publish updates, respond to reader comments, and evaluate their performance.
A social media specialist needs to understand the social media landscape. This entails tracking new upgrades to platforms, monitoring viral trends, understanding audience expectations, and leveraging all of this in real-time. To do this, a social media specialist needs to be skilled at:
- Video creation and editing
- Social media scheduling and publishing
A social media specialist earns a salary of about $50,308. With experience, a social media marketing manager can earn $58,016. New York is the best-paying city for social media specialists, with salaries about 22.8% more than the national average. Chicago and Denver follow closely.
What They Do
A content strategist plans, designs, and executes content strategies. This could be text content (like blogs and whitepapers), visuals (like infographics), audio (such as podcasts), or video content. While they needn’t be skilled in all these forms of content, it’s expected that they’re an expert in one or two. However, the primary responsibility of a content strategist is to create the content calendar, plan and schedule content, monitor performance, and optimize.
A content strategist needs to be a creative person with the ability to execute content. For this, they need to have digital marketing skills in:
- Writing, design, and video production
- Content management tools like WordPress and Squarespace
- Web and mobile analytics using tools like Google Analytics
- Collaboration and problem-solving
- Attention to detail
A content strategist earns an average salary of $70,215. A senior content strategist earns around $96,047 annually. San Francisco offers the best pay for content strategists, about 29.9% higher than the national average. Seattle follows closely.
Email Marketing Specialist
What They Do
An email marketing specialist plans, maintains, and executes a company’s email campaigns. This includes maintaining email databases, planning campaigns, writing copy, designing email templates, scheduling blasts, and monitoring performance.
An email marketing specialist is typically a writer, because they need to be able to craft personalized and impactful emails. However, today’s email marketing strategists also need to understand performance monitoring, and A/B testing.
An email marketing specialist earns an average of $60,770, and an email marketing manager earns around $80,680. According to Payscale, Los Angeles and New York offer higher than the national average for email marketing specialists.
Negotiation Tips for a Higher Digital Marketing Salary
Depending on your skills, experience, location, and specializations, you might be able to command a salary that’s higher than the national average. Here are some tips for leveraging your skills and negotiating a higher salary.
1. Do Your Homework
Research the average salary offered by your organization, and see what other salaries are commonplace across different industries and locations. You can look at Payscale and Glassdoor, which curate anonymous data about salaries. If you can, also speak to your peers and seniors in the industry.
2. Understand What Is Expected of You
An interview is an opportunity to show a hiring manager why you’re the best candidate for the role. To do this, you need a clear understanding of the role and its expectations. Read the job description thoroughly. Spend some time thinking about how you might fulfill those responsibilities. Note questions that you can ask the hiring manager in the interview.
3. Show Them Your Worth
To stand out from the crowd, show the fruits of your labor. You can do this by:
Focusing on outcomes. Outline measurable results you’ve achieved in your previous work. Telling a hiring manager that you “delivered a 50% growth in revenue from social media channels,” will build your credibility.
Making a portfolio. Sometimes, it can be useful to show the work itself. Include links to your most successful campaigns.
4. Be Prepared for the Salary Question
At some point in the interview process, you will be asked what you expect to learn. It is important that you can give a clear answer. Remember that you can also ask them about their budget for this role.
5. Expect to Negotiate
You might not initially get the salary you asked for. To get what you expect, be ready to negotiate. Do not hesitate to demonstrate your worth and seek a better offer. Be open about your expectations and state them clearly.
Digital Marketing FAQs
Is Digital Marketing in Demand?
Yes. There are over 280,000 roles listed in digital marketing on LinkedIn alone. In fact, LinkedIn lists digital marketing as “jobs on the rise” for 2021. As the field evolves, opportunities for specialists within digital marketing – including entry-level digital marketing jobs, are bound to grow exponentially.
Who Can Build a Digital Marketing Career?
While a bachelor’s degree may be expected, anyone can begin a career in the field. However, it’s not easy to build a digital marketing career. As an ever-evolving field, the skills that were prized just one or two years ago might be irrelevant today. However, that is one of the reasons that people choose to work in digital marketing. The challenges of a rapidly changing field make digital marketing an exciting career choice.
With some creativity, analytical skills, and an interest in writing and social media, anyone can kickstart a career in digital marketing.
Related Read: Is digital marketing hard to learn?
How Long Does It Take to Career Transition Into Digital Marketing?
Fresh graduates can start a career in digital marketing immediately after college. Given the low supply of qualified digital marketers, organizations are willing to hire and train graduates with degrees in marketing, communications, and journalism. This route will give you hands-on experience. You can expect to earn a trainee-level salary in your first job.
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