Digital marketing manager salary should be at the top level

In this article, I’m going to describe my opinion on why digital marketing manager salaries should be at the top level and suggest a decent minimum wage. You’ll love the content if want to know:

  • the role of digital marketing manager in a modern business;
  • how much do digital marketing make today;
  • what are important digital marketing skills;
  • the resources it takes to prepare a digital marketing expert;
  • reasonable salary minimum for such a marketing manager.

Let’s get started.

Digital marketing manager salary should be at the top level. Illustration by Andrey Palagin

While Apple’s seismic change to the mobile ad industry draws near, there are still thousands of online marketing specialists (or who pretend to be a specialist) chasing better job opportunities. Regrettably, some of them are ready to work for nothing under post-pandemic circumstances. At the same time, the majority has quite high chances to force the employers for increasing the wages. I’d like to share my thoughts on why digital marketing specialists can’t be considered as a cheap workforce.

The role of digital marketing manager

First of all, let’s describe the role of a digital marketing expert in a modern business. I have no doubts that any marketing expert plays a tremendous role in a customer-focused organization. By its nature, such a worker helps to acquire clients, transfer them into customers, and retain them as well. An enormous activity, along with resources, stays behind these 3 processes. As a result, a marketing team influences the revenue of a business and its ROI like no one else. Since a big part of a customer journey has been digitalized, marketing specialists are evolved into digital marketers as well. Thereby, a digital marketing manager is a person who determines the future of an organization. If such an employee is good at developing, implementing, and overseeing long-term marketing campaigns as well as short-term advertising techniques, your business will grow for sure. If not, everything may collapse, and you — as a business owner — will look for a new job as well. The concluding question is why such a growth driver should not be well rewarded.

How much do digital marketers make?

Now, let’s take a look at how much do digital marketers make today in the U.S. along with other countries.

Based on indeed.com, salaries for digital marketing managers vary depending on their level of education and work experience as well as an employer’s industry, company size, and geographical location. The common digital marketing manager salary in the U.S. is $59,492 per year. In contrast to this, according to salary.com, the median digital marketing manager salary in the United States is $108,169 per year. Finally, the 2020 Salary Guide by TCG stated that the candidate with an average level of experience in marketing costs $82,000 — $95,000 per year. In addition to that, glassdoor.com shows that the average base pay is $119,529 per year. So, based on these numbers the average wage of a digital marketing manager in the U.S. is $95,000 roughly.

Simultaneously, in Canada, a digital marketing manager makes $92,603 per year (by salary.com) or $46,500 per year (by glassdoor.com). Thus, the average wage in that country could be considered $70,000 per year approximately.

In the United Kingdom, a digital marketing manager earns $58,000 per year, which is an average of $69,000/year, provided by glassdoor.com and $47,000/year, by indeed.com.

Medium digital marketing manager wages in English-speaking countries with slightly similar professional environment
Medium digital marketing manager wages in English-speaking countries with slightly similar professional environment
Consolidated data, based on salary.com, glassdoor.com, and indeed.com

The salary research shows that the business appreciates its promoters in the U.S. and Australia much more than in the United Kingdom. However, probably specialists have fewer expectations, along with living needs, over there.

I have to admit, the data above do not consider the experience as well as the skill set of a digital marketing manager. By default, I expect that the manager should have at least 5 years of practice and be highly proficient in common digital platforms, tools, web analytics, research, and customer behavior mapping.

Still, this wage statistic alone will not support you in securing a higher salary. Here is something else, which needs to be taken into account.

Requirements for digital marketing manager

Obtaining a position as a digital marketing manager usually involves certain requirements such as a bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, or a related field. Digital marketing experts should have studied coursework in coding languages, search engine optimization, e-commerce, and web analytics tools. Certification is a must for the preponderance of digital marketing roles because it enables professionals to improve their skills plus demonstrate their qualifications to prospective employers. Training and practicing are vital for performing business promotion activities with success; furthermore, it’s obliged to hit employers’ goals timely and efficiently. An exemplary digital marketing manager should be in possession of strategic thinking, communication, interpersonal and technical skills. Time management talent is a requirement as well.

How to become a digital marketing manager?

Here are three basic steps for becoming a digital marketing manager:

In case you’d like to become a well-paid digital marketing expert, you should gain some work experience first through contract or part-time marketing support positions or an internship. That will help you in mastering some skills and getting several successful cases for your portfolio. Customarily, a managerial role requires at least 5 years of relevant experience in marketing and advertising.

Second, to be a literate marketing manager you must have a bachelor’s degree, or preferably a master’s degree in marketing or business. Education can’t fully support you in your marketing efforts; nevertheless, it can help you to avoid common mistakes, which means saving resources for a business.

Finally, to look like a professional digital marketing manager you better earn technical certifications, which also serves as a recognition of your skills in modern marketing tactics and tools. A certificate also indicates that your particular skills have been evaluated by the appropriate authority, and you are officially ready to handle appropriate marketing challenges.

What does it take to train a digital marketing expert?

To be more specific let’s review the most common general marketing education and top certification programs available in the United States. Below I’d like to calculate all the resources it’s needed to train a proficient digital marketing manager, and then compare it with the actual wages.

Per Bachelorstudies.com, there are at least 13 programs available in the U.S. For instance, Regis College in Weston, MA trains digital marketing professionals in 3 years (121 academic credits are required). According to their website, the tuition fee is $375 per credit or $45,375 in total. For comparison, Popularity of Business, Management & Marketing degree at UCLA costs $52,960 on average and requires 4 years of life.

In addition to general education, a certificate program may be necessary for improving and updating marketing skills. As an example, UCLA Extension provides certification in marketing with concentration in digital marketing, which requires $6,800, along with 6–9 months.

Thus, we can conclude, it takes 3–5 years and up to $59,760 (excluding living expenses) just to educate a digital marketing manager.

In his article on knowledgeenthusiast.com, Matthew Royse affirms that top digital marketing certifications to acquire in 2021 are:

  1. Google Ads (multiple certificates)
  2. Google Analytics
  3. HubSpot Inbound & Content Marketing
  4. Facebook Blueprint Certifications
  5. YouTube Certification

Most of those certs are free, but each of them requires up to 120 hours (maybe more) to learn the stuff. In total, the young professional has to spend at least 840 hours or 105 days (0.25 years) to receive them all. From a financial perspective, in case the average salary in the U.S. is $95,000 per annum, then certificates acquisition costs are $23,750. Be noticed that all listed certs need to be renewed yearly.

Moreover, I highly recommend obtaining more industry-related skills. Some users on Reddit.com confessed that video making, CRM orchestrating, A/B (split) testing, project management, and conversion rate optimization skills have helped them a lot in building a career. It is hard to calculate how much time it takes to get at least some of those.

Lastly, practicing is the most important part of any digital marketing manager path. To master their skills in SEO, PPC, SMM, data analytics, content marketing, lead nurturing, and team management, young professionals have to serve for several years in lower-level marketing-related roles (marketing assistant, marketing intern, etc.). Read it as they need to be underpaid (= C), as well as many other professionals. Let’s build a hypothesis that their salary to be at a very low level (A = $59,492 per year, according to Indeed.com), and the median wage is B = $95,000. Hence, C = B — A = $35,508 per annum. In other words, for 5 years of practicing a digital marketing manager may miss $177,540 in total. This is the cost of practice.

Now it is time to summarize, for an individual it takes 8–10 years and up to $261,050 to become a professional digital marketing manager in the United States. Numbers seem terrific. You can use a similar approach to determine digital marketing expert training costs in other countries.

Digital marketing manager training (development) costs
Digital marketing manager training (development) costs
Aggregated data, based on Training Costs = Education Costs + Certificates Acquisition Costs + Cost of Practice

Furthermore, digital marketing is an ongoing evolutionary process, so many hard skills need to be updated and gained new ones regularly.

The decent minimum wage for a digital marketing manager

Based on the data above, I have no doubts a digital marketing manager should make at least 110K a year by trading his valuable expertise to achieve crucial business goals.

To support my main thesis I am going to use the return on education (published by Regional Economists), which declares that the return to one year of schooling is, on average, between 8 and 13 percent. That means each additional year of education is associated with an 8–13 percent increase in hourly earnings.

Therefore, if 8 years of training is the minimum time it takes to become a skilled digital marketing manager, about $60,000/year is a base salary in the U.S., and 10.5 percent is a median increase in hourly earnings, then the manager should get at least $110,400 per year.

The dependence of salary on experience and education
The dependence of salary on experience and education
Salary vs. training linear regression, based on the formula

DMM Salary = base salary + (return on education * years of training)

I need to make a reservation, this formula is applicable before a manager reaches the maturity peak, after that the age factor starts working against the labor income.

Besides that, let’s walk in business-owner shoes and use the alternative calculation. Now we know that the development of a capable digital marketing manager requires $261,050 (if built from scratch). For at least 110 thousand dollars (42% of its value), a business gets a well-set mechanism that will directly influence its revenue stream over the next year. That is 68% off. Isn’t that a good deal?

It is tolerable to understand the aspiration of some businesses to get success-vital resources as cheaply as possible. Сontrariwise, you, as a job-seeker, need to remind shareholders:

  1. There are development (professional training) costs, which need to be compensated by a consumer;
  2. Cheap resources are not always high quality and may not meet all the expectations.

For instance, when you need to perform heart surgery, you choose the doctor based on his experience and education (not because he is just a well-talented friend, and he looks confident). Since your life depends on that specialist, money is the last thing you take into consideration. Businesses should act the same way when it is time to hire a digital marketing manager.

All in all, digital marketing is a very tough discipline that supports you in reaching a larger audience, along with targeting the prospects, transferring them into happy customers, and retaining them as loyal consumers (moreover, raising brand advocates). It does the job well and hits goals timely if managed by a well-trained and bold professional. You need to spend a colossal time and take a lot of effort to become an expert. Sadly, you can see that some marketing managers are underpaid, which is not commensurate with their contribution to the success of a company. Due to its role, businesses must reward such growth drivers with great compensation.

A certified marketing professional who helps businesses, whose values he shares, in achieving their business goals via modern marketing tools.