Chief Marketing Officer Salaries by Industry

The right Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) can make the difference between a flourishing enterprise and one that’s struggling to survive. As the role of the lead marketer in organizations has evolved and expanded the responsibilities — and compensation — of CMOs have increased.
That compensation usually includes not only a base salary but also performance-based bonuses of cash, stock options (for public companies) or equity, especially for SaaS software startups and other tech firms. According to a study done by the CMO Council, a full 84 percent of CMOs surveyed said their total comp was tied to improvements in business performance. Unlike the prototypical lone wolf sales executive, marketing is a team sport and incentives may be structured in many ways, rather than the straightforward commission plan typically offered to sales.
Because incentives vary so widely from company to company, not just between industries, we’ve used based salary before bonus as our yardstick for salary comparisons.
CMOs earning the highest levels of base comp tend to be focused on driving business performance such as top-line growth, efficiencies, market share or even more narrowly focused initiatives. In general, CMOs who report to their CEO earn the most: CMOs with total comp above $500,000 almost all report to their CEO. Those who report having strong relationships with their organization’s CFO and CIO also report higher earnings.

Reverse Gender Gap

While CMOs are overwhelmingly male, in 2019 female CMOs earned more in total comp than their male peers. According to the CMO Council study, female CMO salaries averaged $212,898 and their bonuses $56,229, while males earned an average of $209,525 and bonuses of $53,388.

Size Matters

While there are differences in compensation between industries, as well as the length of a CMOS experience and skills, the size of the organization has a large effect on compensation:

Size                                                Salary                           Bonus

Large (250+ staff)                      $236,186                      $69,313

Medium (50-249 staff)              $179,500                      $33,390

Small (10-49 staff)                     $103,458                      $14,885

Micro (1-9 staff)                        $175,057                      $21,774

Experience Counts Too

You don’t want to be on an airplane with a first-time pilot, and companies generally will pay more — much more — for experience. According to Payscale.com, the difference in compensation between early career and late career CMOs in New York is stark, with more experienced professionals earning nearly twice as much as younger peers.

Got Skills?

While you can expect your applicants to have an advanced degree in marketing, if you need your next CMO to come complete with specific skills, you may need to pay more to attract the right candidate. On average, Payscale.com found that marketers with more qualifications got a bump:

Digital Marketing 15%

Online Marketing 13%

Strategic Marketing 9%

Strategy 7%

Marketing Management 5%

Marketing Communications 5%

Branding 2%

CMO SALARIES

Average base pay before bonus.

 

 

 

 

Boston

$209

 

New York

$243

 

Raleigh

$162

 

Atlanta

$199

 

Chicago

$177

 

Austin

$215

 

Seattle

$216

 

San Francisco

$203

 

Los Angeles

$179

Media / Public Relations 1%

CMO Salaries: Software

Not surprisingly, software CMOs are paid more in areas where there are more software companies (and more competition for their experience and skills). One example is in the difference between average salaries in Boston ($269,000) and New York ($248,000). Boston’s Route 128 tech corridor was the original high-tech hub, built by pioneers like Wang Laboratories (founded in 1951), Data General and Prime. While some Boston firms decamped for Silicon Valley over the years, the corridor is still a hotbed of innovation for bio-tech and software while New York’s Silicon Alley is still catching up: Boston still outgains New York in venture capital nearly two to one and the presence of eight research universities within a few miles of downtown means competition for CMOs with a talent for high tech is still fierce.

Software CMOs need serious online marketing skills and the ability to adapt to rapidly changing market dynamics. With the meteoric adoption of SaaS, companies that specialize in development — even those in niche markets and verticals — may suddenly find a clone of one or more of their core products available by subscription for a low fee. That makes the right CMO not only a good investment for growth, but a necessary one to defend the turf you already own.

CMO SALARIES SOFTWARE

Average base pay before bonus.

 

 

 

 

Boston

$269

 

New York

$248

 

Raleigh

$158

 

Atlanta

$291

 

Chicago

$300

 

Austin

$169

 

Seattle

$288

 

San Francisco

$265

 

Los Angeles

$250

CMO Salaries: Manufacturing

Salaries for manufacturing CMOs are closely correlated to the size of the organization and its gross sales. A mid-sized specialty manufacturer whose customers are largely other businesses will pay less — possibly far less — than a nation

CMO SALARIES MANUFACTURING

Average base pay before bonus.

 

 

 

 

Boston

$189

 

New York

$169

 

Raleigh

$158

 

Atlanta

$163

 

Chicago

$280

 

Austin

$141

 

Seattle

$177

 

San Francisco

$190

 

Los Angeles

$224

al or global consumer brand. In one instance, we found an automotive CMO who reported making in excess of $750,000 annually when base and bonuses were figured in while, in the same city, the average manufacturing CMO was taking home less than $300,000, all-in.

CMO Salaries: Pharmaceutical

Like software, pharmaceutical companies are concentrated in a few areas, and some of them are the same places: Boston, New York and San Francisco. Eight of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have a major presence in Boston and the area has the largest concentration (26.8 million square feet) of life sciences laboratory space in the U.S. The New York-New Jersey metro area and the adjacent Philadelphia metro teem with pharma and bio-science companies as well. Those clusters are joined by the San Francisco Bay Area, and together place at the top of the chart for pharma CMO pay.

If you’re in one of those areas — and a few others, including Atlanta and Los Angeles — you will likely pay a premium for a quality CMO with experience in your industry. Up-and-coming clusters in areas like Austin and Raleigh may still benefit from lower CMO base pay, but given how geographically concentrated pharma has been, it’s likely you’ll be hiring from outside the local region and may have to pay a higher, competitive rate for the right person.

CMO SALARIES PHARMA

Average base pay before bonus.

 

 

 

 

Boston

$257

 

New York

$306

 

Raleigh

$160

 

Atlanta

$238

 

Chicago

$171

 

Austin

$162

 

Seattle

$181

 

San Francisco

$230

 

Los Angeles

$183

CMO Salaries: Telecom

Telecommunications companies are pushing into areas outside their traditional boundaries, especially content. That’s symbolized by the $170 billion AT&T spent to acquire media properties including HBO, Warner Bros., CNN, TBS, and TNT over the past few years but also, most powerfully, by the nine-foot tall replica of the Iron Throne from the mega-hit series Game of Thrones that now graces the lobby of AT&T headquarters in Dallas.

As telecoms have diversified, they need CMOs with more diverse skills. It’s not just shoveling out cell phones and brewing up new plan options anymore. Finding a CMO with solid telecom credentials may mean competing not just with the VOIP provider down the street, but also with media giants who’ve grown out of traditional telecoms. With the average CMO tenure just short of four years, consider hiring someone with additional skills as your own organization may need to venture beyond its roots in the near future as competition and diversification intensifies.

CMO SALARIES TELECOM

Average base pay before bonus.

 

 

 

 

Boston

$217

 

New York

$197

 

Raleigh

$156

 

Atlanta

$292

 

Chicago

$163

 

Austin

$155

 

Seattle

$174

 

San Francisco

$187

 

Los Angeles

$198

Matching The Right CMO With The Right Package

As mentioned above, comp plans for CMOs are extremely diverse and the figures in the tables are for base pay only. We found some organizations — especially not-for-profits — that offer competitive base salary but little incentive pay. We found other organizations — especially in software and pharma — where bonuses and incentives were half of total comp or more.

Organizations in other industries may find it useful to consider how stock and equity can be used to attract candidates who are at the top edge of their affordability range.

In the battle for the best CMOs, the winners are the ones who will dominate their industries and their competitors, and competitive pay is critical to ensuring you get the right person for the job.

— 30 —

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *