Marketers: Overworked But Overjoyed

Marketers are an optimistic lot. More than a third (34%) of the 2,620 marketing pros responding to a survey fielded by the American Marketing Association and Aquent said their levels of job satisfaction increased in 2012. But–all praise Lennon and McCartney–things appear to be getting better all the time for members of the marketing tribe. Forty-four percent of them expect the situation at the office to become even rosier next year.

Faced with mounting pressure to make better use of advanced data analytics and to adapt to rapidly growing channels such as mobile, one could well assume that the marketer’s lot was one of stress and drudgery. But these new challenges may have had a rousing effect instead. “Big changes like this can often cause people to be invigorated in their jobs. Marketers are now able to use data to predict customer behavior instead of just making guesses,” says Nelson Rodriguez, VP of global marketing for Aquent, an agency that provides companies with temporary marketing talent. “They feel they’ll be learning new skills, and that can be exciting.”

Aquent joined the AMA to sponsor the online survey, conducted last November, which sought to discover salary levels, strategies, and trends in the marketing community. A quarter of the respondents worked at agencies, with the remainder representing industries including healthcare, financial services, and retail.  They ranged from entry-level marketers to senior-level executives.

Three quarters of marketers said they’d engaged in professional development programs last year, and two thirds of those said they sought to learn new skills. Sixty-nine percent watched webinars, 60% read online white papers, and 58% took advantage of educational resources on association websites. When Aquent ran a webinar on HTML5 last year, it got 10,000 registrants, according to Rodriguez. “We usually top out at a thousand,” he notes.

The top five skills marketers are hoping to develop are in digital strategies, search engine optimization, content strategy, social media, and mobile marketing and advertising. The three they think will be the most instrumental in furthering their careers are market research, data analytics, and marketing insights.

Practitioners who will be in the greatest demand this year, according to respondents, are those proficient in social media marketing, brand management, search marketing, marketing communications project management, and online marketing.

It’s not just new channels demanding new skills, it’s established channels that are evolving, Rodriguez notes. “We see a lot of people who have 10 or more years or experience in SEO, but there are a lot of tech shifts happening in that area,” he says. “People are talking about what to do with re-targeting. They’re still figuring out how to make it work in the Facebook spectrum, toying with open-graph search. There’s a lot of talk about mobile, but there’s a lot happening with channels some consider long in the tooth.”

Rodriguez sees companies settling in with social media marketing practices, noting that the big challenge that remains for marketers in this arena is ROI measurement. “I think we’re in the third phase of social media, where you see more companies using a mix of talent. They’re still using agencies for consultation and strategy, but they have in-house social media marketers, some of whom have been at it for five or six years,” Rodriguez says. “The requests we are getting now in social media are for seasoned marketers who can establish measurement standards and create accountability.”

The median salary for rose 4% to $75,000 for all marketers surveyed last year and is expected to hit $80,000 in 2013..  San Jose ($107K) topped New York ($96K) as the city with the highest-paid marketers. Right behind were San Francisco ($89K), Boston ($88K), and Washington DC ($88K).

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