While the search marketing industry has done much growing in the last few years, it's also lagging behind other industries in certain areas. One thing the industry lacks is credible information about salary and structure of in-house search marketing teams. Part of this is due to the esoteric nature of the job compared to other corporate functions, and part of it is just the relative newness of in-house search marketing and myriad ways in-house teams can be structured.
To help shed some light on the compensation and common reporting structures of in-house search marketers, SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, is conducting an online survey of in-house marketers.
"There's no firm grasp on what's out there. You have people who have heard stories, but it's all third-hand information," said Duane Forrester, co-chair of SEMPO's In-House Committee and search marketing manager of Sports Direct. "For most other positions, you can find out the average compensation for that position, including bonus packages, broken down by geographic area. None of that exists for search."
Forrester came up with the idea for a survey after returning from SES New York earlier this year. He had spoken to several in-house marketers at the event, and inevitably the topic of salary came up. Urban legends of someone who knew someone who got a $300,000 a year job mixed with stories of large companies looking to hire a director of search marketing for $80,000 a year, he said.
The survey began running among SEMPO members earlier this week, and so far the results do not seem to be tied to geography or size of company, he said. What does matter is how vested in an online presence a company is – those who rely on search traffic for their business know the value of a top-shelf SEM and SEO team.
The 20-question survey is open to in-house search marketers, both on the organic and paid search sides. Results will be tallied anonymously after the survey is completed at the end of October. A preview of the survey can be downloaded here (PDF).
"SEMPO's goal is to go beyond anecdotal material and obtain data points that will add some clarity to the entire topic of compensation of in-house SEM professionals," Forrester said. "We want to provide professionals with a sense of their value in the marketplace, and businesses and employers with a greater understanding of SEM's valuation as they recruit for SEM professionals."
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