In a new study done by CMO Council, findings show that forging close ties with members of the C-suite can be advantageous to chief marketing officers (CMO). After auditing 345 senior level marketers worldwide for their eighth annual “State of Marketing” report, CMO Council highlights key insights on top earning chief marketers.

CMO Council consists of over 7,000 members 110 countries. These members collectively control over $400 billion U.S. dollars in aggregated marketing expenditures annually. However, Dr. Kimberly A. Whitler, who reviewed research data and authored the report, states, “With a minority of CMOs believing that they are fairly paid, there appears to be a general issues with CMO compensation.”


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Of the 345 senior level marketers surveyed, 56 percent hold executive titles such as a CMO, EVP, SVP or VP. However, the study shows how marketing titles do not necessarily correlate with base compensation.

So how does one become a high earning CMO? CMO Council reveals in the study that forming close relationship with peers, especially with chief financial officers and chief information officers, proves beneficial. According to the study, the highest paid CMOs have strong alliances with these two members. Furthermore, findings from the study show how CMOs who directly report to their CEO are more likely to be paid higher. In other words, the report states that “CMO compensation is directly related to reporting structure.”

Other key insights revealed in the study include how digital marketing skills prove essential. According to the report, the salary of a CMO is more likely to increase as a firm’s digital marketing performance improves.

Finally, some of the key accomplishment of top earning senior level marketers highlighted by the report include: restructuring marketing to drive results, improving the yield/accountability of marketing, and building digital capabilities.

With a majority of CMOs believing they are unfairly paid, this annual report hopes to serve as a benchmarking tool to help companies better understand CMO compensation from various dimensions. CMO Council executive director, Donovan Neale-May, says, “This is the first comprehensive report regarding CMO compensation and provides significant insight into CMO salaries, incentives, benefits, as well as CMO expectations and perceptions of compensation fairness and value to the organization.”