According to the CMO, many chief marketers are likely to have a disappointing upcoming year, as 84% surveyed by the council say that their compensation is tied to business performance improvements in 2020. Take-home pay will likely be less due to the severe economic impact of the global pandemic.

While tenure may be shorter in the United States-based and big brand companies analysed by Spencer Stuart, the CMO Council findings indicate a high degree of CMO success in raising the stature and influence of the marketing function before the market implosion.

Most importantly, the report indicates that marketers believe they have increased c-suite recognition of marketing's business value creation. The CMO Council Elevation + Compensation study revealed that:
  • three-quarters of chief marketers report that they have gained stature and influence in the past year
  • a substantial 83% say that marketing is viewed as a vital contributor to business value by executive teams
  • only 15% of marketing leaders failed to meet marketing goals and business objectives in 2019
  • despite making the numbers in 2019, 57% chief marketers expressed dissatisfaction with their current compensation packages
  • over 65% are expecting a compensation increase in 2020; however, the global economic devastation triggered by the pandemic will moderate this, and
  • an overwhelming 84% of chief marketers report that their compensation will be tied to business performance improvements in 2020, which is a very unlikely occurrence for most in the coming year.
Additional analytics from the CMO Council went wider and deeper across companies of all sizes, sectors and geographies. Data sourced from 325 chief marketer compensation profiles, which were created on the CMO Council's online portal, reveals insights into salaries, benefits and bonuses of marketing leaders working at companies of all sizes around the world.

According to the study, while the global economy will see an unprecedented downturn in 2020, top female marketers reported improvements in compensation and were able to narrowly outdistance their male counterparts in the compensation race in 2019.

Most notably, female marketers eclipsed their male counterparts in 2019 when it comes to both the average annual base salary and the bonus. Female salaries were on average $212 898 USD and their bonuses $56 229 USD, while males earned an average of $209 525 USD and bonuses of $53 388 USD.

The CMO Council has indicated that it has previously undertaken a major study to benchmark and understand the key factors influencing chief marketer compensation. It found that chief marketers who report directly to CEOs are likely to earn more than their peers.

Additionally, good peer relationships provide an advantage, as the most highly paid CMOs have forged close partnerships with chief financial officers and chief information officers.

The milestone 36-page report, which is available here to view, comprises facts, statistics, tables and analytics provided by Dr. Kimberly A. Whitler of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Key findings showed that:
  • CMO compensation is directly related to reporting structure. Those making more than $500 000 USD annually are more likely to report directly to the CEO
  • the highest paid CMOs have developed strong alliances with CIOs and CFOs
  • CMOs earning the highest levels of base compensation tend to be focused on driving business performance (e.g., top-line growth, market share and efficiencies)
  • B2C CMOs have a higher base salary than B2B / hybrid-company CMOs
  • CMO base compensation is correlated with firm size. The larger the company, the more likely that the CMO will make more in base compensation and the more likely they will have bonus compensation
  • digital marketing skills are important; CMO salary tends to increase as their firm's digital marketing performance improves
  • marketing titles (i.e., CMO, VP of Marketing and SVP of Marketing) don't significantly correlate with base compensation
  • key accomplishments of the top earners (greater than $500 000 base compensation) are centered on restructuring marketing to drive results, improving the yield / accountability of marketing and building digital capabilities, and
  • bonuses are the most common type of compensation beyond base pay. Eighty-five percent of CMOs receive bonuses, with large company CMOs being more likely to have bonus-based compensation.
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