Here’s a recent article by MediaPost with regards to the salaries of search marketers:
What I have found is that retaining search marketers can be a challenge compared to other specialties due to:
- competitiveness within the specialty
- lack of diversity within the field
- commodity nature of specialty
In order to retain a superior search marketer, you have to address all three of these issues directly and aggressively.
1. Pay competitive salaries and benefits. This is not a position that you want to farm out to an agency (no one knows your business as well as you do). I’ve spoken about bringing search in-house at SES Chicago. It’s a big deal. If you skimp in other positions, don’t in this one. You’ll need to offer decent raises, bonuses and other incentives. If you can offer incentive based compensation based upon laddered MBO targets, that’s even better. For example, offer a bonus of $X dollars if 75% percent of the target is hit; offer 2X if 100% is hit, and offer 3x if 125% is hit.
2. Search has evolved into more than text ads. You have remarketing, display, sitelinks, streaming audio, video pre-rolls, and so much more… Not to mention new networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Make sure your search marketers have the opportunity to try/pilot campaigns using these technologies so they keep learning new things and stay excited about their field.
Additionally, make sure your search marketers go to one or two conferences per year to learn from others and learn new skills. Of particular importance are analytics. You want your search marketers as analytical as possible. Invest in training with regards to analytics, analysis, Excel, etc., whenever possible.
3. Entry and minimal-experienced candidates can often suffer from the a commodity-like nature of “creating ads and campaigns, and managing bids”. Therefore, retaining and growing less experienced talent can be even more challenging as there is less holding them to the profession than their more experienced counterparts. In these instances, you want to create and emphasis professional development and provide overall marketing training in the areas of not just analysis and search marketing, but also writing for the web, lead generation, nurture marketing, and so on. This will help build a well-rounded marketer who can then focus on search marketing as a specialty.
Above all else, remember that if you invest in your staff, they will invest in their careers with you.