Performance Marketer Salaries – How Much & Why It’s So Hard

Some roles are very easy to put a figure on. That’s why you have salary bands in some places. There’s a degree of certainty over what you should be earning and what you can earn. Like in the civil service.

Imagine a performance marketer being able to say “well if I worked for ten years in this role I’d be able to earn £50,000”.

Naw, ain’t happening.

Performance Marketers are DIFFICULT PEOPLE. They’re difficult because they know their value, and they know the value they bring.

Can, for instance, someone handling PR or social media comms tell you exactly how much money they’re bringing into the organisation through their channels? To the penny? For every conceivable time period?

Let’s look at the different ways of putting a value on performance marketers, and how each element influences the salary that you’ll eventually arrive at… and – if you can’t be bothered reading it all, just scroll to the bottom and you’ve got our approximative average salaries for different bands of performance marketer.

How long they’ve been doing it

The simplest yardstick is the length of time your performance marketer has been performance marketing. Many will start off as interns or assistants at some of the larger agencies and those salaries are obviously in the 20s. It’s usually having done a couple of years at one of these behemoth London agencies that your marketer will make a decision:

  • Move into account management
  • Specialise in one area e.g. PPC, paid social, SEO, affiliates
  • Stay & aim for a senior exec role
  • Look for an in-house role

Throw in London weighting to the mix, and your average 2-3 years’ experience performance marketer could be looking at a salary of around £30,000 to £35,000 which is obviously a significant leap from the low base of the intern or assistant. Outside of London, take a couple of K’s off, and you probably have your level.

It’s once a performance marketer reaches around 5 years’ experience that the salary ranges start to broaden considerably, dependent on a wide range of factors that naturally include their own bullishness and confidence.

The combination of skills vs dedicated expertise

You could argue that a true performance marketer will achieve instantly measurable results regardless of method. And indeed, that if their specialism lies solely within PPC, then they are PPC marketers and not performance marketers.

The market doesn’t always lead us in this direction, however, and there are often performance marketing roles that – for whatever reason – focus solely on one element of the performance mix.

So you will have specialists, for instance, in affiliates, PPC or SEO who label themselves performance marketers despite being at best T-shaped in their skillset, and can command significantly higher-than-average salaries.

On the other hand, you have the true performance marketers who pull on whichever strategy is appropriate, be it paid, affiliates or organic, and have deep expertise in each. These are the marketers who, with 5 to 10 years’ experience, can jump from around £40,000 to £80,000, which represents a good 10% to 20% more than the specialists.

Scarcity & Demand

There is, of course, another significant factor. And performance marketers usually know it. Markets fluctuate all the time. Right now – at time of writing, at least – we’re in a position where there are fewer roles and more candidates. In a few months, that situation may turn on its head.

In a market with fewer candidates, their value will rise.

But think again about your own market. Performance Marketers are predominantly found in faster-moving industries – B2C, DTC, e-commerce, FMCG, luxury, fashion, retail, etc. etc. etc. – and their specialisms are in demand. If you’re in high-end women’s fashion, then a performance marketer with experience of high-end women’s fashion will come at a deserved premium. They are scarce to you the hiring manager, and their roles are scarce in return.

So if you want to hire from a small talent pool, and pick out the precise individual who ticks every box, be prepared to go to the very top of your budget, or beyond.

The only way to push down in terms of your budget is to accept transferrable knowledge and take someone who isn’t from your micro-niche.

Measurable impact & the cost of not hiring

Here’s a scenario. You hire a young performance marketer at a low salary of let’s say £35,000, and that marketer develops certain skills – thanks to your investment in them – that grows your revenue enormously.

Within three years, that person has directly contributed to a 500% increase in revenue and a 200% increase in profit (I’m making these numbers up, go along with me…).

What’s more, that person can see the numbers they’re putting out. They see those numbers every day. They see the direct correlation between their skills and the revenue the company is making.

So they ask for more money.

Do you give it?

Because, let’s face it – at this stage, with that leap in profit numbers, you can afford it. But you do have a choice. You can cut this person in, or you can leave them out and let them go somewhere else.

Your question is actually this: if we lose this person, will we lose that revenue? It’s like a football team losing their star centre-forward. Where will the goals come from? Or can you find an adequate replacement with no down time.

I’m not saying here that performance marketers are greedy individuals solely motivated by the amount of cash you can stuff in their pockets, but as hiring managers, you must know that these are the people who know the most about your business from a revenue perspective. They know more than sales people, and they know what kind of a difference they are making.

When you have a performance marketer who is visibly having an impact, their value rises.

This leads directly to:

Bullishness

So far, we’ve looked at how long they’ve worked, how skilled they are, how scarce they may be and how big an impact they are having.

All of these act as a push or pull on their salary level, but when you throw in bullishness, you have candidates that know their worth and those who don’t ask for their worth.

I’m sometimes shocked when female candidates (90% of the time) tell me they’d like a salary that is approximately 15% to 20% lower than what their equivalent male candidates would ask for.

Many choose not to have a pay increase. They’d happily move for the same money.

Many male candidates (not all, and indeed there are some female candidates here) can be quite bullish. They’ll explicitly state that they’re not moving for anything less than £10k more than what they’re earning now. After all, why would they? Cost of living, I know my value, etc.

Bullishness does not equate to talent. But you have to know when a candidate is being bullish and when a candidate is under-valuing themselves.

  • A bullish candidate may be pushing multiple opportunities on salary
  • An under-valued candidate may find out their true worth sooner than you think

That’s why you have to be realistic on salary and you have to stick to your guns as a hiring manager when a candidate is being bullish. And that means having a fair value of what they should be paid…

Dang, so what is that fair value then?

These numbers are super approximative – so maybe give them a few K’s either way, downwards especially if you’re not in London which is where we operate… but here’s a table of average salaries we’ve been looking at in performance roles over the last year:

It’s enough to cover most bases, but if you are looking for a high-impact, niche, skilled performance marketing manager in central London, then expect to be paying circa £60k, and more if they’re feeling bullish and the market is right for them.

Again, expect to move 10% or so either way, and 10% downwards if you’re outside London, but as a guide, this is roughly equivalent to what we’re seeing in the market and how the various factors influence what candidates ask for.

And it’s not just salary, of course…

A good performance marketer can work almost anywhere, any time, and this brings up the hybrid / remote / on-site question. And this can start to skew salaries a little as you frequently have candidates (and employers) giving lower figures in exchange for remote or hybrid – especially with London roles. You also have some candidates asking for more for on-site roles. Because, y’know, 5 days in London = a lot of money.

At the very highest levels, expect a conversation about equity or performance-related bonuses. We’ve had conversations with candidates about how to top up a salary that is, in their view, a little undercooked. Extra pension contributions, wellness funds, bonuses of different descriptions – these can all come into the mix, but remember that a good performance marketer knows not only their value but the value they’re bringing to the business, and that can result in a more performance-led-bonus type of conversation.

But ultimately, whatever the package – there are no industry-defined salary bands. There are no guidelines. There is nothing other than two parties saying “I have this much money” and “I want this much money”, and eventually meeting at a point where they’re both satisfied. That’s it. It’s no more complex than that.

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