The cat’s out of the bag—product marketers get paid more than content marketers. Around $30,000 more on average per year, according to the salary reports we analyzed. We compared the Superpath 2022 Content Marketing Salary Report with the Product Marketing Alliance (PMA) 2021 Product Marketing Salary Report to get a better idea of the pay gap.
While there are differences in the core skills needed for content marketers and product marketers, they both involve writing, storytelling, and understanding the audience. The main difference is that PMMs develop the story around the product, while CMMs focus on the different levels of the buyer’s journey.
While pay discrepancies are frustrating, there’s also an opportunity to learn from product marketers and become more strategic as content marketers. When we focus on tying our work back to results, we can prove our worth and negotiate for higher salaries.
Let’s dig into some possible reasons why product marketers earn more than content marketers, even with the same years of experience.
Using salary data for various positions in an organization, we can see that content marketing is much farther away from the product, which corresponds with a lower salary.
Of course, this is not always true. Blake Thorne, Director of Content Strategy at LaunchNotes and former Product Marketing Manager at Atlassian points out there are people in the legal and finance space that get paid well and are arguably pretty far from the product.
But in general, this is a good way to consider why companies are willing to pay more for product marketing managers. They more directly influence the product and sales.
The pay gap also has to do with simple supply and demand. “PMMs are in demand and there just aren't that many good product marketers out there. Companies of all stages—from startups to huge enterprises—can hire many CMMs (the need is real and there is a supply of CMMs). But it's really only the more mature, larger companies that can hire PMMs,” says Dave Shanley CEO of Content Camel and former VP of Product Marketing at Jama Software.
In general, there are more companies looking for product marketers. According to LinkedIn’s job search as of August 2022, there are 87,090 open job listings for “product marketing manager” compared to 18,774 listings for “content marketing manager.” With higher demand and lower supply, PMMs can negotiate for higher salaries.
“It's like anything—demand drives price. I think there's been a boom in demand for PMMs in the last 5 to 10 years. I don't have data, it’s just a feeling I've gotten from being in both roles for the past 7 years. I noticed around mid-2021 the LinkedIn recruiter outreach I'd receive for PMM roles just exploded,” Blake adds.
To make things more complicated, some companies view content marketers as ‘generalists’ who can easily be replaced or outsourced with freelancers. This is especially true for companies that see content marketing as just creating blog posts and optimizing for SEO.
Content marketing is much more than blog posts, but it’s up to you as a CMM to show your ROI through reporting—which is easier said than done.
A PMM’s role is all about researching the market and maximizing demand for the product. Interacting closely with the product can make it easier for PMMs to tie activities back to revenue.
“One of the main reasons that PMMs are paid more than CMMs is because PMM activity is easier to evaluate in terms of ROI. CMMs are major contributors to that ROI, just far more indirectly. It’s the PMM who oversees the projects and sees them through to completion, so they’re the ones who get the credit or deal with the consequences of high or low ROI,” says Logan Mallory, VP of Marketing at Motivosity.
PMMs lead GTM initiatives and straddle sales and marketing, so they report on metrics like conversion rates and MQLs. On the flip side, content marketers track metrics like Unique Visitors, Pageviews, brand lift in the form of social media followers and mentions, and email subscribers. These metrics aren’t action-oriented and don’t always tie to revenue, but are still important for business growth and success.
PMMs influence higher visibility collateral like messaging and copy for landing pages, ads, and billboards, which again ties directly to sales.
In a podcast on his transition from content to product marketing, Blake explains that as a PMM, he defines the core story around the product. For example, in what’s called a ‘Message House Document,’ the PMM determines the top three value propositions, the order they’re talked about, the first three features mentioned, and more.
The product marketer can ‘set the stage’ for the content marketer to talk about the product in blog posts, podcasts, tweetstorms, and other content. And if you’re determining how your content team talks about the product as a CMM, it might be time to ask for a raise.
These are just a few reasons why product marketers get paid more than content marketers—their actions are easier to tie to ROI, they lead sales copy, there’s a higher demand for them, and they’re closer to the product. But since PMMs and CMMs both increase demand for the product (in different ways), there are still some positive takeaways.
Perhaps as a parting word, embrace Dave Kellogg’s mantra, “Marketing exists to make sales easier.” Content marketers that actively support sales can command higher salaries, show their worth more easily, and have higher salary satisfaction.