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In-House SEM Budgets, Salaries and Experience

Posted on 1.09.2008
The Search Enginge Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) has published their first ever, in-house SEM survey, and the findings may surprise you. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that nearly one-third of in-house SEMs are managing a monthly budget of $200,000 or more. That far outweighs what SEMPO expected before the results came in. “We anticipated a lower ceiling of monthly spend closer to the $100,000 range so we were pleasantly surprised,” says Duane Forrester, co-chair of SEMPO’s In-House SEM Committee and Lead SEO Program Manager with Microsoft. “The $200K monthly spend is a healthy barometer of the search marketing industry and it syncs up with SEMPO’s current trend projections that SEM spending will double by 2011, to more than $18 billion.”

The data was collected from 656 completed surveys and consisted of entry, mid- and upper-level in-house managers and analysts. While SEMPO membership was not a requirement to take the survey, chances are good that most respondents were SEMPO members - which means that many of these respondents were coming from larger corporations. Some findings:
  • 64% of respondents have 5 years or less SEM experience.
  • Senior managers and directors earned an annual salary of $75,000 - $100,000.
  • In-House SEMs with 0-3 years of experience earned as much as $200,000 annually (0.8%) to less than $30,000 (14.5%). The majority (58.8%) earn $60,000 or less.
  • The majority of In-House SEMs with 5-7 years earned $90,000 or less annually. 34.7% earned $100,000 or more.
  • While one-third of respondents have monthly SEM budgets of $200,000 or greater, 26.6% have budgets of up to only $25,000 monthly.
Three major take-aways from this study:
  1. SEM can be a profitable job if you commit at least five years to it.
  2. The industry, or at least those placing "Search Engine Marketer" on their resume, is still very young.
  3. Companies are already committing large portions of their budgets to search and it doesn't look to slow up anytime soon.
What I would really like to see in this study is a comparison of ROI for those companies spending $200,000 or more per month versus those spending $25,000 or less.
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