September 15, 2010, 4:30 PM

Moving up the salary ladder

Top 500 retailers will extend great offers to experienced managers who can drive growth.

Want some good career advice on your way up the online retailing ladder of success: Specialize in the fundamentals of e-commerce blocking and tackling and then learn how to become a coach.

That’s a great career management nugget from Harry Joiner, the e-commerce recruiting specialist who places mid- and senior-level executives at Top 500 retail and other organizations every day. These days, the online retailing job market, especially for middle managers that specialize in all technical aspects of e-mail marketing and search marketing, and who don’t change jobs too often, is red hot.

Last year, Joiner says, he handled 60 or 70 e-commerce executive searches and this year he’s on track to handle120 or 130. The annual compensation for an experienced e-mail marketing manager—one that can handle all technical and creative aspects of the job and has extras like knowing how to build effective campaign management landing pages—is up this year 15% to about $100,000. Likewise the annual pay for an experienced search engine marketing manager who has held steady employment at a retailing organization and hasn’t job-hopped every other year to another agency is up about 15% to around $120,000.

The going rate in annual compensation for an experienced e-commerce director is holding steady at about $150,000. The new development there is that more retailers now extend that level of an offer, compared with just a handful a year ago, says Joiner. “The e-commerce market is growing and so is the need for specialists with a good employment history,” says Joiner.

More hiring managers are extending online retailing job offers—but they also are taking longer to make a final decision, says Joiner. The candidate who does get the job typically must show that they not only know how to manage the business, but, more important, can identify new up-selling and cross-selling opportunities that will drive growth. “Online merchandising skills are really in demand,” says Joiner. “Retailers are very specific and screen and hire the best applicant that knows how to drive traffic, increase sales conversion and generate bigger tickets. Online is the growth channel for the industry and hiring managers will make top offers to applicants that can demonstrate a talent for growing the business.”

For marketing and other e-commerce support personnel looking to move up, Joiner advises them to learn all the “ins and outs” of running an online web store and then polishing their management skills to head up a team that can drive a business forward. “In football terms, first you make the team as a specialist and then learn how to work your way up to becoming a coach,” says Joiner. “There’s lots of growth opportunity today and going forward for managers that know how to grow the online retail matrix: traffic, ticket, conversion and sales.”

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