It’s undeniable that content marketers (and professionals across industries) have faced years of burnout as we were thrust into remote (and now hybrid) work arrangements and our companies grappled with an uncertain economy. And that’s independent from the ever-growing pressure and urgency to learn how to use AI to stay competitive.
But there is a lot to be optimistic about regarding the future of our industry and our value as humans—and there are proven ways for companies to better develop, engage, and retain us.
To get a pulse on how marketers feel about their work, Erika joins Kim Moutsos, VP of editorial at the Content Marketing Institute, in this #ContentChat recap to dig into findings from CMI’s Content Marketing Career and Salary Outlook 2024 research.
Watch the full conversation on YouTube or read through the highlights below. If you’re currently looking for resources to help you in your career (including open positions), check out CMI’s career hub.
Q1: How are content marketers using generative AI to support their workflows?
According to the research, three out of four content marketers are using AI (even if it’s just to experiment). Top uses include brainstorming topics and researching headlines and keywords.
“47%—and this was the top number—said that they’re using AI to brainstorm new topics. Another 46% told us they use it to research headlines and keywords. I do that myself; I definitely have a few AI tools that I go in and I try out different headlines. Of course, I then evaluate it against my own judgment and experience.” – Kim Moutsos
About one in three marketers use AI to write drafts, but only 29% say they use it to proofread (which is surprising, because tools like Grammarly are AI-powered!).
“36% said they’re using it right now to write drafts. And only 29% say they use it to proofread.” – Kim Moutsos
One in four marketers use AI to create outlines.
“Another 25% said they use it to create outlines for assignments.” – Kim Moutsos
25% of marketers claim they don’t use AI at all… which could imply people don’t realize that many of their favorite tools use AI.
“Only 25% say they don’t use [AI] at all. And I’m actually a little skeptical about that number, because, let’s be honest, people are curious—does that mean they don’t use the output of AI in their work? I’d just be really shocked if there’s anyone working in our field who hasn’t at least gone over to peek at ChatGPT or something AI-related.” – Kim Moutsos
“I wonder, too, if some people just don’t understand that AI is in some of the tools that they’re using. For instance, I know so many people have used the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. And if you ask them ‘do you use AI to help you with your headlines?’ they might answer no, not even realizing that it’s AI.” – Erika Heald
Erika loves using AI to help with personalization workflows and to ensure content has a unified brand voice (especially when writing for different executives or thought leaders).
“AI can be so helpful for workflows for personalization, and one of my favorites for really ensuring you have that unified brand voice across everything that comes out of your organization.” – Erika Heald
Q2: What fears do content marketers have regarding how generative AI will shape the future of our work?
Content marketers are concerned AI could replace jobs, but it isn’t their top concern.
“When we started the research, we expected to hear that people were worried about their jobs. About 45% of content marketers who responded to this survey said they are worried that there will be fewer jobs for content marketers. That was actually number four on the list of concerns—it wasn’t the top concern at all.” – Kim Moutsos
Survey respondents are more concerned that AI will result in less respect for skilled writers and editors.
“The top worry—and this was the top concern listed by 62% of people—was that there will be less respect for skilled writers and editors. And I think that makes sense, because if you hear people saying ‘Oh, just have AI write it’ you understand why people worry that their jobs will be devalued.” – Kim Moutsos
Other top concerns include that writing and editing skills will be seen as a commodity and there will be less pay for writers. Only 17% of respondents are not worried at all about AI.
“Another 55% said they worry that writing and editing will be viewed as a commodity going forward. And logically, that means 46% worry that AI will lead to lower compensation for writers and editors, and 45% said fewer jobs for content marketers is a concern.” – Kim Moutsos
All these concerns are understandable. But AI doesn’t have to be seen as an enemy, as it can help people lessen their workload and focus on things that are more fulfilling to them (and require a human).
“Agency workers are typically way stressed out and overworked with too much going on. So maybe [AI] means they won’t have to be having 100% of their time billable when they’re in those entry-level positions, so they can have more time to be mentored and to learn. So sometimes it’s a great workout.” – Erika Heald
Q3: When it comes to content marketing salaries, what are some interesting highlights from the research?
The salary insights are very nuanced, so you should download the full report for information based on location, role, generation, and gender. A few highlights include:
“54% of content marketers feel they should be paid more for their work. It’s kind of a glass half full half empty situation, right? About half of people feel they’re paid fairly. And about half of people feel they should be paid more.” – Kim Moutsos
“How much do people make on average? Content marketers make about $112,000. As I hinted, the average doesn’t really tell the whole story. People in large urban markets (San Francisco, New York, Boston) make about 20-26% more on average than people outside those areas. Makes sense, right? Cost of living is so much higher.” – Kim Moutsos
“Gen X and Baby Boomers definitely make more than millennials and Gen Z, which makes sense because they’ve been in the workforce longer and presumably have more experience or have risen to a higher level.” – Kim Moutsos
Because states increasingly require companies to list the pay range for an open role, marketers are in a better position to negotiate for a higher salary.
Q4: How can brand leaders keep content marketing professionals engaged in their work, especially given ongoing waves of stress and burnout?
Kim recommends you read the following articles from Chris Gillespie: When Content Marketers Are Not OK (advice for leaders) and 3 Strategies To Help Content Marketers Navigate Work Grief and Burnout (advice for individual contributors).
“Chris’s recommendations for managers include things like provide that safe outlet for expressing frustration, shield people to the extent that you can from the tinier details when change comes up—and then make sure they have what they need to cope with that change. Don’t micromanage. Don’t force extra processes for process sake. And cultivate trust and autonomy on your team.” – Kim Moutsos
Based on CMI’s research on what makes people feel engaged at work, doing meaningful work was the No. 1 response.
“When we ask people what makes them feel engaged, 81% said doing meaningful work. I think that translates into making sure that people understand the bigger picture of everything you’re asking them to do, how their part fits into the whole, and then what the whole does for your customers. Why is this company even doing this?” – Kim Moutsos
Coworker relationships are also integral to a healthy culture.
“We hear all the time how important your relationship is with your manager. That came up as the fourth most important thing on the list of things that make people feel engaged—58% said that is important. Coworker relationships were mentioned by 78% of the people who answered this question. Building a healthy, thriving team culture can go a long way, knowing that you’re in it with other people who care about the work and want to do their best with what they have.” – Kim Moutsos
Recognition (71%), a sense of belonging (56%), and professional development opportunities (55%) are other top needs.
Q5: What do content marketers look for when searching for a new position?
The No. 1 thing men and women both look for is a higher compensation package. No. 2 is flexible working hours or location. No 3. was different for men and women: Men seek meaningful work (No. 5 for women), and women seek a cultural fit and a team with shared values. No. 4 for both genders is growth opportunities.
“If you’re worried about people jumping ship from your team, take a look at those engagement numbers and the things that people say they really value about their work. Doing meaningful work, having good relationships with coworkers, being recognized, and having a sense of belonging can go a long, long, long way—then pay them fairly.” – Kim Moutsos
Erika sees company offsites and all-hands meetings as being increasingly valuable in the world of hybrid work (disclosure: we represent a company in the remote and hybrid work enablement space).
“Companies use these all-hands and retreats [and are] putting together an agenda where, yes, there will be some meetings if there’s some work that could really value having everyone together face-to-face. But they [also] have a menu of activities that the company will pay for that you can choose which one you want to do. And you can hang out with your colleagues and you have free time to explore the interesting location that the team has picked. Really mindful activities to really get to know people, so that way, even though you have a distributed team, you’re getting to know each other as human beings, and that is just so valuable. It’s such a great investment.” – Erika Heald
Q6: What stood out to you in the research?
Kim was surprised at the significant drop in respondents who will prioritize their writing and editing skills.
“When we asked people what they want to focus on in terms of upscaling, the number one answer was working with new technology (AI, CMS, DAM, CRM). The second most cited skill that people are planning to invest in [is] data science and data analytics—being able to really parse the numbers to see where you’re getting your best return is pretty important. 42% want to invest in leadership and management skills. And way down on the list next to he last two, only 22% said they want to invest in their writing and editing skills. And the previous year (I don’t have that number on hand) it was quite higher, almost double.” – Kim Moutsos
“It’s one of those things where expectations change, every project is different, styles change, your brand voice might change, or you switch jobs and have to learn a new brand voice. There’s always something to learn. There’s always a way to improve your skills, brush up, study someone else who’s great and figure out how you can become great in your own way. So [that drop] is probably the most surprising and the most concerning thing that we uncovered in the research this year.” – Kim Moutsos