Senior digital and social media specialists have seen an explosion in pay over the last three years as companies increasingly divert marketing budgets to online campaigns.

Wages have soared by almost 70% over the last three years, according to recruitment company, ReThink Recruitment. ‘Head of Search’ jobs, responsible for managing a company’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) strategies, are now offering average base salaries of approximately £75,000 per year, up from an average of £45,000 three years ago.

ReThink adds that search staff at a more junior “manager” level have also had bumper pay rises and now earn on average £45,000 per year, up from an average of £30,000 three years ago.

Mark Geraghty, head of ReThink Executive, said the fact that businesses were ploughing huge budgets into online marketing had propelled jobs that were previously relatively junior into high status roles.

“In some web and digital media companies this is a director’s job. If you are spending several million pounds a year just on pay per click then it makes perfect sense to invest in someone senior to manage that process and ensure you are getting the best return on investment,” he said.

Although there was no shortage of individuals with knowledge and experience of Pay per click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and other channels, the number of individuals with five plus years’ experience was much lower, Geraghty said.

Demand is particularly strong amongst financial services companies that want to cut costs by delivering more of their sales through the internet. Meanwhile retail – and in particular fashion retail – has also seen a huge surge in demand for digital marketing and eCommerce experts, with leading retailers stepping up their e-commerce activity and looking at bigger investments in social media campaigns to drive traffic their way.

The shortage of experienced staff means web based companies and corporates are having to compete for the talent with the digital marketing agencies who want to hire those individuals out as consultants.

“That is all driving up their price. But when you consider the amount they can earn in consultancy fees and the budgets that they are now dealing with the increase in basic pay over the last few years is not unreasonable,” Geraghty added.