How to use OKRs 📊 as a Leadership Framework for Growth Marketing

A simple guide for Marketing leaders to setting up, tracking and adjusting KPIs using the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework

“Idea is King, but execution is King Kong!” — 🦍

1 — Why use OKRs

  1. OKRs are super simple to set up: it just takes a few minutes ⏳
  2. OKRs are highly scalable: from one person to an entire corporation 📈
  3. OKRs force you to set measurable objectives that realistically align with business goals 💰
Figure 1. Control (KPIs) linking back to the entire G-STIC framework

2 — How to set up OKRs

  1. a list of data inputs where you’ll take your metrics from 🧪
  2. a document to track and report all your KPIs 📊
  • CRM systems (Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, Pipedrive, etc)
  • Google Analytics and Google Console in general
  • ERP systems (e.g., SAP)
  • Social media: all platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc) provide their own tools with somewhat comprehensive reports
  • PR agencies — some of them provide a web portal with reports, some of them just send you email reports
  • Standalone marketing tools (e.g., SurveyMonkey, MailChimp, etc)
  • Any other data inputs, even if they are rudimentary or require you to make a survey; as long as they provide a metric for the KPI you’re tracking
  • Google Data Studio
  • Power BI
  1. Each OKR group has its own list of objectives (O1, O2, …), where each group can have one or more Objectives (O) under it
  2. An Objective is a general goal that needs to be achieved, but doesn’t have a timestamp nor quantification
  3. Each Objective can have one or more Key Results (kr) under it
  4. Each Key Result is unique and measures a very quantifiable and specific thing. Key Results can be numeric (0-N), binary (yes or no) or a percentage of achievement (0% — 100%)
  5. OKRs can be grouped, to represent a business unit, a team or a function (e.g., Content Marketing, Digital Advertisement, User Acquisition, etc)
  6. Extra tip → add an extra column after the “Result”, so you can insert a direct link to the data input (system) where you are measuring that number/result from
Figure 2. Example of OKR groups for Sales, Marketing and Product teams
  • Sales’ O1 (first objective) is to increase sales by 125%. This will happen when 1600 leads are acquired (kr.1), and by building a systematic outbound process (kr.2)
  • Marketing’s O3 (third objective) is to overtake competitors in SEO. This will be achieved when (kr.1) the website UX score goes from 15 to 90 points; and when (kr.2) the company secures 5 keyword groups ranking higher than both competitors

3 — Using OKRs to measure Marketing performance

  1. objectives can be grouped by sub-functions: content, lead generation, brand & communications, etc
  2. keeping the Marketing department accurately aligned with overall business goals, just like Sales and Product have traditionally been
  3. measure ROI to accurately forecast future marketing budgets aligned with business growth targets
Figure 2. Marketing OKRs with objectives for the Inbound Growth (lead-gen) and Content sub-functions
  1. This specific format shows first the overall Marketing OKRs (in the table on top, in yellow) and subsequently each sub-function’s OKRs.
  2. Each sub-function’s OKRs are aligned with the overall Marketing OKRs. For example, the Inbound Growth team/manager must reach 350 MQLs, which contributes to the first general objective for the whole Marketing team: “increase sales”.

4 — Extending OKRs to Grow People

  • a clear vision 👁
  • a set of goals that are fully in line with the business 🎯
  • a framework (boundaries) to measure those goals 📊
  • freedom 🦋
  • accountability 💼
Figure 3. Example of personal/professional development OKRs for a Content Marketing lead

5— How to monitor and follow up on OKRs

  • quarterly OKR alignment with overarching business goals → review overall business goals; check whether their are correctly aligned to OKRs
  • monthly board meetings → review OKRs, highlight the bottlenecks, re-validate the strategic decisions, revisit the overall plan
  • weekly OKR review by functional teams → each team (product, marketing, sales, etc) reviews OKRs on weekly basis, breaks them down into actionable metrics and steers the execution of tactics

Conclusions

  1. OKRs are an agile and actionable framework for KPI tracking and growth leadership. There are many other ways of tracking KPIs and setting strategic objectives, this is just one that has provenly worked for very many growth organizations.
  2. OKRs are flexible enough to let you lead an organization of any size: a team, a business unit or an entire company; as well as people at the very individual level.
  3. Overarching goal-setting is fundamental for a healthy growth organization. Remember to start from the top, and then always map them to specific KPIs into your OKR framework. That’s the key to success in leading a growth organization.
  4. Continuous monitoring and improvement is the key to experimental growth. Make sure KPI tracking and strategic adjustment is part of your organization’s continuous development.

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Claudio M. Camacho

A family guy in the tech business 👨🏻‍💻 Executive Director | Strategic Marketing Management ➡️ www.claudiocamacho.com