Marketing OKRs – Why and How?

Setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for a marketing team is never easy. Marketing teams often deal with tasks and projects that do not produce immediate results. Goals, like improving SEO or increasing brand awareness, don't always have easily measurable numeric metrics. They often don't work in a quarterly time frame. As the head of my marketing team, I completely understand. Having used OKRs for 5 years, it is still difficult to figure out what the right metrics for marketing are.

Setting marketing team OKRs

However, this doesn’t mean that OKRs aren’t useful for marketing teams. In fact, many companies that I have consulted use Weekdone successfully in marketing. Also, Weekdone has done a lot of OKR case studies with marketing managers that can serve as a teaching tool.

Objectives and Key Results

OKRs are a goal setting system that helps your team work together. This system makes it clear how the work of one person connects with the work of others.

The goal is to set Company, Team, and Personal goals.You connect each goal with 3-5 measurable results. As you achieve those results, the whole Objective gets marked “done.”

The main benefit of this system is that when everyone understands how their work matters, it increases overall engagement, motivation, and determination. If you don’t meet your own goals, it makes work so much more difficult for everyone involved. For example, OKRs can really help everyone see how a Social Media Manager´s Objective to increase online media presence ties into the Marketing team’s goal to increase traffic to the company blog. When everyone knows how their goals align, they tend to work much harder in a unified direction.

Setting Objectives in marketing

When you set Marketing OKRs, they must abide by two rules. They need to be future-oriented but also be measurable in the present. This sounds a bit challenging, but if you break it down into individual categories, these rules become much less daunting. When creating your marketing Objectives, you need to remember that your Key Results serve as measurable variables of what you are currently working on that connect directly to a lofty long-term goal.

OKR example
Marketing example OKRs

If you have used KPIs, it may sound like Key Results and KPIs are the same due to being measurable and metric driven. However, the difference lies in the fact that Key Results help to drive your ambitious goals. KPIs, instead, measure practices already in place, thus, focusing on the past. That being said, KPIs and Key Results can very easily become each other. A Key Result used during one quarter to measure a particularly ambitious goal can later serve as a metric for later projects, becoming a KPI. Likewise, an underdeveloped KPI can become a Key Result towards an Objective.

The OKR Examples page has many good examples you can draw from. For instance, an example OKR suitable for marketing is: “Simplify and clarify our product, messaging, and overall presentation.”

This Objective has clear benefits for everyone who reads it. It is a good Objective because it is aspirational and forward-looking, and serves as a large enough goal to last an entire quarter.

Setting Key Results

As already stated, Key Results help measure your aspirational goals. Key Results should be checked and updated weekly and connect to your weekly Plans as well as your Objectives. In a way, Key Results are the glue between lofty ambitions and everyday activities, keeping you moving forward without overwhelming you.

Let’s use the same example we mentioned earlier: simplifying the messages and product. For that, you really need KRs that show what to do to accomplish that Objective. Since your Objective requires user feedback, one of your KRs could be:

“Get 1000 answers to an online user survey sent to all last quarter's signups.”

Another usable one is “Conduct a team hackathon to create and publish a full portfolio of product materials”

For the first example, you use a scale from 1 – 1000 that shows how big a percentage of the KR gets done. If you get 765 answers, the KR is 76.5% done.

For the second KR, you have a Yes/No metric, so the KR is either done or not done.

How to use OKRs on a weekly basis.

In order for OKRs to work you need to keep measuring your KRs every week. You must make sure that you, your team, and your company are all always moving towards your goals.

The best way to do this is to use a weekly reporting system. For this purpose, we’ll address the Plans, Progress, Problems (PPP) methodology.

PPP is a best practice management technique for (usually weekly) team progress and status reporting. PPP work as initiatives or tasks towards your Objectives. This makes sure all that your recorded tasks are focused on accomplishing your long term goals.

For marketing, this is a great way to monitor the specific subtasks employees work on as part of a marketing campaign. Another possible use is to make sure all routine work gets done towards your marketing Objective. For instance, when we ran our last book promotion campaign, we used PPP to make sure all blog posts got done on time, that all interviews were scheduled and executed, and made sure that employees followed our content calendar. For another example, let's say one of your Objectives is to increase traffic to your organization’s blog. Your weekly tasks can give you little mini-goals for editing previous blog content, creating cornerstone content, and generating new materials that can help you reach a bigger, overall measurable KR amount.

Basically, if you combine OKRs and weekly reporting, your marketing team should be able to stay on top of issues in the present while focusing on the future.

Implement marketing team OKRs in Weekdone.

One of the easiest ways to implement OKRs is to use Weekdone. With Weekdone, you can easily set OKRs on all levels. The hierarchical structure in Weekdone makes sure that everyone in the company understands how goals should work. As Brais Suarez,

Marketing Manager at BMAT, said: “It is the only tool we found that works well with quarterly OKRs. It reflects the progress of the whole company and everything is visible to everyone.”

The most important thing about OKRs is that they help everyone connect to their team and organization. This creates a confidence boost that aids each individual in creating meaning through their work.

OKRs are incredibly useful for a variety of purposes, but need to be implemented in different ways in order to make the most of them. Experience is really everything, as it’ll likely take a few quarters to get used to the swing of OKRs anyways.

If you’re thinking about how to run better marketing campaigns, increase your reach, or take your content marketing to the next level, get started with Objectives and Key Results. If you think you are ready, then sign up for Weekdone to get started. Or take a look at these resources: