Airbnb, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Deloitte, and Adobe all have this in common… they use an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework to guide goal setting. OKRs provide a framework that channels every individual output towards those prioritized goals and holds teams accountable for results. The development of the OKR framework is credited to Intel CEO, Andy Grove, who in the 1970s had a simple and brilliant idea: all company objectives should include measurable results to ensure cross-functional teams are moving in the right direction. In 1999, John Doerr introduced OKRs to Google and inspired by Google’s success with OKRs, many companies started adopting OKRs by 2010.
What Are OKRs and Why Should You Care?
OKRs, as they are commonly used in marketing, provide a collaborative framework for setting clear, ambitious objectives with measurable results. The objectives define the overall direction, and the key results lay out how a business will measure the success of the objective. The idea is that an organization is more likely to achieve success if it defines goals with measurable actions, definable outcomes, and where progress is monitored.
Importance of Setting OKRs
el LinKe has successfully implemented OKRs for our company and with our clients. We have found using an OKR framework brings many benefits to a business, no matter their industry, including:
Clearly defined objectives create team alignment of goals across siloed teams, whether it be sales, marketing, or business development teams. Breaking down the silos between these departments ensures everyone is working towards the same goals. Additionally, setting OKRs creates defined success parameters for easy tracking of progress and provides management with ROI figures.
For el LinKe, this means we all agree on a direction and collectively take actions to make those objectives a reality. We meet regularly to review where we are, where we need to go, and what adjustments need to be made. It’s also very clear who is responsible for what activities. For our clients, using an OKR framework gives them clear insight into the goals we have agreed upon for the quarter and where we are in relation to those goals.
Consider this example:
The CEO of a company sets an annual objective: Boost revenues in 2022 to pre-COVID levels. This objective has three key results aligned to it, with three different department owners including sales, customer success, and marketing. For the sales team, the key result is to achieve at least 10% month-over-month growth. The customer success team must reactivate 50% of existing customers. Finally, the marketing team must strategize for retention. With an objective and key results set, the CEO of the company ensures that everybody’s efforts are focused on achieving the top-level priority. Additionally cross-functional objectives are transparent, and ownership is clear.
Creating Clear and Achievable OKRs
Successful OKRs are clear, achievable, but also ambitious. The process begins by setting the objectives. The objective is a qualitative statement of what the team should achieve. Once the objective is set, you draft the key results for each objective stated. The key results are how you plan to measure that a team or individual have achieved the objective.
We recommend setting 3 to 4 objectives for each quarter. While you will have multiple key results for each objective, keep an eye on how many you are creating and make them intentional. It’s important to set attainable, focused goals and not use your OKRs as a dumping ground for all your ideas or all the things you’d like to accomplish.
Take a look at the example below to get a better understanding of how we might set the OKRs for an SEO objective.
Objective: Improve SEO ranking for website.
- Achieve first page ranking in Google searches for 3 out of 5 core keywords
- Add 20 referral links to website
- Increase traffic by 15%
Objectives need to be high-level, motivational, ambitious, and clear. Additionally, objectives need to be written collaboratively across marketing, sales, management, and business development to ensure complete buy-in from all parties. Moreover, objectives should be qualitative and should not contain numbers.
Types of Marketing OKRs
Successful marketers will segment marketing OKRs into more defined buckets according to the marketing function. Below are some of the various categories a well-rounded marketing team should consider executing. While none of these types of marketing OKRs are more important than the other, it will depend on your team and your business goals as to which buckets you’d like to incorporate.
Product Marketing OKRs
These are objectives and key results related to your products and services.
Maybe your organization wants to increase sales of a specific item in its product line. Or perhaps you have a new product to launch. Either way, Product Marketing OKRs are focused on your clients’ needs and your offerings.
Example Product Marketing OKR
Objective: Increase visibility of product by 25% in 2Q
- Participate in 2 nationwide industry conferences and collect data on 250 prospective customers.
- Present product demos to 50 qualified leads.
Content Marketing OKRs
These are objectives and key results related to creating, publishing, and distributing content.
Most organizations today distribute some level of content be it a blog, client-facing newsletter, or a podcast. Setting content marketing OKRs will ensure your team develops client-focused content that drives engagement with your brand.
Example Content Marketing OKR
Objective: Develop an Engaging Weekly Newsletter
- Create a calendar of content for the next quarter
- Achieve a 35% open rate
- Get 5,000 email subscribers
Social Media Marketing OKRs
These are objectives and key results that focus on your social media channels and the audience engagement on those platforms.
Social media marketing is all about how your organization uses Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media platforms to connect with your customers and raise awareness of your brand.
Example Social Marketing OKR
Objective: Increase engagement of social media
- Increase average comments from 5 to 20
- Increase average clicks per post from 50 to 100
- Increase average shares from 5 to 20
These are objectives and key results that focus on an organization’s rankings on search engine results pages.
Recent research states that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results. Additionally, almost one-third of US consumers search for local businesses daily. So, it’s no secret that your organization’s SEO objectives and results are crucial.
Example SEO OKR
Objective: Improve the SEO ranking of the homepage
- Rank for the top 5 keywords in organic search
- Decrease bounce rate from 87% to 67%
- Increase referral traffic from 5,000 to 7,500 visitors
Tracking Progress of OKRs
One of the biggest mistakes when implementing OKRs for the first time is to set them and forget them. In el Linke’s experience, we’ve found this is the primary reason why OKRs fail. The progress on OKRS needs to be tracked and reviewed regularly.
To effectively manage and track your OKRs, it is best to do so in a centralized place using robust software systems. At el Linke, we use ClickUp and Excel to set and track OKRs, monitor performance, and help adjust marketing strategies based on real time results. With the right tracking tools an organization can:
- Collaborate and plan OKRs in real-time with your team.
- Create customizable dashboards to keep track of OKRs.
- Develop quick visuals on the work your team is doing for progress updates.
- Download real-time performance data on progress.
With centralized data in hand, most teams meet weekly to discuss the progress against their specific objectives and to set priorities for the week. During these weekly meetings, strategies can be adjusted to make sure a team is on track to reach their key result.
Equally important is having a cross-functional meeting at the end of the OKR objective period to discuss the results. The post-period review provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to see where things went well and where things could be improved. Additionally, it is a chance to acknowledge teams that excelled at their OKRs. If a company doesn’t recognize the success of OKRs and how it is serious about OKRs, then the employees will begin to feel it doesn’t matter.
OKRs give cross-functional teams greater clarity on what they’re trying to achieve and helps everyone understand how they’re progressing towards achieving that goal.
Ready to Set Your Marketing OKRs?
Want some help setting and monitoring your businesses OKRs? Contact el Linke today for more information.
We’ll partner with you to close the missing LinKes in your sales and marketing pipelines and provide value beyond traditional marketing frameworks.