Modern business marketing is awash in initiatives, processes, data, and metrics — from referral traffic to new visitors on the website to an alphabet soup of KPIs, there’s a lot to keep track of. And that’s before we start doing any of the actual work of marketing!
Marketing OKRs (we know, yet another acronym!) are one way to cut through the noise and align your marketing efforts around something coherent and achievable. They can be a vital component of successful marketing project management, too.
Today’s post will walk through how to set marketing OKRs and provide seven real-world examples covering a range of marketing activities.
What are marketing OKRs and why are they important?
OKRs are a project management tool or framework that defines an organizational objective (that’s the O) and the key results (the KRs) that will lead to the objective's completion.
Think of the framework this way: “We will accomplish objective x, and we’ll measure it by key results a, b, and c.”
Why do these matter in marketing? Because objectives alone often lack accountability. They don’t contain clear steps or progress points that can tell a team how to get where they need to go. Adding one or more key results to an objective helps frame it, creates accountability, and encourages team members to rally behind the cause.
Step-by-step guide for setting marketing OKRs
Creating marketing OKRs takes some thought and planning, but there’s nothing too complex about the process. Follow these four steps to get started creating your own marketing OKRs.
1) Start by determining organizational goals & OKRs
Smaller-scale OKRs are most effective when they align well with your broader organization-wide goals and OKRs. So before you dive deep into departmental goal-setting and good marketing OKRs, look at your business-wide goals and OKRs. This is a great way to align your messaging and marketing strategy with the company vision.
If you’re reading this thinking, “Sounds great, but… what organizational OKRs?” that’s okay, too! There’s no time like the present to start charting those company goals.
2) Set clear & achievable goals for each department
Once you have your broad company goals and OKRs in place, it’s time for leaders across departments to determine the goals that each department needs to pursue. Marketing goals need to be clear (written in language that everyone on the team can understand), and they should also be achievable.
There’s a place for aspirational goals, but it’s usually at the company level. You’re looking a little more narrowly at the next three months, so make sure your team can achieve these goals in the allotted time.
This vital step will have positive ripple effects throughout your department and your company — especially if you’re a part of a remote or hybrid team. In fact, setting clear and achievable department- or team-level goals is one of the four steps to set up remote teams for success.
3) Establish how you will measure progress
Step 2 was the O in OKR. Step 3 is the KR.
A good goal is important. But goals and objectives alone can struggle to produce buy-in. They can also be general or lack specificity about the steps necessary to meet them.
Your key results are the ways that you measure progress toward the objective. These can include all sorts of elements: reaching certain milestones, passing off a certain number of marketing qualified leads to the sales team, reaching a certain ahrefs DR score, raising monthly website visitors, and so on.
The takeaway is that your key results should measure progress toward your objective. These milestones and concrete targets help motivate team members to achieve the objective in ways that an objective alone can’t.
4) Track, measure & adjust OKRs quarter by quarter
Last, make sure to track the progress of your OKRs over the given quarter. (Using quality OKR software makes this much easier.)
Also, understand that no OKR is ever perfect in its first iteration. As you move from quarter to quarter, adjust OKRs as necessary to reflect operational or market changes — or just because the original OKR didn’t turn out to be useful or achievable.
Teamwork.com offers a broad suite of project management tools and is a powerful way to organize and manage marketing projects and personnel. Our OKR template is a solid tool for tracking progress and maintaining accountability in the OKR process. Check out our OKR template now, or learn more about how Teamwork.com helps marketing teams flourish.
7 marketing OKR examples
We’ve covered how to set quality marketing OKRs, but you may still be wondering, "What do they look like in real life? How could they work in the specific marketing tasks I’m responsible for?"
To get your creative juices flowing, we’ve assembled examples of OKRs that marketing teams might use — one each for seven specific marketing tasks or roles.
Let’s get started with inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing OKR example
Inbound marketing is all about bringing in new leads and customers by providing the value they’re already motivated to find, such as answers to their questions or solutions to existing problems they experience. So a solid objective in inbound marketing likely involves increasing the number of leads (or customer conversions) or improving visitors’ experiences when they arrive at your content.
Let’s keep this one simple by focusing on increasing inbound leads.
Objective: Double the number of monthly inbound leads from website traffic.
Key result 1: Increase the number of site visitors from x to y.
Key result 2: Reduce the website bounce rate by 25%.
Key result 3: Execute 20 A/B tests on landing page CTAs and implement the CTAs with stronger conversion rates.
KR1 deals with the simple reality that people cannot become leads if they do not visit your website. It’s not a 1:1 ratio, but doubling inbound traffic is a good target if the objective is doubling inbound leads.
KR2 likely requires some unpacking (here’s where listing initiatives might be helpful), but a high bounce rate means people aren’t sticking around to actually read your content. Lowering your bounce rate means people are reading and gaining value, thus will influence the number of visitors that become leads.
KR3 deals with the final stage of turning a visitor into a lead or prospect: the call to action. If monthly inbound leads are lower than you’d like, then implementing more effective calls to action should help by turning a higher percentage of visitors into leads.
SEO OKR example
SEO (search engine optimization) is closely related to both inbound marketing and content marketing. It’s the discipline of fine-tuning your content and technical website elements so that search engines will rank you higher for the relevant search terms.
Let’s imagine your company has an established website but hasn’t invested much into search engine rankings placement (SERP).
Objective: Achieve Top 3 status in Google search for 10 highest-priority keywords.
Key result 1: Conduct keyword research and competitor research to determine target keywords.
Key result 2: Inventory existing site and blog content and enrich with chosen keywords.
Key result 4: Enrich site pages with x backlinks.
Here all four KRs are valuable SEO tactics that contribute to better SERP. They would help a competitive, appropriately sized business rank for the right keywords, and they are tangible, measurable outcomes.
Content marketing OKR example
Content marketing is the content side of inbound marketing: blog posts, social, email campaigns, revamped site content, and anything else that uses words (along with images and sometimes video) to reach eyeballs.
Our SEO OKR example focused on enriching and improving what’s already on your site. But for content marketing, we’re focused on new content and content strategy.
Objective: Increase average blog post traffic by 150%.
Key result 1: Build a content strategy and content calendar that covers the upcoming quarter.
Key result 2: Draft two to three new, high-authority blog posts for each of the top 10 target keywords.
Key result 3: Grow email list by 30%.
Here we’re not looking at overall site traffic but how the average (new) blog post performs. The objective is that these new, better posts reach an average traffic level that’s 1.5 times your current average.
A cohesive content strategy that maps out what you’ll produce and when is key to that effort. The actual content creation is equally important, and then there’s the matter of getting people to read the content (and convert at the CTA). Organic and paid search can be major readership drivers, and so can an email list or newsletter if you maintain a subscriber list.
Social media marketing OKR example
Social media marketing can be a significant sales and lead generator in many industries, so investing in improvements here can reap significant rewards.
Let’s say your business has already established a social presence across most major networks. Increasing subscriber (or follower/like) count is a good objective
Objective: Increase cumulative subscribers and followers across all social channels by 1,000.
Key result 1: Grow strongest social network by 300 followers.
Key result 2: Establish an initial presence on a newer social network.
Key result 3: Review and revamp social strategy across all channels, focusing on boosting engagement and click-through.
Here the objective is straightforward: You want to increase followers across all active social channels by a total of 1,000 (scale this number to fit your context, of course). The first KR focuses on the network where you already have the most traction (and, presumably, the biggest growth engine). KR2 is more experimental or pioneering. (Not on TikTok yet? Doesn’t hurt to try, right?) Then KR3 addresses your social posts' effectiveness, which can encourage or discourage individuals from following.
Email marketing OKR example
Email marketing can drive new leads through cold ABM campaigns, nurture an existing email list, reconnect with existing and former customers, and coax people toward a purchase through a well-designed funnel.
For our example OKR, let’s take an email newsletter that your business mails to an opt-in list.
Objective: Expand the reach and effectiveness of the email newsletter.
Key result 1: Grow opt-in email list by 175%.
Key result 2: Raise the click-through rate (CTR) by 4%.
Key result 3: A/B test subject lines on every newsletter this quarter.
Here the objective is a bit more general, but the KRs fill in the framework. You’ll know that you have sufficiently expanded reach and effectiveness when you see the list grow by 175% and the click-through rate reach 4%. A/B testing is measurable as well and will improve performance over time.
CRO OKR example
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is another metric that matters greatly to marketers. You can have the most beautiful prose and the wittiest titles or subject lines, but none of that matters if readers don't convert.
Your conversion rate will never reach 100%, of course, and there isn’t even a set standard for what makes a good conversion rate. Different channels are different, and industries don’t all work the same. That said, at least in the web marketing world, a 10% conversion rate is above average by some accounts.
So let’s make that our objective, shall we?
Objective: Raise the average conversion rate across all lead gen channels to 10% this quarter.
Key result 1: Launch two new email funnels (with conversion-optimized landing pages).
Key result 2: Review and refine keyword strategy across relevant channels to target more focused leads.
Key result 3: Shift 70% of marketing spend toward the top three channels in terms of conversion rate.
This is a bit of a moonshot OKR, taking you to a conversion rate well above average from wherever you are. (You can do it, though! We’re cheering for you!)
The KRs here all chip away at things that don't pull their weight in terms of CRO. The new email funnels either generate new buckets of leads or replace existing streams that aren’t performing well. KR2 is about refining one key strategy for bringing in leads so that you bring in leads who are already more likely to convert. And KR3 knows when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em — ratchet up your spend on high-conversion channels, and ease off the gas on the others.
Customer acquisition OKR example
Closely connected to several of the areas we’ve already covered, customer acquisition measures success based on the number of new customers added over a period of time. It doesn’t care about opt-ins, sign-ups, or organic search results directly (though all those things can feed customer acquisition!). This metric is all about growing that customer base.
Objective: Acquire 20% more paying customers this quarter compared to last.
Key result 1: Increase monthly active users via new email campaign to inactive account holders.
Key result 2: Increase trial adoptions by 20% through more effective CTAs.
Key result 3: Increase trial to paid conversion rate by 20%.
Here, all three KRs are different ways of moving the needle. You’ll be well on your way toward meeting this objective when you achieve each one (or, even better, all three).
Set better marketing OKRs with Teamwork.com
Setting strong marketing OKRs is a powerful way to align your marketing teams. You need an equally powerful tool for tracking the project data and metrics that feed into those OKRs.
That’s where Teamwork.com comes in. Gain instant access to all your project data — plus the ability to track OKRs over time and across projects.