How to set marketing OKRs and 10 examples

Marketing OKRs
Getting started with marketing OKRs
How to set OKRs for marketing
10 marketing OKR examples
1Develop our brand voice guidelines
2Reduce our website bounce rates
3Improve email newsletter list performance
4Improve customer acquisition rates
5Develop a great customer onboarding sequence
6Increase the number of positive company reviews
7Boost social media engagement
8Improve on-page SEO
9Develop a quarterly keyword strategy
10Boost lead generation numbers
Final thoughts

Many businesses have ambitious marketing goals (accelerate lead generation, improve average deal size, reduce customer acquisition cost, etc.). The most successful are those that outline measurable metrics for each goal.

OKRs (objectives and key results) are a simple and powerful framework for linking these metrics with wider organizational goals.

In this article, you’ll learn how to set OKRs for marketing and discover 10 marketing OKR examples that will help your team measure progress toward your most critical marketing goals.

Getting started with marketing OKRs

OKRs are a way of measuring progress toward company goals with each made up of two components: objectives and key results.

They take the results of larger organizational or departmental goal-setting processes (the objective) and outline specific, quantifiable metrics (key results) that teams can track to understand performance and progress toward those objectives.

What marketing OKRs look like

Writing marketing OKRs follows a simple formula (which can also be used across other departments in your organization):

[Your objective], as measured by: [your key results]

For instance:

Grow sales pipeline, measured by: 20% growth in lead generation, 10% growth in average deal size.

Objectives must meet three criteria. They should be:

  • Clear (anyone on your team can understand what the objective means)

  • Actionable (your team has the ability to influence progress toward that objective)

  • Time-bound (adding a timeframe to your objective — e.g., “this quarter” — makes measuring success more straightforward)

Your objective must also be inspiring, so it’s something your team wants to work toward. For instance, “grow revenue” is not a particularly motivating OKR template.

However, “grow revenue from $1.5m to $2.5m this year, to fuel territory expansion” brings the goal into reality and provides an inspiring objective (fueling territory expansion).

Key results must be measurable, time-bound and have a causal link to your objective, meaning if you achieve those results then you’ll meet your objective.

Set key results that you can measure regularly (e.g., weekly or monthly). This way your team can instantly understand how they’re progressing and whether they should implement changes or new initiatives.

Why setting marketing OKRs is a crucial business process

OKRs make goals measurable. They help to quantify large organizational goals that don’t easily connect with the day-to-day jobs of your employees.

Consider the goal “Boost social media engagement.”

This is a great goal from the perspective of the business, but it’s not ideal for individual contributors.

  • How do we define social media engagement?

  • What does achieving “boosted engagement” look like?

  • Is it a dozen more engagements each week? 1000 comments?

OKRs help team leaders translate these high-level goals into actionable results. Key results for this objective might be:

  • Improve link CTR from 4% to 6%

  • Average 250 daily comments

  • Grow our audience from 5000 to 10,000

Each of these key results can be measured directly. Plus, this way your team knows exactly how their daily tasks can influence them (e.g. to improve link click-through, they’ll need to experiment with different call-to-action copy, messaging, offers, targeting and design elements).

How to set OKRs for marketing

When setting digital marketing OKRs, start with wider business goals and reverse engineer to identify results and activity-based selling metrics.

Many first-time OKR-setters start from the bottom up. They look at the activity-based metrics they already have in place (for example, outbound sales calls or cold calls made each week) and ladder up to objectives from there.

This, however, results in misaligned OKRs that don’t align with high-level organizational goals. They focus on driving performance in specific disciplines but forget to connect this with the wider company vision.

Taking a top-down approach to OKR setting ensures actions are aligned with strategy so that progress toward your key results achieves the goals set by your leadership team.

Setting marketing OKRs in this manner is a four-step process.

1. Break organizational goals down into departmental goals

Start by translating your key business goals into objectives across each department. For example, an organizational goal might be to “Increase annual revenue from $2m to $3m”.

Of course, no one department is responsible for this goal; marketing, sales, product and customer success all have a hand to play in driving revenue.

For this step, ask: “What aspect of revenue generation is each department responsible for?” For marketing, it may be lead generation. For a customer success manager, it may be existing account growth.

2. Establish objectives for each department or project

Next, define the objectives each department must work toward to achieve those larger organizational goals.

Remember, objectives must be clear, actionable and time-bound.

In the above example, we’ve established that marketing’s ability to generate high-quality leads impacts revenue generation. So, we’d set the objective “Increase the number of leads generated each month.”

Other marketing objectives might include:

3. Define key results numerically

Define the key results that tell you whether your objective has been achieved or not.

Key results must be measurable numerically and causally linked to your objective.

Take the objective “Improve customer acquisition rates”.

From this, we can build out three measurable, causally linked key results:

  1. Increase the monthly number of new trial signups by 20%

  2. Increase MAU (monthly active users) from 5000 to 8000

  3. Increase the trial to paid plan conversion rate by 15%

4. Identify measurement systems for tracking success

Lastly, make sure to define how you’re going to measure, track, report on and analyze success.

Take advantage of OKR software reporting and analytics suites in your tech stack. Your customer relationship management (CRM) may provide instant insight into performance against certain key results.

For example, you can set goals for specific users, specific teams or the whole company in Pipedrive’s CRM. You can also add goals to your dashboard to keep them front and center for team members.

You should also define:

  • Who is responsible for reporting

  • How often you’ll report on progress toward results

  • Where the data will come from (i.e., your email marketing platform)

10 marketing OKR examples

When it comes to creating marketing OKRs, the best practice will always be to identify the key results that are:

  1. Most closely aligned with your organizational objectives

  2. Clearly able to be influenced by your team’s day-to-day activities

However, it can be helpful to understand how other marketing teams are using OKRs to drive success. Use these 10 marketing OKR examples as a starting point and tweak them to match your own business objectives.

1. Develop our brand voice guidelines

Clearly articulating brand voice guidelines is a crucial aspect of content production.

It’s quite a broad goal, making it a prime objective for the OKR model.

Key results for the objective “Develop our brand voice guidelines”:

Identify five existing brand voices that we like and analyze them to understand why

  • Conduct 40 Voice of Customer research interviews this quarter to refine our brand voice

  • Create a single organization-wide tone of voice and editorial style guide

2. Reduce our website bounce rates

Website bounce rates (the percentage of viewers who land on your website and then leave without navigating to a second page) can be a great target for results-focused marketers.

However, bounce rate reduction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Key activities like CTA and copy testing are good results to measure here.

Key results for the objective “Reduce our website bounce rates”:

  • Make a list of the 20 pages with the highest bounce rates (to prioritize)

  • Run 30 A/B experiments on landing pages this quarter

  • Increase click-through rate on our main home page CTA from 2% to 5%

Increase demo booked CTR from 4% to 6%

3. Improve email newsletter list performance

Many components make up weekly newsletter list performance (we can measure click-through rates, open rates or overall list growth).

For this reason, the OKR framework is a great fit for this business goal.

Key results for the objective “Improve email newsletter list performance”:

  • Implement a monthly list purge process to manage your list

  • Develop a double opt-in process to ensure high-intent

  • A/B test 20 headlines each month for the first quarter

  • Grow total email list to 10,000 subscribers

  • Increase average email click-through rate to 15%

  • Lift email open rate from 20% to 25%

4. Improve customer acquisition rates

It’s possible to measure any increase in customer acquisition rates as a single metric. However, you can also ladder down to more specific metrics, which will make up the key results you measure for this OKR.

Key results for the objective “Improve customer acquisition rates”:

  • Increase the monthly number of new trial signups by 20%

  • Increase MAU (monthly active users) from 5000 to 8000

  • Increase the trial to paid plan conversion rate by 15%

5. Develop a great customer onboarding sequence

A world-class onboarding sequence for new customers is a valuable asset in driving revenue and retention.

However, measuring a “great customer onboarding sequence” is tricky. So, that makes it a great objective if you break that down into more metric-based key results.

Key results for the objective “Develop a great customer onboarding sequence”:

  • Increase free user activation rate by 5%

  • Grow MAU by 5%

  • Decrease time to activation by three days by building a more interactive onboarding experience

  • Create five onboarding workflows and email templates (one for each of our audience segments)

6. Increase the number of positive company reviews

Reviews can be a powerful way to improve brand awareness and gain new referrals.

This is a great example of an inbound marketing OKR, as it’s easy to break down into key results (such as driving net promoter score results).

Key results for the objective “Increase the number of positive company reviews”:

  • Implement a post-purchase “How did we do?” automated email survey

  • Improve NPS (net promoter score) from 50 to 60

  • Run a review campaign offering previous customers a $10 gift card for leaving a Google review

  • Respond to 100% of customer reviews within 7 days of posting

7. Boost social media engagement

Measuring the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts requires careful attention to the core metrics that actually drive results.

Focus on aspects like audience growth and click-through rates to understand the impact of your new social selling and marketing campaigns.

Key results for the objective “Boost social media engagement”:

  • Improve link CTR from 4% to 6%

  • Average 250 daily comments

  • Grow our audience from 5000 to 10,000

8. Improve on-page SEO

Improving on-page SEO (search engine optimization) is a great content marketing OKR. You can measure organic search results directly, but there are also several other important KPIs to measure (such as new content published each month).

Key results for the objective “Improve on-page SEO”:

  • Perform a content audit of our website

  • Develop a site-wide keyword strategy

  • Increase DR score from 32 to 48 on Ahrefs

  • Optimize all of our existing blog posts using Clearscope

  • Increase monthly traffic to 8000 website visitors

  • Review and solve all red flags in Ahrefs

  • Publish 12 new pages of content each month

9. Develop a quarterly keyword strategy

While developing a long-term keyword strategy can be a key result for the objective “Improve on-page SEO,” it’s possible to break it down further as its own OKR.

Key results for the objective “Develop a quarterly keyword strategy”:

  • Build a list of 100 high-value keywords

  • Identify the top 15 keywords we’re starting to rank for and track weekly progress

  • 40% of targeted keywords to rank on page one by quarter three

  • Identify 50 sources for backlinks to drive new referral traffic

10. Boost lead generation numbers

Leads are what make the sales engine run, filling the top of the pipeline and allowing salespeople to nurture prospects and close deals.

As such, lead generation plays an important role in every set of good marketing OKRs.

Key results for the objective “Boost lead generation numbers ”:

  • A/B test five different CTA copy options

  • Publish one new lead generation-focused ebook each quarter

  • Increase email marketing click-through rate from 10% to 15%

  • Grow organic social media following to 5000

  • Publish once every day on the company’s LinkedIn profile

Increase new MQLs (marketing qualified leads) by 5% month-on-month

Final thoughts

Marketing OKRs are a powerful way to turn high-level strategy and organizational goals into actionable, measurable results that your team has direct influence over.

To develop highly-effective marketing OKRs, ensure that objectives are clear, actionable and time-bound and that key results are causally linked to objectives and clearly influenced by your team’s actions

Driving business growth