First developed in the 1970s by Intel president Andy Grove, OKRs are a simple management framework, developed to help every member of your organization see the progress being made towards a common goal, and the acronym stands for objectives and key results.
OKRs are usually set across a defined period of time to track progress, maintain progression, and introduce contingency plans when needed.
OKRs are defined in two parts: the objective you want to achieve and the way in which you’ll measure achieving your objective - i.e the key results.
Your objectives should be memorable, inspirational, and engaging while motivating and challenging the team.
Key results are a set of metrics used to measure your progress towards achieving your objectives. For each objective you set, you should have a minimum of two results and a maximum of five key results, any more than this and no one is likely to remember them.
Why are OKRs important?
According to this year’s State of Product Marketing Report, only 5% of product marketers felt that their roles were fully understood, OKRs can contribute significantly in helping other teams see what you bring to the table. In a wider sense, once OKRs are set they motivate and align organizations to work towards common objectives. Overall OKRs can provide a boost to any team’s focus and productivity and measure success.
There’s no definitive one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to OKRs but there are a few principles you can adhere to in order to increase your chances of success.
Objectives are clear
If there’s no way to define your objective how will you achieve it? Or more to the point how will others? Make sure your objectives are as clear as day, take them down to their simplest form so there are no misunderstandings.
While your objectives must be simple and easily understandable, they don’t have to be boring.
Set your goalposts high. Often referred to as the “moonshot OKR” this lofty goal inspires the team and helps them think outside of the box to achieve the standards set.
Objectives are public
If everyone’s objectives are known throughout the company each team member can clearly see how their individual goals are aligned with the company’s. Being able to see how their work is a part of the bigger picture can be really motivating.
Track your progress every step of the way, set up a metric to measure your team’s performance, you’ll need it for the next step.
When you shoot for the moon, you’re not always going to reach. But there are some really valuable lessons in failure and if you’ve tracked your objective from the start you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where you went wrong, or what you didn’t try that could hold the key to your future success.
If you’re not sure where to start with writing your OKRs, take a look at our guide to setting and achieving goals.
And, be sure to check out our AMA with Boomi’s Director of Portfolio Messaging, Div Manickam, where she discusses product marketing’s key metrics and OKRs in detail. She also explains how she breaks down strategic, tactical, and operational objectives.
Types of product marketing goals
Before we move onto some examples of OKRs we wanted to share the product marketing goals we’ve come across the most, which (broadly speaking) can be split into four categories:
- Sales enablement OKRs
- Lead/demand-gen OKRs
- Product adoption OKRs
And then within those categories are several metrics to choose from, like:
It’s important to set a predetermined time frame in place. If you start off measuring a certain metric once a quarter to once a month to once a week, you’ll struggle to form any kind of trend.
So, let’s take a look at those goals a little closer.
The formula for calculating your win rate is:
If you won 56 deals last month out of a total of 317 opportunities, your win rate would be 18%.
An improvement in win rates demonstrates that you’ve put your sales teams on the right track. As well as tracking overall win rates, you should also look to track win rates for specific personas, industries, and market segments.
When it comes to actually gather this kind of data, at the most basic level, you need the name of the opportunity and whether it was won or lost. Remember to capture who the primary competition is that you win or lose to, too.
This information will help make sure you’re focusing on the right use cases and playing to your strengths.
It’s a given that you’d want to own as much of your market as you can. If you were in the software security business and you currently own 20% of that market, why wouldn’t you want to own more? You’d want to dominate it right? Let’s look at how you work that out...
If your business has sales of $10 million and the entire market is $200 million, your market share would be 5%. To find out the entire market’s sales check out sources like trade groups, regulatory bodies, or analyst surveys, or conduct your own research.
The conversion rate in the target segment
If your positioning, messaging, segmentation work, battlecards, or content mapping is contributing to how you target certain markets and personas, it will be impacting how successful marketing and sales are in their roles and you should be rewarded for that.
To demonstrate and translate your contribution remember to collect conversion rate stats before you step in and then compare that number to the conversion rates the business sees after product marketing has stepped in.
To remove any ambiguity, consider attaching a timeline to your findings, for example:
Providing there were no other significant variables around that time frame, that’s a pretty compelling case that what you’re doing is having a tangible and monetary effect.
Product-market fit is a key metric to measure, without it, any business - whatever industry you’re in, the market you serve, or customer you target, is set for failure or at the very least, a tricky path to success.
Below is a pretty-well-known passage within the product marketing industry by Marc Andreessen - an American entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer, regarding, knowing when you have and haven’t reached product-market fit.
“You can always feel when product/market fit is not happening. The customers aren't quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn't spreading, usage isn't growing that fast, press reviews are kind of ‘blah,’ the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.
“And you can always feel product/market fit when it is happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it — or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You're hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can. Reporters are calling because they've heard about your hot new thing and they want to talk to you about it. You start getting entrepreneur of the year awards from Harvard Business School. Investment bankers are staking out your house.”
So, that defines either end of the spectrum, but how do you go about measuring the stages in between? One tactic is to ask early adopters “How would you feel if you could no longer use the product?” and measure their responses on a scale of very disappointed, somewhat disappointed to not disappointed at all. If less than 40% of your customers say “very disappointed” you’re more likely to struggle to find growth.
To add substance to this first question consider adding other questions too, like:
● Where do you get the most value out of our product?
● What could we do to improve our product?
● What areas don’t you see benefits in?
● Are there any problems our solution isn’t solving?
This is a metric that can then be monitored, monthly or quarterly, and aligned to product milestones.
Sales enablement OKRs
Asset utilization includes battlecards, sales one-pagers, case studies, product demo videos, etc. This kind of content can make or break deals and if you’re creating it, it’s only fair that your contribution is taken into account.
You could measure its effectiveness by tracking how many sales reps use certain assets each week, month, or quarter. You could then marry up those content usage stats with their use case and the outcome.
If, for example, a sales one-pager is used during first-line sales calls, you could track the percentage increase in the number of those first calls that translate into second or third calls.
Or, if a case study’s used by marketing as part of an email nurture campaign, you could monitor the impact the case study has in terms of moving prospects further down the funnel.
As well as using apps that allow you to see how many times a certain piece of content has been viewed, you can ask relevant teams and departments:
● Which assets help you the most?
● How many times have the assets made a prospect consider us more favorably against a competitor?
● How can we improve these assets?
● Which three areas do you need the most help with?
Confident sales reps make better pitches and better pitches close more deals. It’s as simple as that. In terms of measuring sales confidence, a quarterly or six-monthly survey should do it - we wouldn’t recommend more often than quarterly as you’ll struggle to see meaningful differences that soon.
Time to close
Time to close measures how long it takes to convert a prospect into a customer. The less time and touchpoints your sales team spends persuading a prospect to choose your product, the more time they have to warm up other leads and bring in more sales, which opens up more revenue opportunities.
In terms of tracking this one, if you have a CRM system in place it should be pretty simple. You need to be able to identify when a prospect enters the funnel - whether that’s through a guide download, webinar tune-in, or cold call, and what date they closed.
Campaigns refer to anything from a cross or up-sell email to an in-app notification nudging users to a new or unused area of your app. There are several different metrics within this and the type you choose will depend specifically on the type of campaign you’re going out with, but, for example, if you’re sending an in-app notification to encourage existing users to take notice of an existing feature, your KPI could be around how many of the people who see the notification actually click on it and visit the area of your app you were directing them to.
Brand awareness is often benchmarked against things like social media followers and press coverage but in many ways, these are vanity metrics and aren’t all that relevant in the product marketing world. Switching your focus to a brand personality assessment survey will help you keep a pulse on how prospects and customers perceive you, which, when you look at the bigger picture, can help position you well from the lens of investors and analysts.
Here are a few pretty standard questions you could ask:
● When you think of our product/brand, what words come to mind?
● Of the words you said, how do you feel about each?
● How innovative would you say we are (a scale from very innovative down to not at all innovative)?
● How unique would you say we are?
● How would you describe your last experience with us?
Product adoption OKRs
In terms of documenting active users as an OKR, it could be something as simple as a rolling percentage in terms of how many users you have versus how many active users you have, like this:
User satisfaction could relate to
● Your product’s usability
● Overall satisfaction
● Functionality, and more.
Let’s take onboarding as an example. If you’re responsible for your product’s in-app tour, help section, and emails, you could set up routine calls with customers who were recently onboarded and pick their brains about how they found the experience.
● Did you feel like our onboarding process covered everything you needed?
● Were you able to use our product with ease after you finished the onboarding?
● How could our onboarding process be better?
To put a more quantitative metric on it and help you understand what direction you’re heading in, you could also throw in an “On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate our onboarding process?” and use the results as your OKR barometer.
If you already have a product on the shelf and you’re adding a new feature to it, you could measure the adoption of that specific feature.
As well as tracking campaign performance metrics like open and click-through rates, you could measure your success based on how many people start using that feature after the campaign versus how many people were using it before the campaign.
Time is taken to complete an action
Last but not least is the time taken to complete certain actions within your app. This will vary depending on your product but it could be, for example, how long it takes a user to set up a social media advert. When you’re setting OKRs for the time taken to complete an action, as well as monitoring and comparing the time taken before and after your education campaign, remember to keep an eye on the time it takes new users to complete the task too, and if any trends are emerging, consider including your education piece as part of the onboarding process.
Now that we've covered all the of OKRs available to you, here's a companion toolkit to help you start implementing them.
One of the toughest things about writing OKRs is coming up with the right ones for yourself, your team, and your organization. But once you’ve arrived at a clear objective it will be well worth the investment. As we mentioned previously your OKRs will be hyper-specific to your industry, organization, and team, but below are some good examples spanning various departments to help get you started.
OKRs company example
OKR marketing example
OKR product example
OKRs sales example
We’ve popped together an all-encompassing eBook on all things OKRs, so you can get off to a flying start.
And, if you want to learn even more about OKRs and get PMM Certified while doing so, our Product Marketing: Core [On Demand] course is perfect for you.
Or, you can delve into our Product Marketing: Core [Live + Online] option and learn in real-time, with a PMM expert. Either way, you’ll be an OKR master in no time.