How to Develop a Marketing Plan Utilizing the OKR Model

Is marketing integral to your company’s business operations, customer acquisition, and growth objectives? If it is, great – you don’t need to read any further. However, if you feel that there is room for improvement in the planning, goal-setting, or effectiveness of your marketing, it’s worth delving deeper into the topic.

A good marketing plan is based on goals

Always start with growth objectives. A company can have various levels of goals, such as business objectives, sales targets, marketing goals, and so on. However, the more layered these goals are, the harder it is to keep them in mind to guide daily activities. Therefore, consider whether you can condense these goals into the company’s core growth objectives, aligning actions across different functions (sales, marketing, technical development, etc.).

OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a goal-setting model we have found effective in unifying company objectives and guiding activities. This model allows goals (Objectives) to be conveniently translated into metrics and numerical growth indicators (Key Results) and further into practical actions (Initiatives) to achieve these goals.

Define 1-3 key objectives for your company

The appropriate review interval for OKRs can be quarterly or semi-annually. Key growth objectives can include sales or marketing goals, profitability, efficiency, employee-related goals, or goals related to thought leadership, vision, and market position. Here are a few examples of what objectives might look like:

  • Increasing sales compared to the same period last year
  • Significant growth in the number of leads compared to the previous year without drastically increasing budgets
  • Streamlining the purchasing process and improving efficiency by identifying bottlenecks
  • A growing and profitable business
  • A safe and desirable workplace
  • Achieving thought leadership in the industry
  • Reaching and activating a new target audience
  • Increasing the number of newly registered users
  • Reducing the cost per sales qualified leads (SQL)
  • Increasing the conversion rate
  • Improving customer retention and engagement

The most important aspect of defining a company’s growth objectives is that they reflect the company’s core values and growth prerequisites and are achievable. The objectives are set to be inspirational goals (e.g., “Increasing sales,” “Significant growth,” or “Achieving thought leadership”), while key results set the standard for more measurable metrics (e.g., “Doubling sales,” “Achieving +XX% of growth,” or “YY number of SQLs”).

Metrics guide actions

Setting the right metrics (key results) is essential for planning systematic and growth-oriented marketing. It’s good to find numerical values for metrics that can be tracked percentage-wise, but using binary metrics (yes/no) is sometimes justified. The main question when setting metrics is: “What indicators can we use to advance the achievement of the key objective?” Here are some examples of key objectives (O) and their derived metrics (KR):

O: Reaching and activating a new target audience

  • KR1: Mapping target audiences in various channels = 0/1 (yes/no)
  • KR2: Creating initial contact through targeted marketing; Reaching 50% of the potential target audience = 0/50%

O: Significant growth in the number of leads compared to the previous year without drastically increasing budgets

  • KR1: Number of SQL leads XX = 0/XX leads
  • KR2: Cost per SQL lead under XX euros = 0/XX€
  • KR3: Increasing the conversion rate to XX% = 0/XX%

O: Improving customer retention and engagement

  • KR1: Reducing the percentage of churning users to XX% = 0/XX%
  • KR2: Increasing the percentage of active users to XX% = 0/XX%
  • KR3: Growing the number of monthly active users by +XX% = 0/XX%

Set actions toward goals

At the final level of the OKR model are the initiatives (IN) aimed at achieving the goals. Each metric should have actions defined to promote its achievement. Actions might need to be changed or added as goal achievement is monitored – an initial comprehensive plan isn’t necessary. The focus should be on identifying the first steps to achieve the goals.

Actions can be individual campaigns, marketing, and tactical methods in specific channels, or practical actions needed to achieve the goal. Achieving the same goal and metric may require actions from multiple company functions. For example, “Streamlining the purchasing process” in a SaaS environment may require actions from sales, marketing, and technical development. Here are some examples of actions set for metrics:

KR: Number of SQL leads XX = 0/XX leads

  • IN1: Marketing and audience building in the initial contact phase with Facebook marketing
  • IN2: Generating leads through LinkedIn lead gen campaigns
  • IN3: Retargeting campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn
  • IN4: Email automation for users who abandoned their orders

KR: Increasing the conversion rate to XX% = 0/XX%

  • IN1: Lead validation for sales to improve the accuracy of the potential target audience
  • IN2: Conversion-focused advertising using Facebook’s dynamic targeting
  • IN3: Identifying bottlenecks through analytics and behavioral data
  • IN4: Technical development to remove identified bottlenecks from the purchase/order process

Monitor, measure, and develop

This way, marketing and other functional activities are aligned to serve the company’s key growth objectives. Continuous goal monitoring, critical and systematic analysis of the impacts of actions, and ongoing testing of new measures are essential for development. If goals are set quarterly, progress on metrics should be tracked at least monthly, while action evaluation is best done weekly. The key questions for effective growth marketing are: “What has been done, what has been learned/achieved, and what should be done next based on this?”

Lean more about using the OKR framework in action >

If the practical actions and metrics align with your company’s goals, you are on the right track. However, if you feel that the goals are disconnected and different functions aren’t working towards a common goal, consider revisiting your goal-setting approach. A good marketing plan is simple and answers one question: “How will we achieve our set goals?” The depth of planning various tactical methods to achieve these goals is another matter altogether.

What is a tactical marketing plan and why is it so important >

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