Why great marketing needs goal clarity

Most Marketing teams tend to have the similar high level KPIs that measure success. Depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C, examples of marketing KPIs that would indicate a level of health might include:

  • Revenue
  • CPA or CAC
  • Growth Rates
  • Leads
  • Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Leads

What sits below these is lots of data and more KPIs. You’ve data for each channel, page, campaign, keyword, medium, and segment to name but a few, and each of these has a different role to play in a customer journey, with customers moving between all of them over time.

Add to that a range of specialised professions used to understand and manage them along with a wide array of marketing technology and you’ll know what Marketing is now as much about data as creativity.

Clarity amongst the noise

Tracking KPIs is one thing, knowing what your priorities are for the coming quarter is another and essential if you’re going to succeed. It’s well understood that when we dilute our focus, or focus on less impactful or relevant activities, we will achieve less. Focus on what matters most is therefore important.

What is also important is when we get clarity on where to focus is how we learn to stretch ourselves and focus on agile execution. Which is where goal setting frameworks like Objectives and Key Results come into play.

OKRs – Objectives & Key Results

OKRs are a goal setting framework unlike any other. It is also how companies like Google and Microsoft set goals, so you know it works. It has been chosen because there are a number of superpowers embedded in OKR DNA that are easily overlooked or discounted, but when revealed and accessed result in a step-change in performance.


OKRs when done well force you to name the few game changing-goals that if committed to would make a material difference to performance. To get to this position you will need to have considered all of the possible, and discounted most of them. This clarity on what matters most is central to achievement. 


OKRs force you to describe a desirable future state using metrics that matter. This focus on meaningful measurement takes away the possibility of setting goals to complete tasks or improve vanity metrics.


Hard goals that stretch us are proven to create and prolong focus and force us to acquire new knowledge, collaborate and innovate. Easy to achieve goals don’t. OKRs are designed to be calibrated as ‘hard’ by default.


With OKRs you set high level goals that are invitations for others to align their goals. In marketing teams you might set a departmental goal to deliver a volume of leads and a desirable CPA. Other teams can then align their goals accordingly.


OKRs are aligned with Agile methodologies. This means processes like weekly check-ins are central to how goals are worked towards and executional activities are managed. 

Writing OKRs

The good news is that OKRs are simple to create. There are three entities to be concerned with. The Objective, Key Results and Initiatives. Here’s an example of a Marketing OKR.

More leads that convert will help Sales hit their quota

Create 5000 Marketing Qualified Leads for Sales

Ensure lead quality so 25% of leads convert to meetings

This Objective describes ‘what’ and ‘why’.  The Key Results introduced both a volume target and a quality metric, making the OKR complete. 

The activities that would be done to achieve this are called Initiatives. OKR best practices discourage Key Results being activities as it’s possible to launch a campaign for example and not achieve a target for lead generation.

Through OKRs you can have the conversations that bring clarity on what Marketing needs to achieve each quarter and how it’s proposing on going about achieving it. Teams are not going to have too many priorities as they know what matters most and have a toolkit to say no to things that might conflict with this. The end result, you achieve more.

Further Reading

If this is whetted your appetite to know more about OKRs. Here’s some further reading for you.