July 06, 2019

4 Marketing OKRs for a B2B SaaS Company

by Stijn Hendrikse

Most teams we work with use a Quarterly Based priority system. If they don't we will recommend they start using one.

We use "Objectives and Key Results" (OKRs). These are easy to understand and to get trained on. Other management systems like Traction/EOS and Gazelles Rockefeller Habits use a similar Quarterly Focus (i.e. Quarterly Big Rocks). A Quarterly Focus works well in startups where the company will change a lot in a year, and annual goals are just too far away.

OKR Definition

Objective
  • Why is your (team's) role important? List 3-5 Core Objectives.
  • Objectives can stay the same one Quarter to the next.
Key Result
  • What's the ideal outcome of doing the work?
  • How do you know you've achieved the Objective?
  • What does a successful quarter look like? How to “keep score”?
Initiatives
  • How will you drive the Key Results and achieve the Objective?
  • What are we executing to support the Objectives?


Tracking

Tools like Weekdone are great to track OKRs, and the weekly execution of Initiatives. When you just get started though, a simple list in a Google Doc or Sheet that can be shared with the team works well too. Keep it simple! Don't get bogged down in process, get frustrated, and abandon the effort.

We recommend having a weekly marketing dashboard with rows and metrics that are the same as the Key Results on the OKRs (in addition to other meaningful Marketing KPIs).

Marketing OKR

Here is an example list of OKRs for a typical B2B SaaS Marketing leader (or team). The bullets under the "Key Results" are Initiatives to achieve the Key Results. You will have to change these if they don't get you the outcomes you want.

  • Objective 1: Drive Demand for our Products and Services
    • Key Result 1a: Grow sales funnel with XX net new qualified Deals in Hubspot
      • Research current Funnel Dynamics and clean up issues
      • Increase Conversions of MQLs to Deals through A/B Testing
      • Drive “Meetings Happened” Focus with Sales and secure ownership
    • Key Result 1b: Drive YY New Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales team
      • Execute ABM Campaigns to 2 specific Verticals with clear ICPs
      • Optimize Prospect/Lead Nurture Campaigns
      • Generate actionable "reverse funnel feedback" (lead quality loss analysis)
      • Improve channel attribution to drive optimization/agency accountability
    • Key Result 1c: XX New Subscribers (opt-ins) (YY in Q2)
      • Launch holistic Content Marketing
      • Improve top 10 (traffic) Website Landing Pages on-page SEO
      • Drive off-page SEO from Partner properties
  • Objective 2: Build Growth Flywheel
    • Key Result 2a: One New Customer from an "always on" referral program
    • Key Result 2b: X Meetings Happened from Organic Search
    • Key Result 2c: New Branding and Positioning applied to top Content pieces
  • Objective 3: Build a new "Go-To-Market" for a new Niche-to-Nail
    • Key Result 3a: ICP completed and TAM/SAM/SOM Plan defined
    • Key Result 3b: 1 New Testimonials published
    • Key Result 3c: List targets acquired and validated
  • Objective 4: Improve Return on Marketing Spend (ROMI)
    • Key Result: Lower Customer Acquisition Cost to <$XX

Best Practices

Say No

OKRs will help you stay focused. They will help you say "No" to the right things so you have time to do what's most important. Pick a few things that matter. ID metrics that reflect success. Say no to everything else.

When writing your OKRs, start with analyzing what you spend most of your time on and make sure your OKRs reflect this. If the list of OKRs and Initiatives gets to long, you know that you're not focused on getting the most important things done.

Real Key Results

Avoid metrics that quantify progress; focus only on metrics that reflect actual impact that’s core to the business. Key Results are what matters. Your Initiatives are only as good as the impact they have on outcomes that you are focused on. Avoid metrics that show you’re busy but which are not connected to the outcomes your team wants to achieve.

Aligning OKRs

Having goals improves performance. Spending a lot of time cascading goals up and down the company to align, does not. It takes too much time and it’s too hard to make sure all the goals line up (and keep them aligned).

Finally

Use your OKRs in your weekly team meetings (make them part of your dashboard) and check-ins with team members. We like to at least do an OKR check-in once per month, and sometimes more often.

Stijn Hendrikse

After 15 years of experience in the Software Marketing Industry, Stijn adopted the SaaS model to launch Kalungi, a SaaS Chief Marketing Officer blog where he shares best practices. This supports his work as a CMO Consultant with Chief Outsiders.

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