Are Your OKRs OK?


How do you measure content marketing? 

Despite all the digital ink spilled on the topic, conversations about measurement rarely happen in marketing departments today. 

Let me explain. Tons of words get exchanged – but they seldom result in a shared understanding. 

Two discussions about measurement typically happen. The first covers the content team\’s goals. Many organizations now call these OKRs (for objectives and key results), a term originated by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove and popularized by Google. 

I often see OKRs containing goals such as “increase awareness,” or “drive additional leads or sales inquiries,” or “build a thought leadership platform.” 

But these are only half of an OKR. 

In an OKR, the key result has to be without interpretation – meaning there’s no debate about whether it was achieved or not. 

The second discussion covers the metrics used to show content performance. Often, the sales and marketing organization tells the content team that the key results should be downloads, visits, conversions, email subscribers, leads generated, and so on. 

Yet the teams rarely discuss whether any of those numbers are meaningful – or how they\’re connected to the OKRs. 

On one hand, content marketers say, “This is what we plan to create, but we’re not sure what success looks like.\” On the other hand, business leaders say, “This is what success looks like, but we’re not sure what to create.” 

What’s missing in both of those discussions? A shared definition of success. 

The discussion that should happen isn’t deciding whether the team met vague goals or how to share the attribution of hard marketing conversion numbers. 

It should be about agreeing and sharing what success looks like. If the content marketing team\’s goal is to increase internal awareness and the perceived value of our content, then everyone (including business leaders) should agree on how they’ll know if the goal was met. 

I don’t think OKRs always have to be measured with a hard number (though many people do). However, they must be based on a shared understanding that’s unambiguous. At its core, that’s what all measurement is: a shared understanding of the value of something. 

How much value does 30 new sales inquiries, a substantial reduction in content creation cost, or 22% new audience brand awareness bring to the business? The answer is that it doesn’t matter – unless there’s a shared understanding of what those measurements represent. 

Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re right when no one understands what you’re saying.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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