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Taking Accountability: How Product Marketing OKRs Define the Role

23 May 20245 mins read
Andrea Saez
Taking Accountability: How Product Marketing OKRs Define the Role
By Andrea Saez

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) serve as a powerful tool for aligning business goals and strategies. While many departments have adopted OKRs successfully, product marketing faces unique challenges.

Sitting in the intersection of so many teams means actively being involved in their success, but creating a direct 1:1 measurable path often becomes a bit murky. Today, we'll discuss why it's hard, yet essential, to create product marketing OKRs that are tightly aligned with organizational success.

Product marketing


  • OKRs align business goals and strategies; product marketing faces unique challenges.

  • OKRs include qualitative objectives and quantitative key results, measured using the S.M.A.R.T framework.

  • Setting OKRs in product marketing is difficult due to the overlap with product management, marketing, and sales.

  • Focus on user behavior changes for effective product marketing OKRs.

  • Product marketing impacts but does not own metrics like ARR, MRR, and conversion rates.

  • Ensure organizational alignment around business objectives for strong product-market fit.

  • Embrace the complexity of setting OKRs to achieve cross-departmental alignment and measurable success.

The framework of OKRs: Objectives and key results explained

I could write an entire single blog post on OKRs (and I have!) but we’ll try to keep this brief for now.

OKRs comprise two elements: Objectives, which are qualitative, and Key Results, which are quantitative. The objective provides direction, while the key results offer measurable outcomes.

Check out airfocus's eBook on OKRs for High-Performing Product Teams: A Practical Guide.

OKRs must always be measurable – that is the whole point of them. You’re not just setting focus for your team, but also allowing space for learning and agility. While OKRs can be binary (achieved or not achieved), I’d usually recommend having a number or percentage for the actual measurement. This provides your team with ongoing measurements of success over time that they can accurately gauge.

When setting OKRs, you can follow a straightforward formula: "We will [Objective] as measured by [Key Results]." The objective answers the question, "What do I want to achieve?" Meanwhile, the key results answer, "How do I know I've achieved it?"

Key Results should adhere to the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting framework: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The framework ensures that your key results are well-defined and can be accurately assessed over a specified period.

In order for your organization to be aligned, business OKRs must be set first. All other teams can then set their own OKRs, which will directly impact those set for the business.

Setting short-term goals

The challenge of defining OKRs in product marketing

Creating OKRs in product marketing isn't straightforward. One reason is the deep tie-in with product management, marketing, and sales goals. Sure I could tell you about all the typical measurements you’ve read about 100 times, like ARR, MRR, conversion rates, adoption rates… 

Product marketing has a direct impact on all of these measurements and then some, but they aren’t solely responsible for their success. This often places PMMs in a position where they don’t necessarily “own” any metrics, but rather impact everyone else’s metrics.

So how can you truly know if your PMM teams are having an impact?

You may need to focus on user behavior changes to start with. Aligning OKRs to such specific product objectives makes the process complex but more effective.

For example, let’s say that the larger business OKR is to convert more enterprise companies. Product might then look at specific behaviors that will enable said segment to convert more successfully.

As a PMM team, the goal is now to ensure that experience is available and communicated throughout marketing and sales material, so goals around conversions and adoption will revolve around that particular segment. This makes it clear to business-facing teams that the current focus is on converting that specific segment, and they can then carry out the appropriate initiatives that will impact that success (this could be landing pages, campaigns, onboarding emails, etc focusing on those specific solutions.)

There will be a clear impact from the PMM team – after all, if they’re not there to support marketing and sales, they won’t be able to convert those customers in the enterprise segment. But again, the PMM team isn’t solely responsible for the success of all conversions, after all, those solutions need to be built and delivered.

So instead of your PMM team having to figure out how they will be solely carrying success for product adoption or market share, you now have a tangible path for success that is both measurable and obvious.

-> User behaviors are defined by product (also known as product objectives)

-> Product marketing ensures those behaviors are communicated throughout marketing and sales 

-> That experience and behaviors become measurable throughout

As those behaviors become repeatable over time, they become valuable to the user, naturally extending their usage of the product (congrats, you now have a PLG motion!)

What about product-market fit?

First of all, product-market fit isn’t made up of a single measurement.

Second, it’s also not a yes/no scenario.

What Is Product-Market Fit

You can have strong product-market fit (PMF), you can have weak product-market fit. You can also have no product-market fit – and all of that can happen within the span of a few years.

PMF is about gaining customer traction in a given market. There is no binary situation where you have it or you don’t, and once you find it you’re set; one can easily lose it (look at Peloton, Netflix, and the Blackberry.) Your product marketing team will most certainly be able to help determine how strong your product-market fit is through a variety of different measurements, including TAM (total addressable market), conversion rates, sales win rates, adoption rates, MRR, ARR etc.

If you really want to ensure you have good customer traction and actively keep it positive, make sure your entire organization is aligned around what your business objectives are. Make sure your teams don’t have conflicting objectives, and above all, that product objectives focus around user behaviors that provide value to the customer. In doing so, you’ll be empowering your entire organization to work as an actual team, not as conflicting entities.

Team collaboration


In wrapping up this exploration into the intricacies of OKRs for product marketing, it's worth noting that the challenge in setting these goals is an opportunity, not a setback.

The complexity ensures that there's cross-departmental alignment, particularly with the product management, marketing, and sales teams. When everyone's objectives echo the overarching business goals and key results are set to influence and measure customer behavior, the roadmap to success is much less ambiguous.

Don't sidestep the complexity - lean into it.

In doing so, you create a clear, measurable path for your team, better defining your role and contribution to the broader objectives of your business.


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Andrea Saez

Andrea Saez

PM and PMM leader
Andrea is passionate about product management, growth strategies and community engagement. From writing to hosting talks and events, she loves having the opportunity to learn, talk, and engage with customers and apply product-thinking to scaling companies....more
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