Marketing Measurement Spotlight: OKRs vs. KPIs – Why You Need Both in a Financial Marketing Strategy


Measuring performance is an essential component of any marketing strategy. You need to know what’s working or underperforming before you can affect any significant change. This is especially true for a financial marketing strategy where numbers and metrics are at the heart of the business, to begin with.

As a financial marketer, a key performance indicator (KPI) is likely a familiar term. It’s a way to measure the results of a financial marketing campaign based on progress towards a specific goal. In financial marketing, the goal might be new accounts, sales, views, clicks, leads, shares, engagements, webinar attendees, or any number of measurable values.

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You may also have heard the term OKR, an acronym that stands for objectives and key results. The “objective” represents the ultimate goal, and the “key results” are what you need to achieve to assume your objective was reached.

As you can see, KPI and OKR are similar in many ways. However, there are significant differences you should understand—and reasons you should be using both to measure the performance of your financial marketing strategy.

Let’s dive a little deeper.

What is a KPI in Financial Marketing?

KPIs are performance metrics used by organizations in just about every department (not just marketing) to gauge the success of a specific activity or initiative. You can apply KPIs to pretty much anything, including projects, events, or marketing campaigns, where you might use them to measure progress toward a specific goal, such as sales, social media engagements, lead generation, and so on.

Companies often establish KPIs based on what other organizations are doing, but that isn’t always the best strategy. KPIs are most valuable when they are tailored to your specific goals.

Your KPIs should include the objective itself, why the goal is vital to the organization, how you plan to make that happen, who is accountable to the metric itself, and how often it should be measured and reviewed.

For example, a financial marketer might establish a KPI for lead generation. Let’s say the goal is to increase marketing qualified leads (MQLs) by 20% this year. They are doing this because it will help grow the bottom line. The goal will be achieved by optimizing or improving marketing strategies and developing new content. The head of marketing is accountable for this metric, and it will be reviewed quarterly to gauge progress.

OKRs in Financial Marketing – Explained

The concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKR) was pioneered by Google and Intel, which developed the tactic to apply to their strategic planning activities.

The definition of an OKR is a metric that defines an “objective” (which could be applied to a department, team, an individual, or the entire company) as well as “key results,” which are metrics that define what achieving that goal looks like. OKRs are generally very specific and even aggressive as they outline measurable stages within the initiative that you’ll take to reach the ultimate goal.

OKRs can be used to set quarterly or annual goals and often include several “key results” attached to a single objective.

Here’s a basic formula for writing an OKR:

We will (objective) as measured by (these key results).

And here is an example of a financial services firm OKR.

  • Objective: Improve the online banking user experience to gain new customers and improve customer satisfaction
  • Key Result #1: Launch survey to understand top customer concerns
  • Key Result #2: Leverage feedback to improve user experience and address concerns
  • Key Result #3: Launch a second survey after improvements to gauge success
  • Key Result #4: Achieve X number of five-star reviews by the end of Q2

That’s a pretty basic outline of how to establish an OKR at the company level. When creating an OKR for a team or individual, drill down to define each step needed to reach the goal. You don’t have to stop at four, but each should have a measurable attribute at the end of it.

Developing and Deploying OKRs for Financial Marketing Teams

When creating OKRs for a financial marketing team, collaboration is encouraged. When stakeholders are involved in the process of writing and setting their own KRs, they’ll be more engaged and accountable for the results and will push each other forward to ensure everybody stays on track.

Make your KRs as clear, actionable, and inspirational as possible. The final KR should include a specific timeframe. These are the items that enable you to measure whether you have achieved the objective or not.

Here is an example of a content marketing team OKR.

  • Objective: Increase lead generation through targeted content
  • Key Result #1: Create a content strategy for the next six months
  • Key Result #2: Create and publish a lead magnet
  • Key Result #3: Achieve 200 downloads by the end of Q2
  • Key Result #4: Add X number of MQLs to the pipeline by Q3

KPIs vs. OKRs: What’s the Difference?

The most significant difference between a KPI and an OKR is the intent. Whereas KPIs usually represent initiatives or activities already in motion, OKRs are more specific, bold, and determined. However, that doesn’t mean that they should be so ambitious as to be unattainable.

The idea is to motivate the individual or team and keep them moving toward a specific objective. If the goal is too aspirational or complicated to achieve, it may backfire. Each milestone within the OKR should be a step up from the last and a progression towards the objective.

KPIs and OKRs: Why You Need Both

If you’re still trying to decide between KPIs or OKRs, it all comes down to what you intend to measure.

KPIs are probably the best way to go for long-term program or project improvements. Essentially, they define and measure the performance of business-as-usual activities. They can be applied to individuals or teams to measure progress over time.

But if you’re getting ready to launch a new campaign or implement significant changes to your products, services, or user interface, for example, OKRs give you more depth and flexibility in deciding how you’re going to reach your goals. OKRs define what advances need to happen within a specific timeframe and measure whether those objectives were actually met.

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Ultimately, the only way to gauge success is to measure it, and both KPIs and OKRs help you do that. KPIs look at the bigger, long-range picture, while OKRs address more specific and sometimes short-term goals as well as the steps you’ll take to get there.

But the truth is, KPIs and OKRs are not an either-or situation. The two work very well within a financial marketing strategy. An OKR can even be used to improve your KPIs. Where KPIs help you gauge performance and underscore areas that need improvement, OKRs help problem-solve, drive process improvement, and enable creative thinking and innovation.

To maximize the value of your KPI/OKR efforts, they should be tracked alongside each other. Using this approach, you’ll have a high-level view of both company and team performance as well as all the individual tools and strategies you need to drive improvements within those groups, right down to the individual level.

Develop Your Financial Marketing Measurement Strategy

Measuring the results of your financial marketing initiatives drives improvements and fuels the innovation that helps you grow. KPIs and OKRs are ways to define what’s important to your organization and track progress on the way to achieving those results. Used together, these strategies will deliver the insights you need to measure success and push your teams to greater heights.

Need more help defining KPIs and OKRs within your financial marketing strategy? Book a time to chat or set up a call with us.


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