How Digital Marketing Agencies Can Drive Growth With The OKR Framework

How do you measure your success as a digital marketing agency? This one question can be a bit hard to answer, isn’t it? Having a complex business model, multiple departments, different types of clients, and projects to align, establishing measurable objectives, and keeping the whole organization accountable as an agency can be a herculean grind.

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As digital marketing agencies need to steer the value to their clients, it is generally their objectives that count as the agenda first and foremost. However, an entirely designed strategic methodology also leads to enhanced efficiency and better strategic outcomes – you know what you want to gauge and how to go about it to attain it. This is where the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) methodology comes into the picture. Emanated from the legacy of Management by Objectives and entirely developed during the 1970s at Intel, this management procedure soon became a favourite amongst the tech giants such as Microsoft, Uber, and Google in order to establish ambitious objectives and ensure that they happen in a systematic manner. Ideas are always easy, but the execution is everything and this is exactly what the OKR program helps your organization in doing so. 

For ensuring the ideal execution for your agency, whether you have just started or willing to give a shot to OKRs in a different manner, here is everything you want to know. 

The OKR program in action 

Objectives: These represent the goal an organization wants to attain within a given period of time – they have to be qualitative, ambitious, and focused on adding value to the organization. 

Key Results: These imply how the established Objectives are going to be attained – they got to be concrete, clear, and trackable. 

a. You need to establish 3 to 5 organizational objectives for each quarter with your departmental managers and employees. 

b. Then each of these departments establishes 3 to 5 objectives that align with the organizational objectives. 

c. After that, every employee set 3 to 5 objectives after discussing them with their managers and teams. These should also be aligned with the organizational and team objectives. 

d. It is mandatory for each of the set objectives to have 2 to 5 key results. 

What works best with digital marketing agencies while setting up their OKRs is ensuring that the organizational objectives drive what the OKRs are going to be. Beng direct, these keep the employees on the ideal track, but structuring them from leadership is mandatory for encouraging employees to go beyond their limitations and boost their productivity. So, if your organization is aiming to grow its client base and be a successful partner, establishing the OKR structure is the right way to go. For instance, grow client base by 50% and retain 70% of the clients. Following this, everyone’s individual and team OKRs can ladder up. You also need to balance out the three main ingredients :

a. Establishing measurable and inspiring objectives. 

b. Ensuring that the organizational teams are driving towards the desired objectives. 

c. Setting up a cadence for the established objectives. 

How to use OKRs for a digital marketing agency?

1. Treat the company as a client and align OKRs with the ultimate vision

If you have the desire to effectively define what success should look like for your organization, then make sure to address yourself as a client and set up the environment in accordance. That can refer to establishing objectives for your marketing and sales teams, with key results like boosting discovery calls by 30% or making delivery calls this quarter more focused on monthly performance or targeted keywords based on your PR ambitions. Think about how you are willing to measure your performance as a digital marketing agency and what success looks like for you and then measure against it. Maybe your organization wants to develop a specific client vertical or rank amongst the top 5 agency keywords in the region – whatever you set to attain, you now have something to track and measure your goals. Moreover, establishing quarterly objectives provides you with enough time for making a difference, leaving room for experimenting and learning lessons to take from one cycle to the other. 

2. Quantifiable objectives and accountability for client portfolio

It is no surprise that your organization would be initiating every client conversation by asking about their objectives. Initiating with the business objectives of the client provides you with a solid foundation for establishing measurable objectives and key results while keeping the organizational employees and teams accountable. It also serves as the link between the strategies and tactics by enabling you to form a roadmap for every client campaign, that is trackable step by step. You can also go further into the methodology and establish OKRs on the basis of the planning meetings with the clients – then these OKRs can be owned by every account manager on the team. However, sometimes it can be a bit tough to establish objectives in the sales phase. Yet the organizational objectives can be reverse-engineered and you as a digital marketing agency can get consultative and assist the clients in determining the right ones for them and connect your agency’s performance directly with it. 

3. Steer innovation for your agency

OKRs also play the role of driving innovative projects or growth for digital marketing agencies. This is done by enhancing the existing service of establishing a new business unit altogether. Objectives such as developing a new revenue creek from a specific service, establishing a CRO or UX department, or developing a special project from the OKRs approach as you get the efficiency and precision, with a structure priorities setting. It’s all about doing what you do in a better and quicker way. As it is known, it can often get tough to manage as digital marketing agencies are selling time, so there’s heaps of pressure when it doesn’t work right. OKR program helps you in getting you to your objectives faster as it gets everyone committed to their objectives. 

Just like organizations in almost every industry, digital marketing agencies have been growing and thriving with the help of OKR programs. Not only does it help the digital marketing agencies in surviving in this highly competitive era, but also provides them with competitive advantages over the ones still stuck with traditional methodologies. For more proficient guidance, reach out to us today. 

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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