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#02: 2023 Product Marketing OKRs

We’re well into December, which means there’s one thing on everyone’s mind: goal setting for 2023.

This can feel like a particularly anxious activity for a product marketing team - there is no standardized way to measure the impact of our work. Marketing teams have leads. Sales teams have closed revenue. Product teams have daily active users.

What should a PMM measure? The answer is, measure what matters.

Today we’re going to cover the measurement framework I use to position my teams for success.

Start with strategy

Your work will be directly influenced by the goals that you set for the year. If you want to focus on strategic product marketing initiatives, you need to set goals that create the space for you to do so.

Here’s an example. Imagine your PMM team has a goal linked to website impressions. Since your success will be measured against this goal, you may end up focused on lead generation and channel strategy efforts. This isn’t where most PMMs want to focus their efforts.

On the flip side, consider if your goal was linked to a higher level metric like the ratio of segmented customers vs non-segmented customers. In this case, you’d focus your efforts on optimizing the conversion, engagement and retention rates of your best customers. This is arguably more strategic work than channel strategy.

How do you advocate for the right metrics for your team? Connect the work you do directly back to company strategy.

Here are a few questions you’ll want to answer before you jump into your own goal setting:

  • What is the company’s number one priority for 2023

  • What are the top objectives that support that priority

  • What are the key results the company needs to deliver to complete the objectives and achieve the priority

Understand the growth levers

This is where most goal setting falls apart.

PMM teams will either take that highest level metric and make it their goal, or they’ll go so granular, they lose the plot.

Let’s imagine your company’s main priority was increasing subscriber count, and the key results were # of leads, conversion rate, and churn rate. You may be tempted to make any of these metrics your goal for the year.

But, really, do you as a PMM team have full control over the total number of leads you bring in, or the conversion of those leads? Absolutely not. You may be able to influence that number, but you can’t control it in a meaningful way. It’s also so broad, that you may be brought into initiatives you wouldn’t otherwise want to be a part of.

This is where a KPI tree comes in.

A KPI tree takes a high level metric, and identifies the levers you can pull in order to influence that number. An effective KPI tree will actually have multiple levels of metrics, so you can really see how different parts of the business work together to drive growth.

Personally, I love Mixpanel’s approach to their measurement framework, and I use a version of this for my own teams.

Source: Mixpanel

Let’s apply this framework to the example above to see how you can identify where your PMM team can have the highest impact.

The focus metric would be Total Subscriber Count, and the L1s may include total impressions, total leads, lead conversion rate, and customer churn rate. We’ve already identified that these are too high level to focus on, so we need to drill down into L2 and L3 metrics.

Double clicking on lead conversion rate, we may see metrics like trial conversion rate, segmented trialer ratio and behavioural metrics like setup, aha and habit moment.

If you were to choose segmented trialer ratio as one of your metrics for 2023, you may put initiatives on your roadmap like personalized onboarding, value based pricing, and personalized cancelation flows. Again, you can start to see how strategic these initiatives could be and how you can start to design the right constraints for your team to thrive within.

Measure what you can track

One note on measurement. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what metric you choose if you can’t actually track and report on it.

This is the second place where goal setting falls apart.

In order to demonstrate the value and impact of your initiatives as a PMM, you need to be able to bring numbers to the table. If you can’t measure the metric you want to focus on, then try to find a proxy metric that is available.

Ideally this is through a self-serve data tool where you can pull the numbers instantly. If that’s not possible, then at least ensure your data team is reporting the numbers to you on a regular cadence, rather than only on request.

Pulling it all together

As you prepare for 2023 OKRs, the most important question you can ask yourself is: “does this goal position me to work strategically?” If the answer is no, then go back to the KPI tree and keep drilling down.

With that filter in place, you’ll immediately have the tools you need to have an effective conversation about prioritization and focus. When someone asks you to prioritize a blog post over a behavioural change in onboarding, you’ll be able to point them back to the KPI tree and explain how your metrics support the company’s overall priority. This is what will unlock your ability to say no to more low value work, and yes to more high value work.

Because what you say no to in 2023 is just as important as what you say yes to.#02: