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Unrealistic Digital Marketing Goals: a Guide for 2022

unrealistic digital marketing goals - the word goals on a fabric label next to a black pen

Unrealistic Digital Marketing Goals: a Guide for 2022 – In this article I am discussing the problem of setting unrealistic digital marketing goals.

By reading you will learn what goals and objectives are, what unrealistic digital marketing goals are and how to deal with them.

This article is part of my series about analysing stress in digital marketing, which also includes:

Unrealistic Digital Marketing Goals: General Questions

Before discussing the topic of unrealistic digital marketing goals, let’s agree on a definition of goals and objectives.

The following is taken from my article ‘How to Create the Perfect SEO Strategy for 2022‘.

What is a Goal?

A goal is a generic result that people and organisations set to achieve in the future.

Some of the typical goals in Digital Marketing include:

  • Increase sales
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase engagement

Each goal is broken down into objectives.

What is an Objective?

An objective is a defined result that supports the main goal, typically to be reached within a given timeframe.

The ideal objective within a goal is SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic (or Relevant)
  • Time-Bound

For example, if the main goal were to increase brand awareness, an objective could be increase website traffic by X by the end of Month Y.

When we talk about unrealistic goals, for example ‘increase revenue’ there is generally an unrealistic objective attached, like ‘increase sales from €10k to €1M within the next 6 months.

What is an Unrealistic Objective?

An unrealistic objective is when there is a significant disproportion between the starting point and the desired result in the future within a given timeframe.

In the example above, the unrealistic goal is not the desired result (€1M) but the significant disproportion from the starting point (€10k).

In my experience, an unrealistic goals is always the consequence of unrealistic client expectations.

Most Common Unrealistic Digital Marketing Goals 

The following are some of the most common and unrealistic digital marketing goals:

This list is just a sample one but you get the drill.

How to Address Unrealistic Digital Marketing Goals

Below I am listing some thoughts based on experience on how to address unrealistic goals or objectives:

  • Be Honest – Your client came to you for your advice and expertise. If you think the goal is unrealistic, clearly flag it and explain why with clear and understandable reasons
  • Use Data – Opinion and experience are important but it’s always best to back up your statement with data
  • A/B Test – If your client has a strong opinion about the goals to achieve, create a testing environment where you would put in place the setup for achieving the desired goal but in a much smaller scale and only for a limited timeframe (say a month. Report on the results
  • Walk Away – I would leave this as the last resort but if you start hearing feedback like ‘if you don’t do it, we will go to someone else’, it might be time for you to walk away from the client

I hope you liked this article. Please let me know your feedback in the comments.

Featured image by Ronnie Overgoor on Unsplash.com


Pasquale Mellone

Pasquale is Founder at Increasily.com, a H2H marketing agency based in Dublin, Ireland, and owner at print-on-demand ecommerce Mintycase.com. Pasquale has worked in Digital Marketing and Account Management since 2004. He currently lives in Dublin with his wife, stepdaughter and cat.