Data science. Predictive analytics. Big data. Unicorns.
All significant buzzwords in today’s marketing industry and undeniably major forces in the near future (if not the present).
However, sometimes this endless stream of data that we are provided with, the array of new marketing analysis technologies and huge number of crucial decisions that need to be made off the back of it can be overwhelming.
So let’s take it back to basics. Microsoft Excel.
Most of us will use this for work every day, some of us know it very well and either love it or hate it (think Clippy the Paperclip from Microsoft), while many of us just aren’t making the most of its potential.
Hopefully you all will benefit from the below tips.
Much like Clippy, Excel has many irritating foibles, but is full of good intentions, so let’s try and maximize the good: improve our data manipulation, improve our data presentation and, therefore, improve our data driven decisions.
1. Build a Story With Your Tabs
Think about the thought process of the person using the workbook – what is the most efficient journey they can take through your worksheets to find the final solution?
For example, this could be based upon priority (most valuable insight first) or detail (from top level to very detailed, allow the user to funnel down to their solution).
Having to jump around from tab to tab is confusing and downright irritating. You should be enabling insight not putting people off.
2. Not used? Get Rid
Just because data exists doesn’t mean it’s helpful. Streamline your worksheets so that they are used regularly – get feedback from your team to make sure this is the case.
As above, too much data can be extremely off putting and can make finding the solution like looking for a snowball in a blizzard.
3. Metrics Reloaded
Your business is the machine and your metrics are your levers to success. If you are creating a metric then understand its causes and inputs, the actions you can take to influence it and make sure you can fully interpret the relationships between your metrics.
If you don’t know what these are, chances are you don’t need them. The number of possible metrics you can create is huge, but too many can make spotting that key anomaly or trend very difficult.
- Quick to create
- Quick to manipulate
- Linkable to other data sources
- Easy to use (for those who aren’t experts with formulae)
They may have their irritations (difficulties with sorting calculated fields, displaying qualitative data, for example) but they can save you a hell of a lot of time and effort.
5. Conditional Conditional Formatting
Sometimes it is as simple as green is good, red is bad. Excel has provided us with a multitude of options for conditional formatting so that we can use colours and icons to spot the key anomalies and trends in our key metrics. The keen among you can create custom formulae for a more bespoke effect.
Break through the binary and use some visual effects to help yourself. Caution – too much of this creates a kaleidoscope of confusion. So don’t overdo it.
6. Label Your Graphs!
This graph shows bad results, right?
Label all of your axes and set a title and format so that everything is clear. Finally, make sure your key makes sense. Graphs are often used to display information to senior figures – make sure they can understand them at first glance.
7. Don't Be Frugal With Google (Other Search Engines Available)
If you are struggling with something, chances are someone else has struggled before you. Search for help online and use the endless resource that is the internet to help you find a solution.
There are hundreds and thousands of blogs, forums and official Microsoft help guides to assist you and your quickest way to learn is to look for the solution yourself. Make the most of it!