Marketing definitely has an artistic side -- from writing compelling copy, to designing eye-catching visuals, to launching innovative campaigns. But in the digital age, in which data and analytics are increasingly becoming the de facto language of marketing (and sales) organizations, art has started to take a backseat to science.
What does that mean for us marketers? That it's time for us to close PowerPoint (just for a few minutes!) and learn how to master another application in our Office suite: Excel.
Excel isn't just for the "data geeks" of the marketing world. It's for every marketer -- and every marketing team -- who has a vested interest in measuring performance and reporting on what's working and what isn't.
Every HubSpot team uses Excel in one way or another. Whether it's for analyzing data from an NPS survey, performing a content topic analysis, or pulling in sales data to calculate return on marketing investment (ROMI), it's never hard to find a reason to open Excel.
Keep on reading below to hear my fellow HubSpot marketers weigh in on why they find Excel so valuable. And if you want to become more familiar with the world of Excel, sign up to receive these video tips and we'll walk you through some basic Excel skills that you can pick up in just a few minutes.
You've Got the Power
You can think of Excel as a new secret weapon in your marketing arsenal, or -- better yet -- as a magical ring that grants you the power of data-driven decision-making. With Excel, you can combine data from different sources and get information that analytics software alone can't give you.
According to HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe, that's some pretty powerful stuff.
"If you can become fluent in Excel, it enables you as a marketer to be 100 times more powerful at using data to drive your decisions, because you can analyze data from multiple systems and do analysis not possible in your software tools."
-- Mike Volpe, Chief Marketing Officer at HubSpot
Excel: Your Personal Executive Translator
I would venture to guess that, across the board, marketing execs would rather look at a table, graph, or spreadsheet than read a boring email. So, next time you're trying to make a compelling argument to your CMO, make sure you're speaking the right language.
"Marketers need to speak in their executives' language: demand, revenue, the bottom line. That language requires metrics and analysis. Excel is a marketer's tool to tell a story to their executives, digging into if and how they achieved their goals and where to invest in the future. Excel is a marketer's tool to tell an objective story with concrete evidence to make a case for further investment or a change in strategy. Excel is a marketer's tool to get on the same page as their executives."
-- Ellie Mirman, Inbound Marketing Funnel Manager at HubSpot
Fixing Your Funnel
According to HubSpot Marketing Operations Analyst Sara Davidson, Excel is incredibly valuable, as it helps you find -- and correct -- problems with your sales funnel.
Whether you're struggling to fill the top of your funnel, nurture the leads in the middle of your funnel, or convert leads at the bottom of your funnel, Excel can help you identify what tactics are working and which ones needs replacing or improving.
"It's important for marketers to be able to use data to measure how effective their different tactics are at getting more visitors, leads, and customers. Excel can be key to identifying where a problem is in your funnel and how to allocate your resources to fix it.
"While the data part can be messy sometimes, it's ultimately how you present the findings to others that is most valuable (since you need to get buy-in from team members in order to make changes to the way things are done). By taking the information you discover in Excel and making it easily digestible with tables and graphs, you'll find it's a lot easier to get team members on board when you propose a change in strategy."
-- Sara Davidson, Marketing Operations Analyst at HubSpot
A Life-Changing Experience?
Look, some marketers really dig -- and maybe even worship -- Excel. And while there are many reasons we could attribute to this adoration, one stands out among the others: Excel's tools make a marketer's life easier.
Without Excel, performing complex calculations and sorting through thousands of rows of data would take an eternity (and would probably require Good Will Hunting-esque chalkboard formulas).
"If you haven't learned some tricks in Excel yet, it will make your life infinitely easier as a marketer. Pivot tables and VLOOKUPs will change your life. You will be able to compare different data sets with each other and pull in more information from other sheets. Say goodbye to manually putting numbers into a spreadsheet and hello to the beauty that comes along with these two tools."
-- Rachel Sprung, Product Marketing Associate at HubSpot
(Author's note: When reached for comment, Rachel's first response was, "I loooooove Excel!")
Proving ROMI and Dealing With "Dirty" Data
Want to see how your marketing campaigns performed last quarter? Easy -- hop into your marketing software. Want to see how much revenue you earned last quarter? Easy -- hop into your accounting software. Want to bring that data together to learn more? Easy -- Excel has got your back!
What's more, with Excel you can detect anomalies in your data and ensure you're always getting reliable results.
"There's only so much marketing software can tell you about your return on marketing investment (ROMI). And often, the investment portion of that calculation lives somewhere else entirely like in your accounting software. Excel is the perfect medium for joining two or more divergent datasets and it's often the place where your ROMI actually gets calculated.
"Digital data and automation can both demystify marketing and make it more efficient. But this is still a very human business. And unpredictable, human elements can drastically change your data without being obvious to outside observers. It's up to you to account for that and, sometimes, get your hands dirty and do the math yourself. And when that math has to be copied down 10,000 rows of data in 10 minutes, Excel can be a lifesaver."
-- Matthew Wainwright, Principal Channel Marketing Manager at HubSpot
The One-Two Punch
We've alluded to this point a bit already, but it's worth repeating: Excel isn't only a tool for data analysis -- it's also a tool for data presentation.
When you're figuring something out in Excel, getting that analysis done is the first punch (POW!), and presenting your results in a clean, easy-to-understand graph is punch number two (BAM!).
"Excel gives you the flexibility to both analyze and present data in whatever way you can imagine. It is an indispensable tool for today's marketers -- marketers who want to make data-driven decisions and who want to measure success."
-- Melissa Miller, Marketing Operations Manager at HubSpot
So, are you ready to become an Excel master? Go on! Check out the 4 Essential Microsoft Excel Skills Every Marketer Should Learn.