How to Use the Goal Seek Excel Function (With Pictures)

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Katrina Kirsch
Katrina Kirsch


Goal-seeking helps you calculate backwards from an end goal. It’s a powerful way to understand how you should best allocate resources. If you use Excel to evaluate data, here’s how to plan ahead with the Goal Seek Excel function.

marketer using goal seek in excel

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    To use the Goal Seek function in Excel:

    Let’s run through that with a simple example.

    I want to bring in 130 new customers. But I don't know how many visits I'll need to reach my goal.

    Before doing the Goal Seek analysis, I organize my data to find the average MoM visit-to-customer percentage.

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel

    Step 1: Select the cell with the output you want to change

    In this case, I’ll select the customer goal.

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel: Step 1 select the cell with the output you want to change

    Step 2: Navigate to the “Data” tab

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel: Step 2 navigate to the data tab

    Step 3: Select “What-if Analysis”

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel: step 3 select what if analysis

    Step 4: Click “Goal Seek”

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel: step 4 click goal seek

    Pro Tip: You can also get here with the Goal Seek Excel shortcut. Press Alt + A on your keyboard, followed by key W, then G.

    Step 5: Type the number you want to hit into the “To value” field

    My goal is 130 customers, so I’ll type in that number.

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel:  step 5add a number to the to value fie/d

    Step 6: Select the variable you want to change in the “By changing cell” box

    I’m changing Projected Visits so I’ll place the cursor in the “By changing cell” box, then scroll down to select the corresponding cell.

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel:  step 6select the variable to change

    Step 7: Click “OK” to see the Goal Seek analysis

    How To Use Goal Seek In Excel: step 7click ok to perform the goal seek analysis

    Voila! I find that to get 130 customers, I need to attract 5000 visits.

    a complete goal seek analysis in excel

    Use the Goal Seek Function In Excel for Smarter Marketing Insights

    Take control of the variables that seem out of your control with the Goal Seek function. You’ll gain respect within your company for predicting your needs and hitting your goals.

    You'll also be ready if the unexpected happens. And you'll know how to make informed decisions or tweak your strategy with your new what-if analysis skills.

    Editor's note: This post was originally published in [Month Year] and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

    excel marketing templates
    Topics: Excel

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