May 25, 2023

Excel & Google Sheets: Formula Guides

As the CMO of a growing company, I've come to appreciate the usefulness of Google Sheets for organizing and analyzing data. It's one of my go-to tools for managing marketing campaigns and tracking key performance metrics. But Sheets does so much more than just basic spreadsheets. With the right formulas, you can use Sheets to automate complex calculations, analyze huge data sets, and even build custom applications.

In this article, I'm going to explore some of the most useful formulas in Google Sheets, and give you some tips on how to use them to streamline your data analysis and reporting workflows. Whether you're a spreadsheet master or a relative newbie, I'm confident you'll find something here that will help you take your Sheets skills to the next level.

Before we dive into specific formulas, let's start with a brief overview of how formulas work in Google Sheets. At its core, a Sheets formula is simply a set of instructions that tells the program how to calculate a specific value based on the data in the spreadsheet.

Formulas always begin with an equals sign (=), followed by the name of the function being used (such as SUM or AVERAGE), and any arguments that the function requires. Arguments are the values or cell references that the function uses to calculate the result.

For example, the formula =SUM(A1:A10) calculates the sum of the values in cells A1 through A10, and returns the result in the cell where the formula is entered. Formulas can get much more complex than this, of course, and can involve multiple functions and arguments.

Now let's look at some specific formulas that can be especially useful for marketers and business analysts. I'll provide examples of how each formula works, and explain how it can be applied in a real-world setting.

The SUMIF formula is incredibly versatile, and can be used to calculate sums based on a wide range of conditions. The basic syntax is:

=SUMIF(range, criteria, [sum_range])

The range argument specifies the cells that should be checked for the criteria, and the criteria argument specifies the condition that must be met for the corresponding values in the sum range to be included in the calculation. The optional sum_range argument specifies the range of cells that should actually be summed.

Here's an example. Let's say you have a list of sales data for a variety of products, and you want to calculate the total sales for a specific product in a given month. You could use the SUMIF formula like this:

=SUMIF(A2:A50, "Product X", C2:C50)

This formula would check the range A2:A50 for any cells that contain the text "Product X". For the corresponding cells in column C, it would sum the values and return the total sales for that product.

The CONCAT formula is very useful for combining text strings from multiple cells into a single cell. Its syntax is quite simple:

=CONCAT(string1, string2, …)

You can include as many strings as you want in the formula, separated by commas. Each string can be either a direct text value (in quotation marks) or a cell reference.

Here's an example. Let's say you have a list of employee names in column A and job titles in column B, and you want to create a single column that combines these into a single text string. You could use a formula like this:

=CONCAT(A2, ", ", B2)

This formula would return a single text string that includes the employee name and job title, separated by a comma and a space. If you drag the formula down to apply it to the rest of the cells in the column, it would create a similar combined string for each row of data.

The VLOOKUP formula is a powerful way to search for data in a large table and return a corresponding value. Its syntax is a bit more complex than some of the other formulas we've covered so far:

=VLOOKUP(search_key, range, index, [is_sorted])

The search_key argument is the value you want to search for in the table. The range argument specifies the entire table you want to search in, including the column with the search key and the column with the corresponding result values. The index argument specifies which column of the table should be used to return the result. The optional is_sorted argument specifies whether the table is sorted in ascending order.

Here's an example. Let's say you have a table of customer data with unique customer IDs in the first column, and you want to look up the customer's email address based on their ID. You could use the VLOOKUP formula like this:

=VLOOKUP("1234", A2:B50, 2, FALSE)

This formula would search the first column of the table (column A) for the value "1234", and return the corresponding value from the second column (column B), which in this case would be the customer's email address.

These are just a few examples of the many useful formulas that you can use in Google Sheets to streamline your data analysis and reporting. With a little practice and experimentation, you'll find that these formulas can save you hours of manual calculations and help you spot trends and insights that you might have missed otherwise.

To start exploring Sheets formulas on your own, try experimenting with some of the formulas we've covered here, and see how they can be applied to your own data. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can start transforming your raw data into valuable insights.

Happy formula-building!