Formulas explained

Let's face it - spreadsheets aren't the most exciting things in the world, but as a marketer, I can tell you that they are an essential tool for tracking data and making informed decisions. And when it comes to spreadsheets, there is no tool more versatile and powerful than Google Sheets.

And if you use Google Sheets, then you know that formulas are where the real magic happens. You can use them to automate calculations, format data, and even create dynamic charts and graphs. But with so many formulas available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

That's where I come in. As a self-proclaimed spreadsheet geek, I've spent countless hours exploring the depths of Google Sheets formulas. In this article, I'll share some of my favorites with you, along with practical examples of how to use them in your marketing work.

Let's start with one of the most basic, but also one of the most useful formulas in Google Sheets: the VALUE function. This formula converts a string of text that represents a number into an actual number that you can use for calculations.

Here's an example. Say you have a column of data that includes dollar amounts, but the dollar sign is included in the cell as text. You want to be able to perform calculations on these values, but you can't do that if Google Sheets recognizes them as text. What do you do?

Enter the VALUE function. Here's how it works:

=VALUE(cell_reference)

You simply replace "cell_reference" with the reference to the cell that contains the text you want to convert to a number. For example, if the cell containing the dollar amount is A2, you would write:

=VALUE(A2)

And just like that, Google Sheets will convert the text to a number that you can use for calculations.

The Concatenate function is another one of my favorites, and it's especially helpful when you need to combine text from multiple cells into one.

Here's how it works:

=CONCATENATE(text1, text2, ...)

You simply replace "text1" and "text2" with the references to the cells that contain the text you want to combine. For example, if you have a column of first names in column A and a column of last names in column B, and you want to combine them into one column, you would write:

=CONCATENATE(A2, " ", B2)

The space between the quotation marks ensures that there is a space between the first name and the last name in the combined cell.

The Sum function is one of the most basic and essential formulas in Google Sheets, but it's worth mentioning because of its versatility. You can use it to add up a range of cells, a single cell, or even a range of cells that meet a specific condition.

Here's how it works:

=SUM(cell_range)

Replace "cell_range" with the reference to the range of cells you want to add up. For example, if you want to add up the values in cells A1 to A5, you would write:

=SUM(A1:A5)

But what if you only want to add up the values in cells that meet a specific condition, like all the values that are greater than 10? That's where the Sumif function comes in.

The Sumif function allows you to add up values in a range of cells that meet a specific condition.

Here's how it works:

=SUMIF(range, criterion, [sum_range])

You replace "range" with the range of cells that you want to evaluate for the condition, "criterion" with the condition that you want to test for, and "sum_range" with the range of cells that you want to add up if the condition is met.

Here's an example. Let's say you have a column of sales data in column A and a column of product categories in column B. You want to add up the total sales for a specific product category, like "Widgets". You would write:

=SUMIF(B:B, "Widgets", A:A)

This formula will evaluate all the cells in column B for the condition "Widgets", and then add up the corresponding sales values in column A.

The Average function is another basic, yet essential formula in Google Sheets. It allows you to calculate the average of a range of cells.

Here's how it works:

=AVERAGE(cell_range)

You replace "cell_range" with the range of cells that you want to calculate the average for. For example, if you want to calculate the average of the values in cells A1 to A5, you would write:

=AVERAGE(A1:A5)

The If function is one of the most powerful and versatile formulas in Google Sheets, and it allows you to perform conditional calculations based on certain criteria.

Here's how it works:

=IF(condition, value_if_true, value_if_false)

You replace "condition" with the criteria that you want to test for, "value_if_true" with the value that you want to return if the condition is true, and "value_if_false" with the value that you want to return if the condition is false.

Here's an example. Let's say you have a column of sales data in column A, and you want to calculate a bonus for all sales reps who exceeded their quota. The bonus should be 10% of their sales amount.

You could use the If function to perform this calculation:

=IF(A2 > 10000, A2*0.1, 0)

This formula tests whether the sales amount in cell A2 is greater than 10,000. If it is, the formula multiplies the sales amount by 0.1 (which is 10% expressed as a decimal) to calculate the bonus. If the sales amount is less than or equal to 10,000, the formula returns 0.

As you can see, Google Sheets formulas can be incredibly versatile and powerful tools for marketers. By mastering just a few basic formulas, you can automate calculations and save yourself hours of time. But don't stop there - keep exploring and experimenting with different formulas to see what else you can do.

And if you're ever feeling overwhelmed or stuck, just remember - even the most experienced spreadsheet geeks started somewhere. So, take a deep breath, grab another cup of coffee, and dive back in. You got this!