How to Use Excel and Google Sheets to Organize Your Marketing Efforts

How to Use Excel and Google Sheets to Organize Your Marketing Efforts

Here’s how you set it up: Step 1: Create the project on the left This should be the overview of the project, not the specific tasks that need to be completed. The great thing about Google Sheets is that it’s really easy to add steps. When you’ve checked the last step off of your project planning, all you need to do is right click on the project name and click delete rows. Most client databases include basic information like name, email address, and last purchase date. My spreadsheet is filtered so I only see people with four or more purchases. Google Sheets can also act as your prospect and outreach contacts sheet so you can manage your sales and marketing efforts. Google Sheets as your Prospect and Outreach Contacts Sheet If part of your marketing objectives requires reaching out to a lot of people – say all the music bloggers in NYC – you can use Google Sheets as a way to organize your contact list. Set up your Google Sheet Just like with the CRM database you need to define the information that you want to have in your contact list. Purchasing a contact list can save you a lot of time when it comes to prospecting as the information is already there and sorted. Contact and keep your Google Sheet up to date.

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There are a lot of nifty project management tools out there.

But you already have access to a tool that you might not fully understand how to use.

And it can do wonders for the way you approach your job and the way that you achieve your marketing goals.

I’m talking about the good old-fashioned spreadsheet.

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Not the paper version, of course, it’s 2017!

I’m talking about Microsoft Excel; and its free, online cousin Google Sheets.

There are three major ways that you can use Excel or Google Sheets to organize your marketing efforts.

  • First, it can be a simple and effective project management tool.
  • Second, it can serve as your client database or CRM.
  • Finally, it can organize your prospects like a lite version of Salesforce.

Sound too good to be true? Read on.

The difference between Excel and Google Sheets

Excel has been around for a long time and is actually an advanced statistics tool for analyzing data. Using Excel formulas looks a lot like the database language SQL.

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You can process large data sets quickly and develop financial models.

Google Sheets is much less robust in terms of statistical analysis, but the function and format are essentially the same.

Plus Google Sheets is free!

Since it’s in the cloud, multiple people can work on the same Sheet at the same time and every change is automatically saved and immediately available to everyone.

If you’re online all the time this is super convenient.

For this post, I’m going to use Google Sheets since the techniques I’m going to show you don’t require heavy statistical analysis.

And with Google Sheets being free, you can get started and create your Sheets along with me right now.

If you’ve never used Google Sheets before, you need a Gmail account. Go into your Gmail and you’ll see a little icon of boxes on the top right.

Inbox 1 anthonyhymes Gmail

When you click you will get a menu that appears. Click on the Drive icon.

Inbox 1 anthonyhymes Gmail 1

You will arrive at a new URL that is similar to your address but it’s

Click on the blue New button on the top left.

My Drive Google Drive

Then click the Sheets option.

My Drive Google Drive 1

You’re ready to go, let’s jump in!

Google Sheets as a Project Management Tool

About a hundred years ago there was a guy named Henry Gantt. Gantt was an organizational expert who developed something called (surprise!) Gantt planning.

Gantt planning is a sort of cascading reverse planning to help teams put together the tasks required to complete a project over a desired period of time.

It looks like this:

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Advanced programs like Microsoft Project are based on this type of planning. You may have come across software like this if you’ve ever worked in project management.

But you as a marketer probably don’t need such a heavy program to manage your planning. And if you’re in a startup you probably don’t want to pay a hefty price tag for it either.

That’s where Google Sheets comes in.

You can make a cascading reverse planning in Google Sheets.

It might look like this:

As you can see, it follows the Gantt style.

Here’s how you set it up:

Step 1: Create the project on the left

This should be the overview of the project, not the specific tasks that need to be completed. In the example, I’ve created things like Content Syndication and New E-commerce Website.

Step 2: Break each project into concrete steps

Think of the steps like a staircase.

In this case, the staircase should descend naturally until it reaches the bottom which is the end of the project.

One of the secrets to project management is to continually break tasks up until they become super manageable and easier to complete.

In fact, one of the things that cause procrastination is the feeling that you can’t complete a project.

Keep slicing up tasks until each step – no matter how small – is listed. It will do wonders for your productivity by keeping you from getting stuck.

For example, let’s look at the Instagram photo contest project. A bad way to think of a step is “come up with the contest rules and prize.” It might seem like a logical part of the project but it’s actually multiple steps.

A better way is to break up the steps into concrete actions like “write terms and conditions,” “determine prize and frequency,” and “create promotional materials.”


You could even go further and break up things like “create promotional materials” into multiple steps such as “define graphic chart,” “select background images,” “draft copy,” etc.

Everyone has their own balance between the size of a task and how specific they need it to be to complete it.

The great thing about Google Sheets is that it’s really easy to add steps.

Once you have the above format in place, you can add a step of validating the terms and conditions with a lawyer. In the planning that will come right after you write the terms and conditions.

Right click on the “determine prize” cell that’s below the “write terms and conditions cell.” Then click Insert Row.


A row is added above the cell that you clicked (Google Sheets is formatted so it always adds a row above), and the project box automatically expands to accommodate it.


Then add in the step!

Step 3: Build out your reverse planning

To do this you need to start from the end. When do you want each project to be completed?

Sometimes a project has a clear due date. In other cases, a project can be open-ended. Even if it doesn’t have a hard deadline you should make sure to have an end date.

After you’ve established the end date work backward. In my example, I’ve organized by months but you can organize by weeks or even days.

Like a staircase, each step should follow the previous step. It makes sense. During a project, the steps often depend on each other.

Be realistic in your planning. Don’t over- or underestimate. Figure out what the key dates are and build around that.

Step 4. Use colors to make things easy to understand

I like to have each step in red so that I know immediately that it’s not completed. As soon as I finish something I switch it to green.


Once the entire project is green I know that it’s done!

And since it’s a planning calendar each time a month passes, I like to put that month in gray so that I know where I am.


Any steps that I wasn’t able to complete I move over to the current month and reevaluate the project. Maybe I need to adjust the end date or maybe I need to adjust a different project to make room for the steps I need to complete more urgently.

Step 5: Delete the project when you’re done

Few things feel better than accomplishment!

When you’ve checked the last step off of your project planning, all you need to do is right click on the project name and click delete rows.


And poof! The project is removed from your planning.


Google Sheets as your CRM database

The common statistic that gets thrown around is that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain a current customer.

I’ve written all about Why Your Customer Acquisition Costs Will Destroy Your Business (and How to Prevent it).

No matter the size of your business, you need to be managing the relationship with your customers.

In the digital marketing world, this is called CRM: Customer Relationship Management.

Because the classic use of a spreadsheet is to hold data, Google Sheets can serve as your CRM database.

Here’s how you do that:

Step 1….