Posted on | December 9, 2008 | No Comments
Excel is a strange beast – you either like it or you don’t. Actually, you either love it or you loath it. You may love Excel (insert favorite spreadsheet product of choice) because you can crunch huge sets of numbers or sort and subtotal strange sets of data or use formulas to do wonderful things for your clients. You may hate it because you’ve never used it and cannot believe people would put tabular information in something other than a Word table or don’t see why anyone would do charts outside of Illustrator or Visio.
Let me tell you, though, that Excel is great for this: as a go-between for enterprise mailing list management systems and your favorite emarketing software product. When you export your listing of forty thousand names before importing them into your mail, survey, event or sweeps product, you may need to massage the data a bit before using it. Unlike Word’s mail merge where you can create conditional statements to work with the data fields, your email marketing software may not have that, so you may need to combine columns before sending out your mailing.
To combine columns in Excel, you create a simple formula in a blank column, combine your data and delete your original columns after copying the combined fields. A simple Excel formula to combine columns, like Salutation, First Name and Last Name (assuming the three columns are A1, B1 and C1, respectively) might look like this: =A1&” “&B1&” “&C1 . This will combine the text values in each column, making one column. In Excel you can then copy the column and use Edit|Paste Special|Values to separate the new data from the formula, after which you save the spreadsheet and import it into your email marketing software.
Excel is also great at counting unique items in your data. Say for example you’ve created a custom category in your event management software which the software doesn’t provide a count for. To get a count for this, export your event registrants listing, open the list in Excel, and use the Data|Subtotal feature to get a count of registrants who fit within your custom category. E.G., you could use this to count all those registrants for each U.S. state who signed up for the vegetarian entré at the main dinner.