Digital marketing and SEO encompass a high number of different disciplines, including influencer outreach, link-building, content creation, graphic design, web development, technical analysis and a whole lot more. Despite such a wide variety of skills making up the industry however, there is a common skill that almost every specialist needs to work with clients and internal teams – an ability to build and maintain spreadsheets.
Programs like Excel are used extremely heavily in digital industries, whether it’s providing clients with backlink reports or keeping track of outreach targets. Yet, very few professionals working in digital marketing receive any real training in spreadsheet development.
This is somewhat surprising considering how heavily they’re used, but particularly when you consider than a stunning 80% of spreadsheets contain at least one error. That’s a staggeringly high percentage, and one that may indeed be underestimated. Billions of people all over the world use Excel, according to Microsoft, and around 70% of large businesses use spreadsheets to make key financial decisions, yet very few of us receive any formal training in its use.
Of course, this leads to an interesting question to those of us working in SEO and digital marketing: Are there errors in our client reports? The statistics would suggest that there are, and far more regularly than not.
In most cases this might not lead to a major problem, but what if the data contained within those spreadsheets leads to a poor decision regarding financial investment? Or whether-or-not you’re kept on as a provider? The implications for simple mistakes in a software package nearly all of us use could be significant.
So how can we go about minimising the risk of our own spreadsheets containing errors? The easiest step you can take is to ensure all spreadsheets are proof-read by a third party, and all formulas and important figures are double (or even triple) checked.
In the longer term, it’s worth investing in formal training for team members, and ensuring your business designs and implements a business wide policy for developing, maintaining and signing off client (and internal) spreadsheets.