How I hacked my spreadsheet routine and got my sanity back (while making hundreds of thousands of dollars) – part 1 of 2

This is a letter Factivate received from one of our Beta users. We’ve asked her permission to share this with all of you because it goes to the heart of why we’re working so hard: to make every user’s life better by giving them more time and making them more productive.

I love my marketing job. There is nothing in the world that I would rather be doing than working with my team to solve the challenges of a digital age for a client. The entire process, from creative to campaign execution is fascinating to me and I believe that technology has only made it better.

Our top used marketing platforms seem to change every week. We have used top 10 established platforms like HubSpot and Marketo and we seem to implement new apps almost every other month. Unfortunately, not everything about my job is as awesome. If you’re in marketing, you’re probably aware of the reporting aspect of the job (snore….). It seems that no matter how many marketing tools become available, we continued to rely on Excel spreadsheets or Google Spreadsheets to do our jobs. Very recently, this was costing me a huge time sink and my sanity.

If the average american spends 38 hours in traffic every year and can’t stand it, imagine how I felt when I realized I was spending more than 10 times that time in Excel.

Five months ago, I calculated that I had spent more than 2.5months of my year using spreadsheets. Whether I was downloading information from a platform like Marketo, formatting data, analyzing data, checking for mistakes, or updating that information again, I was going insane. If the average american spends 38 hours in traffic every year and can’t stand it, imagine how I felt when I realized I was spending more than 10 times that time in Excel. The robotic processes in excel were draining me and no matter how many macros I would build, I still felt this way. Something had to change. This is when I decided to put on my hacker hat.

Where’s the weakness? Where to hack?

Marketing Technology landscape

There are well over 1800 marketing-related SaaS platforms that claimed to make my life easier. In some cases, they did; however, it seemed that the more I used them, the more I used spreadsheets. While I don’t have experience with all of them, here are the top 10 marketing tools used in 2015:

  1. BuzzSumo
  2. Mention
  3. Autosend
  4. ReferralSnip
  5. HubSpot
  6. Picreel
  7. VWO
  8. Marketo
  9. Socedo
  10. Tropical

These have all been used in different capacities at one point or another. Every time we sign up for a new one, we go through an integration effort which almost always includes training (and complaints). Inevitably, not everyone gets on board and we either move to a different tool or go back to the way things were. It struck me that no matter how easy these platforms claimed to be, they could never compete with the cultural acceptance, knowledge, and customization ability of a spreadsheet. So no matter which SaaS tool I could hack in order to improve on the manual reporting processes, the proliferation of spreadsheet acceptance was a bigger issue. The second I accepted this, I began to zero in on my solution:

The answer to my problem is not to hack a SaaS platform (as I originally thought) but to accept that spreadsheets weren’t going away.

continue to part 2





About Factivate:

Factivate is a software company part of the Google for Entrepreneurs community in Durham, NC. Factivate provides business users with a cloud-based data analytics platform that can sync with different online tools to create automated, real-time spreadsheet reports and web dashboards with just-in-time business reactions. The result of our intelligent spreadsheet is accurate data analysis that drives better business decisions while reducing manual spreadsheet report time and errors by a factor of 150+ hours/employee/year. Factivate requires no learning curve or programming knowledge. In sharp contrast to the complex and expensive business intelligence tools on the market today, if you know spreadsheets, then you know 95% of what you need to use Factivate–we’ve got the rest covered.