Filtering with dates in the QUERY function

If you’ve ever tried to filter on a date column in the Query function in Google Sheets, then you know how tricky it can be.

In a nutshell, the problem occurs because dates in Google Sheets are actually stored as serial numbers, but the Query function requires a date as a string literal in the format yyyy-mm-dd, otherwise it can’t perform the comparison filter.

This post explores this issue in more detail and shows you how to filter with dates correctly in your Query formulas.
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Data Cleaning and Pivot Tables in Google Sheets — My New Course has launched!

Data Cleaning in Google Sheets

There’s a joke in the data community that goes:

“You’ll spend 90% of your time cleaning data, and the other 10% of your time complaining about that…”

Do you deal with badly formatted data that takes you hours to tidy up, preventing you from making progress on your “real” work?

Ever wondered what the heck a Pivot Table is, and why you should care about them?

Do you ever find yourself repeating a process manually, like extracting zip codes from addresses?

This new course is designed to help you work with messy, real-world datasets. It’ll teach you techniques and best practices for cleaning data and preparing it for analysis and reporting.

This new course is aimed at beginner-to-intermediate Google Sheets users.

Continue reading Data Cleaning and Pivot Tables in Google Sheets — My New Course has launched!

How to build a real-time sales dashboard for E-junkie using Google Sheets and Apps Script

It’s day two of a four day product launch. You’ve worked hard all year to create a fantastic product, test your sales systems and tell the world about this amazing offer. You know you’ve sold 100 products so far, but…

…you don’t know whether your ads are effective, which affiliates are really killing it versus which have forgotten about your launch, or even whether your own emails are converting.

Looking at your sales log only, and having to decipher what’s happened since the last time you looked an hour ago, is like trying to drive in the dark without headlights.

Thankfully there is a better way to track your sales, so you can see your data, get insights about what’s working and what’s not, and immediately act to increase your bottom line.

This post looks at how to build a real-time dashboard for the E-junkie digital sales platform using Google Sheets:

Google Sheet e-junkie real-time dashboard
Google Sheet e-junkie real-time dashboard (fictitious data)
Want your own copy of this dashboard?
Click here to access your copy of this template >>

E-junkie is a digital shopping cart, used for selling digital products and downloads. The system handles the shopping cart mechanics, but does not do any data analytics or visualizations.

You can view a transaction log (i.e. a list of all your sales) but if you want to understand and visualize your sales data, then you’ll need to use another tool to do this. Google Sheets is a perfect tool for that.

You can use a Google Sheet to capture sales data automatically in real-time, and use the built-in charts to create an effective dashboard.

You’d be crazy not to have a tracking system set up, to see and understand what’s going on during sales events or product launches. This E-junkie + Google Sheets solution is effective and incredibly cheap ($5/month for E-junkie and Google Sheets is free).

The Write Life ran a Writer’s Bundle sale this year, during the first week of April. It’s a bundled package of outstanding resources for writers, including ebooks and courses, heavily discounted for a short 4-day sales window.

I created a new dashboard for The Write Life team to track sales and affiliates during the entire event. This year’s dashboard was a much improved evolution of the versions built for the Writer’s Bundle sales in 2014 (which, incidentally, was my first blog post on this website!) and 2015.

The biggest improvement this year was to make the dashboard update automatically in real-time.
Continue reading How to build a real-time sales dashboard for E-junkie using Google Sheets and Apps Script

Google Sheets and Mailchimp integration using Apps Script

In this post, we’re going to see how to setup a Google Sheets and Mailchimp integration, using Apps Script to access the Mailchimp API.

The end goal is to import campaign and list data into Google Sheets so we can analyze our Mailchimp data and create visualizations, like this one:

Google Sheets and Mailchimp integration for campaign data analysis

Mailchimp is a popular email service provider for small businesses. Google Sheets is popular with small businesses, digital marketers and other online folks. So let’s connect the two to build a Mailchimp data analysis tool in Google Sheets!

Once you have the data from Mailchimp in a Google Sheet, you can do all sorts of customized reporting, thereby saving you time in the long run.

I use Mailchimp myself to manage my own email list and send out campaigns, such as this beginner API guide (Interested?), so I was keen to create this Mailchimp integration so I can include Mailchimp KPI’s and visualizations in my business dashboards.

For this tutorial I collaborated with another data-obsessed marketer, Julian from Measure School, to create a video lesson. High quality video tutorials are hard to create but thankfully Julian is a master, so I hope you enjoy this one:

(Be sure to check out Julian’s YouTube channel for lots more data-driven marketing videos.)

If you’re new to APIs, you may want to check out my starter guide, and if you’re completely new to Apps Script, start here.

Otherwise let’s begin.
Continue reading Google Sheets and Mailchimp integration using Apps Script

Help, my formula doesn’t work!

Admit it, we’ve all been there.

Whether you’re just starting out with Google Sheets or you’re a seasoned pro, sooner or later one of your formulas will give you an error message rather than the result you want.

It can be frustrating, especially if it’s a longer formula where the error may not be obvious.

Auditing and Debugging Formula Errors in Google Sheets

Match the error message in your Google Sheet to the sections below, and find out what might be causing your error.

  1. An error message popup prevents me entering my formula
  2. I’m getting an #N/A error message
  3. I’m getting an #DIV/0! error message
  4. I’m getting an #VALUE! error message
  5. I’m getting an #REF! error message
  6. I’m getting an #NAME? error message
  7. I’m getting an #NUM! error message
  8. I’m getting an #ERROR! error message
  9. I’m getting an #NULL! error message
  10. Other strategies for dealing with errors
  11. Functions to help deal with formula errors in Google Sheets
  12. Help! My formula is STILL not working

Continue reading Help, my formula doesn’t work!

Learn how to build dashboards with Google Sheets and Data Studio

Dashboard on monitor screen

Have you ever wanted to improve your reporting in Google Sheets?

Or create dashboard reports that are both beautiful and functional?

Build Business Dashboards With Google Sheets and Data Studio, my new online course, launches today.

Google Sheets Training

This is a comprehensive, online course that will teach you all the key techniques for building beautiful, interactive dashboards with Google Sheets and Google’s new visualization tool, Data Studio.

Dashboards are fantastic tools that give you a high-level view of your business, showing KPIs, trends and data comparisons.

You can use dashboards to make sound marketing and business decisions that help you grow your organization in smart ways, for example:

  • Showing the growth of your website or clients’ websites, by tracking traffic and social media metrics over time.
  • Understanding your business better by collecting and analyzing user data in real-time.
  • Comparing sales data across different time periods, sales channels or geographic regions to get deeper insights into your opportunities.
  • Measuring student attendance and performance to easily see where to allocate resources.
  • Tracking and visualizing financial data to uncover high- and low-performing areas of your company, so you can make adjustments going forward.

By learning some relatively simple techniques, you can create dashboards that are automated, interactive and visually appealing. They’ll get people’s attention and wow your colleagues and bosses.

This course covers everything you need to know about building beautiful business dashboards with Google Sheets and Google Data Studio.

Build dashboards with Google Sheets and Data Studio

This course is dashboard-focused and entirely practical. Concepts are taught through real-life examples, starting with a basic static dashboard all the way through to the complex web marketing dashboard you can see in the screenshot above.

The course covers data visualization and dashboard best practices, dynamic dashboards, how to use Google Forms to collect data, how to import external data, how to use Apps Script to automate processes and add extra features, Google’s new dashboard tool, Data Studio, and much, much more.

What you get when you enroll:

> Over 9 hours of video content.

> Lifetime access to all the content, to learn at your own pace.

> Copies of all the finished dashboard templates for the five dashboard examples and the one Data Studio report.

> Access to all the raw data files, copies of the formulas and links to online documentation and other great resources.

> Membership to our dedicated Facebook group where you can post questions and get answers, share insights and interact with other students.

Dashboard course preview

What others say about the course:

I’d recommend this course for anyone trying to make great dashboards in Google Sheets. Ben is a great teacher and he explains everything very thoroughly. Five stars from me.
– Jakob R.
This course is a fantastic way to discover how to build dashboards. Ben takes you step by step through what you need to do and his approach is well thought and organised. The information covers the basics and introduces more complex subjects in a simple and easy to follow format.
– Marilyn C.
Testimonial image
Testimonial image Everyone talks about data culture in companies, but only a few know how to do it. Good dashboards are a great first step to democratize access to data in a simple way, and this course will definitely change the way you see your data today.
– Gabriel O.

Are you ready to start building
beautiful, functional dashboards?

Any other questions? Leave a comment or drop me a line here.

Vlookup in Google Sheets using wildcards for partial matches

VLOOKUP with a single wildcard

Imagine we have this table of employee information and we’ve been given a partial name (in this example: “Mye“) to find and retrieve information about.

To do this we use a standard VLOOKUP formula with the wildcard asterisk character: *

Continue reading Vlookup in Google Sheets using wildcards for partial matches

Introduction to Google Data Studio: a free BI tool for small businesses

Regular readers will know of my enthusiasm for building dashboards, especially using Google apps (like this one or this how-to article).

So I was super excited in May of this year when Google launched Data Studio, a free data visualization and dashboard tool to compete against incumbent dashboard vendors Microsoft PowerBI, Tableau and Qlickview.

Here, I’m excited to share my initial impressions and show you some of the basics steps to build dashboard reports using this tool.

Continue reading Introduction to Google Data Studio: a free BI tool for small businesses

Histogram and Normal Distribution Curves in Google Sheets

Histogram and Normal Distribution image from Google Sheets
Histogram and Normal Distribution image from Google Sheets

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to create a histogram with a normal distribution curve overlaid, as shown in the above image, using Google Sheets.

It’s a really useful visual technique for determining if your data is normally distributed, skewed or just all over the place.

Want your own copy of this histogram chart?
Click here to access your copy of this template >>

Continue reading Histogram and Normal Distribution Curves in Google Sheets

Refugees resettling in the U.S. in 2015: where from, where to and who?

2015 was a challenging year for humanity. The plight of refugees was never far from the headlines, as multiple catastrophes unfolded across the globe.

Origin and state maps

This case study has two aims: first, to show facts on the numbers and details of refugees resettled into the U.S. in 2015, and, second, to discuss the methodology to help and inspire others to explore the data.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Where From?
  3. Where To?
  4. What Religious Affiliation?
  5. Appendix 1: Sourcing the Raw Data
  6. Appendix 2: Setting up the Data in SQL
  7. Appendix 3: Analysis in SQL
  8. Appendix 4: Visualizing in Tableau

Continue reading Refugees resettling in the U.S. in 2015: where from, where to and who?