If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your content strategy…you have a serious problem. You can take some time to think about switching to a centralized content marketing platform and to compare vendors, but don’t wait too long. Spreadsheets are most definitely ruining your content strategy.
The most common excuses marketers give for holding on to spreadsheets are habit and cost. Habits, even when you don’t recognize them as such, are hard to break for a good reason—they make your life easier. The more actions your brain automates through habit, the more space is freed up to tackle new challenges and complex ideas. But as you can probably note from examples in your personal life, habits also keep us from being our best selves. The same goes for out-of-date business practices. Switching out of them seems intimidating even if it’s the best course of action.
On the cost side, it’s true—at the surface, spreadsheets are cheap, or even free with Google docs. But have you considered the toll that wasted personnel time and manual error are taking on your business? Even without a price tag, spreadsheets are an expense.
If you’re still thinking, “But my organized columns! My neat rows! I can’t live without them!” here are five other reasons why spreadsheets are ruining your content strategy:
1. Spreadsheets Don’t Paint the Whole Picture
If you’ve ever found yourself toggling between tabs just to try and figure out who’s writing what and what’s posting when, you know how segmented spreadsheets can become. When a new need comes up, you create yet another sheet or tab and soon your screen is filled with rows upon rows that you can’t view as a whole. This creates blind spots in which ideas, action items, and accidental duplicates can get lost.
2. Spreadsheets Aren’t Agile
Spreadsheets require a ton of manual upkeep. The cumbersome entry of data and attempts to memorize color coding slows team members down from doing their real work. They also require a significant manual effort to change. As your organization grows and evolves, you need to constantly update and alter your spreadsheets to meet the new needs. All of that work takes time and prevents your company from keeping up with an agile marketing environment.
3. Spreadsheets Magnify Errors
It’s been estimated that nearly 90 percent of spreadsheets contain errors. In your content strategy, those errors can translate to anything from missed deadlines to repetitive work to content going out at the wrong time. It takes a human to find and correct those human errors, compared to software that has functions to uncover errors itself.
4. Spreadsheets Aren’t Smart
Sure, Excel whizzes can pop in a few equations and pivot tables to get some rudimentary data analysis going on a spreadsheet, but it all requires manual input. Spreadsheets lack the intelligent auditing and reporting of real content software, integration with other platforms, and tools such as deadline reminders and email notifications that keep your team on track.
5. Spreadsheets Beget More Spreadsheets (and other docs)
Spreadsheets never stand alone. In order to manage your entire content strategy, you need a lot more than just a spreadsheet or two. You’ll likely also have folders of documents that house the content itself, revisions, and creative, as well as emails passing all of the above between your team members.
All of those documents are difficult to search and unwieldy to manage, whereas a dedicated content management tool keeps every item in one central location. In some cases, you may even be able to customize project management software to reflect content workflows and share assets between different team members. I really depends on the intricacies of your process and the scale of your operations.
Spreadsheets are like your middle school celebrity crush—washed up, worn out, and a lot less cute and talented than you remember. You can still love them from a distance, but unlike your younger self, the mature you knows they’re not long-term relationship material.