15 Sep Google Data Studio: What is it and how to use it?
Getting to the heart of the Google algorithm is a laborious task and, on many occasions, an ongoing challenge. Positioning well requires a lot of work and knowledge of Google’s optimization preferences.
Many marketers sometimes hate Google, but in its defense we have to say that it offers us great free tools to do the job with great efficiency and professionalism…. And best of all, it works!
What is Google Data Studio and what is it for?
Web analytics has always been a challenge for most digital marketers. Not only internally for the work team itself, but above all for the customer. Offering professional reports that support the data collected can be a complicated task .
Reporting often means laboriously downloading Google Analytics data and putting it into Excel spreadsheets to create charts and more. At other times, enormous time is wasted in capturing graphs and data tables. Sound familiar?
All that is over! Google allows us to create very complete and easy-to-understand professional reports thanks to the Google Data Studio tool.
Google Data Studio is a free tool from Google that helps users create custom reports and dashboards using data from different Google marketing tools and other external sources.
Initially, Google Data Studio was part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite, the high-end Google Analytics Enterprise suite (tied for a high price). Luckily, in February 2017, Google announced free and unlimited Data Studio reports. Since then, the free version of Google Data Studio has continued to add powerful features and usability improvements.
What can you do with Google Data Studio? It is a solution that will help you go a little further than what you can develop with the Google Analytics tool, in terms of data visualization.
With Data Studio you will enjoy countless alternatives for creating reports, it stands out for its variety of customization options, live data and interactive controls (such as column classification and table pagination).
The data sources include Google products (Analytics, AdWords , Search Console, YouTube, etc…) and it even allows you to import the data from your Google Sheets or other data sources.
In other words, Google Studio Data offers you everything you need to turn the visualization of the information and volume of data obtained into accurate and understandable reports.
The reports are easily configurable: bar graphs, charts, line graphs… and even selection of fonts and inclusion of your company logo.
In addition to the creation of reports, it will allow you to create dashboards to analyze your project or that of your clients in a more efficient way and allow you to make the best decisions.
A 100% recommended tool!
Advantages and disadvantages Google Data Studio
A good way to get a first idea about how this tool works is to analyze its main advantages and disadvantages:
- It’s free
- Complete Customization: Reports offer great freedom of customization and design. This is not based on columns (as in Google Analytics), it is a very easy to work adjustable grid that allows the alignment of tables, graphs and texts. Among other functionalities it allows: including images, adding logo, changing colors, and selecting different fonts.
- Unlimited amount of data: In Data Studio the amount of data to include in the tables is unlimited, just like the number of pages in a report. For example, Analytics only allows adding two metrics in a table, whereas with Data Studio there is no limit. In this way, the reports are more complete and facilitate a complete analysis.
- Filters and custom fields : This tool allows you to add filters in each dashboard to customize the display of each graph or table in your report. It also allows you to create custom dimensions and metrics.
- Multiple data sources : In the same report you can use as many different sources as you want. In this way, you can analyze the performance of the different traffic channels of your business, whether they come from Analytics, Adwords, Instagram or Facebook Ads.
- Notes and comments: Very important functionality to promote and help the reading of reports. You can highlight characteristics of the reports, tables or add additional information.
- Download reports : Once your report is created, there are different ways to make it reach the rest of your team or the client. On the one hand, it allows you to obtain a link to share the report online. However, it is also possible to download the report in PDF.
- Intuitive and easy to learn . In all probability one of the great advantages of Data Studio. It has a very intuitive and easy to learn interface. What more could you ask for!
- Data sources : Google Data Studio can sometimes feel somewhat limited compared to other tools. It only allows you to connect data from your own sources or through connectors and external databases.
- Custom field syntax . Another drawback is the creation of complex custom fields, which are often resolved with “could not be parsed”.
- The sending schedule is not available: As we have commented, the data visualization in Data Studio has nothing to envy to Google Analytics, however, the sending by email on a periodic basis is not available in Data Studio.
Google Data Studio basics
So far everything is sounding very good, but we are going to go deeper and learn about the basic concepts on which Google Data Studio is based and therefore define the functionality of this application.
As you will be clear, with Data Studio you can create fully customized reports. In them you will find a panel where we will draw the metrics and graphs that will give shape to the final dashboard.
The Data Sources are the place where you are going to get the data and information and generate the corresponding report.
With Data Studio you can combine multiple data sources to generate a report. We can use the connectors available in Google Data Studio such as: Google Analytics, Search Consoles, SQL, Google Sheets, Google Ads. Additionally, we can use other partner connectors, such as Supermetrics or Adroll. We only have to bear in mind that there is a limitation of 5 data sources to combine.
We have a report connected to the different data sources, it only remains to reflect this information and metrics in the graphs.
These can be of a different nature:
- Results card : They are used to represent the value of a specific metric.
- Tables / Pivot tables : Tables show the data by distributing it in rows and columns. Each column represents a dimension or metric, while the rows reflect the recorded data.
- Geographic map : Variation of data or metrics based on a geographic area. It represents an intuitive heat map that marks the different places where the data comes from.
- Time series : They represent the evolution of the data in certain time frames.
- Lines / Bars / Circular / Scatter : Different representations in which the data can be displayed depending on the metric to be analyzed.
- Interactive functionality : You can add interactive qualities to all reports. Using period selectors or filters, you will generate greater dynamism and clarity to the data represented in the report.
First Steps in Google Data Studio
What are we waiting for? We are going to take our first steps with Google Data Studio. First of all, like any Google tool, you must register at https://datastudio.google.com … And that’s it!
You can see that the interface is very clean and intuitive, quite uncluttered, which we appreciate.
The button for creating reports (upper left corner) called “Create” is quite visible and obvious. This button gives us the option to create a report, a data connection or a browser.
The explorer is a new tool designed to help you find information more quickly. Simplify the experience of editing, data visualization.
It also highlights the ease with which it offers the different templates to capture the report (we will talk about it later).
As you can see, it is very easy to get started with Google Data Studio. Let’s see a little more what we can do with this great resource.
Our first dashboard + Controllers in the dashboard
The fun begins! Create our first panel, report or dashboard.
Before doing anything, we must create or add our data connections. Obviously, without data we will not add any data to the report.
From the Create button itself, we can “create” numerous data connections. Currently there are up to 18 data connectors supported by Data Studio, with the passage of time more are added and updated, forming an increasingly complete tool.
Once you’ve added your data connections, it’s time to design the report. You can use predefined templates or a blank template.
The blank template allows us to create a design from scratch. Choose the widgets that you like the most or that suit your needs. Each one will offer you a very complete editing and creation panel to customize and design the report to your liking.
You will be surprised at the final result you can get with this tool . You have no ideas? Have you been atascad @ ? Try the templates!
Data Studio templates
Rarely, initially, do you usually start with a report from scratch. Luckily, Data Studio offers a number of ready-made templates that are very useful to use and inspire to create your own templates.
They are very easy to access, as they are shown in the main interface, and next to a drop-down button “ Template Gallery ”.
Data Studio templates usage guide
As we have said before, Google Data Studio stands out for its ease of use and remarkable user experience.
To use a template you do not need to perform large actions or tasks. Check it out with this mini-guide on using the Data Studio templates.
Note : Before creating the template, the data sources must be created or added.
Obviously, you must select the template that best suits the needs of your report.
Once you select the template, it will be displayed with the predefined sample data. In this way you can review the design well and know if it suits what you want.
In the upper right margin, the ” Use Template ” button will appear . Pressing this option displays the ” Copy Report ” window which asks to add the data sources linked to the template you are going to create.
Organize the template design, colors, fonts, corporate logo … Include the data you want and check the usefulness of the interactivity that you print to the report.
Next, we leave you a list of pages where you can find a multitude of templates to customize your reports in Data Studio:
Google Data Studio, easy and fun, will give a profess