Are You Using Google Data Studio? You Probably Should Be

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about creating killer reports.  I noted a few reporting platforms worth checking out. They all have their pros and cons but for paid search marketers, the one with the most value is probably Google Data Studio.

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, it’s well worth a test drive.  Not only is Google Data Studio free, with all of the data that Google has access to, it makes for a really nice platform with a lot to offer.

Let’s talk about the beauty that is Google Data Studio.

Save Time on Reporting

One of the most cumbersome things about reporting is, without a doubt, the time that it takes to compile all of the data. With Google Data Studio, you simply create the template and set the time frame. If you want to look at a different time frame, no problem – you just update the date range of the report and it will populate.

You can also set it up so that it is looking at a rolling date range – instead of a set date range so that you’re automatically reviewing the date range that is of interest.

In short: you can easily set it up to pull in routine data pulls so that you don’t have to manually update reports on a regular basis. One of the many benefits – is that you can make the report as big or small as is needed to suit your needs, with no concerns about ongoing maintenance and upkeep.

Although I don’t suggest trying to boil the ocean, or including metrics that don’t truly matter because I believe that waters down and ultimately devalues the report, if the timing was previously a factor in reporting, now it doesn’t have to be.

Branded, Professional Looking Reports

No fuss reporting – must be hideous, right? Nope! Data Studio has a great report structure with the ability to leverage existing templates or create your own. There are essentially two color schemes: light and dark – pictured below. However, you have the optimization to update the colors within the themes – even using hex codes to use precisely your brand’s colors.

With their templates, you also have the option to upload a logo in the top corner. If you create your own template, you can put your logo wherever you’d like.

Multi-Channel Reporting

You may be wondering why you would use Google Data Studio when AdWords has some really nice reporting features – and a dashboarding tool in Beta, as well. There are a time and place for both, but the big draw to Google Data Studio is that you can pull in multiple channels through Google Analytics. Granted, you may not have all of the data in Google Analytics that you want to report on (such as spend data for other channels) but, luckily for you, Google Data Studios integrates with Google Sheets so you can update your Google Sheet to incorporate any data that wouldn’t exist in Google Analytics.  (Hey, a few manual data entries is still way better than the manual creation of an entire report, right?)

There are also a lot of pre-built connectors that exist to integrate additional sources. Some are free and some have a nominal fee. If you have a developer at hand, you can build your own connectors.

Also, if you’re a person that likes to print reports, Google Data Studio is based upon pages – so they PDF and print really nicely. That’s not the case for a lot of multi-channel reporting dashboards.

Visualize Your Impact

Google Data Studio makes visualizing your reports super simple. We covered this a bit above but it warrants going into even more detail.  There are so many options for organizing your data, including:

  • Charts and tables
  • Geo-maps
  • Line graphs
  • Bar charts
  • Combo charts (data in a bar graph, with additional data in a line graph over top of the bar chart)
  • Area maps
  • Pie Charts
  • Scorecards
  • Scatter charts
  • Bullet charts

You also have the ability to add images and text boxes.  Paired with the ability to report on metrics from multiple channels with the same filtering options that you’d have in Google Analytics – these can make for some really powerful reports.

Where Google Data Studio Lacks

Google Data Studio is a really great option for most paid search marketers. As I mentioned above, there are some great options for pulling in data from other sources.

However, if your organization’s focus is largely on metrics that reside outside of Google Data Studio, it could become a cumbersome process to pull that data in – especially if you don’t have a developer resource handy. In those situations, there are other reporting options with native integrations into more platforms than Google Data Studio has, such as connections to CRMs, marketing automation platforms, etc.

In any case, it is worth a look to see if Google Data Studio could benefit your organization!

Have you checked out Google Data Studio? What’s your favorite feature? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author:

Amy has built and implemented multichannel digital strategies for a variety of companies spanning several industry verticals from start-ups and small businesses to Fortune 500 and global organizations. Her expertise includes e-commerce, lead generation, and localized site-to-store strategies. Amy is currently the Director of Digital Marketing & MarTech at ZirMed.