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What is Google Data Studio & how can you use it?

Data Studio is a free tool that enables us to turn data into informative, clear, shareable, and fully customisable reports. The features available can vastly simplify the reporting process. 

As a digital marketing agency, we mainly use Data Studio to track and measure KPI’s (key performance indicators), visualise trends and compare performance for our clients. 

We have noticed the benefits of using Data Studio – so, we’ve put together this guide to take you through the data visualisation tool, and how its features could work for your business and your digital marketing efforts. 

What is different to Google Analytics? 

Data Studio is essentially a reporting solution for users who want to go beyond Google Analytics. Given the high amount of standard reports and ways in which metrics and dimensions can be combined – it might be the case that users lose focus on the metrics that matter the most on Google Analytics.  

It is important to have a suitable way to report on the KPI’s and metrics that have an impact on your business. We are going to run through some of the key features that may be setting Data Studio aside from Analytics: No widget limits – There is no limit to the number of widgets, i.e. tables and charts, that you can view on one page and report. There is a limit when using Google Analytics Dashboards. 

  • Consolidation – Google Data Studio allows you to bring all your Google data together in a single place. You can import data from many other sources through “Partner Connectors”. 
     
  • Calculated metrics – You can create new dimensions and metrics based on existing fields to boost your reporting and analysis. (e.g clean up inconsistent campaign parameters) 
     
  • Design – You can choose from a variety of automatic or ready-made visual theme or choose a template from the Google Data Studio Gallery. You can also make your own theme. If you choose a template, you will only be able to make changes to a specific widget or page on your selected template. 
     
  • Shareable – It’s quick and easy to invite other users to view and edit your reports. You can also set view and edit permissions without requiring permission, like within Google Analytics, to find the reports. 
     

Google Analytics Dashboards are typically fine for top-line stats and for smaller businesses. Data Studio provides more flexibility and interactivity.  

You are able to easily combine data from other sources, including Google Analytics. Data Studio’s features allow you to easily share site / marketing performance data with different businesses and stakeholders. We are going outline some more of the features below: 

What else can you do within Data Studio?  

We’ve highlighted a few features from templates and themes, to more advanced features such as Calculated Fields.  

Use Data Studio Templates 

Whether you’re new to reporting or want to save some time – you can choose from a range of templates. The platform provides pre-loaded templates which cover Google Analytics, Google Ads, YouTube and more. You can also choose a template specific to your industry, e.g. ecommerce.  
 

Optional Metrics 

When sharing reports, you can provide other users an additional layer of control by selecting Optional Metrics. This means they can access and customise what they’re looking at without having to edit the original report. To access Optional Metrics: 

  • Select a chart 
  • Turn on Optional Metrics 
  • Click +Add Metrics or drag the metrics into the chart 

Users will then then be able to access optional metrics once they hover over the chart you selected. 

Create themes 

Data Studio allows you to fully customise your reporting dashboards. You can add pages, charts and tables as well as change colours and themes. Reporting will vary for different stakeholders – which can be reflected.  
 
You can choose or create a custom theme. You can also tweak the default themes to caters to a specific user or brand. Data Studio provides a lot of choice when it comes to charts and visuals to work with, including Google Maps visual.  

Pull data from other sources 

One of the most useful and unique features of Google Data Studio is the ability to pull data from a wide variety of other data sources. You can use data from these platforms to create a report that covers all aspects of your business. You can connect to data sets such as:  

  • Google Marketing Platform products, including Google Ads, Analytics, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360 
     
  • Google consumer products, such as Sheets, YouTube, and Search Console 
     
  • Databases, including BigQuery, MySQL, and PostgreSQL 
     
  • Flat files via CSV file upload and Google Cloud Storage 
     
  • Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter 

Use Calculated Fields 

Calculated fields allow you to create new or custom metrics in Data Studio from your existing data. As the name suggests, Calculated Fields will use your data and perform calculations and create categories. 

For example, let’s say you wanted to look into the average number of transactions per user. You could use a calculated field to divide one metrics (transactions) by another (users). Once you’ve created a field, it will be automatically updated.  
 
There are two main ways to create a calculated field. 

1. Create a data-source-level field – This will make it so this field is available in any report that uses that data source. This is a sensible option if you intend on using this custom metric more than once. You will need edit rights to the original data source to access this. 

2. Create a chart-level field – You will only be able to use the field for this specific report. You don’t need edit rights for the original source, but you cannot use this in another chart or filter control. 

Overview of Key Features: 

When using Data Studio, you will have access to the following key features: 

  • Live data connection and access to over 220 connectors
     
  • Full control over customization of reports and visuals, including adding as many pages or charts as needed. 
     
  • Ability to collaborate on reports with your team. 
  • Dynamic controls with report and page level filters. 
  • Advanced formulas such as calculated metrics and calculated fields. 
     
  • Ability to quickly share insights with other users. 
     

Who can access Google data Studio? 

A Google account is not required to view reports, but you will need to be logged in if you want to make changes. 

To create or edit a document in Data Studio:  

  • Log in to Data Studio with your Google account 
  • Click the “Create” button in the top left corner 
  • Choose “Data Source” 
  • Link your data sources 
  • Return to the Google Data Studio dashboard and select ‘Create’ 
  • Create a “Report” 
  • Pick your data sources to import  
  • Edit your report’s layout and theme 
  • Click “Share” in the upper right corner to share your report 

If you need any help getting started or want to learn more about our reporting processes – you can get in touch with our digital marketing team here.