15 essential tips to get the best out of Google Data Studio – WAU
Google Data Studio is a free tool to generate reports and visual dashboards, away from boring and incomprehensible spreadsheets. Easy to use, allows you to create, edit, customize and share files without difficulty. In this article, we’ve selected some essential tips for you to get the best out of this tool.
Big data is complex, but it is a great ally of marketing. There is a plethora of valuable data about your business on the internet, which can inform you about the performance of marketing, clarify public behavior and support decisions. However, all this arsenal of information is useless, if there is no way to view them easily.
Tables and spreadsheets can cause chills in some Digital Marketing professionals. Thus, it is difficult to prove the results of the strategies, especially for those who have the power to decide on investments in the area.
Therefore, it is necessary to adopt a tool that can handle the data and generate reports that are easy to understand.
The good news is that Google Data Studio already exists, a free and efficient tool for creating dashboards. It offers several features, to optimize the work of those who need to produce friendly reports, but also to facilitate the visualization of those who analyze the data.
So, no more ugly tables, static panels and incomprehensible graphics. You will now know the top tips for creating amazing reports with Google Data Studio. Follow now to know everything!
How Google Data Studio works
Data visualization is an area of marketing responsible for visual representation of data. Its importance is strengthened by the complexity of big data, which challenges companies to deal with an enormous amount of data in a strategic way for decision making.
Google Data Studio, then, is a free data visualization tool. With easy-to-use features, it allows you to create smart, attractive and interactive reports and dashboards.
Elements such as graphs, maps and tables become much more user friendly with the tool. It is possible to use templates, customize reports and add the most varied visual elements. This makes it much easier to identify trends and patterns and extract insights.
One of its great advantages is to integrate data from different sources. This allows you to have a comprehensive view of performance and, efficiently, extract all the information that meets the needs of the business.
In a simple way, the whole team can view, edit and interact on the same panels, on different devices, with real-time updates. It works like a share through Google Drive, you know? It’s simple.
Top 15 tips for using Google Data Studio
To use Google Data Studio, you can access the tool’s website with your Google account. Next, we will give you some unmissable tips on how to explore its features.
1. Define the objectives of the report
First step: set goals before creating a report in Google Data Studio. What indicators do you want to show? Who do you want to present the data to? Which team is involved and should have access to the report?
All of these issues influence the information and the look that the dashboard should have. They are directly linked to the objectives of marketing in general or the campaign in question.
For example: if you present the results of a campaign that aimed to generate more engagement for the customer, the dashboard should highlight the metrics of users’ interactions with publications on social networks.
In addition, defining a persona for viewing reports also helps a lot. It guides, for example, which visual language you should use and what information to include.
Many managers are not used to Digital Marketing metrics. So, if you create a report on the performance of the site, you may have to include an explanation of what the bounce rate is, for example.
On the other hand, if the report is used only internally by a marketing agency, this concept is probably already known to the team, so there is no need to explain it.
2. Integrate with your data sources
Once you understand the objectives of the reports, it’s time to enter the platform. And there, you can’t do anything unless you integrate with the data sources.
Google Analytics is probably your main data analysis tool, isn’t it? It can be integrated with Google Data Studio, but there are hundreds more possible integrations.
Some of them are supported by Google and include the products of the search engine itself. Some examples: Google Ads, Google Sheets, Search Console, YouTube Analytics, BigQuery, Campaign Manager and MySQL.
There are also integrations that are developed by partners and further expand the possibilities. It is possible to extract data from social networks (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest), Salesforce, HubSpot, among other services.
In this link, you can see all the possibilities of data integration.
3. Use the templates to get started
Especially for those who are getting started with Google Data Studio, it is interesting to explore the tool’s templates. You don’t have to start from scratch!
The Google team has prepared some templates for the most popular reports and data. When accessing them, you can make a copy and edit the data source, the visual and the dimensions and metrics you prefer.
Here you can see all the available templates. Take, for example, this report from a YouTube channel:
4. Explore the gallery
Want inspiration to create your reports? In addition to the templates, Google Data Studio also provides a gallery of dashboards already created by the community.
Many of them can be copied and edited with the look and data you want. You will find not only reports focused on marketing, but also on diverse subjects, such as sports, cinema and economics. See, for example, this survey on the 2018 World Cup:
5. Publish your reports in the gallery
If, after creating your report, you are proud of your work, share it with the community! It can also appear in the Google Data Studio gallery as inspiration for other publishers.
To do this, you must complete the form provided by Google, which requests all the author’s data and permission to disclose it in the gallery.
6. Use the Explorer
Any changes you make to Google Data Studio reports are automatically saved. To give you an idea, it works in the same way as editing text in Google Documents.
However, we often want to explore a report – cross metrics, add dimensions, combine data sources, etc. – without modifying the original information.
It was for that, then, that the tool created the Explorer (or Explorer, for those who use it in English). With this feature, you can tinker with the data to experiment and extract insights, without causing changes to the original panel. Thus, these changes are only available to those who are editing.
If you make a change to the report you want to keep, then you need to click Save. When you do this, the changes are incorporated into the original report and are available to all users who have access to it.
Explorer is accessible from the main tabs in Google Data Studio. Just click on it and then on “Create” to generate a new exploration report.
7. Customize the dashboards
Google Data Studio dashboards are customizable. This means that you can produce them as you wish, including applying your brand identity (or your customer’s brand) to the look of the reports.
Okay, but what does this add to the data? Visual identity is essential to reinforce branding, even if the materials are only used internally by the team. After all, employees must also feel part of the organization. In addition, when you apply the customer’s visual identity, you can also win their trust and attention.
Among the possibilities for customization are the color palette, the font of the letters, the use of borders and the use of images (such as the company logo in the header).
These changes can be made in the “Layout and theme” menu, within the report edition.
Then, in the column on the right, you can edit the page layout and theme colors.
8. Look great
Making a good impression at first sight is halfway there. gain the confidence of whoever views your reports.
On the other hand, if you present a report full of visual pollution, with excessive information and without harmony between colors, you will never be able to communicate what you want. So, take care of the visual, as it has an important subjective role.
Follow some design principles, such as the alignment between the elements, the approximation between related information and the combination of colors, without neglecting the visual identity of the brand.
Also make a selection of the most important information, depending on your goals and the persona of the report. Too much data just leaves the person lost, so focus on what’s really relevant.
9. Incorporate external elements
Did you know that it is also possible to embed external content in dashboards? Just click on the “Embedded URL” symbol in the report edition and insert the link you want to embed.
Then, you can resize the box to display all the content, in addition to editing the element style. In the example below, we include the URL for the Websites Are Us website (www.rockcontent.com). See how it looks:
Perhaps you are asking yourself, “But what am I going to use this for?” Imagine, for example, that an agency has created a website for a client and is presenting the results of the first month on the air. Then, this feature can be used to customize the dashboard and make it more attractive.
Another cool idea is to enter the URL for a Google Forms survey. You can ask if the report was useful and if any data was not clear, for example. Thus, you can already capture the opinions of your audience and make improvements in the next submission.
10. Schedule reporting
If you need to send reports to an audience periodically, Google Data Studio makes your job easier.
It is possible to schedule a frequency for sending reports to certain recipients. Since the information is updated in real time, you don’t have to worry about configuring the report and shipments every time you need to transmit the data to your audience.
To do this, you must click on the “clock” symbol in the menu above the report’s edit page.
Then, just configure the recipients, the start of sending and the frequency (daily, weekly or monthly).
11. Share with the team or the client
One of the hallmarks of Google Data Studio is collaboration. The reports produced can be shared with other users, who are allowed to just view the dashboard or also edit.
This can be used to share the data with the customer or allow access to team members so that they can collaborate on editing. Thus, everyone accesses the same report, and the data is updated in real time, which prevents different versions from being edited at the same time.
If you often use Google Drive, the process for sharing is similar. Just click on the share icon in the report edit menu. Then, you can use the shareable link, insert the emails and define whether they can edit or just view the dashboard.
12. Integrate different visual elements
Google Data Studio offers several options for visual elements to convey the information you want. Graphs can take the form of dynamic tables, time series, bars, pie, geographic map, among other possibilities.
Each type of graph is best suited for some type of data. To show the share of website traffic channels, for example, the pie chart can be more efficient. Comparing the number of visitors over the months can be more efficient on the bar graph. But that decision can vary depending on your needs.
In addition to the graphics, you can also add images, text, shapes and the embedded URL, which we mentioned earlier. So, take advantage of this variety of elements to make the report look more interesting.
13. Add a customizable period
When creating the report, you must define the date range for selecting the data. This period can be fixed (with specific dates), with predefined intervals (last 30 days, last week, this quarter, etc.) or automatic. In the latter case, you leave the public the freedom to set the interval they want.
In practice, the range selection looks like this to the user:
To do this, you must select the calendar icon that is in the report’s edit menu.
Then, go to “Period Properties” in the column on the right, and choose the type of interval you want.
It is worth mentioning that when you add a time range to the report, all graphs are affected by it.
If you want to define a specific range for a chart, you must group the elements (Organize> Group). Thus, the period is linked only to that graph. But make this clear to the user, so that they understand what data the range refers to.
14. Add the filter control
Another type of control you can give the user is filters. From your data source, you can give him the freedom to choose which dimension he wants to see information about.
When integrating with Google Ads, for example, you can create a filter for the customer to view the results of different campaigns. When you do this, all data in the report will be for the campaign that it selects.
To do this, simply select the filter icon in the report’s edit menu.
Then, in the column on the right, you define the data source (e.g. Google Ads), the dimension (campaign, ad group, city, gender, etc.) and the metric (clicks, conversion rate, CPC, CTR etc. .) that you want to include in the filter. The metric is an optional field, in case you want to filter the data further.
15. Add the data control
If you produce reports for different properties within an account, tracking data can make your life easier.
Google Data Studio allows the user viewing the report to select which property they want to see the data from. Thus, everything is within the same dashboard and you do not need to configure different reports for different properties.
Let’s say, for example, that your Google Analytics account has one property for the company’s website and one for the blog. Then, when the blog owner accesses the report, he can select only the blog data. And do not worry if they are confidential: the user can only view the property to which he is allowed access.
Then, to do this, select the data control icon in the menu.
Then choose your data source, in the column on the right. This will add an element to the report with a drop-down list, which displays the properties to which the user has access.
As you can see from the images that we have placed throughout this article, Google Data Studio is very simple and intuitive. In fact, this is its great differential in relation to other data visualization tools.
However, with a little more knowledge about its functionality, it can become a very robust tool. Of course, this requires a little more experience, but now you can start taking the first steps and building reports that are much more attractive and efficient.
Stay now with our comprehensive Google Analytics guide, which will also help you explore your data and build better dashboards.