We’re living in a time where data is readily available and there is no shortage of it. Unfortunately, many businesses have a hard time accessing the right kind of data, understanding it, and visualizing it in a way that can lead them to make better decisions about their business that ultimately increases revenue.
As marketers, one of our key objectives with clients is to enable them to analyze their web traffic, optimize SEO, and track the performance of their website with tools. However, we take these incredible insights a step further with the real-time data visualization provided by Google Data Studio.
With Google Data Studio we can take the previous data we have collected, and translate it into easy-to-understand, actionable insight that can be arranged in any number of helpful ways through customizable dashboards and reports.
In this step-by-step tutorial, we’re going to provide a comprehensive overview of Google Data Studio and how we utilize its features to create informative reports for stakeholders, clients, and team members.
Getting Started with Google Data Studio
Before you can properly use Google Data Studio, there are a few steps we need to cover to get set up.
How to Use Google Data Studio
Step 1: To use Google Data Studio, you must first create a Google Account or use an existing one.
Step 2: Once you’ve created a Google account, or logged in to an existing account, navigate to the Google programs tab, and select “More From Google”.
Step 3: Scroll down to “All Products” then click on “For Business” and there you will find Google Data Studio.
Get Familiar with the Google Data Studio Dashboard
If you’ve ever used Google Docs then you’ll be familiar with the main components of the Data Studio dashboard, but here are a few that might be new:
- Reports: The ‘Reports’ feature is where you can view any of your existing reports as well as some templates to give you an idea of how you can customize your reports. While you’re welcome to use a blank report, it’s highly recommended that you start with templates until you get enough reps under your belt to create your own. You can see more templates by clicking on ‘Template Gallery’.
- Data Sources: The ‘Data Sources’ tab is where you will view your existing data sources.
- Explorer: With the ‘Explorer’ tool, you can experiment with your charts without actually changing the report itself. This allows you to preview potential changes without causing damage to the work you’ve already done.
- Create: This is where you will create all of your new reports, add a new data source, or create a new explorer experiment.
Connect a Data Source
To visualize your data, you will need to connect a data source. Google Data Studio supports over 800 data sources and partner connectors including:
- Google Ads and Adwords
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google Sheets
- LinkedIn Ads
- Facebook Ads
- and more.
For this example, we’ll start with one of the most commonly used tools, Google Analytics, but the setup process will be very similar regardless of the tool you use. If you need help setting up Google Analytics, feel free to use our helpful guide.
Step 1: On the top left side of the Google Data Studio home page, click on ‘Create’ and ‘Data source’.
Step 2: Then a pop-up box will appear that will ask for some details about your business and preferences.
Step 3: From there it will take you to the available data connectors page where you will select Google Analytics.
Step 4: Then select ‘Authorize’ and, if you have multiple websites tracking Google Analytics data, select the one you want to track in Data Studio and click ‘Connect’ in the top right corner of the screen.
Create Your First Data Studio Report
Now that we’ve set up our Google Data Studio account and connected a data source, it’s time to learn how to create data reports.
Step 1: There are some options at the top of the screen you can customize or leave as is. Then select ‘Create Report’.
Step 2: Another pop-up will appear asking if it’s okay to add the new data source to the report. Select ‘ADD TO REPORT’.
Step 3: Select ‘Add a chart’ in the top toolbar and select one of the chart types available. There are many to choose from including pie charts, line graphs, and more.
Step 4: As an example, select “Time Series” which will show change over time. The default setting is to show metrics by date but you can customize the formatting in the panel to the right.
Step 5: To see the finished report, click ‘View’ in the top right corner, and don’t forget to give your report a name. You can also save this report as a Google Doc and share it with teammates from the main screen.
Getting More From Google Data Studio
So now that you’ve set up the Google Data Studio reporting tool, familiarized yourself with its features, and created your first report, here are a few suggestions to help you get the most from this awesome free tool.
- While you’re learning, use the wide range of free templates to create your reports.
- There are over 800 different sources and 340 connectors so don’t limit yourself — experiment!
- Feeling creative? Customize your report theme. You can change the layout, colors, fonts, borders, and backgrounds.
- Want to make your report more interesting? Embed external content to create a more interactive report. Under ‘Insert’ you’ll see many options to embed via URL, upload an image, add text, and more.
- Add a control to your report to allow viewers to tailor the report for the data they want to see most. Options include:
- Drop-down list
- Date range controls – a widget to help viewers filter for the time period they want to see.
- Data control – so viewers can filter for the data sets they want to see.
- Filter controls
- BONUS: add a calculated field. When you’re using incomplete data, calculated fields take your data and perform a calculation to create more granularity. For example, if you’re client is an eCommerce business and wants to see the average purchase amount you can create a calculated field that divides the total purchase revenue metric by users or shoppers.
- As this is a more advanced feature, we feel a video explainer might be best.
At first glance, Google Data Studio doesn’t seem like much, but hopefully, after reading this guide, you’ll know better than to judge a book by its cover. Data Studio is a powerful data visualization tool that can help you and your clients make sense of your data, track growth, and make strategic business decisions to generate more awareness and achieve growth.
We hope this guide has helped you to ‘dip your toe in the water’ Google Data Studio, and when you’re ready, move on to some of the more advanced features of the tool. If you’d like to learn about other tools available in the Google Suite that can help you optimize your account, please see our post on Google Search Console and Google Analytics.