Ever since Google announced the Google Data Studio, we’ve been dying to try it out. Now that they’re offering a free version, it’s an even bigger reason to jump on the platform.
The Google Data Studio bridges the gap between various ad channels so you can have a better overview of your customer’s buying habits and patterns.
Let’s dig into how the Google Data Studio works and how it can help you easily uncover insights from raw data.
Google Data Studio: How Does it Work?
First, log in with the Google account you use to manage your Analytics and AdWords accounts.
If you’re starting with the free version, you should know you’re limited to 5 multi-page reports (see below). Other than that, you have access to everything on the paid version, from unlimited data sources to unlimited collaborators.
Update 2/2/2017: Google has removed the five report limit. Free reports are now unlimited
1. Sync Google Data Sources
Next, enter the Reports section, and connect to your preexisting data sources or select “Create New Data Source” in the bottom right corner.
The main data sources you can pull in right now include:
- Google Analytics
- Google AdWords
- Google Sheets
- Google BigQuery
- CSV files
- SQL databases (coming soon)
Side note: If you don’t see your data source here, be patient. Google’s adding new ones!
2. Organize Your Data
As soon as you’ve chosen the data source you’d like to pull from, you can move on to the customizable live reports segmented by:
- Time periods
- …and more.
Here’s what it looks like when we created a pie chart. There’s a short time lapse between the drag-and-drop and the appearance of the chart, but it’s not long enough to be frustrating.
Note the options to alter Data Source, Dimension, Metric, Default Date Range (Auto or Custom), and the ability to add Filters on the right side column. If you want to see data from Google AdWords, simply choose the graph you’d like to show, then change your Data Source. See below:
This isn’t just a way to make data more visually appealing—it makes it simple to compare your data across multiple sources so you can get a complete picture of the current state of your conversion funnel. For instance, if you compare AdWords and Site Analytics side-by-side, you can potentially pinpoint weak spots between your ads and your website.
You can even insert images:
Or gifs, if those are more your style.
3. Design and Finalize Your Google Data Report
Once you’ve finished your flawless report, click the toggle for “Edit”. Here’s what a finalized report might look like if you know what you’re doing:
4. Collaborate With Your Team
If you work with a team, it’s easy to share your reports. Simply click the “Share” button on the top right, and add in email addresses of users. Those with editor access can:
- View, edit, and add comments
- Manage dashboards and reports
Does the design remind you of anything? Right, Google Docs (Yeah, we’re glad Google knows a thing or two about UX).
The Bottom Line for Google Data Studio
Overall, this is a solid tool that provides value for both seasoned marketers or sellers and newbies.
“This is really a huge opportunity for Google to make their product a bit more user-friendly for those first getting started,” says David Weichel, VP of Product Development at CPC Strategy.
Here’s a summary of the great things about this platform, and the areas where we’re looking forward to updates!
Perks of the Platform
1. It offers more than a basic Google Analytics Custom Report.
Choose from different data sources, creative custom metrics, more design options.
2. Teams can collaborate easily on the same report in real time.
This is a huge advantage—update your report in one place in real time. (No more outdated spreadsheets and pdfs floating around.)
3. The design options are simple and easy on the eyes.
Even those without design experience will find it easy to make a beautiful report.
Things We’d Like to See in the Future
1. A ‘Starter kit’ or ‘Resource Library’ users can leverage to create their own custom reports.
“Creating a report from scratch can be a tedious and strenuous exercise, but really doesn’t need to be,” says Weichel. “Google has plenty of default dashboard designs to draw from so it’s a wonder why they aren’t being leveraged here. This could be part of the reason is that it’s still in Beta, and they want to see what people come up with on their own.”
Hint: For now, duplicate your finished reports and just adjust the data sources.
2. There isn’t a way to see data across social or other non-Google properties (yet).
“It’s great for Google-owned properties, Analytics, AdWords, Youtube, etc. but would be super powerful if it offered other native integrations e.g Facebook, Bing, and other channels,” Weichel points out.
Potentially, you could address this disconnect from social and Bing by transferring data into Google sheets or BigQuery—but it’s an extra step we’d love to avoid. We’re looking forward to Google’s upcoming integrations.
3. It’s not available outside the U.S.
Update 4/26/2017: The Google Data Studio is now available worldwide.
Want to try it out for yourself? We recommend you start with the
We recommend you start with the free version, and if you find it useful (or just need to create more than five reports), then opt for the paid version.
If you run into any problems, check out the Google Data Studio Help Center.