Google Data Studio is one of the latest tools to come out of Google’s development team. The platform allows you to turn the data from other Google platforms or spreadsheets into informative dashboards and reports that are easy to read and fully customisable. Instead of manually trying to gather data from all sorts of different reports, the platform clearly displays relevant information in a way that tells a story. It helps you to form accurate conclusions about your digital activity.
Our experimentation started with a desire to make our monthly digital marketing reports easier to understand. Instead of presenting data without context, we wanted to share information that was relevant and clear.
Google Data Studio gives us the power to reach in and explore the data stories that inform our recommendations. We create dashboards to track the metrics most relevant to our campaigns or goals in real-time, then compare and highlight points in time to analyse their success. The accurate, relevant and actionable information that we’re now able to easily display to people is exciting! Just ask the data nerds among us.
We’ve just started using the Data Studio dashboards and are already seeing clear advantages to the platform. However, like most good things, there are some compromises. We’ve been using Data Studio for around 3 months now. Here are some of the great and not so great things you can expect from the platform.
Why marketing & sales managers should get excited about Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio allows you to share the report with anyone who needs to see it. Rather than a static PDF to skim through, the dashboards allow you to proactively adjust the date range to analyse and compare different periods of time.
This feature is great for marketing managers who want to research data about specific campaigns. If you (or the person you report to) want to be right in there looking at certain dates compared to other dates, you can. You can even easily see how the last 12 months performed compared to the year before.
The benefits of this interactivity also results in the ability to adjust the level of detail displayed. If someone would prefer to receive simple, specific data insights that they can understand, you can strip back the filler and just show them the important points. You can always make your own dashboards that take advantage of Google’s magnifying glass approach to backup your hypotheses for your own reference. Adding text to explain what’s happening in the data is another way to provide more context for your results.
There are hundreds of reporting tools out there that can integrate Google platform data into their results. Unfortunately, you’ll often find discrepancies that just don’t add up.
Only Google can achieve the level of access required to get completely accurate results across platforms like Search Console, AdWords and Analytics. If you want to see reports that give you the results from each of these incredibly useful platforms in the one place, Google Data Studio is where you need to be.
If you just want to see how many people have visited your website in the last month, it’s easy to quickly find that result. But how often does vague data like that show you something that really impacts your bottom line? To dig down to find the insights that mean something to your business, you’re going to have to search and filter.
You need a lot of information to make an accurate judgement about whether a promotion was successful. If you have multiple filters that you use regularly, it can be difficult and time-consuming to put everything together.
Data Studio allows you to set up metrics to automatically filter and segment traffic and consistently show the data that matters to you from your dashboard. Simply pick the specific insight that you need, place it with any other insights that relate to that piece of data and display a complete picture of any given campaign.
If you can’t prove the value of what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter how good your data looks. Budgets will get cut.
Data Studio gives you the opportunity to show exactly how each specific promotion tactic impacts the business. For example, for a lead generation campaign, Data Studio can show that organic searches for your target keyword increased by 20%. Of those visitors that landed on your landing page, 40% signed up for a free consultation. Let’s say you already know that your consultations have a 50% success rate in selling your service. From here, you can calculate exactly how much revenue your promotion is likely to have gained for the business.
To get this level of clarity over your data, you usually need to build dense spreadsheets or rely on educated guesses. With Data Studio dashboards, you can display all that critical information in the one convenient place. What’s even better, is showing your key stakeholders that report to demonstrate exactly how well investing in marketing (and in you!) is paying off.
3 challenges you might face with the Data Studio Platform
We’re committed to unbiased reporting. To cover both sides of the story, here are some of the little frustrations we’ve found with Data Studio’s platform.
- In its current form, Data Studio can only fetch live data from other Google platforms. This makes it hard to bring all the relevant live data into one reporting solution. We’re hoping that when Data Studio is fully functional, it will allow us to gather, compile and synthesise more data. Tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and CRMs hold a huge amount of data that help us form insights. We should never view data in isolation. Bringing all these insights together in one place will help us form better marketing and business decisions.
- While it’s still in beta, the platform can be buggy. Even when you get past the small bugs, the usability of the platform isn’t polished. Google is a big advocate for positive user experiences, so we expected the platform to be more intuitive.
- Google has configured Data Studio as a live data feed. For our reports, we want to preserve a snapshot of the data and written insights to review later on. To do this, we need to print each page of the report as a separate PDF and merge them together. It would be much simpler if there was a way to quickly save a PDF version of the dashboard for later use.
All-in-all, for a first iteration, Google Data Studio is an incredibly promising tool.
While there are some frustrations to get past, the benefits far outweigh the issues. We’d definitely recommend Google Data Studio to marketing and sales managers. It’s a great way to better analyse data and improve marketing decisions.