When are numbers not fun?!? Your website analytics can tell you so many different things, if only you know where the start. The sheer volume of information that you can find in Google Analytics and in other metrics channels can be overwhelming to say the least. When you try to explain the information to non-numbers colleagues, bad things can definitely happen. The really great news is that Google finally figured out that their black and white way-too-many-numbers approach wasn’t working and brought out Google Data Studio so “real humans” can visualize what’s happening on their websites and use that information to make good decisions. Here’s a few tips on getting started with this relatively new and extremely useful (and free!) tool.
What is Google Data Studio?
Most digital marketing professionals are used to Google Analytics. Sure, it can be a bit annoying, but it’s pretty amazing the amount of information that you can find by digging around in there — and we mean digging. Google Analytics, or GA for short, is well-known for presenting information in a way that can be analyzed to the nth degree, but if you’re only taking a peek in there every once in a while you’re likely to be confused. Marketers can pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year for tools to visualized GA data and make it consumable and actionable. Enter Google Data Studio (GDS): aka, the game changer. With GDS, marketers can quickly create professional-looking, visual dashboards and reports that not only include data from GA but also from Google Ads, YouTube and any data source that can be put into a Google Sheet.
What Can You Do in GDS?
As hard as it is to believe, there are few true limitations to this fantastic tool. Other visual dashboarding programs limit who you can send reports to — not GDS. Others may limit the number of queries, or the amount of information that can be reported upon — and there are no limits on the number of reports that can be created with GDS. However, each report can have multiple pages which allows you to effectively create as many dashboards and reports as you would like. Visualizations are stunning and straightforward to create, allowing you to add:
- Pie charts
- Bar charts
- Images or logos
- Data visualizations
- Lists of pages from GA
- Text boxes
You can also change colors, fonts, sizes, gradients and more — allowing you to create reports that users will actually enjoy reading and be able to interpret at a glance. What’s better is that the platform is truly intuitive to get started with and use, as even a novice data detective can find themselves making new connections and sharing their findings with the world.
One-Stop Resource for Data Visualizations
It’s pretty cool what you can do with Google Analytics data within this very visual platform, but what about combining Facebook and other social platforms for a view of your campaigns? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to bring in additional data sources, even into the same report. Reports can also be refreshed on the fly, allowing users to bookmark a specific URL to always see the most up-to-date information, as long as the data that drives the report is being updated. There are a wide range of community connectors with more being built on a regular basis. When in doubt, take your data out to a Google Sheet and use that (again, free!) platform for manipulations and integration with GDS.