101 – Creating reports, using filters and segmentation in Data Studio
As with all of my articles on Data Studio, this results from me having to try to do something, not knowing how to do it and not being able to find out online – this time I’ve been trying to use the native filter and segmentation in Data Studio
What is Data Studio?
Part of the “Google Analytics 360” package released in March of 2016, Data Studio is a data visualisation tool that allows you to create and maintain a host of report types in more easy to comprehend, more visual formats which can be shared via a link or downloaded as a PDF.
I’m a content writer – I write articles about marketing for marketers – but primarily I’m a curious person, and I like to know about the subject I’m writing on. Thankfully for me, I don’t have to move from client to client and, therefore, subject to subject – I’ve been able to stick to search and digital marketing and, as a result, learn a bit about it.
For the most part, I’m following in the footsteps of hundreds of professional search marketers; but Data Studio has actually happened within the limited span of my time in the industry, as such, it’s required a little more research and tinkering. My first foray in to automating reporting took advantage of my slightly more extensive knowledge of spreadsheets, for example (you can see how here), but due to increasing demand for Data Studio reporting in the industry, I thought it was about time I saw what I could do with direct connection between Data Studio, Google Analytics and Google Ads.
I have found that there are reports I cannot create directly in Data Studio (one of which should be rendered achievable if I’m given access to the custom dimension creation in blended data that Google are apparently rolling out in beta at the moment) like a goal summary that combines ten individual goal sets (each goal set represents a ‘data source’ and you can only blend five at a time as things stand), the majority of the report I spoke about at Benchmark Search Conference 2018 is achievable using only the basic Data Studio interface.
One of the things I struggled with – perhaps because I don’t use the platform daily, but nevertheless – was how to use the filter and segment options to report on specific subfolders of site content. What I’m going to do here, then is give a quick rundown of how you can set up a basic report before then refining this using the ‘Add filter’ and ‘Add Segment’ options. There’ll be an eBook later in the month with some more advice that I’ll drop a link to when it goes live.
Setting up a basic Data Studio Report
First things first, you’ll need to ensure you have your access to Google Ads and Google Analytics, but assuming you have these set up and linked to the account you will be using for Data Studio, the next step is to sign in to Data Studio. Once there, you’ll have the option to create a new report – which you can select:
You’ll then be taken to an ominously blank page – name it and make it your own.
Once this is done, you can connect your Analytics and Google Ads accounts by creating a new data source using the menu bar that should be to the right of your blank page.
This will then bring a list of the currently available (built by Google) data sources – you can then select Ads or Analytics. These data sources can also be augmented by third party tools – like Supermetrics – if you want to add in things like social media followers without taking the long road.
You will then need to authorise the connection, then select the account, property and view.
This will auto load the dimensions/metrics etcetera that are currently part of that view in analytics or Google Ads. Select ‘Add to report’ to make these available to you when setting up the report.
Once you have allowed Data Studio access, it will return you to your blank report – this will now at least have some gridlines to ease your mind, it will also have a new menu bar on the right with ‘layout’ and ‘theme’ as tabs.
Using these two tabs, you can choose the colour palettes and other various presentation attributes – useful if you’re looking to use brand colours or, unlike me, have any kind of design aptitude.
Once you’ve set your theme and layout, you can then begin creating your report using the various chart types in the top toolbar.
You begin by selecting your chart of choice then drawing the area it will occupy – the chart types (from left to right) are:
- Time series – a line chart plotting a metric over time.
- Bar chart – showing comparisons of a metric vs. a stated dimension.
- Combo chart – literally a combination of the previous two types.
- Pie chart – showing the share of a metric apportioned to a chosen dimension.
- Table – a versatile format allowing multiple metrics to be shown according to their relationship with a dimension.
- Geo map – allowing you to display the spread of a metric across a map (you can refine the level from global down to various subcontinental areas).
- Scorecard – a simple return of a count or total for a metric.
- Scatter chart – allows you to plot a source on a chart with an x and y axis that are both metrics.
- Bullet chart – used for showing progress toward a target (goal completions for example).
- Pivot table – allows you to show a metric distributed between two or more dimensions (with a minimum of one per column and row).
To begin with, I’m going to set up a table – with a view to then refining this in the next two sections using either a segment or a filter.
Whenever I draw a table, it auto-populates with the Data Source I nominated initially (the view), the dimension ‘Source’ and the metric ‘Sessions’ and looks like this:
For a top level report table, however, using the menu on the left, I’m going to select some of the most important metrics and use the dimension ‘month of the year’ to create a month by month breakdown which will be sorted using the dimension in descending order to place the current month top of the list.
You can then style the chart to your taste (or lack of it) and add widgets such as the date range picker so that the date can be selected by the report viewer.
With this table giving us a starting platform, we can then look to narrow our focus and initially we’ll do this using a filter – which you can do by selecting ‘add a filter’ in the right hand menu (under the ‘data’ tab). So, having copied the table and pasted it in to a new report page, you can select the ‘add a filter’ option. This will bring up the filter creation menu:
You can use the basic include/exclude options with any metric or dimension, refining it with ‘contains’, ‘equal to’, ‘starts with’ and other options. The full row is referred to as a ‘clause’ – which can be augmented with additional clauses to refine the filter further.
If, for example, you wanted to look at a specific subfolder on your site, you would use the following options (where ‘/blog/’ is equal to the specific name of the subfolder you want to look at):
This gives us the same report as previous, only this time it will only include sessions that include a visit to that particular subfolder:
We can then refine this report further using ‘segments’, so if we copy the table across to a third page, then select ‘add segment’, we’ll be presented with two options in a ‘segment picker’: ‘System segments’ and ‘Custom segments’. We’ll be using the former here – the latter is defined in Analytics, so you will be aware already if you have any and what purpose they could be used for.
This list is fairly self-explanatory if you’ve spent any time in Google Analytics – allowing you to restrict the data in your table by one of a number of factors – ranging from user specific, like ‘New User’ and ‘Multi-session User’, to general source, like ‘Organic Traffic’ and ‘Paid Traffic’.
By using the ‘Organic Traffic’ segment, we now have a table which shows the organic traffic, to the specific subfolder, as part of the overall site – giving us different levels of depth to a fairly basic chart type.
This process – or, at least, a similar one – can be used across the full spectrum of available charts, allowing you to produce geo maps for conversions, device specific traffic reports and a whole range of others that can help you to better communicate your success with stakeholders.