Google Data Studio is a free piece of reporting software that allows you to use data from multiple channels, and display it in a number of different ways. It also allows you to easily change date ranges for the data you are viewing, which is really handy for creating reports for clients and/or stakeholders
Whilst it has been available for some time now, Google have been slowly adding more functionality that makes it even more powerful. We’ll be looking at how best to utilise Data Studio as part of your reporting
Ensure you are tracking the right things
Before we start looking at Data Studio itself, you need to make sure you are tracking what your users are doing on your site. Even if you are starting at a very basic level (button clicks, page views), then you can move onto more complex actions further down the line (offline conversions, Enhanced eCommerce).
If you are looking for more tips on how to set up tracking for your site, you can refer to our vlog about effective tracking for your website, as well as many help guides scattered throughout the net.
Ensure everything is tagged properly
You also need to be measuring where your traffic is coming from before setting up your reporting. It’s no good setting up reports until you are tracking the channel, campaign and targeting that has brought them there.
Google and Bing Ads make this easier than most channels with auto-tagging, but channels such as social and email are the two where this is most commonly overlooked. If you don’t currently have a set template for your URL tagging, then Google’s campaign URL builder is perhaps the best place to start.
Use blended data sources
Blended data sources are amongst the most useful of Data Studio’s updates, allowing you to combine data from different sources within the same graph or table. This means you can combine data from your different ad platforms, link your ad platform data to Google Analytics, or link data from your CRM platform to these systems.
You will need to find a ‘join key’ between the sources you are combining, which is a dimension that is consistent between these sources (such as ‘campaign’ or ‘month of year’), which needs to be in a consistent format across these sources. You also need to be mindful of filters, which need to be applied when building the blended sources else they will not filter correctly. Don’t fret if it takes a few attempts to set this up correctly!
Use custom metrics
Custom metrics have become far more powerful now they have been introduced to blended sources. They allow you to create metrics that you would not have access to without manually piecing data together, and still allows you to change date ranges to automatically change these new metrics.
For example, you can combine click and cost data from multiple advertising channels, combine Google Analytics revenue with data only available in other channels, or cost per offline sale for lead gen sites.
The key thing with all this is to constantly look for now ways to report success. It’s fine to start off with a basic report whilst you are getting to grips with the platform, but keep looking for new opportunities and ways to display the data you have available. Is there something that you would love to have access to more regularly that would normally take you ages to piece together manually? See if someone else has done the same thing on forums, or simply have a go at trying to piece together the data yourself.
It’s also really important to stay on top of any new developments and features, as something that wasn’t possible previously could be in a new update.
For more on getting the most out of Google Data Studio, take a look at John Warner’s talk from Benchmark Conference 2018 5 Simple Steps to Optimising Your Monthly Analytics Reporting – watch, read or download the slidedeck.