Pulling together all the data you need to produce a great looking, informative marketing report or dashboard can prove tricky. I’ve recently started using Google Data Studio to build custom reports, but is it any good? Here are my thoughts.
What is Google Data Studio?
Google Data Studio is a data visualisation and reporting tool. Initially only available as part of the Google Analytics 360 suite for enterprise customers, a free version was released for individuals and small teams in May 2016.
Data Studio lets you connect to marketing data, from various sources and turn that data into one report that’s easy to understand and share with others.
Using Google Data Studio
- Once you get to grips with Google Data Studio it’s intuitive to use. It’s fully customisable and features a drag and drop interface that makes creating great looking reports and dashboards a breeze. Data can be displayed either as a table or a variety of graphs.
- Built-in connectors pull data directly from other Google tools, such as Google Analytics, Google Sheets and Google Adwords making it great for weekly or monthly reporting. When you’ve created your dashboard or report template you can update data by changing the date range. This is a real time and effort saver.
- It’s simple to add commentary or notes to the data you present for management reports.
- Users can create and share an unlimited number of reports or dashboards with colleagues or customers. And set viewer or editor permissions.
- There’s a gallery of prebuilt dashboards and reports available to use. You can plug your own data into them as a quick way of building a report.
- A CSV file upload option lets you add data into Data Studio from almost any source, which is useful for reporting on data not supported by an available connector.
- Data can be pulled directly into an individual report by connecting to a MySQL database.
- There are limited connectors beyond Google’s own products. This means you can’t pull data directly from other platforms like Twitter, Facebook or Marketo. Although, in most cases, you can import the data into Google sheets and connect to Data Studio from there.
- You can’t stitch two or more pieces of data together through common fields. You can only use one piece of data in one chart. Again you can work around this in Google sheets by using a table that combines data.
- I’ve experienced issues updating some fields in Google sheets that connect to a report in Data Studio. To resolve this I had to remove the sheet and add it again, which is a bit of a pain.
It’s possible these limitations will be addressed in future updates of Data Studio.
My verdict of Google Data Studio
Overall I was impressed. After a short learning period, I found Data Studio easy to use. It’s a fine option for consolidating data from Google Analytics, Google Adwords and your spreadsheets into one report or dashboard. It’s easier to set up reports that pull data from Google tools, but CSV and database imports are available.
Reports you’ve created are simple to edit or update, which is a great time saver for regular reporting. Best of all it’s free so I’d recommend giving it a try.