Google Data Studio

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.

Google Data Studio exampleGoogle Data Studio exampleGoogle Data Studio Adwords example

Limitations

  • 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

Thanks for reading. Please share any comments you have on the Google Data Studio below. Plus, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Nintendo Switch – Early Impressions

After the Wii U fell flat, Nintendo needed a hit with their new console the Nintendo Switch. And with two million sold in the first month, they’re off to a great start.

As a marketer, I’m impressed with how Nintendo has marketed the Switch. The branding feels right. Ad’s were well placed, numerous and clearly showcased its strengths. We saw the switch docked for a home console like experience and at numerous locations for gaming on the go. Most noticeably Nintendo has pushed the Switch as a social experience to enjoy with friends, whether indoors, outdoors or travelling.

This marketing effort stands out as a failure to properly market the Wii played a big part in its poor sales performance.

But is it any good? I picked one up at launch and here are my early impressions.

When docked to a TV the Switch isn’t as powerful as Sony’s PS4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One but that’s not it’s MO. It’s as a hybrid system that the Switch shines brightest. It feels incredibly instinctive to move between TV and portable modes. You can be playing on the TV, remove the Switch from its dock, and almost instantaneously continue gaming without having to restart your game.

I like the freedom the bundled joy con controllers offer. They attach to each side of the screen for handheld mode or can be detached for multiplayer gaming. I’ve found using them in the joycon grip configuration fairly comfortable. Although you may want to invest in the pro controller for longer sessions.  

Battery life is reasonable. I’ve experienced around three hours for Breath of the Wild and six and a half hours for Shovel Knight.

I should note that I haven’t experienced any of the early gremlins reported by some users. E.g. Left Joy con de-syncing, the dock scratching the console or dead pixels. But these problems seem to be fairly low spread and the type of issues associated with a new system launch.

Breath of the Wild

PROs of the Nintendo Switch

  • It delivers true console quality on the go. This is the systems USP and fortunately, Nintendo has delivered on the promise of a proper hybrid console. It’s been amazing to play an AAA game like Zelda on a handheld.
  • The high build quality. Unlike some previous Nintendo consoles, the Switch feels like a premium product. Much less plasticky, it’s well balanced and feels great when used in portable mode.
  • The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. As a launch title, and a system seller, it’s right up there with Mario 64 and Halo. What’s more, after ploughing more than 100 hours into it, this is quite possibly the best game I’ve ever played. It’s a real game changer for open world games. Apart from the brief opening plateau section, you can approach the game in any order and travel to any point on the map. Spot a mountain in the distance and you can climb it. The physics are incredible and this breeds creativity in how you play the game.  
  • The launch line up. While many have criticised the launch lineup. I disagree. While low on quantity, there’s a good variety of quality games available. Apart from Zelda, there’s Snipperclips, Fast RMX and Shovel Knight – all of which rated 80 or higher on Metacritic.

CONs of the Nintendo Switch

  • The cost of accessories. While the Pro Controller looks great, feels comfortable and performs brilliantly it costs around £60. That’s £10 more than comparative PS4 or XBox One controllers.
  • Compared to the console the docking station looks and feels a little cheap.
  • No apps or Virtual Console available yet. This hasn’t really bothered me. I have about a dozen devices on which to watch YouTube or use other apps. But I guess it would be nice if they were here at launch.

What’s the future like for the Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch looks set for a bright future. The buzz around the console means more third party developers will produce or port games to it. Plus there’ll be the usual high standard first party Nintendo games.

I’m not a Nintendo fanboy! I try to give all my consoles equal love. But for my money, the Nintendo Switch is a real cracker. I love switching out to play from the sofa or on the go. Once again Nintendo has gone in a different direction than Sony and Microsoft and It’ll be fun seeing how it pans out.

Thanks for reading. Please share any comments you have on the Nintendo Switch below. Plus, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Digital marketing tools – 8 great non-google options

There are plenty of free, or cheap, digital marketing tools that’ll quickly help you improve your marketing efforts. Here are eight that I’ve used and would recommend.

I’ve left out Google tools such as Google Analytics, Adwords and Search Console. You probably use those already. And if not – you should.

1. Moz

Founded by marketing guru Rand Fishkin, Moz is the go-to resource for SEO. Even if you don’t use Moz’s tools the blog is brilliant. Whiteboard Friday is essential reading for any marketer.

Moz’s features include:

  • Keyword explorer – generate keywords for SEO and PPC. A good source for finding titles for blogs. Keywords that are questions are ideal. Use them to create content that answers the questions your target audience are asking.
  • On-page grader – recommends changes to page structure and content that’ll improve SEO for your pages.
  • Crawl reports – easily check errors on your site. A nice alternative to Search Console.
  • Keyword reports – see where you rank vs your competition for the keywords you’re tracking.
  • Followerwonk – see who your competition are following and who’s following them.

    2. Majestic

Getting quality links remain one of the best ways to raise a site’s authority and help your SEO efforts. That’s where Majestic comes in. It boasts the largest Link Index database. You can analyse your site’s links with a range of link intelligence tools. And also access valuable data on your competitor’s links. All essential stuff for creating a successful link building strategy.

3. Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is a great SEO auditing tool. It lets you crawl a website’s URLS and find broken links, errors, duplicate pages and redirects. Plus, you can easily analyse page titles and meta data. Invaluable for getting your site in good working order from an SEO perspective.

4. Klout

Klout helps you share content in your chosen subject area. It’ll find hot topics and new posts. Klout is easy to connect to your social channels and post directly to them. Useful for keeping active on social media without having to spend hours trawling through posts to share.

5. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is perfect for keeping on top of all your social media efforts. With Hootsuite, it’s simple to schedule social posts, monitor competitor activity, keep track of keywords and twitter lists.

6. Lead Forensics

Seriously consider Lead Forensics if you’re marketing B2B products. It has the best IP Lookup that I’ve seen. It’ll identify the businesses that visit your site. This gives you real insight such as: Is your traffic coming from the B2B sectors/businesses that you’re targeting? Which pages are they visiting? How often are they visiting? All valuable information for optimising pages/content.

Lead Forensics is easy to use with an intuitive user interface. You can classify businesses, see where they’ve come from and build a wide range of useful reports. You can also integrate with your CRM to manage leads.

7. Hotjar

While Google Analytics will give you most of the metrics you need Hotjar is a great way of seeing how visitors interact with your site. It’s highly visual with:

  • Heat maps for pages
  • Video recordings of user interactions on your site
  • Funnels – see where users drop off
  • Analyse form fields to see what users find confusing

You can also use Hotjar for feedback on your site, with polls, surveys and even invite users to a live user tests. Beneficial for optimising your site and improving user experience.

8. Grammarly

This is a handy plugin for your browser. It’s really useful whether you’re producing large amounts of content or just writing the odd blog or two. Now there’s no excuse for poor grammar.

Thanks for reading. Please share any other digital marketing tools you’ve found useful in the comments below. Check back for more pieces on digital marketing. Plus you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.