You may be here because you're hearing about 'Google Data Studio' being thrown around, but not sure what it is. And I bet you're currently using Google Analytics. Well, I have news for you. If you're spending tons of manual time in Google Analytics looking for data, then you're on the right track.
What is Google Data Studio?
Google Data Studio is Google's powerful data visualization tool to help you turn all your data into easy visualizations with a collection of widgets that connect to your favorite Google data sources and more. Some widgets include color-coded tables, pie charts, trend graphs, filters, and more. With a need for easier dashboard processes, Google Data Studio became free for all Google users to make reporting simple and painless. Especially with Google Analytics becoming more and more popular over the years, the platform is a perfect segue for teams to expand their reporting capabilities.
Before Google Data Studio, most teams on a budget were handling analytics reporting the traditional way. By exporting each individual report from Google Analytics, and manually creating automated formulas in Excel or PowerPoint to create the final visualized product. Yes, the end result was good, but having a live dashboard that's set up once and automatically updates by itself saves teams much more time. There is simply more time to actually focus more on the analysis and insights.
Let's go over the pros and cons for Google Data Studio, so you can get a glimpse for what it is all about.
Pros of Data Studio
Free Dashboarding Tool
If you've tried other dashboarding tools before, you probably have paid for them or used them at the enterprise level where your company paid for them. Google Data Studio is the first free Dashboarding tool that's readily available for anyone to use as long as you have a Google account. It's that simple.
Easy Connection to the Google Suite
Like I mentioned in the beginning, Google Data Studio is an extension to Google Analytics, but it doesn't stop there. Since Google Data Studio is made by Google, well you better know that Data Studio connects to everything else Google has that offers data. The seamless data connectors include Google Search Console for your search result data, Google Ads for your paid search ads, even Google Sheets so you can enter in any type of data you want to visualize in Data Studio.
Easy to Use Interface
The dashboard setup is very simple to use with a drag-and-drop feature for all data connections. Alongside the dimensions, metrics, and other calculated fields you create, you're given different settings options to customize whatever visualization you have. No code needed whatsoever for pretty advanced dashboarding. You can change the colors, conditions, and everything in one panel that pops up for each widget.
Automated Dynamic Connections
A simple dashboard tool will connect to your data sources directly and automatically update when new data rolls in. That is what Google Data Studio is. You can connect to several data sources, and be rest assured that you don't have to pull that type of data again. Just once for setup.
There are many ways to make your dashboard report fit your business needs. You can customize the look from colors and fonts. You can highlight certain values and even filter any type of data the way you'd like - from how it looks or how it calculates.
Cons of Google Data Studio
Not great with many 3rd-party platforms
Google Data Studio is great along with other Google platforms because of course, the same company. But it does get difficult when you expand out of that. Data Studio has many, many connectors that you can easily use, but the functionality isn't as seamless. You also need to pay for some extra connectors if needed. In the past, personally, I've had trouble with social media type connectors as the variables are labeled and defined differently from the original source to the connector.
There's a workaround to maintain platform-to-platform consistency, of course. You can manually input the data in Google Sheets, but this removes the ease of dynamic automatic data.
Custom calculations query is difficult for beginners
Creating your custom calculations can be simple especially if you want to do simple math with dynamic variables in your data set. But if you don't have a SQL background, more advanced calculations can get tricky especially because Data Studio query language is slightly different.
Is Google Data Studio the right fit for you?
Well, check out this checklist and if all matches up, then it's time to give Google Data Studio a go.
- Do you depend on Google Analytics?
- Do you use other Google platforms like Ads, Search Console to help drive your marketing mix?
- Do you spend too much time pulling data in Google Analytics?
- Do you want to see your marketing data all in one place?
It all depends on what your data sources are, and your day-to-day responsibilities. If you have time to learn a new tool and in the end one that saves you time and bring value, then you better get on the Data Studio pronto. Contact me if you need help, of course!