You may have seen that a while back Google announced that Data Studio, Google’s free data visualization and reporting product, was officially out of Beta…and we’re super excited about it! We also thought that now would be a good time to share some of what we’ve learned since we started using the reporting tool in 2016.
First of all, one of the reasons we love Data Studio is because of its easy integration with other Google products (after all, it’s now part of the Google Marketing Platform) like Google Ads, Doubleclick, and Google Analytics. This makes for easy and quick reporting and data visualization. Before Data Studio you might have downloaded data into a spreadsheet, arranged everything as needed via a pivot table, created a graph or table, and copied it into a presentation or made it look nice in spreadsheet form. Now Data Studio allows you to cut out a good number of those steps by pulling in the data directly from the source into a format of your choosing (graph, chart, table, etc.). Sounds great, right? Here are some tips to make your reporting even more streamlined.
1. Create a template
Data Studio provides a number of templates you can adapt and use. They provide a good idea of how you can show your data and are examples of some of the scenarios you might use the tool for, such as showing an overview of your Google Ads performance. However you’ll likely want to tailor the report to your organization’s goals and measurement plan, and this means personalizing it somewhat: ultimately you need to decide what you want to show and why. The tool is relatively flexible in terms of formatting (text size, colors, font, etc.), but the customization process can take a while. However, once you have a template you can use it going forward, which also cuts down on the time it takes to prepare a new report.
Moreover, if you connect a date range control to the report (and as long as your data sources contain a date), your data sources will automatically update when a user adjusts the date. If you’re reporting on a regular basis, this makes for quick updating.
2. Establish a Naming Convention
A strict naming convention can help you with keeping your reports straight, especially if you create multiple reports for different stakeholders or clients. Data Studio reports are also similar to Google Docs: they save automatically when you make changes to them. This means that once you do make a template, you should make sure to always copy it before making any changes. And having a “TEMPLATE” report can help reduce errors.
One thing on our wish list for the next Data Studio update? Folders. Unfortunately, there isn’t the possibility to sort your reports into different folders at the moment, which makes finding the report you want to update a bit more difficult (though you can sort by name). Making sure you have a naming convention can help with this as well.
3. Manage Permissions Accordingly
Another thing that makes Data Studio great is its interactive qualities. Like Google Docs, you’re able to share the report via a link and decide on either “view” or “edit” permissions for that user. Even with the “view only” permissions, a user can change the report dates, hover over graphs to see data points, sort charts as they like, and even download individual graphs, tables, etc. without changing the actual format of the report.
Data sources are managed similarly as well. You must have access to a data source (Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Docs) with the account you’re using to login to Data Studio. And once you do give someone “edit” access and they are in “edit” mode, they can make changes to the report format. We also found that while it made it easier to work on a report as a team, sometimes issues occurred when more than one person edited a report at the same time. Bottom line: decide who should have “edit” access and when.
As we said before, we love Data Studio: its sleek dashboard, interactivity, and ability to easily integrate data sources (especially those Google products). We’re glad that it’s out of Beta and here to stay!
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Marian Visonà is Director of Analytics and SEM who loves data and likes to keep up to date with the latest digital trends. When she’s not preparing reports and spreadsheets, she’s out analyzing the KPIs of various Providence eateries. In food and performance optimization, testing is key!