Getting Started With Data Studio

If this is your first introduction to Data Studio and you’re a digital marketer, data analyst, or you just run your own website, you’re in for a treat. Your life is about to become much easier.

What Is Data Studio

Data Studio is Google’s reporting tool. Picture custom reports in Google Analytics, but on steroids. Another beautiful thing about Data Studio is that you can set emails to go out whenever you’d like. That alone is a huge win if you work for executives that require reports be constantly emailed to them. God forbid anyone actually downloads the Google Analytics app and looks for themselves…

How Much Does Google Data Studio Cost?

Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Free! Just like Google Analytics, Google Data Studio is free. Unlike GA though, GDS doesn’t have a paid/upgraded version. That’s unfortunate for us Google Analytics 360 users because we like and always want more features.

For the average user though, it’s a great thing. You get to experience the full product without paying for licensing fees.

The Downside and Upside of Google Data Studio

The major downside of Data Studio is that it’s new and constantly changing. When you get used to doing something a certain way, Google will come behind you and change it slightly.

The major upside of Data Studio is that it’s new and constantly changing. Yes the same sentence as above with one word changed. Data Studio is still very new to the Business Intelligence game.

What that means though is that Google will keep refining it’s product to the point where it’s a major FREE competitor to the likes of PowerBI, Tableau, Looker, and other tools.

I would be shaking in my boots if I was an executive at one of the above companies.

What Are Some Applications of Data Studio

Some of my current and more notable applications of Data Studio are:

  • Combining all of our social media efforts into one dashboard seamlessly
  • Ecommerce Dashboard for reporting *almost* real time sales
  • Tracking email campaigns of 3rd party vendors to our website
  • Automating product level sales reporting to allow vendors to better inventory plan
  • Tracking Google’s Store Visit metrics in Google My Business to see the effect of difficult to track media efforts. IE Radio and TV.
  • Allowing 3rd party vendors to optimize their media without giving them access to our website’s pixel or customer data
  • Creating dashboards that automatically update on TV’s around the building

Why Data Studio Instead of Other Reporting Tools

The reporting tool that you should use is highly dependent on what type of organization you work in or type of website you run. There’s literally hundreds if not thousands of tools on the market to help you manipulate or report data. I’ll just go over some of the most popular tools and how they compare.

Data Studio VS Google Analytics

Google Analytics is great. However, their dashboards are a tad lacking. Even if that was fixed, we can’t expect executives to actually log into any system.

They want every piece of information in the company delivered to their inbox. I’ve gotten to the point where I have over 20 dashboards delivered to executives all over the organization before I even walk into the building.

Data Studio VS Tableau

Tableau is great. I’m not denying that. Tableau has some downsides though. Most notably cost. Many times, smaller organizations just can’t handle the cost.

I’ve also found that I can build a report in Data Studio in a fraction of the time that it would take me in Tableau. When these reports are emailed, the report is sent in a pdf and a link which is much better to view on mobile.

Data Studio VS Excel

Time and automation. Plain and simple. Many large organizations (executives) still demand to see their data in a perfect format that they’ve been use to seeing for 30 years.

There are times when you’re going to need to export Google Analytics data to combine it with other data in excel. While that’s not ideal, Data Studio isn’t going to be a replacement for excel. It’s complimentary.

The Basics of Data Studio

Data Studio is built around two main themes. Reports and Data Sources.

Reports

I don’t think this needs much explanation, but sometimes people are slow. Reports are just your digital pieces of paper that your visualizations are built on. I’m sure there’s a limit, but as far as I know, there’s no limit in the amount of pages per report.

Data Sources

Data sources are just that. Where the data is coming from. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. Google has data sources that are built in and data sources that require a third party connector.

Built In Data Sources

The current built in data sources as of this writing are: Google Analytics, Google Ads & 360, Google Sheets, BigQuery, CSV files, Campaign Manager, Google Cloud Spanner Databases, Google Cloud, Display & Video 360, SQL, Search Console, and Youtube.

What surprises me most is that Google My Business isn’t in their default list. However, if you use a 3rd party connector, you can grab that data.

Third Party Connector Data Sources

I won’t list all of of the third party connectors, but the most important ones include: All large social media sites, Amazon, Adobe Analytics, Google My Business, Asana, Bing Webmaster Tools, Ebay, Hubspot, LinkedIn, MailChimp, ShareASale, and many more.

There’s quite a few companies that provide third party connections and it seems like that list is growing every few months. I’ll briefly touch on some of the pros and cons below.

Supermetrics – This is what I use. At $299 a month, you can’t beat it. They held my hand for an extremely long on-boarding process. Not their on-boarding process. My company requires vendors to jump through some real hoops and they worked with me for months for a tiny $299 a month contract.

Funnel.io – I just can’t get over Funnel’s pricing structure. Their basic package is $499 a month. It’s comparable to Supermetrics’ $299 package. However, they’ve added a tiered structure based off of your company’s advertising spend.

If your company spends up to $600,000 a month, the price jumps to $999 a month. If you work for a large company with more advertising spend than that, then who knows what the true price is.

I know it’s not MY money, but I believe in being a good steward of company money.

If you need some of their other features, then this might be the choice for you. If you’re just looking for a good connector, this isn’t the choice for you.

Power My Analytics – If you just need a few connectors, this may be the choice for you. At $9.95 per connector per month, it’s pretty cheap. If you’re using Google Data Studio for a few small websites or for a medium sized company, then this may be the choice for you.

Other Connectors – There’s a few other companies playing in this space, but nothing notable at the moment. I’ll update this post when that changes!

FAQ

What is Data Studio?

Google Data Studio is Google’s free reporting tool. It’s an easy to use, customizable and free tool to create automated dashboards and reports.

How do I open data studio?

Go to https://datastudio.google.com/

What is Google Data Studio used for?

Data Studio is most notoriously used to automate Google Analytics dashboards. But it’s so much more than that. Using Supermetric’s connectors, you can connect data sets from most digital and marketing products on the market.

Is Google Data Studio free to use?

Yes. Google Data Studio is completely free. That’s what makes it the perfect solution for solopreneurs and large companies alike.

What are the benefits of using Data Studio?

– Free
– Easy to use
– Integrates with most other Google products
– Integrates with a ton of other products if you can utilize an API or are willing to pay for connectors

Is Google Data Studio real time?

Technically no. Data Studio will pull in data as often as the underlying data source will update. The exception to this is the “Real Time” reports in Google Analytics.

Is Data Studio secure?

Short answer, yes. Long answer. Data Studio is as secure and uses the same authentication methods as the rest of Google’s products like Gmail, G Suite, ect.

Is Data Studio part of G Suite?

No. You do not have to be a G Suite (now Google Workspace) user to use Google Data Studio. However, if you are a Google Workspace user, your admin may need to enable Data Studio.

How many data sources can you blend in Data Studio?

As of November 2020, the maximum number of blended data sources if 5.

How can you use any Data Studio report as a template?

Yes, as long as you have view access. To see step by step directions, check out the post on how to copy a Data Studio report.

How do I embed a Google Data Studio into my website?

You can do this by using the HTML code provided in the Data Studio report. To see step by step directions, check out the post titled Embedding a Google Data Studio Report in a WordPress Website.

How do I export data from Data Studio to excel?

1. Ensure you’re signed into a Google account. If you’re in an incognito browser and not signed into any account, this will not work.
2. Open the dashboard you wish to download.
3. Hover over the top right portion of the graph or table until 3 vertical dots appear.
4. Click on the dots and select download.

See: All of the ways to download a Data Studio Report.

How do I connect Google Data Studio to excel?

1. Upload the file to Google Drive and save it as a Google Sheet.
2. Connect to the Google Sheet utilizing Google’s built in connector for Google Sheets.

How do you refresh data in a Data Studio report?

1. Ensure your data freshness is set to 1 hour.
2a. Click on the refresh button in the top right of your dashboard.
2b. Click F5.
2c. Utilize this Chrome Extension. Here’s the instructions for real(ish) time dashboards.


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