Why We Love Google Data Studio

Carnegie Higher Ed Dec 08, 2016 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Google’s new data reporting and visualization tool is here to solve your Google Analytics woes.

Do you get instantly overwhelmed every time you sign into Google Analytics? You’re not alone. While Google likes to imply that anyone can use GA, the reality is that it is difficult to navigate and most users struggle to find the data they are looking for. Luckily, Google has come up with a solution.

Earlier this year, Google rolled out Data Studio, which is still in beta but already popular. With Data Studio, you can create custom dashboards that contain only the reporting metrics you need. Each Data Studio report can have multiple dashboards for different stakeholders. It’s similar to custom views in GA, but it’s easier to understand, interactive, and more visually appealing. With customized tables, graphs, and charts, all the data you need is easy to consume and in one place.

So, how does it work? Google Data Studio links up with your Google data sources, such as Analytics and AdWords, and other third-party data sources, such as your CRM, through SQL or Google Sheets. Using this data, you can create charts and tables that report on organic, social, paid, and direct traffic as well as traffic from campaigns (including any you might be running with Carnegie!).

Data Studio can essentially visualize any data you’re already accustomed to gathering in GA and other data sources. For example, you can easily see traffic data from any date range, including page views, users, sessions, and geographies as well as the age and gender of users and traffic patterns for different times of the day, month, and year.

Once you build a Data Studio dashboard, you never have to build it again. You can continue to customize your dashboard whenever you want, but it’s not necessary to edit with time as the data changes. Since Data Studio reports are interactive, different stakeholders can easily change the date range of the data sets in the dashboards at any time. It’s a huge solution for those who have trouble finding the data they need in GA.

What’s more, you can enter text boxes in dashboards to complement charts, graphs, and tables and explain what each data set means. For instance, in the example below you will see that above a bar chart showing overall traffic there is a textbox that reads, “What day of the week is your website most popular?” These small snippets can go a long way in helping stakeholders understand the data they are viewing.

Google Data Studio operates in the same vein as Google Docs. You can share and edit reports with others (but only if you want to). However, unlike the seemingly unlimited number of documents you can create in Google Docs, Google currently allows only five free Data Studio reports per Gmail account, though that may change in the future. You can also export a Data Studio report as a PDF, except it won’t be interactive any more.

Here at Carnegie, we’ve been using Data Studio in place of Google Analytics views for a few months now. Data Studio is particularly perfect for higher ed because there are so many stakeholders at colleges and universities. Our clients love how visually appealing, interactive, and easy-to-use their dashboards are, and we do too!

Check out the screenshot below of a Data Studio dashboard we built for UGA’s Terry College of Business. Note that this is just one page of a report containing many dashboards for many different stakeholders. Want to see how you can interact with Data Studio reports? Visit Google’s database of samples here. Want to learn more? Carnegie can help!

You can follow Rebecca on Twitter @beccablanchette for more analytics and SEO insights.

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