In today’s online marketing world, tools such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, and social media form the benchmark and foundation of your digital marketing toolbox. These tools make an incredible amount of data available to its owner about the audience and their behaviour. Combine this information with your (CRM) database and you are able to create a multifaceted picture of your customers and potential customers. However, with data flowing in every minute and hour, how does one keep a (real-time) overview of the state of its customers in one place? Google Data studio (GDS) to the rescue!
The role of data visualisation fulfills more than just keeping an overview and integrate the data in one central platform, it also plays a crucial role in communication and transparency. Data visualisation makes data insightful but more importantly interpretable to all members of the company; creating a clear status update and where to go from there. This is where data visualisation tools such as Google Data Studio, Power BI, and Tableau jump in. In this blog, we’ll dive into Google Data Studio and try to show you why it might be a tool for you.
Another Google product … great! But why?
Data Studio, being a Google product, is the direct extension of any other Google digital marketing tool. This makes data integration from any Google platform very easy and intuitive; all you need is a few clicks. Especially those that use Google Analytics more extensively; the usage of goals and segments are easily translated to Data Studio.
Next to Google data, data from third parties such as social media are either easily accessed via third party connectors or via your own built API to BigQuery or Spreadsheets.
Whenever you have collected the data from various marketing channels and you want to merge or join the data into a single dataset, then you do not need to send it to a database first, you can simply send the data directly to GDS directly! GDS offers the blend function which is basically the same as a join or merge function. The different datasets only need one common ‘dimension’ (=column) with the same values and you are good to go!
Perhaps the best selling point of Data Studio is its intuitive interface. You can create a complete dashboard by simply drag and drop widgets. This makes the tool very user-friendly and a great next step for data analysts who do their analyses mainly in Google Analytics. Next to the drag and drop approach, you get access to the option menu on your right where you can alter the data and the style per widget: intuitive and simple.
Skip the basic stuff
Next to the intuitive and simple functions; GDS also allows you to manipulate your data, however in a limited manner. It lets you aggregate the data, create new variables from already existing data, and change data types, e.g. modify a numeric into a date type. If you are getting familiar with the manipulation options that GDS offers, then you can start anticipating its limitations by manipulating the data yourself before it is integrated in GDS: let’s say you want to measure the publication date of articles and you want to use it as a date variable so you can use it as a filter in your dashboard. GDS only recognizes a variable as a date type when it has the format ‘YYYYMMDD’. If you know this condition, then you can anticipate it and make sure that Google Analytics retrieves your publication date in the right format by coding it in the YYYYMMDD format in Google Tag Manager. This is merely one example but you get the idea.
Up till now, this blog only shared the potentials of GDS, but considering this amazing tool is completely free and officially regarded as being in beta, it also has its limitations. Depending on the type of data you want to visualise, GDS may not have the type of visualisation you need; it lacks in the amount of visualisations. Furthermore, the function list to manipulate data on the backend is limited. However, since it is regarded as being in beta, I have high hopes that GDS will deliver lovely updates in the near future and expand its features.