Google Data Studio offers everything a marketer dreams of in an executive dashboard.
But, you need to know how to use it.
In this blog, I’ll teach you how to create a Google Data Studio dashboard for marketing.
What Are Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing?
Google Data Studio is, essentially, a way to deliver data to clients in a way they’ll understand.
Because here’s the thing about SEO reports: communicating and presenting key metrics to clients who aren’t familiar with the data can be pretty complicated.
Excel charts aren’t exactly the most user-friendly, and even Google’s default dashboard leaves a little to be lacking in terms of visually presenting data.
Add on to that the headache of trying to include data from multiple sources into one view or chart.
For example, data pulled from Facebook and AdWords used to be extremely hard to analyze side-by-side.
At least, it was until Google introduced Google Data Studio.
Data Studio gives marketers the ability to visually present complex metrics and themes.
It’s part of the new Google Analytics 360 Suite, which includes a bunch of other cool tools for Google users.
But it doesn’t come cheap.
Luckily, there’s a free version available that offers Data Studio.
What Can You Do With Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing?
Data Studio comes with a few major features.
Visualize and Customize Your Data
First up is the ability to visualize your data through highly configurable charts and tables.
With data studio, your data is stored in a dashboard that’s fully customizable.
Basically, you start with a blank canvas and choose exactly what you want to appear where.
Create single-page dashboards for your team or multi-page reports for clients, all with information tailored to a particular campaign.
It features an easy drag and drop editor, and available visualization includes bar charts, pie charts, time series, geo maps, paginated data tables, and more.
There are no fixed columns or widget areas, so you can literally drag and drop data anywhere that makes the most sense for your specific report.
You can also include links and clickable images to create video libraries, product catalogs, etc.
The dashboard is also fully interactive, so you and your clients can click on dropdowns, etc. to update information in real time.
For example, I can include a full Source/Medium report like the one below, where I could pull data from different traffic sources and channels to show clients how each channel is performing, and which sources are bringing in the most traffic.
And, for added flair, you can customize reports with different color schemes and logos so they reflect your business.
One more thing: you can add as many widgets as you want. Google Analytics limits you to twelve, but there’s no cutoff in Data Studio.
Connect Your Data
Here’s the really cool part about Google Data Studio: you can add different data sources to your dashboard.
If you work in marketing, you know that’s worth a little geeking-out over, as there’s no way to do something similar in Google Analytics.
The ability to pull from different sources lets you mix and match what data appears in each report based on what’s most important to that client.
So, if your biggest PPC channels are Google AdWords and YouTube, you can put both sets of analytics side-by-side.
Even cooler? You can pull data from sources that aren’t associated with Google like Facebook Analytics, Bing Ads, and Twitter Ads through the use of third-party data connectors.
Using that, marketers can more easily show paid performance from different networks like AdWords and Bing Ads right next to each other.
In the example below from Marketing Land, you can see campaign data from Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, and Bing Ads.
Easily Share and Collaborate
Google Data Studio is set up like Google Docs, which means you can easily share a report by sending them a link.
And of course, set your permissions accordingly. Send it to team members to collaborate, or keep it view only if you’re presenting to a client.
Getting Started With Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing
First, let’s start with some good news: building a dashboard isn’t all that complicated.
And before you know it, you’ll be building something like this:
But before you begin, you should already have an active idea about the audience you’re preparing it for, the purpose of the dashboard, and what kind of data should be available there.
For our purposes, we’ll keep it pretty general and use the Google Demo account to pull Analytics info.
Step 1: Sign in to Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing and Create a Blank Report
Start the old fashioned way, by signing in at datastudio.google.com with the Google Analytics account you want to build the dashboard for.
Once you’re in, you’re ready to start creating.
At the top of the page, you’ll see a blank box with a + sign, as well as a few pre-built example templates for you to check out.
We’re building our own, so select the blank one.
Then, give it a name. This will more than likely be the name of the client you’re preparing the report for or the main purpose of the report, like “SEO Analysis.”
Step 2: Connect Your Data Source
Once you’re in and labeled, you can start connecting your data sources.
Remember, it pays off to have thought about this beforehand.
To add your first source, click the “Create New Data Source” button.
You’ll be taken to a page with a variety of source options. We’ll go with Google Analytics for right now, but as you get started, take some time to familiarize with all the options.
You’ll have to authorize Analytics to be used and choose which account you’d like to pull from.
Next, choose your Account, Property, and View.
Click Connect, and Add to Report.
Step 3: Add Your Second Data Source
Adding a second source differs slightly.
This time you’re looking at it from your main screen, so you’ll need to click the Resource dropdown and select “Manage added data sources.”
Going forward, this is where you’ll manage all data sources for your dashboard.
If you click on Add a Data Source, it will take you back to the list of data source options.
Click on the source you’d like to add and follow the same steps as above.
If you want to add a third party data source like Facebook Analytics or Bing Ads, scroll down to the Partner Connections sections and select the applicable source.
Step 4: Adding Elements to Your Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing
Here comes the fun part.
This is where you can mix and match the elements of your dashboard by selecting line graphs, pie charts, time series, geo map, etc.
For example, let’s add in a Time Series graph.
This lets us how are traffic has grown or decreased over time.
It’s the first button on the left of the graph icons. Click it, and use the mouse to draw the outline of the graph on your dashboard. You can adjust placement and size later if need be.
Then, you’ll need to select the data that will appear in the chart.
From the right-hand menu, select the data source (Google Analytics, in our case.)
Because this is a Time Series graph, we’ll want to a date range to show. Click the date icon and select an option from the menu that appears.
Next, you’ll need to add metrics.
These are under the Metrics section in the right-hand column, and you can click to expand the list of available metrics.
Choose whichever reflect the data you want to show in the graph, and notice that as you make selections the graph will automatically update itself.
Most of the graph options will follow a similar set-up. Just keep in mind, they will pull default metrics to display so you’ll need to update them accordingly.
This is a section you’ll want to spend some time with, and I would recommend creating an example dashboard to get a feel for the different options available before beginning
Step 5: Additional Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing Features
There’s a lot to know in Data Studio, and again, the best way to really get familiar is through a little trial and error.
That said, there are a few features you should be aware of to help you create the best reports possible.
First, let’s talk dates.
When you start editing your dashboard, the default date will be set to “Auto,” which means it’s pulling data from the last 28 days.
But most marketers and clients will want to see data aggregated over a certain amount of time, whether it’s a quarterly report or comparing month-to-month data.
To change the date filter, select the calendar icon (third from the right) and draw a box where you’d like it to appear.
In the Data tab on the right, select the date range and then the start and end date from the calendars that appear.
Use the Style tab (in the same box as the Data tab), you can change the text style, font, etc.
Notice if you go to View to see your dashboard in action, you’ll have the option to select a new date range from the date dropdown.
Okay, our next feature is text and images.
Add text headers to your graphs and different page elements to make navigation easier for anyone browsing.
As for images, you’ll most likely want to use these branding purposes to either your or your client’s logo to the report.
Again, same scenario here: click the image button (right next to the text button) and draw a box where you’d like the image to go.
Then upload your image of choice from the right sidebar, and you’re good to go.
And last thing here: your style options.
Because one of the biggest benefits of Google Data Studio is the ability to make it look pretty amazing, right?
So make sure you take a little time to play with your layout and theme.
You’ll find the Layout/Theme in the right-hand sidebar when you don’t have any element selected.
Here, you can change your primary and secondary background and text color, the colors that appear in your charts, and add in border colors.
These are pretty cool features that allow you to match your dashboard to your brand. Incorporate colors from your logo or website to make it reflect your specific
Tips For Using Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing
Google Data Studio comes with a bit of a learning curve.
The good thing is, it’s far more user-friendly than some of the more advanced options like Google Sheets or Excel.
Here are a few tips to help get started.
Google Data Studio Tip #1: Have a Game Plan
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Have a game plan ready.
Not gonna lie, playing around with the different graphs and elements available can easily become distracting, which is why it’s best to know exactly what your audience wants to see in these reports.
You should have a good handle on the kinds of metrics and KPIs that are most important to each client, so focus on those.
Trust me, it’s a huge time saver.
Google Data Studio Tip #2: Use Google’s Resources
Google’s got you covered on this one.
They offer a range of free tutorials covering both reports and data sources, and most questions that arise can be answered right there.
Google Data Studio Tip #3: Apply Segments to Your Elements
Google recently introduced the ability to add segments to the elements in your dashboard – and it’s a really cool new tool.
Using it, you can choose to apply certain elements to only new users, returning users, paid traffic, organic traffic, etc.
You can use any custom segments you’ve created in Google Analytics, and apply to one or multiple elements on the dashboard.
Google Data Studio Tip #4: Diversity is Key
To make your report as appealing as possible, you should try to incorporate a variety of charts and elements.
I don’t mean go chart-crazy, but do mix it up a bit.
Take a look at this one.
There’s charts, dropdowns, scorecards, etc.
It’s more effective and just looks better.
And after all, that’s what the beauty of using Google Data Studio, right?
Google Data Studio Tip #5: Don’t Rely Solely on Data Studio
Look, I love data studio as much as the next marketer.
It’s easy to use, easy to present to clients, and frankly, it’s kinda fun.
But even though it has some pretty powerful data capabilities, it doesn’t fully replace the need for more traditional reporting.
So remember: Data Studio is one tool of many.
It may be great for monthly reports and quick meetings, but use it in conjunction with more robust reporting tools to really go the extra mile for each client.
Wrapping Up Google Data Studio Dashboards For Marketing
There’s a lot to know about Google Data Studio.
But if your work happens to involve presenting complex data to clients, it’s one of the best reporting tools on the market.
First, familiarize yourself with the dashboard. Watch the tutorials and take a look at all the data sources you can use.
Then get started creating your killer reports.