Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Is Google Data Studio the most Powerful and Flexible Data Visualization Tool?
One of the biggest conundrums in marketing... and in all of business for that matter, is keeping stakeholders on the same page in real-time. This is no easy undertaking. With stakeholders that have a multitude of different perspectives, skill levels, and needs for information, creating methods for communicating information to people is complex.
One of the best ways of communicating digital marketing campaign data (especially to clients) is Google Data Studio. Zova Marketing uses Google Data Studio for every client and every campaign that we manage. Google Data Studio is a versatile data visualization tool in which you can import data sources from almost any platform.
Did we also mention that it's free? That's one of the most compelling reasons to use Google Data Studio: It's free for many connections. If you want to import connections from platforms like Facebook, you'll need to purchase a subscription to an API that links those data sources with Google Data Studio, but any Google Products (Google Ads, Google Analytics, etc.) are free.
Watch our Latest Marketing Tip Tea Time at 2:22 "The Magic of Google Data Studio" below or keep reading to find out more!
What Makes Data Visualization So Important?
Data visualization tools are very powerful. Not only do they help to keep all stakeholders on the same page when it comes to data or campaigns, but they are a powerful tool that helps analysts to perceive data and glean insights into trends, patterns and hopefully aid in better decision making. One of the best parts of Google Data Studio is that it allows you to have data in the same view from multiple data sources. That means that you can line up Facebook data with Google data and Google Data with Web Analytics data, making it possible to glean insights ACROSS multiple platforms.
Above is an example of part of a dashboard that we have for events (ComicCons, Festivals, etc). As you can see, we have added blended data (The Key Performance Indicators Section) to the report. Here we can blend and analyze data for multiple data sources. So above, the conversion value, ad spend and profit are coming from two different data sources that are blended - Google Ads and Facebook/ Instagram Ads.
We can also add in other important variables to these calculations such as margins or COGS or anything else, to help to get the actual ROI and Profit, not just ROAS (return on ad spend).
What Data Sources Can Be Connected to Google Data Studio?
There are multiple data sources that we can connect, but some are free and some are not.
Here are the free ones (Google Data Connectors):
CSV File Uploads
Here are the data sources that are paid (through Power My Analytics):
Making Google Data Studio Look Good
Creating dashboards in Google Data Studio provides unlimited opportunities. Create and organize maps, single metrics, line graphs, scatter plots, tables, and more! You can even add a widget that enables the viewer to change the date range, options for the viewer to toggle between different metrics on graphs, and there are other customizable options such as shapes, lines, grids, and the ability to upload and arrange images.
Date Range Selector
Optional Metrics Menu
Table with bar graphs
Various types of graphs (donut & bar)
KPI Blended Data Scorecards
Another fantastic feature of Google Data Studio is that it allows the creation of dashboards in various sizes and you can even add multiple pages! For example, you could create a dashboard with an overview page with blended data from Facebook and Google, a page with only Facebook data, and a page with only Google. This allows for smooth transitioning between different data sources.
If you can't figure out how to make a dashboard look amazing, good News! Google Data Studio has preloaded templates that look absolutely beautiful!
These are two sample reports that are offered for FREE from Google Data Studio for YouTube and Google Ads. Simply select the sample dashboard and add your data sources.
That there is some data latency in Google Data Studio. Be sure to know which data sources upload to the dashboard in what amount of time. For example, Google Ads and Analytics each take 1 hour to show in the dashboard and Facebook Ads and Analytics can take up to 12 hours. That could be very important to keep in mind, especially for businesses that may need data that is fresher than what is possible on Google Data Studio.
You can control users in Google Data Studio. Set editors to be only the people you want to edit and control viewers so that the dashboard only goes to eyes that should see it. This is a particularly good feature as you can protect sensitive data and make sure that viewers can't share the dashboard with anyone outside of the approved list of viewers. You can also prevent users from downloading the report and copying the report if you need.
One of the big downsides to Google Data Studio is data & API breakage. It is a huge pain in the butt to fix broken data links, but it does happen occasionally and you'll need to have a plan in place to fix it as quickly as possible when that time comes.
Google Data Studio is currently an unsupported product at Google, meaning that there is currently no support personnel at Google to help you with any problems. So if you do have problems with Google Data Studio itself, you're on your own, or at least stuck to forums. You can also contact us! We've become pretty good at Google Data Studio.
Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is one of the best (in our opinion) data visualization tools. It allows you to share critical information with all stakeholders at the same time and it updates in real-time and it connects to almost any data source. It's also free, and you can't beat free.
What data visualization tools do you use? How are you using Google Data Studio? Comment below!