How to build advanced marketing reports in Google Data Studio
Vlada Malysheva, Creative Writer @ OWOX
Why do you need automated reporting in modern companies?
In a world that survives the pandemic's consequences, the game rules have changed for advertising. For obvious reasons, people began to use online shopping and solve household problems online more often than before. All this led to an increase in online advertising. According to Gartner, CMOs spend nearly one-quarter (22%) of the marketing budget on digital advertising.
Marketing directors can no longer afford to spend the budget to pay specialists to manually collect the necessary reports. In addition, reports are needed to quickly respond to changes, and when manually building reports, the speed is rather low. However, the need for such reports has increased many times.
So, the main reasons why automated reports in modern companies are needed:
avoid data errors due to the human factor;
spare the staff from routine work;
reallocate ad budget faster.
The simplest example of time-saving with Data Studio — use the template of a ready dashboard from the Data Studio Report Gallery. All-in-all, the right analytics service that suits your business will help you achieve high results, improve resource use, and increase overall company productivity.
Advanced marketing reports in Google Data Studio
How can you use automated reporting to quickly make crucial decisions based on big data?
The use of martech tools to automate the collection and merging of information about marketing work has long been not just a whim, but a necessity. If you operate on large volumes of data, your advertising campaigns require quick and reasonable solutions; then, you cannot work without auto-updating dashboards.
By tracking marketing activity, you can assess factors such as:
how well your website works (selling and attracting new customers);
measure the effectiveness of digital advertising channels;
find out the growth and risk zones (how to reallocate the budget more profitably).
Of course, you cannot wait for effective control of the situation until the reports are prepared manually! Reports are needed now, and they must be updated in real-time, and provide data in a convenient and understandable way (graphs and charts). Only then will you evaluate situations with one eye and make decisions based on the collected and analyzed data.
If you want to get complete, high-quality data at minimal cost, we recommend using the OWOX BI service. It collects data from Google Analytics, advertising services, website, offline store, call-tracking, and CRM systems and sends it directly to Google BigQuery. This service is independent of Google Analytics and avoids its restrictions, allowing you to build reports without sampling and based on any parameters.
Given the mass online transition situation, most CMOs (79%) suggest that their existing customers will help companies stay afloat. However, companies should concentrate on the most profitable customers and customer retention to succeed even with such a conservative survival strategy. For martech tools, it means that businesses won’t cut budgets for such things as customer data platforms, mobile marketing platforms, and digital commerce.
Top 30 handpicked Google Looker Studio dashboards for marketersDownload now
The marketer’s checklist of preparation for advanced reporting
For reports to serve you with faith, truth, and correct data, you need to make sure that they are prepared properly. First, before you create reports, you must approve business-critical metrics. Secondly, before using data visualization services, you need to configure services that collect, combine, and structure your data.
Step 1.To provide reports, you need to complete some preparation:
collect and merge all necessary data (from the website, CRM system, advertising services, and so on). For small companies, it’s enough to use the free features of Google Analytics to collect the needed data. While medium and large businesses that actively use Google Marketing Platform products can get more opportunities using tools such as Google Analytics 360 or OWOX BI.
identify metrics that are important to your business. In order not to lose the metrics important to your business, you must first understand who your customers are, what their interests are, and what channels lead customers to you. If you want to find more about the standard dimensions and metrics of Google Analytics, check the Help Center.
be confident in the reliance and quality of your data. Imagine that your campaign settings use one currency and your Google Analytics settings use another currency. As a result, you'll receive an incorrect ROAS and make the wrong decision. That's why it's so important to check your data beforehand.
Step 2. Select the appropriate tool. To do this, firstly, you need to answer such questions:
What are the size and needs of your business? For most companies, the data visualization capabilities of Google Data Studio is enough.
How often do you need reports? Once a month, daily, or in real-time?
Features of dashboards in Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is a popular free service for marketers. Its features include both basic level (a general report based on data from Google Analytics) and advanced one (merge data from the internal CRM system, import cost data from advertising services, and get detailed reporting).
Among the benefits of using Data Studio, there are:
Different data sources
The service offers built-in capabilities of more than 800 ready-made datasets and more than 270 connectors (Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, HubSpot, Instagram, LinkedIn, Outbrain, Pinterest, etc). It's worth noting that the number of connectors is continually increasing, so if you don't find the one you need, try your luck and check the service in a few months.
Number of pages
Instead of overloading one single page with all possible information, in Google Data Studio you can use the function of multiple pages. It allows you to avoid unnecessary complexity and information overload.
Data Studio allows you to apply two types of filters (include and exclude ones). Include filters show the data that match the stated conditions and exclude ones vice versa show only the data that doesn’t match the conditions. You can filter charts, filter controls, groups, pages, and reports.
Note! When applying filters, you don’t change your data. It’s the way of displaying data in the report that is to change.
Page- and report-leveled elements
Typically, when you add an item to your report, it appears only on the page you added it to. However, if you need the same component (table, chart, text areas, etc.) on different pages/reports, such as headers and footers, or perhaps an important KPI metrics, then the Data Studio service allows you to manage components and make them page- and report-level.
With calculated fields, you can create new metrics and dimensions to work with your data. You can find out more about the functionality by watching the Youtube video.
For example, let’s say you want to multiply a unit price field (Price) by a quantity sold field (Qty Sold) to get Total:
If you aren't sure which functions you can apply in calculated field formulas, use the list of functions from the help section.
The advantages of using the Data Studio service also include lots of ready-to-use dashboards, free templates, simple sharing options, and many more functions. Use Welcome to Data Studio help to learn about all Data Studio features.
Of course, not all prebuilt dashboards suit you perfectly. However, you can use the template and modify it for your own needs. In addition, even just watching ready-made reports can inspire you to create your own perfect dashboard. Let’s have a look at some examples of useful dashboards for marketing.
Measure CPO and ROAS in GA4
Automatically link your Ad Platforms cost data to Google Analytics 4 conversion data, so you can analyze your marketing KPIs and make fully informed decisions
Basic instructions of creation of any advanced dashboard
Step 1. Prepare your data sources. Here you can use Google or partner connectors. Note that if you want to connect more than 2 data sources, it's better to collect and merge the data in advance in GBQ.
Step 2. Think over those people who will use this dashboard — do not include tons of additional data.
Here’s an example of an efficient e-commerce Data Studio dashboard:
For writers and content managers the content marketing dashboards can be very useful:
Step 3. Use one general page for an overview. All other pages should contain specified information. For example, one page for organic search, attribution, landing pages, and website behavior, etc.
Step 4. Make your dashboard dynamic with comparing options. In working with the report, the main thing is to immediately understand what has happened well, what is bad, and how the metrics look compared to last week, month or quarter.
Step 5. Make your design clean. Use those types of visualizations for each widget that will display a particular fact or event at once, avoid making your reports messy and overloaded with data. For example, you can use a map for purchases or a bar chart for channel groupings.
More details on dashboard creation
We've already sorted out the main points of creating dashboards in Google Data Studio, and now let's analyze some moments in more detail.
If you want to create your dashboard from a blank sheet and not just use templates, use the Blank Report button.
Before creating your dashboard, you've already decided what data and from what sources you will analyze. At this point, you need to connect the selected services.
To connect the very first source (usually it's Google Analytics), you don't need to search for any buttons. A selection of available connectors appears in the window after clicking the Blank Report button.
And to add the second (third or more) data sources to the dashboard, use the Add data button in the interface's main menu.
Note! We strongly recommend that you collect all data for marketing analysis in 1-2 datasets in GBQ and then connect them to Google Data Studio. You'll avoid problems with the service and will be able to build different reports. Don't forget that Data Studio is a data visualization service, not a data merging service.
If you want to check the number of connected sources or delete a data source, use the Resource/Manage added data sources menu.
Now you can start creating charts and tables that are available to you using the Add a chart button in the main menu. Please note that third-party visualizations are also available to you. This function is in the beta test but can offer fascinating forms of data visualization.
For the convenience of perception, marketers usually put essential to track metrics in the dashboard's top. It can be revenue, the number of new users, the number of transactions, etc. To add this option, use Scorecard and select the required metric from the right menu.
Tables with heatmap showing statistics on products, their categories, income, and conversions remain among the most popular for the eCommerce sector. Different colors help to pay attention to successful or critical figures immediately. Using the menu on the right, you can easily add or remove the dimensions and metrics you need in the report.
For fast and understandable data visualization, pie charts are also often used. For example, we've created two pie charts that show the most preferred user platforms and customers' geography, in which cities the largest number of buyers live. This information may be handy in adjusting your ad campaign Geo settings.
As you can see from these examples, it's not difficult to customize the dashboard for different purposes and metrics important to your business. Select the form of data visualization you like, connect your data sources, and specify the metrics you want to track.
And most importantly, don't forget to check the quality of the data used for your dashboards.
Get quality data from your website, advertising services, and mobile applications with OWOX BI. OWOX BI compares data in BigQuery with data in Google Analytics daily and reports on any significant discrepancies to make sure you don’t lose important data that third-party trackers can’t provide.
Useful video links
Google Data Studio Tutorial — How to build a Dashboard from MeasureSchool.
How to Create a Google Data Studio Dashboard from Social Media Examiner.
Examples of specialized dashboards with tasks they help to solve
- SEO Report Template
- Organic Traffic Template
Let's summarize how to build an excellent dashboard. First off, it's necessary to determine which main needs should be met with a dashboard's help. For example, a dashboard with a general marketing overview contains information that your team needs every day.
No matter if it’s a small startup or a large international company with hundreds of offline stores, an analytical dashboard is necessary so that you understand how successful your marketing efforts are. Never forget about the dashboard with data on business and marketing's primary goals.