Reporting with Data Studio for Marketers — The Ultimate Guide

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Pain is so close to pleasure is how any marketer might feel about reporting. Using the right tool for reporting will help you get more relevant results, save your colleagues’ time and your company’s resources, and become more productive overall.

In this guide, we describe both the theoretical and practical sides of reporting with Google Data Studio. You can use this guide as a comprehensive cheat sheet in your everyday marketing.

Table of contents

Benefits and limitations of Data Studio for marketing reporting

You’re probably familiar with Google Analytics and how to build reports there. Maybe you’ve even come up against the limit of 12 widgets in Google Analytics Dashboards. This and other limitations are why marketers start to use more advanced tools such as Data Studio that has lots of reporting templates. Moreover, Data Studio is a reliable tool for marketers and analysts to visualize tasks and regularly generate reports.

Let’s proceed to the benefits of Data Studio and see how it helps marketers visualize their reports:

  • Data Studio is free and stands a foot taller than other free visualization tools
  • Unlimited number of graph and chart widgets in one dashboard with simple drag-and-drop building
  • Plenty of widget types for personalization
  • Possibilities for branding your dashboards
  • 240+ connectors allow access to 500+ datasets
  • Familiar instant sharing options as in other Google products
  • Interactive features and dynamic widget updating
  • Plenty of ready-to-use dashboards, free templates, and how-to tutorials
  • Simple sharing options
  • Embedding on social media so your dashboards always look nice

With these features, marketers can build, present, and share their dashboards based on multiple sources however they imagine. But those who have tried Data Studio at least once know that these pros come with their cons.

Limitations of Data Studio include:

  • No option for downloading PDFs — If your boss likes reports built in spreadsheets, she or he won’t appreciate Data Studio.
  • No automated report building — If there’s a change in the base file, you have to go to View and refresh the whole report.
  • Even though the number of connectors is huge, data blending is allowed only for four sources, and they need at least one set of shared dimensions as a join key. Each time blending happens, the whole dashboard takes longer to load and becomes buggier.
  • Even 240 connectors might not be enough. To add and blend data before visualization, you need additional time and resources.
  • Branding possibilities are quite modest for modern appetites and presentation needs.

When you’re dealing with the simple task of reporting from one or two advertising services, Data Studio might be an efficient tool. But is a simple linear report a frequent flyer in any marketing department?

Typically, you need to track different metrics all in one place in real time with a blend of dozens of datasets from advertising accounts, your website or Google Analytics, keyword analyzers, CRM systems, call tracking systems, email campaigns, etc. But Data Studio can’t help you out with this, as it’s only a visualization tool.

For blending and collecting data, you can use OWOX BI. Here’s a brief list of its benefits:

  • Works with all your sources and for all purposes
  • Can easily deal with UTM tags in your advertising campaign statistics
  • Automatically checks data quality and reports all errors
  • Collects everything in a single dataset in Google BigQuery and natively connects that dataset with Data Studio so you can enjoy full-fledged reporting

You won’t find a better data cocktail for your dashboard than with OWOX BI. Start using it today:

It’s important to solve your data issues before you actually get into Data Studio. Doing so will save you time and help you figure out what you can present in your dashboard.

Let’s find out how to start working with Data Studio after all your data is ready.

How Data Studio works

Prepare the dataset

  1. Log in to Data Studio and navigate to the home screen.
data studio home screen
  1. Click + Create and add a data source:
    1. Choose your source and connector.
    2. Log in to your source account.
  2. Edit the dataset fields and metrics and add fields to your report.
editing data set fields

Create a dashboard from widgets

  1. Create a report and connect it with your dataset.
  2. Create basic charts, graphs, diagrams, etc.
  3. Add dimensions and metrics to track each of your visuals.
  4. Add calculated fields for metrics and KPI formulas.
  5. Think about filters for each chart or graph and add them if needed.
  6. Add time periods and dataset selection to make your reports interactive.

Customize

  1. Format your captions and titles.
format captions and titles in data studio
  1. Add brand features to your graphs and charts.
  2. Publish and share your dashboard.

Basically, that’s all. You may also add comparison metrics and running totals right inside Data Studio or use dimensions from Google Analytics to make your reporting more advanced. As the possibilities of Data Studio are quite numerous, you can get lost in the dozens of features and options. To move in the right direction, remember the aim of your dashboard and what essential knowledge you want to generate from each graph or diagram.

We’ve written a lot about the basics of setting up Data Studio. If that’s already too easy for you, you can read about automating reports in Google Data Studio.

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Build a new Data Studio dashboard or use an existing one?

That’s the question you have to decide for yourself, as there are always two methods:

  • You can spend time creating your own dashboard based on what you need with handpicked features.
  • You can use a ready dashboard and spend some time fitting it to your needs and aligning it with your dataset.

There’s no hope at all that a ready Data Studio dashboard will fit you perfectly. But still, reviewing prebuilt dashboards is a great way to find out what a perfect dashboard might look like. And it’s a source of inspiration, as we know for sure that data is beautiful.:)

Let’s get inspired with a few examples of dashboards for all sorts of marketing needs. We’ll also mention what you have to do to build such a dashboard yourself.

General marketing analytics dashboards

This general marketing overview in the form of a Data Studio dashboard should contain information your department desperately needs every day. And it has to mirror the data on how your marketing is doing at the current moment. Depending on the type of your business, you might need a dashboard like the Google Merchandise Store dashboard:

Google Merchandise Store dashboard

Or you might be interested in a more sophisticated dashboard like this OWOX BI Website Summary Template if you’re more concentrated on analyzing marketing channels:

OWOX BI Website Summary Template
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Website Summary Dashboard Template by OWOX BI

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In short, you need a lot of information here that’s directly connected with the main goals of your business and marketing. Even if you’re a big international company with thousands of offline stores and brand awareness KPIs for your online marketing activities, you should have such an analytical dashboard if you want to know how successful your efforts are.

What do you need to build this dashboard?

  • Basic level: Even with Google Analytics data alone, you can build a general marketing analytics dashboard.
  • Advanced level: Prepare a dataset with CRM and advertising cost data to capture the whole picture with the help of OWOX BI.
Start now for free

What kinds of widgets might you need to include in this dashboard?

You can find the whole list of widgets here and apply any you need. The best trick is to set up a date range comparison or micro bar charts that will add some dynamic views.

Here’s a small Google Data Studio template called KPI Snapshot by Amazee Metrics as a dessert for those marketers who can’t live without KPIs in their reports:

KPI Snapshot by Amazee Metrics

Website performance dashboards

How many errors are there on your website right now? How many broken pages are there and how do they affect the bounce rate? Does redirecting work right now?

A performance dashboard is concentrated on the technical side of your website and shows you if there are any troubles with your site’s performance. A typical performance dashboard in Google Data Studio contains information about:

  • the total number of sessions
  • the bounce rate
  • the top 10 landing pages
  • the page load speed for mobile/desktop
  • JavaScript errors
  • 404 errors.

This information is stored in Google Analytics so you can easily pull it from there. The following are a few examples of Google Data Studio website performance templates to help you choose the right widgets for your own dashboard.

Builtvisible — JavaScript Error Tracker

Builtvisible — JavaScript Error Tracker
Aro Digital Template
eCommerce Speed Dashboard by Canonicalized

This kind of dashboard is crucial after migrating your website, adding new tracking codes to it, or deploying new technologies. To get the situation under control and roll back changes if needed, you’d better use a performance report that will immediately show you the truth about your current marketing situation.

Paid search dashboards

The paid search dashboards in Google Data Studio are perhaps the most popular category of dashboards. PPC specialists who care about the results of their paid campaigns and managers who are allocating budgets visit these dashboards daily, weekly, and monthly.

By the way, have you checked out the latest PPC trends of 2020 to 2021?

Don’t miss them!

An efficient paid search dashboard has a couple of benefits compared to classic reporting in separate services:

  1. One tab is better than 10 — You have one report for all your campaigns with possibilities to segment and filter them.
  2. Building one general report is faster than building five separate reports. If you’re launching ads only in Google Ads, then maybe this doesn’t affect you so much. But when you add Facebook Ads, then add Bing or any other service, sorting through your avalanche of reports will take more time than decision-making. That time-consuming routine kills the
    motivation to be productive and creative, as reporting becomes a stumbling block.
  3. You can only answer your main question — Where should we increase our budgets? — by analyzing all your PPC channels together.

You’ll  have to add all sources of PPC advertising and Google Analytics data to the data set to get enough for a PPC dashboard. Think about this as preparation that will happen once, after which you can use the results till you get bored.

What special PPC features can you visualize in Data Studio?

  • KPI scorecards
  • Conversion-based tables with campaign names and keywords
  • Top advertising placements
  • Ratings for local actions — click type comparison
  • Auction insights plot chart, etc.

Your imagination is the limit. As well as your data skills. You may even create your own Google Data Studio YouTube template that will show you how efficient your paid advertising is via YouTube. Or just add YouTube as a page report in your all-in-one advertising dashboard alongside
Facebook Ads, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media analytics.

Try using OWOX BI to collect and blend data for reporting in Data Studio and save your time for more important tasks. We’ve left the link below:

Check out these great examples of pay-per-click advertising dashboards by talented marketers and analyzers:

Data Driven Template — Consolidated PPC Advertising

Data Driven Template — Consolidated PPC Advertising
PPC Dashboard by Data4Insights
Adwords — [Lead Generation] Data Studio Dashboard by One PPC

Aren’t they great? We hope your PPC dashboards will be even better.

Data Studio for agencies

This type of report can basically be the same as general overview reports but should contain a separate page for each client. It’s really useful when you can track all your clients on the same page of the dashboard.

Example of the Agency Pulse Report by Blueprint
Example of the Agency Pulse Report by Blueprint

Ecommerce reporting

A simple but useful ecommerce report in Data Studio is the best place for all top management of online retailers to live. These dashboards are concentrated on sales, so your Enhanced ecommerce setup should be perfect to show you reliable insights.

ecommerce dashboard
Detailed ecommerce dashboard based on Google Analytics data

An efficient ecommerce Data Studio dashboard should contain:

  • an overview of channels / generated revenue or other available ecommerce metrics
  • a bar chart with channel groupings and one of your general KPIs (generated revenue, for example)
  • a time series with ecommerce metric lines — add to cart, purchases, quantity, etc.
  • a map of purchases
  • a treemap for categories of goods depending on sales volumes
  • a scatter chart for those ecommerce metrics that didn’t fit in the previous graphs.

That’s huge! Aren’t your hands itching to try all these widgets? Let’s review some good Google Data Studio templates for inspiration:

Data Runs Deep — AABC

Data Runs Deep — AABC

By the way, don’t miss the OWOX interview with Damion Brown, the talented founder of Data Runs Deep. You’ll definitely enjoy the read!

Sales and Shopping Behavior dashboard

Content marketing dashboards

Content marketing is a gentle flower. A Data Studio dashboard is one of the best ways to understand what works and what fails in your content marketing. If you’re an online media company that totally depends on visitors, you should keep an eye on them to keep your business afloat.

Also, modern brands are using content marketing to cultivate brand awareness and are deeply interested in the success of their blogs.

Here are some examples of content marketing dashboards, after which you’ll find a list of widgets as a starter idea for your own Data Studio dashboard dedicated to content.

Blog Content Performance by Alberto Grande

Blog Content Performance by Alberto Grande
Google Analytics for Copywriters & Content Strategists

The number of widgets you need is up to you, but you should start with a simple set:

  • Measuring customer engagement: clicks on links, forms, scrolls, time spent on the page with landing pages applied as a dimension, etc.
  • Measuring brand visibility: time series graph with site impressions
  • Table with organic engagement filtered by channel
  • Landing page / goal completion table for simple lead generation checks

Great ideas for the beginning, don’t you think?

Rank tracking dashboard

For those who are familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), there’s no point explaining the need for a rank tracking dashboard. For the rest of our readers, here’s a brief review of the reasons for such a dashboard:

  • Explore your keyword queries
  • Control how your rankings develop with time
  • Mark anomalies in query rankings

This report might look simple, but it’s mighty:

Free Keyword Ranking Dashboard

Complete SEO report for marketing + local SEO + marketing dashboard

Offering everything from a traffic overview to search results performance and backlinks and ending with technical SEO and enhanced search engine results page (SERP) analysis, a complete SEO dashboard in Data Studio is a magic bullet for any digital business.

SEO template by SemRush

SEO template by SemRush

As a bonus, here’s an article comparing the accuracy of SEMrush and SimilarWeb.

Organic Traffic Template

As you can see, SEO provides nearly unlimited options for applying and customizing widgets. After adding your website data and search console data, we recommend adding your Google My Business account for marvelous local SEO and marketing dashboards such as this one:

local SEO and marketing dashboard

Let us know in the comments below if you need a separate article on building SEO dashboards.

And thanks for reading this far :) We’re happy to share our knowledge and reinvent marketing as a part of data science!

Dashing through the dashboard forest...

Data Studio is a great tool for modern marketers that despite a few limitations remains the most serious competitor to the paid versions of Tableau and Power BI. We hope we’ve at least scratched the surface when it comes to using Data Studio templates in your everyday practice. Save this article as a pocket encyclopedia on Data Studio dashboard templates and share it with your colleagues.

Let us know in the comments below what templates we’ve missed that you use in your everyday reporting with Data Studio.

FAQ

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  • How can I ensure data quality?

    You can ensure data quality by applying data quality standards at each stage of data collection, merging, and processing. The whole process is fully described in this OWOX BI guide.
  • How can I merge data properly?

    The best way to merge data from different sources is to apply native integrations or use specialized tools like OWOX BI. By merging data manually, you increase the chance of database errors and data loss.
  • How can I collect data correctly?

    It depends on your marketing goals, but you should try to follow the principles of avoiding sampling and collecting raw data. Following these rules will help you get a strong basis for future reporting.
  • How can I automate marketing reporting?

    The best way to automate reporting is to implement it as part of general marketing automation. To do that, you need to understand your general marketing goals and your strategy for reaching them, and you need to have a separate budget for automation tools.
  • What is the main role of reporting in marketing?

    Reporting is the final stage of measuring and estimating the impact of marketing on a business. Thanks to reporting, marketers can understand if their efforts were efficient, what errors appeared, and how they can avoid problems and improve their performance in the future. Correct reporting requires you to avoid limitations of Google Analytics to get true data in your results.