Google Data Studio tutorial for beginners

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In this tutorial for beginners, we take a look at Google Data Studio – one of the most popular services for visualizing data – and show you step by step how to use it to build informative, understandable reports based on data from various sources.


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What is Google Data Studio and what is it for?

Google Data Studio is a service for creating interactive reports. It allows you to import data from different systems – AdWords, Attribution 360, BigQuery, Google Analytics, Google Sheets, YouTube Analytics – and visualize it in charts, tables, and diagrams, and monitor changes in real time.

The free version provides the ability to share reports with colleagues and clients, who can make changes if they’re given editing rights. In addition, there’s always the option to simply copy a finished report (if access is granted) and fill it with your own data. A special gallery has been created for this purpose, where you can find the most interesting Google Data Studio reports.

How to build your first report

Collect data

To optimize your work with Google Data Studio without complicating the process by adding multiple sources, you need to collect all your data beforehand in one place – for example, in Google BigQuery.

To collect all data from different services automatically and get rid of busy work, use OWOX BI Pipeline for best practices. It automatically uploads unsampled data to Google Analytics and helps you avoid inaccuracies. (When directly importing data from Google Analytics to Google Data Studio, for instance, you can run into limitations of the Google Analytics system itself.)

To configure cost data import to Google BigQuery using OWOX BI Pipeline, just select an advertising platform (Facebook, MyTarget, Bing Ads, Criteo, etc.) and provide access to it. In addition, you can use OWOX BI to add information from call tracking and CRM systems to BigQuery. Thanks to this, you’ll have the opportunity to compare costs and revenues as well as track important metrics for your business.

Collect data using OWOX BI

For the first two weeks, you can import data using all OWOX BI benefits for free to evaluate the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns using the ML Funnel Based attribution model and build dashboards in any visualization service that’s convenient for you, including Google Data Studio.

Once you’ve collected all your data in Google BigQuery, it’s time to move to the next part of the job.

Uploading data

1. In the main menu of Google Data Studio, select Data Sources.​

selecting data source

2. In the upper left corner of the screen, press the + button.

3. Select the desired connector – in our example, Google BigQuery.

4. Next, give Google BigQuery permission to access your data.​

granting access to GBQ

5. Select the desired project and account.​

selecting account in GBQ

6. In the upper right corner, click Connect.​All data will automatically be loaded to Google Data Studio.

Using the same procedure, you can work with other sources you need.

Create charts, graphs, and diagrams

Once you’ve linked your data in BigQuery, it’s time to build reports.
Data Studio provides 15 visual elements:

  • Time series
  • Bar chart
  • Pie chart
  • Table
  • Geographic map
  • Data profile
  • Scatter chart
  • Bar chart
  • Area chart
  • Text
  • Picture
  • Rectangle
  • Circle
  • Date range
  • Filters

Conventionally, all visual elements are divided into three groups:

  • Elements for visualizing
  • Design elements
  • Elements for filtering

To use these visual elements, you need to:

1. Click the Create Report button to go to the reporting page and free your analytical imagination.​

navigation in the reporting page

2. Add a visual element. Just indicate which element you want to add and select the area in which you want to add it.​

visual elements in Google Data Studio

For example, say you’ve selected a pie chart. Here’s what you can do with it:

  • Change the style (number of segments, color, background, borders, title of the chart, etc.)
  • Change / add parameters, indicators, sorting, and filters

The first bullet point is intuitive, but the second needs a little explaining.

Here’s what you can work with:

  • Parameters let report editors override default values in a source. You can select, for example, the Date Time parameter.
  • Indicators are numerical values – for example, Sessions, Revenue, Goals, Cost, or your own indicators.
  • There’s also a field with a filter. You can use it to recalculate indicators only for paid advertising by unchecking all sources, for example, leaving only paid advertising.

After completing all these steps and adjusting all these settings, you’ll get a visual dashboard. Here’s an example of one of these dashboards:

Google Data Studio report

How to build a complex report with OWOX BI

Google Data Studio is a service for only visualization. To automatically run more complex calculations and build dashboards based on them, we recommend using OWOX BI products.

Comfy, a leading multi-channel retailer of household appliances and electronics in Ukraine, used our ML funnel-based attribution model,OWOX BI Attribution, to evaluate the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns. This model has great benefits and allows you to measure the contribution of each session before the order in promoting the user through the funnel, taking into account offline sales.

To build a comprehensive report, you need to collect data in BigQuery tables:

Set up data import with OWOX BI

Next, you need to follow our simple step-by-step instructions for creating reports in OWOX BI Smart Data, where you’ll need to specify metrics and parameters, a report type, and a date range.

The final step is to export the completed report to Google Data Studio with one click.

Below are examples of reports built with OWOX BI.

Here you can see how user behavior differs depending on the product category and traffic source:

owox bi for data studio

On the next screen, you can see how the conversion is distributed depending on the type of page and traffic source (the list of sources can be adjusted using a filter):

report example in OWOX BI

Want to see more examples? Go to our article on Google Data Studio dashboard template by OWOX BI.

How to share a report with your team

The report is built, you’re happy, and you’d like to hear the opinions of your colleagues. Time to share it with your team.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. In the File menu, choose Open Access.
  2. In the upper right corner, click the Share button.

Choose whichever method you prefer.
Then add the emails of your colleagues and — voilà, the report is already in their inboxes.

If you still have questions about working with Google Data Studio, you can either watch our webinar in which we talk about this service in detail or ask your questions in the comments to this article.

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