Are you looking to grow the online presence of your small business? Administrative tasks are typically not fun or easy. Especially if it means that you have to pull information from different platforms and compile them into a single report that is easy to understand. 

How much time have you spent on things like reformatting tables and graphs just to make them appeal to the end-user? Google Data Studio is a free tool that aims to make data visualization easier and more appealing so that you can spend less time compiling data and more time growing your business.

In this article we will be paying special attention to the following topics:

  • What Google Data Studio is and why businesses need it.
  • Integrating the analytics platform with your website.
  • How Google Data Studio can inform business decisions.
  • How to use reports to gain insights and get results.
  • Advanced ways to use Data Studio.
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid them.

What is Google Data Studio?

Google Data Studio is a free-to-use tool from Google that provides data visualization. With Data Studio, you can pull information from different platforms into a single report and then present it with various graphs, tables, and charts.

One of the best parts is that as soon as Data Studio has been set up and the reports and dashboards are created, the information will update automatically. This means that you don’t need to spend endless hours updating the reports and can instead spend time on other aspects of your business. 

Data Studio can be connected to many different platforms using built-in connectors. These platforms include Google Analytics, Google Ads, Search Console, Youtube Analytics, and more. There are also third-party connectors that enable you to connect to Facebook Ads, Campaign Monitor, and LinkedIn. However, these may require a monthly subscription.

Once you have connected Data Studio to the sources relevant for your business, you can simply create dashboards by dragging and dropping the features you want in the report onto the appropriate dashboard. This includes graphs, tables, charts, text boxes, and images. Anything you need to represent your information visually.

Like most of Google’s products, Data Studio is cloud-based. This makes it easy to avoid any losses and makes it easy to share with other team members and even clients when you need to.

Why is Google Data Studio critical for businesses?

No doubt you have already started growing your online presence through social media platforms and a website. All of these different platforms generate valuable information for your business. However, if you ignore the data, you may be missing critical pieces of information that will keep your business back. Here’s why Google Data Studio is a must-have tool for your small business.

Automated solution

Accessing all the data from all digital platforms and then analyzing it to see where improvements are needed and what is working, can be highly time-consuming. Small businesses don’t have the time to extract and analyze this information manually, leading to potential information being missed. 

That is where Data Studio comes to the rescue. By using Data Studio, it makes your data easily accessible. Once set up, you can access all the information from one platform instead of extracting information from each platform individually.

Saves time

Another benefit that Data Studio has is that it saves time and requires less manual input. Although setting up Data Studio may require some initial time investment to get it set up, once it has been set up, it will save you valuable hours. Instead, you can set up Data Studio and the program will do the work for you automatically, and best of all, it will keep the information updated.

Free to use

Data Studio is a free program. Nothing breaks the spirit of small business owners than having to look at all these amazing programs that make life so much easier, but knowing you can’t afford them yet. Well, Data Studio offers all the visual reporting and automation for free. So not only are you saving time and effort but money as well.

How to start using Google Data Studio?

Google Data Studio is relatively easy to set up and doesn’t require a professional to set up. It has a very intuitive design that is very similar to Google Analytics. So, if you’ve worked with Google Analytics before, you’ll feel right at home with Data Studio. 

To make Data Studio approachable, Google has populated it with many templates that you can use until you get the hang of things. Also, Google has made many online training videos available to guide beginners through the entire process of setting up Data Studio and various reports. However, if you get stuck, there are companies that offer support services to assist you.

To start using Data Studio, you will need to “Create an Account” on the program, using your Google Account. This will be the same account you use to log in to Google Analytics and other Google products. Once you have created an account, you should run through the “Tutorial” to learn how to set up your first reports and link accounts. It’s important to note that you need access and high-level permissions on the platforms you want to link to Data Studio. 

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How to use Google Data Studio to inform business decisions

With Google Data Studio being a Business Intelligence (BI) tool, it transforms raw data into strategic information for businesses. This information can be precious as it can help businesses make informed decisions regarding various aspects of their business, such as: 

User Acquisition Data Report

A user acquisition report is a handy tool to track and analyze the performance of your different paid-for ad campaigns. The information sourced from this can be valuable in helping you see which ads do well and work for your audience and which ads are not performing. This means you can focus more on the type of ads that work for your business rather than spending your budget on those that aren’t performing.

Target high-traffic channels

By extracting data from all your paid ad channels and adding them to a Google Data Studio report, you can clearly see which channels produce the most traffic to your ads. This data can then be used to ensure that you target these channels more efficiently in future marketing campaigns.

SEO optimization

We all know how important SEO is for businesses’ search rankings. However, SEO analytics are equally important. By connecting your Google Data Studio to analytic tools such as Google Analytics, you can start monitoring keywords and how well they are doing. 

It is vital to constantly monitor and collect data pertinent to getting engaged organic traffic. Having this data visually presented can help your company act on the information to grow the engaged organic traffic. Having a good SEO analytic tool will help a business to be aware of what’s going on, find gaps and opportunities, and act on the information presented to grow organic traffic to your website.

Constant monitoring is critical as search engine results pages (SERPs) change quickly. Google is constantly updating its algorithms, so having the data updated automatically through Google Data Studio will show you when changes occur to act on them.

Audience Data Report

Knowing who your audience is made up of is crucial to your marketing efforts. The more data you can gather on the users that interact with your content, the more information you get and group users together based on specific attributes. This can help you decide what the best form of marketing will be for each group to create more targeted marketing campaigns. The same goes for device targeting. 

Targeting the right audience

Google Data Studio can help to analyze and report on the attributes of your audience from the data they extract from your Google Analytics and other sources. The only way to start targeting your audience is through data. The more information you have on your audience, the more specific you can target them with your ad campaigns. Targeted ad campaigns also have a much higher return on investment (ROI). A recent report by Hubspot, Litmus, and Wistia in 2020 revealed that audience targeting and ad placement are the criteria that help marketers to drive more demand. 

Device targeting

The same goes for device targeting. Your Google Analytics can show from which devices your audience is viewing and interacting with your content. Once you have this information, you can analyze which platforms are most profitable for your business. This means you can adjust your budget to target those devices that do well. 

User flow

The user flow is an exceptionally important report for any business trying to grow its online presence. This report tracks the paths users took through your site in a visual manner. By using Google Data Studio, you can follow the path of your clients and identify where you lose them. This information can then be used to make improvements to keep the clients moving and eventually converting.

Advanced Google Data Studio tactics

Google Data Studio has many templates that are ideal for beginners who are starting to work with their information. These templates require you to plug in your data from your platforms, and they can then visually present the information in a way that is easy to understand. However, there may be times when you need to create a report for specific needs or use more advanced tools to achieve the results you need.

Real-time reports

Google Data Studio is cloud-based and automatically updates the data from your chosen platforms. This means that when you access a specific report, the data shown will be the latest data available. This is very useful for small businesses as it allows you to work from the most relevant information and make decisions based on current information. All of this is possible without spending person-hours on extracting the information from the platforms manually.

Segmentation

When analyzing data, it may be necessary to segment certain forms of information in order to get a clearer picture of what is really going on. Google Data Studio allows you to segment your data into different dashboards and reports so that you can easily analyze only the information you want at the time. The dashboards can be used similarly to Google Analytics to slice data and give a quick top-line analysis. On the other hand, reports show the latest real-time results according to the segment chosen.

Setting goals

You can also use Google Data Studio to set and track goals. In order to do this, you simply create a scorecard within Data Studio. Then you plug in the comparison metric you want to track from the relevant platform such as Google Analytics. Then you create a new field with the metric to calculate the comparison metric divided by your set goal. Now this will track how far you are from achieving your goal in real-time.

Common Google Data Studio mistakes to avoid

We have also compiled a list of some mistakes to avoid when using Google Data Studio.

Take your time

Don’t think that you will open Data Studio and immediately have access to all your data and the reports you want right from the start. It does take a bit of setup to connect all of your different sources and get used to how the program works and start setting up reports. We recommend following the Tutorial and using the training videos provided to help give you a boost.

Not budgeting for professional help

Suppose you don’t feel you have the time to learn the tool and get everything set up just right. It would be best to set aside some of your budgets to hire professionals to assist you.

Not being specific enough

Try to limit your reports and have each report answer one business question or problem. Doing this will keep the data clearer and much easier to understand in the presentation.

Not having an action focus

Make sure that you choose only the data that will actually bring value to your business. All the functions in Data Studio can be overwhelming, and you may be tempted to try and use all the different charts with all the data available to you. However, suppose the data is not going to be able to provide you with insight on how to improve your online presence or provide you with other information to take action from. 

Visualize your data

Google Data Studio is a great free tool that helps you present the data from your various analytic platforms in one spot so that they can be analyzed. Having this data available in a visual format in real-time means that you can make better decisions to grow the online presence of your business.

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AvatarDenis Zakharych

Denis Zakharych is the Founder and Managing Partner at Viden. A Google and Facebook certified expert, with over 8 years of experience in digital advertising and analytics, now looking to share his knowledge to help brands grow.