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30 June 2019

What is Google Data Studio?

Data Studio is a powerful tool for turning data into dashboards and reports. It's part of Google's Marketing Platform, a collection of products for advertising and analytics.

Who is Data Studio for?

Data Studio's enterprise success stories can look intimidating. But it's not a tool reserved for large companies. Even a one-person business can take advantage of it.

Your business generates data about its sales, traffic, expenses, goals, and more. If you have access to this data, you can likely connect it to Data Studio. From there, you can create powerful visualizations.

Google Data Studio is free and easy-to-use. You should be able to start and create your first dashboards, with no need to:

  • Write code or SQL queries
  • Think about infrastructure
  • Seek help from a team of data scientists

What are the benefits?

With Data Studio, you can:

  • Bring your data sources together in one place. Connect data from spreadsheets, analytics accounts, marketing tools, and more.
  • Transform raw data into meaningful business indicators.
  • Visualize your metrics on easy-to-understand dashboards and reports. Create dashboards to notice trends quicker and take decisions.
  • Share the results with your team to encourage data-driven decisions. Everyone sees the big picture, without having to log in many different tools.

A sample report based on Google Analytics data - Photo: Unsplash

Data Studio is still a young product. It was first introduced as a beta in 2016, and only came out of beta in September 2018.

If you're familiar with more established BI tools like Salesforce's Tableau or Microsoft's Power BI, you will find that some features are missing. But the frequent product updates are a good reason to believe in Data Studio's potential.

How does it works?

What you do in Data Studio revolves around 3 activities:

1- Connect

It's easy to connect data from Google products, like Analytics, Ads, Sheets, Search Console, Youtube Analytics, or BigQuery.

But that's not it! There are 140+ connectors giving access to 500+ other data sources:

These connectors let you work with non-Google metrics, for example:

  • The costs of your Facebook Ads campaigns
  • Organic search positions from SEMrush
  • The conversion rates of your Mailchimp campaigns
  • Your PayPal / Stripe transactions
  • Records in a Postgres / MySQL database
  • ...

Not every connector in this list is free. Many of them are provided by companies like Supermetrics, Funnel, Power My Analytics, or TapClicks. You can only use them if you have an active subscription with the company offering them.

Data Studio also lets you:

2- Visualize

Build reports by selecting charts and connecting them to your data sources. Organize charts by dragging them around. There is no need to write code.

Design your reports in "Edit" mode:

Switch to "View" mode to get the edition controls out of the way:

Data Studio also lets you:

3- Share

You can share your dashboards with other users, export them as PDFs, or embed them in your website. Reports can be sent periodically by email:

Data Studio also allows you to share:

How to get started with Data Studio?

Google has an excellent Introduction to Data Studio course. It's part of their Analytics Academy free online courses. Here is the video presenting the course: