Are you currently up to ears with your monthly marketing reporting? For many digital marketers countless hours are spent every month putting together yearly reports for senior stakeholders. Marketing departments join forces and are collectively tasked with presenting results from previous months and years, discuss key successes and challenges, and often answer some hard questions.
For most people working in digital these reporting meetings – regardless whether they are weekly, monthly or annual – are an opportunity tell a story around performance so as to convince stakeholders that money has been well invested and that more should be spend in their respective channels.
The issue with conventional reporting: it’s time consuming
While business reviews are an opportunity to get buy-in from the right people and ensure funding are released for upcoming projects and campaigns, they can also be a source of frustration.
The reason for this frustration is that organizations often follow an outdated reporting procedures.
Secondly, and due to how data is prepared in Excel, there is an issue with version control and data handling.
Thirdly, when it finally comes down to compiling the data and create a report in, say MS PowerPoint, data from various sources need to come together into one presentation, then be styled and presented in a nice-looking, sensible way.
And, fourthly, static reports – even when containing a wealth of information – cannot answer all questions. This means that performance result always need to be read out by someone, someone who can answer questions on the fly.
Should we want to send out a report, questions will inevitably arise, which usually involves looking at new data or calculating numbers in new way. This, in turn, means more data crunching and report, and so on.
All of this takes time. A lot of time.
Here is a slide from a presentation I gave last year. Does this look familiar?
The solution to the problem
So what can we do if we want to put together reports that we can send out directly to colleagues, without having to be present to take questions?
The answer is … you guessed it: Google Data Studio
Data Studio can help you turn reporting from being a lengthy, tedious chose to a quick and easy task.
Having a streamlined reporting process not only saves you time but it also allows you to give your colleagues the right data at the right time. All data is live and should there be requests for more data or data presented in a different way, this can be done quickly by simple amending the existing report.
No need to crunch numbers again or put together additional PPTs. Easy!
Let’s look at what Data Studio is before we jump into what kind of reports one could create with this magnificent tool.
What is Google Data Studio
In Google’s own words “Google Data Studio (beta) turns your data into informative dashboards and reports that are easy to read, easy to share, and fully customizable”.
In my words “Google is a nifty little tool to make reporting easy”.
Seem simple? Well, it is.
Why Data Studio?
Well, for five simple reasons:
#1. It’s free
You only need a Google account and with it you get
- Unlimited reports
- Unlimited users
- 37 languages supported
- Available in 180+ countries
#2. It’s easy to use
- Highly customisable
- Calculated dimensions and metrics
#3. It saves you time
- Consolidates data: multiple reports, data sources & platforms – one dashboard
- Shared ownership
- Real-time collaboration
#4. It’s dynamic
- Many data filters, date pickers, and pagination options
- Using live data
- Access to data source not needed
#5. It’s sharable
- One live URL, embeddable on webpages, exportable to PDF
- Easily accessible for everyone
Anyone can get started with Google Data Studio. Building a report is beyond the scope of this article so I have written this guide to get you started.
Once you are up and running you may ask yourself: What data shall I include in my report?
Telling the right story
Before answering the above question you first need to understand what the metrics are that your colleagues and stakeholders would like to see. You need to identify what numbers they might be particularly interested in and highlight those.
If you do SEO, it may be safe to assume that you want to look at traffic, clicks, CTR, time on site, bouncerate, pages per session and your KPIs. These could be downloads or installs, etc., and might be defined and verified by your business intelligence units.
Whatever the data is, the key is to feature the right data in the right way so that anyone can get a feel for performance at a glance. Think of the 3-second rule and adapt your scorecards, graphs, pie chart accordingly.
Where is your data?
Once you know what data you need in your dashboard you have a few options.
One option is to first back up your data in Google Sheets and, second, to connect to the corresponding, default Google Sheet connector.
The last and third option is pulling the data directly into Data Studio using one of the many available Data Studio Connectors.
Needless to say, this simplifies reporting tremendously which is why using Data Studio has become my personal choice for reporting.
Building the report
Now that we know what data we want to use and how to connect to the data source, let’s build a simple report to highlight how quickly and easy it is to get started with building a nice-looking dashboard.
Step 1 – Create a new report
Visit https://datastudio.google.com/ and sign up (unless you already have a Google account). Click Start a new report
Step 2 – Create a new data source
At the bottom right corner, click “Create new data source”. This is where you connect to the source of the data.
Step 3 – Choose a connector and add to the report
We will use Google Analytics to begin with and, later on, you can go back and add Google Search Console as well. Follow the wizard to choose the right account of the website you would like to use and the correct GA view.
Step 4 – Drag and drop
Once the data is added you can find it in the right sidebar. Displaying data from that sidebar is as yeas as 1, 2, 3. Just choose a chart type from the top menu, click on the empty sheet below and drag to choose its size and position.
Step 5 – Modify the data
The Google Analytics default connector (as all connectors) comes with a number of pre-sets which can be amended at any time.
You can also make your own personalised metrics by editing each individual field. For instance, if you would like to see a percentage of a number or calculate a completely unique number, you can do see here.
Step 6 – Style the dashboard
This is where the real fun begins. The styling options are not huge but enough to make your dashboard unique and stand out.
Psst! For more advanced tips on making your Data Studio dashboard stand out, check out these 7 laws of UX and how they can be applied to your dashboard building.
Step 7 – Share it
Send an email out with a link to the dashboard, or save as PDF (click print and change destination)
Making your dashboard pop
Building a report that tells the right story can take some time but the available connectors, especially thanks to the ever-growing hub of community connectors, make it easier to put data together in a way that explains the true value of your digital marketing efforts.
Once you know what data you want to present and who the audience of your report is, you are in a good place to use the above tools and processes to build a performance dashboards that helps you not only with reporting but also to show the return of your digital marketing efforts.
An example of a dashboard
Here is a dashboard that I created for a website that I built and sold. It uses scorecards, tables and charts to highlight the trending performance.
Note the date picker at the top – this is what allows for one report to be ever green as users can choose which range to look at specifically.
Traffic report of busycitymum.com
Multi-channel reporting with Supermetrics Templates
The best thing about Supermetrics connectors is that you can add several data sources to one template to compare the data. Below I will tell about 3 free plug-and-play reporting templates which use metrics from several different platforms. To try out the template, just click the link (provided below) and follow the instructions in the header of the template.
Paid Channel Mix Template
With Supermetrics Ad Data + Google Analytics it is also very easy to combine ad networks’ data together with data from Google Analytics in one chart.
Facebook vs. AdWords Template
LinkedIn Ads + Google Analytics
Conventional reporting has always been difficult and time-consuming: you need to export data from multiple sources to combine it in Excel in order to create a presentation for your management. Nowadays a free tool, called Google Data Studio helps you solve this problem: creating reports there is as easy as a pie and you can use Supermetrics connectors to pull data from any source you want to instantly create shareable and interactive dashboards.
Make sure you try out Google Data Studio magic and check out Supermetrics for Data Studio template gallery.
This article was updated on June 6th 2019 and originally published on March 12th 2018.
About the author.
Manuel Martinez works with SEO and is an expert in iGaming and other highly-competitive industries. He is a keynote speaker, father of two and fan over all things digital.