About 8 months ago while working as a consultant for a big Web Analytics client, I stumbled upon Google’s Data Studio. Data Studio is a free product by Google, you see listed right along side Google Analytics and Adwords when you login. I know for many of us data is just boring. Well think again, because this tool disrupts things. Data is now amazingly easy to understand.
My last analytics client was using Coremetrics and they did not focus on Google Analytics. We gave up right way on Google’s Data Studio, because I figured Data Studio is one of those Google experimental products that is still in Beta and is not that usable. Boy was I wrong.
What is Data Studio?
Data Studio is a Visual Report builder that’s easy to use and easy to share graphic reports, especially with Google Analytics. Imagine nice looking pie charts, bar charts, line charts, maps, grids of data for marketing departments and execs to share and review with the click of a button.
Most important it will not waste too much time to configure and use.
And its probably the first product I have seen for graphics that competes effectively with Microsoft Excel.
Using Google’s Data Studio you will find for the very first time since you set up Google Analytics the information will finally make some sense!
You may be thinking why would I set up another third party visual report screen if I have Google Analytics?
Well, as I found out there are many, many reasons why Data Studio the add on for Google Analytics.
The first is, though I am a Google Analytics expert and hack for the past 10 years, most marketing and web managers are not Google Analytics hacks, so the less time they spend in there, the better!
The second is you can organize the data analytics in a way that is perfect for you or your team. Every business is different. Most people never open Google Analytics after they place it on their website.
Third, you can share this report screen easily with other team members. You can even interactively make changes to the charts in real-time.
So, What Google Data Studio Feature Is Killer Great?
Pie charts, bar charts, maps and other data is great stuff to help analyze Analytics, but there is one feature I found that is a killer feature!
That killer feature is the Report Filter of all things! Why, because it makes the report an interactive solution.
Once you have connected to a Data Source (Google Analytics), Dimension and Metric (what you would need to make a bar chart), it pretty much generates a usable bar chart on your Data Studio page in 2 clicks. From there you have to just choose the data.
Once you have your charts and the screens looking nice, then you can add a Filter, by clicking the Filter Icon and drawing a filter.
You can let your marketing department or clients easily view Google Analytics data By Gender or By Age or By Mobile vs. Desktop without logging into GA. And with Filters the Data Studio report becomes interactive!
You can then send your report off to the marketing team with little check boxes users can use to turn off or on segments and filter the information. Imagine they can easily switch between mobile and desktop views of the data. They can also change the date of the report to any date, last month, last 30 days or anything they want.
Why are Google Data Studio filters so amazingly important?
Visualization products like Tableau, that we have worked with in the past, took literally hours and hours to figure out. You needed training and classes! And you ended up spending time reading the manual online. You even pretty much needed to have a computer science degree for this, understand SQL, normalization and database theory. You need college for that! And I have all that, and I struggled with Tableau because it was not intuitive! Data Studio is extremely intuitive and easy.
Once you gained the knowledge to know how to create a Tableau report, it would then take hours and hours to figure out how to get all these filters in place (the little buttons on the side) to make the product interactive. Google’s Data Studio is so much easier!
And in order to work with Tableau and share this report they have all kinds of “barriers to sharing” like licensing (big bucks) and some of the sharing is not with their server product. This means licensed users would share a report with you than can not be updated. To get this month’s report they would have to email you a new file with the new data with tomorrow’s data in it! I am not just picking on Tableau here, because all the data visualization products pretty much work in a similar manner.
With Google’s Data Studio, your clients/customers or fellow marketing analysts are able to not just review, filter yesterday’s data today, instantly, but other people can also be enabled to make edits to the report.
And did I mention that Google Data Studio is FREE.
Interacting With Other Data Sources
But all I have been talking about in this article is Google Analytics. Believe it or not, Data Studio is now connecting to other stuff… Mysql for instance. And also their own data sheets (spreadsheets) in Google Drive. When Google connects this product with SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata and other datbases I think it’s lights out Tableau and competitors.
So, in the end Data Studio is a serious shot across the bow at Tableau and a dozen other data visualization companies out there. It is a total disruption technology and it is FREE and EASY.
Now The Truth And What I Have Left Out Of This Article
Obviously you can not simply attach Data Studio to Big Data and have instance reports. Databases and data structures have to be developed, and SQL Reporting is a lot more complicated than I have made it seem. You can’t run a tool like this unless you have data ready to be reported on. But almost all websites have Google Analytics at least!
And Data Studio only connects today to about 10 sources. Mysql is a good one to be able to connect to, but SQL Server, Oracle and Teradata are not present in that list yet. I say yet, because I believe that is the obvious next iteration. This will happen sometime soon. Data Studio will let you connect to other systems like Adwords and Double Click, which are Google systems.
I am just projecting that a major visualization and business intelligence tool will “inevitably” come out of Google’s Data Studio. Right now they are limiting people to 5 reports total per Google Account. That will change soon.
So if you are like me and a Google Analytics hack, work in online marketing or work with databases in business intelligence then you need to look at Data Studio carefully. If you need to analyze the data, then this is perfect for you.
If you have Google Analytics, a sizable website and would like some pointers with this product let me know. For a low cost I can throw something together for you like a dashboard and Google Analytics KPIs! I am also interested in seeing how it is being used by other companies. I am currently working in an eCommerce environment, so I see it being used one way specifically. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss it or get an opinion.
Now The Pitch
I almost always have a pitch at the end of an article I write. This week’s pitch is for South Florida based startups, venture capital, angels, mentors, small businesses and those who serve small business and startups in South Florida. We are running our 17th Tech Startup Pitch Event with Networking on Wednesday, January 25th starting at 6pm at Cendyn Spaces in Boca Raton, Florida. We are expecting between 75 and 100 attendees. We are also selling table space to startups and sponsors starting at $99 for half a table. The tables are set up and start at 5pm. Use this link to sign up on Meetup for our event.
This pitch event will have a winner chosen by our panel. The winner will go on to participate in Sup-X: The Startup Expo on March 6–7 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In addition, Cami Baker, an expert on how to Network and get great referrals (leads) will be speaking. Cami is running a free teleseminar on Tuesday Jan 17th as a pre-networking prep call to prep people in advance of the networking event. You don’t have to be in Florida to attend. Here is a link to that event to sign up:
You can learn more about Sup-X at http://sup-x.org.
Finally get on my email list to get more articles about startups and web analytics here:
Have a great week and we will see you at our next event.