Get Better Reports with Google Data Studio

Businesses run on data. The majority of business decisions rely on solid facts and numbers. In a world where almost all business actions and marketing efforts are digital, reporting is one of the best ways to get these facts and numbers to help business owners and digital marketers analyze their results.

Reporting and gathering data is especially challenging to marketers because it is difficult to find the best starting point with the amount of complex data out there. This is especially true if you are an agency that provides clients with analytical reports using Google Analytics or AdWords data, then creating charts and diagrams to make the data visual for the client. But there must be a way to make reporting better. Right?

Introducing Google Data Studio

Now thanks to Google Data Studio, there is a way to create reports that even your clients will understand easily. The idea behind Data Studio is to make reporting better for small and large businesses by turning boring data into informational, easy-to-understand reports using data visualization.

Google Data Studio is part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite, the paid version of Analytics, and is available in beta even for those that use the basic free version of Google Analytics. Beta-version users can create up to five custom reports and use all editing and sharing capabilities.

How it works?

Google Data Studio allows you to access all the data sources you need to understand how your business performs and to help you make better decisions. It works by syncing with all your Google data – Analytics, AdWords and more, and brings it all to one place easily by providing pre-built data connections. Moreover, you are not limited to using data only from your Google products, but you can even import Facebook data and use it in your reports, as long as you are using a Google Sheet document.  You can use any data you want if you can convert it to Google Sheets.

Once you import the raw data you can easily transform it into meaningful reports and dashboards by choosing from the vast array of calculated metrics and functions. To make things even better, the reports are dynamic, meaning once you update your data sources, it will also update in the reports where it is used. It’s up to you to choose how to present the data – in bar graphs, charts, line graphs and more. You can change the fonts and the colors, and even brand the reports with your logo. The reports and dashboards are shareable, and just like sharing a Google Doc or Sheet, you can grant people viewing access and/or allow them to edit the reports.  

Access and Use

Accessing Google Data Studio begins with logging into your Google Analytics account, here: https://www.google.com/analytics/data-studio which is the free ad limited version of Google Data Studio. As we mentioned above, in the free version you can create up to five custom reports.

After log in, will see the Reports tab in the Home page. Google has put several sample reports, and we suggest you open and explore each one of them to get acquainted with the look and feel of the reports, and learn the types of information you can use for creating your own reports.

The interface Data Studio uses is similar to Google Drive, so it will be familiar if you are a Google Drive user. As with many other Google products, creating a new report is very simple and straightforward – you can choose from the templates shown on top, or just click on the big blue plus-sign button at the bottom right-hand corner and open a blank report.

The templates are a great way to quickly create a report but sometimes include metrics you may not need. Blank reports on the other hand, are a great way to go through the features and options of the Data Studio on your own, and build a report that best fits your specifics.

 

Make the Most of Your Reports

Google Data Studio is a great tool that makes reporting easy and fun (OK, we’ll discuss fun another time). But if you don’t like creating and reading spreadsheets, then you will definitely enjoy Data Studio reports. In case this is the first time you’re using a reporting tool, Google has prepared informative and educational materials. Among the sample reports, there is a “Welcome to Data Studio!” tutorial that will give you a step-by-step walkthrough of Data Studio, as well as a YouTube video to teach you how to connect data sources and create your first report.

And if those still don’t help, and you feel like you are missing out on the good stuff and can’t figure out how to incorporate certain metrics, or how to stack them, feel free to contact us. We’d love to help you out with your digital marketing effort, such as SEO, PPC and social media.

 

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Checking StumbleUpon Referrals and Reviews to specific URLs

I was listening in on Office Hours on WebmasterRadio.fm today and the question came up of how to find the referrer URL from StumbleUpon to your site. When you look at Google Analytics the referrer shows up as refer.php or toolbar. This won’t take you to the page that refers to your URL, similar to how digg would do something like /movies/some-movie-specific-url. It is a little bit of a process to figuring this out and also keeping in mind that a large percentage of StumbleUpon users view new pages via the Stumble button. This will show you how to track the referrals from the StumbleUpon page linked to your URL.

Google Analytics shows you the base analytics data, but again, refer.php and toolbar

As mentioned, you can’t click through from the refer.php to view the actual reviewed page. That just takes you to a generic page that tells you your site is on StumbleUpon. Not much help is it?

If you want to check the page that links to you from StumbleUpon you are going to need to make sure that you have the StumbleUpon toolbar. If you don’t, download it and install it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll notice there is a little “comment” bubble, which takes you to a page to review a URL.

The Review Button is highlighted in red in the top of the image:

That will take you to the page with the StumbleUpon reviews to the URL that you want to track. Once you get there, you will notice your URL stringle after in the address bar:

StumbleUpon URL String:

You’ll also notice the title of the page, who submitted the page, stumbles, and reviews for the page you are tracking.

StumbleUpon Page with Reviews:

Again, thats where you are going to find anything that is tied to the page/URL you are attempting to track, but, you have to keep in mind that there are still users that view your site with the Stumble Button in the toolbar. That is basically how StumbleUpon works, you click the button, a new site comes up, and so on.

Stumble Toolbar button highlighted in red:

Remember: If you are trying to view the reviews/stumbles and page your URL is linked to from StumbleUpon, then click the review button, but, its important to note the toolbar clicks. Typically the way pages are browsed to via StumbleUpon is through the toolbar.

I hope this answers the question for the person that asked the question on Office Hours with Vanessa Fox. If not definitely leave a comment and we’ll figure it out from there! Also, If anyone has more detail or would like to add on to this, please leave a comment and I can even update the post, etc.

Some Notes from Twitter:
Matt Inman recommended Mint Website Analytics which tracks Viral / Linkbait
– Joost De Valk also has some Mint Peppers (Mint Plugins)

Measuring success in SEO and Social Media by determining ROI, Analytics, Metrics up front

When you are working at an organization that doesn’t have the right analytics, its painful. This also goes for working with clients that don’t have the money to buy an analytics package like Omniture or WebTrends. I’ve been through this on both sides of the organizational and the client side as well. (A couple times it was even my fault! Ooops, my bad! ? ). It is important to understand that not providing metrics and/or reporting or being able to measure certain aspects of your job and/or client work is going to have a negative effect on your overall performance.

Before starting any project you’re going to be working, whether it’s on the In-House or Client side of things, you need to know goals. The most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your “client” is going to be figuring out the goals of any project you are working on. Is it ranking for a certain number of keywords? working on Brand or Reputation Management type things, or increasing traffic by a certain percentage?

Once you have determined those goals, start by figuring out what types of analytics and metrics you will need to measure to be successful in your campaigns. Here is a list of the items necessary.

Analytics:
There is absolutely no excuse now at days for not having any sort of analytics packages to use. There are free solutions like Google Analytics that has everything all the way through Advanced Segmentation, etc. to Omniture with tons of click funnel reporting and more.

Important Metrics:
Now that you have analytics setup, you need to define the common metrics that you will be reporting on. If you’re goal is to drive traffic to a specific part of the site, then you should have a saved query or report that you can click on and get to quickly to perform that task.

Also, define other important metrics or metrics that you find valuable to the current role/climit
– Time spent on site (per LP)
– Click thru Rate
– Bounce Rate
– Keyword by Landing PAge
– etc.

Dashboards:
If possible, you should setup dashboards that give you an overview of the quick and dirty statistics that you need for the week/month/year. If these are also a click away or triggered by email, then you are golden. This is really not a “crucial” element, but a nice to have.

Subscriptions:
RSS and Email subscription can be important numbers that you are looking at, especially if one of your many goals is to increase engagement. Feedburner does a good job of tracking RSS subscriptions and you can use other web services or email providers to track email subscription.

Social, Brand, and Reputation Monitoring:
If you are doing any Social Media or Brand Marketing and/or Reputation Management type work, you are going to want to setup the right type of alerts to monitor the brand and or key terms around your brand. Three tools that I use consistently are Google Alerts, TweetBeep, and Trackur.

Trending Metrics:
When doing any news related work you are going to want to monitor and measure the trends in the industry. You can do this by monitoring and reporting on Google Insights data for high trafficked terms around a particular event, date, etc. Also, if you are doing something that is going to “create buzz” or a “trending topic” then you are going to want to monitor that carefuly and report on this by showing the ability to create something that went “hot.”

Reporting:
You and your client or group have definied success metrics as I mentioned above at this point. Also, you should have great metrics and dashboards that measure that data. Now that you have all of that, use it to your advantage by creating reports using charts and graphs that show off the progress and/or lack of progress.

Create a reporting template and provide analysis:
You should start by creating a template for tracking this data and provide some sort of analysis. Sometimes having the data/charts in Excel and only rolling the charts into a powerpoint are a great way to provide analysis and value to just a chart, graph, or list of numbers in a table.

I’ve learned had tons of experience of looking like an idiot or losing income by not having the appropriate metrics and reporting in place for clients and internally at a company. But, I can tell you that there are also organizations out there that flat out don’t have this in place or won’t be able to put this into place, and, well, you’ll just have to deal with it. But, when that situation arises, make sure that you are upfront and straight forward about that and the situation it will cause. If you have done that, it will usually ready the client for the type of things that you will use to measure success.