In this age of information, the amount of data available to marketers can be daunting. Metrics are crucial to informing an effective business strategy, but it’s not easy to identify the most meaningful and insightful data, let alone convey its importance to firm leadership.

Many firm executives or decision makers either don’t understand website metrics, don’t see them as important, or simply don’t have the time to sift through a large amount of data or an extensive report. Marketers have the challenge of understanding and analyzing this mass of data and then presenting it in a way that will make their team care about and use the metrics to take action. That’s why it’s so important to present your data in a way that captures your audience’s attention, engages them, and is valuable to them.

Why metrics reports

As a digital marketer, you must also be an analyst. Tracking metrics is key to supporting and informing your growth strategy, so you need to understand what the data means and why it is relevant to your firm. Once you’ve made sense of the data and analyzed what is most insightful, your task is to present that information in a compelling and understandable way. Marketers often organize their website data in the form of monthly or quarterly metrics reports. This way, you can display your data in a story format with visual design and added notes that highlight the most important takeaways. However, putting together a report like this can be very time consuming. This is why Google provides a dashboard reporting product called Google Data Studio.

What is Google Data Studio?

The Google Marketing Platform includes Google Data Studio, which is a simple, user-friendly platform that produces visually appealing reports. You can choose Google Analytics or an outside data source (such as a PostgreSQL database or even a direct CSV file load) to create representations for the results of your marketing strategy. It is more powerful than Google Analytics’ dashboard reporting, as it does not restrict the number of pages you can create, and it allows you to blend data sources.

Here are some reasons Google Data Studio is a great tool for marketers:

1. Utilize the power of visualization

Visualizing data makes digesting statistics and KPIs much easier. Those reading your report can get lost in the numbers and percentages; turning that data into graphs, charts, tables and other visualizations gives more direction—where to focus your attention and where to take action. Graphs and charts with pre-defined labels are much easier to understand than the over-crowded interface of Google Analytics or an endless Excel spreadsheet. And by using visual hierarchy in your design, you can highlight what insights are the most important and actionable.

2. Storytelling with data

A study conducted by Stanford professor Chip Heath found that 63% of people could remember stories, but only 5% could remember a single statistic. Putting your metrics in a report format helps you tell a story with your data, which makes it more memorable and more persuasive. Each month’s or quarter’s report should tell a different story. Look for outliers and trends and answer the questions: What happened this month? Why? What caused it? What should we do next? Use your Google Data Studio report to narrate this story arc.

3. Evoke emotional responses

Presenting key metrics through visuals and narrative can produce emotional reactions and spark action. Your team will feel more confident if the data indicates that your marketing strategies are working, and data that shows a decline or lack of growth will illicit urgency and highlight where you need to refine your strategy. It’s important to note that when creating reports, you should show all relevant data. Don’t simply display vanity metrics and statistics that make your firm feel good about itself. Metrics are an invaluable tool—trends in data, whether positive or negative, guide your strategy and help identify how to improve your marketing.

4. Adopt a more efficient process

Google Data Studio provides an opportunity to automate reports, increasing efficiency for your marketing team and saving you a lot of time. Once you create a report template and set up the relevant data sources, all you have to do is update date ranges and custom text for each monthly or quarterly report going forward. As long as you do this each time, you will always be reporting up-to-date statistics. Because this saves you the time of manually gathering, sorting, and entering your data, it gives you more time to actually analyze the metrics and add in notes or designs that help the key points stand out.

5. See all your data sources in one place

In your reports, you can connect and blend different data sources. Data Studio can pull from almost all Google properties, such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Sheets, Google Search Console, and YouTube Analytics. You can also pull information from a variety of different data sources that are not Google products to support the many ways you likely track your marketing efforts. There are tools that pull social media data, CMS data, SQL database data, and hundreds of other sources. It is easier to use Google products as they are just plug and play, but the wide support of sources allows for flexibility. You can read about which sources are supported here. It’s a great way to aggregate the data from all of your different platforms into one report to tell a complete story.

6. Anyone can design a report

You don’t need design experience to become effective at creating captivating reports in Google Data Studio. You can choose preset templates or create custom themes for your reports, including company logos, colors, fonts, and headers. Graphs and charts are available at the click of a button – you just have to change which metrics and date range they display. You can go into more complex reporting by developing custom segments, making calculated fields, and blending data, but creating meaningful reports can be extremely simple.

7. It’s free!

There are many competitors on the market for visualizing data, but Google Data Studio is an exceptional, professional option that costs you nothing extra. Google also offers a number of free tutorials and resources to help with the learning process. With how easy it is to learn, it is comparable to common presentation tools such as PowerPoint and Keynote, but its advanced data analysis capabilities set it apart for marketers.

8. Visualize and track growth

Creating reports over time will document growth. It will help you understand if you are meeting your goals or matching client expectations, and also identify where you need to increase or adjust your efforts. Looking back on previous reports will show how your performance changes month-to-month, and it’s even more effective to visually add that side-by-side comparison into reports. Google Data Studio has built in date range comparisons for some of the graphics they provide, which can help automate this process. As you present your metrics reports to firm leadership, highlighting areas of growth in this way can help you continue to get buy-in and support for your marketing efforts. 

Let the report speak for itself

Most decision makers in your firm won’t have the time to sit down with you every month to listen to you present a report and explain what everything means. A metrics report needs to speak for itself, and it’s important that anyone reading it can understand its insights, as well as get the key takeaways right away. With Google Data Studio, you can present all of this information in an easy-to-understand way and a format that’s easy to interact with. You also can add notes throughout your report to quickly draw attention to and explain the key points. Reporting can be time-consuming and having the ability to quickly create (or even automate) quality reports is necessary in today’s agile environment. Google Data Studio can save both you and your firm’s executives time, and it enables you to create analytics reports that people will actually read and find useful.