6 advanced techniques to master in Google Data Studio

Google launched a new business intelligence tool called Data Studio in May 2016. It’s a really smart reporting tool for quickly creating powerful, stunning dashboards from multiple Google data sources.

It’s a great option for small/medium businesses already using Google tools, who want to build bespoke dashboards for that 40,000ft view of their business.

Google Data Studio Example Reports

Here are two example reports for a mid-size website (~500k pageviews a month).

Firstly, a mobile performance dashboard:

Data Studio Mobile Performance Dashboard

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Introduction to Google Data Studio: a free BI tool for small businesses

Regular readers will know of my enthusiasm for building dashboards, especially using Google apps (like this one or this how-to article).

So I was super excited in May of this year when Google launched Data Studio, a free data visualization and dashboard tool to compete against incumbent dashboard vendors Microsoft PowerBI, Tableau and Qlickview.

Here, I’m excited to share my initial impressions and show you some of the basics steps to build dashboard reports using this tool.

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Google Sheets Query function: Learn the most powerful function in Google Sheets

Have you heard of the Google Sheets query formula?

It allows you to use SQL (Structured Query Language, the code used to communicate with databases) style code to manipulate your data in Google Sheets and it’s super powerful. Arguably the most powerful function in Google Sheets.

Maybe you want to learn SQL, but don’t know where to start? You know it’s a super important data skill to master but it’s intimidating because you’ve never seen it before.

Well, here’s a first step you can take:

Try SQL out in a Google spreadsheet using the Google Sheets QUERY function – a familiar and easy environment!

(Note 1: There are a few minor differences which I explain in this tutorial.)

(Note 2: You may find you need to “straighten” the quotes in the formulas in this tutorial if you copy and paste them directly into your Google sheet, to avoid curly quotes which won’t work. You need straight quotes.)

Setting up your Google sheet

1. Go to this Google sheet containing the data we need.

2. Click into cell A1 and hit Ctrl + A (on PC) or Cmd + A (on Mac) to highlight the whole table.

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Building a dynamic dashboard for a 3-day digital flash sale

This time last year I worked with The Write Life during their three-day sale of The Writer’s Bundle, a collection of digital products for writers. I built a dynamic dashboard using Google spreadsheets so the team could visually monitor progress throughout the sale.

This year The Writer’s Bundle 2015 was bigger and better than ever, so I wanted to create an even more useful dashboard for the team. The dashboard was a key tool for the team, to monitor both overall and individual sales channel performance, as well as to be a motivating force by giving everyone a visual sense of progress.

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Creating a custom Google Analytics report in a Google spreadsheet

Continuing my recent infatuation with dashboards in Google spreadsheets, I’ve been playing around with the Google Analytics Add-on to build a custom web analytics dashboard in a Google spreadsheet.

The idea originated from discussions with my wife about the tedium of preparing month-end website performance reports for her content management clients. This dashboard was a solution to streamline the monthly web reporting and offer insights that might otherwise be missed. Rather than having to visit Google Analytics for each website in turn and click around gathering the necessary data, this pulls it all together in one place.

Dashboard in action
Dashboard in action

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Creating a dynamic dashboard in Google Spreadsheets to track sales for a digital product launch

Earlier this year I worked with The Write Life team to develop some behind-the-scenes sales data analysis during their 3-day digital bundle sale. The team wanted a simple way of gauging progress and seeing how the different sales channels fared as the sale took place.

The final dashboard I designed looked and worked like this (view the Google Sheet), and below I’ll show you how I created it:

Dashboard in action
Interactive sales dashboard in a Google spreadsheet

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