How to create great reports in Looker Studio

With digital technologies integrated into every area of modern companies, more data can be accessed by business leaders. It’s not only more available, but essential. Around seven in 10 leading marketers say their decision-making is supported by data. This group are also nearly two times as likely to believe better business performance will be driven by open data access.

Yet sharing and communicating data insights to the wider team can be a challenge. Pulling in data from various sources, different levels of understanding amongst colleagues and creating clear, easily accessible reporting formats are just a few hurdles businesses need to clear. 

Google’s Looker Studio is designed to help resolve these issues. It’s also an invaluable tool for our team. This article will explain exactly what it is and how marketers can use it to boost their performance.

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What is Looker Studio?

Looker Studio is a data visualisation and insights tool. Designed by Google and previously called Data Studio, this platform pulls in data from connected sources so users can easily build custom report dashboards. A choice of templates, graph types and drag-and-drop usability makes it easy for insights and metrics to be clearly presented. 

Plus, once built, these reports can be easily shared with other colleagues directly from the platform. They can be embedded into web pages or intranets, making reports easier to distribute. Implementing the Looker Studio API also means data will be automatically updated, offering easy access to real-time information. 

The tool also encourages data collaboration. Widgets allow viewers to adjust or filter the data they see. Annotations can be added to the graphs as images, text or shapes. Granting edit access allows other team members to restructure the report. Embedded data sources mean all users need to do is click on the graph to access the original information.

Looker Studio Pro is the paid version of the reporting tool. This is great for enterprises looking to scale up their data reporting and sharing. The two key features this upgraded membership offers are team workspaces and links to Google Cloud projects. Both of these make collaborating on data reporting easier for colleagues.

Why use Looker Studio?

If you’re a marketer who wants to leverage the most value from your data, then Looker Studio is a great tool to use. The basic tool is free to use and makes it easier to: 

  • Build custom reports quickly with drag-and-drop editing tools and a library of templates
  • Feed in data from more than 800 sources, including automated and real-time updates via the API
  • Share information and insights with clickable data sources, embeddable widgets and interactive dashboards
  • Work on data visualisation and reporting projects with editable access, annotations and controls

In short, by signing up to the Looker Studio platform, marketers can start to access, understand and gain maximum value from their data.

How to use Looker Studio

The main benefit of using Looker Studio is that the tool is quick and easy to use. Within a few minutes, you can link up your business data platforms and create reports to share with your colleagues. 

Connect data sources

More than 1000 data sets from over 860 connectors can be accessed through the Google Looker platform. This includes information from BigQuery, Google Ads, Google Analytics and Google Marketing Platforms. 

To pull information into the platform, you need to link up to the relevant data source. This can be done as you’re building a report or before you start creating visualisations. Linking up to a data source directly from a report means it’s embedded into that single dashboard. Alternatively, connecting to a source from the home page means it can be reused across several reports. 

Either way, you can connect the Looker Studio to data sources using the following steps:

  • Head to the Add data to report panel and click Connect to data
  • Choose the connector you want to link to, this can be a Google product or a third party like Amazon or MySQL
  • Follow the authorisation process, including providing the relevant account details
  • This data source can then be managed from the properties panel or added to a report from the My data sources section

It is also possible to upload CSV data directly into the platform using the File upload data sources feature. 

Build data visualisations

Once you’ve connected data sources to your Looker Studio account, you can start to build out reports. This can be done by clicking the plus symbol at the top left of the studio’s home page or by selecting a prebuilt template from the top banner. This will open up the report editor tool. 

From here, you can: 

  • Pull in data by selecting specific sources via the Add data to report panel
  • Adjust the information that’s pulled in and the style of the graphic using the right-hand properties panel
  • Use the Add in chart tool to bring relevant graphics into the report and drag and drop properties directly into graphs
  • Depending on your needs, you can add controls to your graphs (using the Add a control feature) to allow users to filter or adjust the data they’re viewing
  • Once the report is complete, you can see it in full and set up access to its data sources through data credentials or view and edit mode controls

If you need to adjust your report later, this is easy to do. Just select the report from the home page and click the Edit your report function. 

Share data with the team

One of the main benefits of the Looker Studio platform is that it makes it easy for teams to access and collaborate on reports. To share a report with individual colleagues, users need to click on the sharing function at the top right of the report. 

Here, you can enter the email addresses of the people you want to share the report with and adjust their access settings. You may also need to give them access to the relevant data via the data sources function. 

You can give users view or edit levels of access. The former allows them to just see the report (using any enabled controls) while the latter means they can adjust the report themselves. 

You can use the automatic delivery function to make regular report sharing easier. This allows you to schedule the sending of PDF reports to specific individuals. These can include links back to your online report if required. 

If you have a Looker Studio Pro subscription, reports can be automatically delivered via Google Chat and reports can be worked on via team workspaces or Google Cloud projects. This allows data to be shared widely and reports to be collaborated on more easily.

How can data benefit your marketing?

In modern businesses, leveraging the most value from data is key to getting ahead of competitors in your marketing. It can do this by bringing the following advantages:

  • Making it easier to identify and track key performance metrics for campaigns or specific activities
  • Enhancing customer insights by allowing marketers to take an in-depth look at their demographics and behaviours
  • Enabling informed decision-making so you can solve problems, improve process efficiency or allocate budgets more effectively

By using tools like Google’s Looker Studio, you can start to get easier, quicker access to all your business data. This will help you to break down silos between departments, capture valuable insights and improve the return on your marketing investment. 

To learn more about how we can help you leverage your business data effectively and boost your marketing performance, get in touch with our expert team.

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