Understanding the Capabilities of Google Looker Studio

01.05.2023 7 Minutes

Combined with other tools, Google Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) has limitless potential when it comes to tracking and reporting on key metrics for marketing initiatives.

From reporting on Google Analytics data to keeping the pulse on the profitability of ad campaigns, Looker Studio is an effective tool for understanding and presenting key datapoints both internally for your marketing team and to key stakeholders higher in your organization.

However, the true capabilities of Looker Studio may not be apparent at first, leading some marketing teams to discount the service as ineffective or basic due to misunderstandings of how Looker Studio really works.

In this article, I’ll discuss a few of the capabilities of Looker Studio using sample reports from the Template Gallery as visual aids of the capabilities of the service.

Keep in mind, however, that this article merely shows the absolute basics of the service as an introduction to its usefulness for marketing teams.

In practice, it’s common for teams to combine multiple reports, datasets, and metrics into customized reports that directly target business KPIs to drive strategic growth and keep the pulse of marketing initiatives.

Basic Website Reporting with Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

The main use-case for Looker Studio is as a quick and easy way to create customizable reports you can show to key internal and external stakeholders.

For most marketers, this means displaying and summarizing important Google Analytics metrics in a way that supports marketing initiatives.

Google Looker Studio supports this mission by making it fast and easy to build out detailed charts, tables, and graphics using data sourced directly from your Google Analytics properties.

For example, the images below show a few basic sample reports generated using the Google Looker Studio Template Gallery:

These template reports, by themselves, can help answer several important questions you may have about your web traffic, including:

  • How are my website’s sessions trending over the past week/month/quarter?
  • Where are most of my website visitors coming from (organic/paid/social/etc.)?
  • What cities, regions, or countries is my website popular in?
  • Do my engagement metrics (session duration, engagement rate, sessions per user) show that my site is healthy and my content is effective?
  • What are the most popular pages on my website, and what do my users do on those pages?

However, these template reports are intended to be a starting point for building out more detailed visualizations, and don’t even scratch the surface of the level of detail available.

Put simply, the entire goal of using a tool such as Google Analytics is to collect information that can help drive strategic decisions for your business. Google Looker Studio can help you effectively organize and understand the relationships between these metrics in a way that makes them accessible to individuals without prior analytics experience.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Visualizations and Dashboards with Google Data Studio

Much like how Google Looker Studio integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics, you can create effective analytics reports using data from other sources as well.

In this vein of thought, another common use-case for Google Looker Studio is to report on how your website performs in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

By connecting your Looker Studio report with Google Search Console, you can track key search engine metrics such as impressions, clicks, click-through-rate (CTR), and average position for your site as a whole, for individual pages, and even for particular keywords (among other dimensions such as countries, devices, and dates).

In doing so, you can quickly establish and recognize patterns in your search data to inform how you can best spend your marketing resources on SEO tasks such as updating articles or improving metadata.

Google Search Console Report

This image shows a screenshot of the Google Search Console report present in the Looker Studio template library.

Track Profitability and Other Metrics with Google Ads Integration

One of Looker Studio’s most powerful capabilities is the ability to report on your Google Ads campaigns in a way that quickly and easily summarizing the spend and profitability of your advertising campaigns.

In fact, of the 56 Google Looker Studio reports available in the template gallery, 36 of them are specifically and solely used for grading Google Ads performance.

While the number of template reports present doesn’t directly correspond to any level of importance, it does show the relative importance Google places on connecting Google Ads to Google Looker Studio for reporting purposes.

Much like with the other reports, the flexibility Looker Studio’s flexibility makes it easy for your marketing team to drill down on the specifics of key metrics such as click through rates, conversion rates, and cost per click for your ad campaigns, both at a macro and account-wide level and at a more nuanced per-ad and per-campaign level.

Looker Studio Template Gallery

This image shows roughly half of the available Google Ads template reports in Looker Studio.

Advanced Reporting through CSV Exports and Google Sheets

By default, Google Looker Studio only natively connects to services such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Search Console.

While additional connectors exist, particularly for common data sources such as Facebook or LinkedIn analytics, these 3rd party solutions will often cost upwards of several hundred dollars per month to keep the data flowing.

For marketing teams that want to quickly and easily display key marketing data in a presentable way (and find the native tools either lacking or not the right fit), it’s important to know that Looker Studio can use Google Sheets files as data sources as well.

This means that any data you can import into a Google Sheet is fair game for your Google Looker Studio reports, opening up even more possibilities for customization and analysis.

For example, you could export your business’s LinkedIn post data using the Content Analytics page and then import this data into a separate Google Sheet. Doing so would have several benefits:

  • While LinkedIn currently has a limit of 365 days on data, exporting this information would permanently save it for future reports.
  • Any formulas you make using data from the exported report can be displayed as metrics in Google Looker Studio, meaning you can customize your reports to show not only the important information, but custom metrics such as Post Reach %, Engagement Rate, Amplification Rate, and more precise Click-Through Rate metrics.
  • You can hide, filter, or otherwise alter the data in any way you like, either through Google Sheets or Google Looker Studio, allowing you to focus on particular subsets of posts. This allows you to create graphs and tables for posts that use a particular hashtag, have different content types (images, videos, galleries), or any other subset of your social media posts you can imagine.

The potential of this strategy is limited only by your imagination, as proven by the numerous incredible Looker Studio templates present both in the Looker Studio Template Gallery and across the web.

As long as you have a data set that can be presented in a table format (i.e. is compatible with Google Sheets) you can use that data to populate the various tables, charts, and graphics present in Looker Studio.

In practice, this means that you can create stunning, actionable reports using almost any data points you want, from website form submissions and career page applications to internal datasets such as hit rate, marketing campaign ROI, and more.

Keep the pulse of the metrics that drive your business's growth

Google Looker Studio is a powerful and scalable tool for reporting on the marketing metrics that drive business growth.

From one-off dashboards you can use to keep the pulse on your business’s web traffic to creating more advanced monthly, quarterly, or annual reports, Looker Studio is a free, flexible, and helpful solution to almost all of the average marketing team’s reporting needs.

For this reason, it’s critical that modern marketer’s keep Looker Studio as a resource in their toolkit for performing data-focused analytics and marketing tasks.

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