How to use Google Data Studio

A Step by Step Guide

If you work with data at your organization, you probably struggle with presenting the metrics that matter in a clear, concise, and visually appealing way. At Whole Whale, we face this battle every day. We love data, but we don’t love the look of cluttered Excel sheets. Although informative, Google Analytics’ default dashboards aren’t the best looking things we’ve ever seen.

Reports get even more complicated when combining data from multiple sources in one view. Want to analyze your AdWords and Facebook campaigns side by side? Good luck making it look pretty in a spreadsheet.

We’re here with good news – Google has developed a data visualization tool to create beautiful, shareable, and easy to assemble reports. Google Data Studio is part of the paid Google Analytics 360 Suite, which believe us, is no bargain. Luckily for fellow riders of the free GA train, the free version now offers (limited) access to Data Studio.

Data Studio makes it easy to load, present, and share data in customized reports. Visualizations include bar charts, pie charts, and time series, among others. Look at all that data! You can even customize fonts, colors, and logos to stay on brand – #whaledit.


One of the coolest Data Studio features is the ability to add multiple data sources to one report — mix and match Google Analytics, AdWords, and YouTube Analytics seamlessly. You can even upload your Facebook analytics data, as long as you put it in Google Sheets first. That’s right – any data you put in Google sheets can be uploaded to Data Studio too.

Reports are dynamic, meaning you can refresh data sources to get up to the minute data.

Data Studio has the same functionality as Google Docs and Sheets, so reports are viewable and editable for multiple users simultaneously. Sharing is a piece of cake, too. Just click ‘Share’, and copy the link to send to team members.



Enough talk! Time to dive into the wonderful world of Data Studio. Whole Whale even created a Google Data Studio Template for Nonprofits to help you get started. Make a copy of the template file, connect your org’s data sources, and you’re off! Don’t worry – we’ll help you navigate along the way.

After clicking the template link, accept Google’s terms and conditions and make a copy of the file in your own account.



The first step to creating a new report is connecting your data sources. Click on ‘Create New Data Source’ to navigate to the data source menu.



Our nonprofit template incorporates Google Analytics and AdWords data, so you’ll want to connect both. To connect Google Analytics, authorize access for Data Studio and choose the desired account, property, and view.


Click ‘Connect’ in the upper right hand corner to add the data source to your report.


Follow the same process to connect your AdWords data, click ‘Create Report’, and you’re ready to go.



Google will tell you ‘One or more of the Data Sources used in this Report is not attached’, which refers to the data sources we used to make the template. Don’t worry about this message – click ‘Maybe later’ and proceed to your report.

Once inside, the Properties Panel is where you can configure and customize your charts.


The Data tab is your control panel for changing data sources. Use the Style tab to experiment with fonts, color scheme, and display options.


Connecting Google Analytics and AdWords lets you see data from both sources side by side on the AdWords page.


Data Studio’s top menu bar is where you can find available chart options — customize your report here, changing existing charts or adding new ones to tell a story with your data.



This template is a great starter, but it only scratches the Data Studio surface. Remember, you can connect YouTube Analytics, MySQL, and DCM data directly, as well as any data that can be transferred to Google Sheets. You’re just a few clicks away from an all inclusive, easy to understand, customizable report to share with your team.

In our experience, the best way to learn Data Studio is by diving in and trying it. Google also offers great video tutorials to help you learn. We shared resource links throughout the template to help, too.

Questions about this template, or Data Studio in general? Tweet as @WholeWhale or send us a message here.