Google Looker Marketing Agency Reporting

Google’s Looker Studio or previously known as Google Data Studio is a free tool for visualizing reports and dashboards. While it is free, if you are looking to automate your marketing data it may come at a cost to a third party connector. More and more agencies are switching from expensive tools such as PowerBI, Tableau or Marketing Intelligence Cloud (Formerly Datorama).

Why switch from other data visualization tools?

Some tools such as TapClicks, DashThis and Improvado are easy to use and specially designed for marketing agencies and teams in mind, they typically attract small to mid-size agencies. Datorama, PowerBI, Tableau and Domo are built for enterprise clients with large amounts of data and sophisticated clients. While all dashboards visualize data they are not all the same. They differ by the connectors they support, in other words some tools work with some platforms while others with other platforms. They also have different look to them, different functionality and AI functions. So why would you switch to Looker from these tools?

  1. Customization: Google’s DataStudio has full customization from colors, images, fonts and formulas you can use. It does not have limitations as other tools in terms of how you can display data what colors to use and so on.
  2. Map Functionality: powered by Google’s Map you can get pretty incredible map visualization which can be drilled down, the colors can be changed and can display it as a color or circle.
  3. Connectors: While visualization is customizable its connectors are limited. However, in recent years lots of solutions have come on the market from affordable PowerMyAnalytics to a robust enterprise solution These tools replicate the connectors found in more expensive BI tools.
  4. Cost: The cost of Google’s Looker is free, however, the connectors are not always. Unless it’s a csv file, SQL database or a Google product such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Sheets you get the point, it is not free and a third party tool is needed with cost ranging from $15 per month to $1,100+. It is still usually a fraction of what other tools use.
  5. Ease of Use: some data reports including HubSpot for example, can be challenging to configurate and impossible to modify. That is not the case with Google’s Data Studio. It does come with complexity to blend data and has limitations of how much data can be blended however, a marketing analytics firm specializing in DataStudio can help.

What kind of dashboards should your agency build?

Typically, we get asked to build marketing dashboards for marketing agencies clients. These reports including information on marketing performance such as spend, cost per click, clicks, conversions and cost per conversion. They report it by channel and overall. While this is pretty basic reporting, our marketing analytics agency goes a step forward. We believe in bringing value by blending/combining different data sources to provide full loop reporting, more on that below. Other dashboards include internal dashboards for team to efficiently run their budgets and are called pacing dashboards. Finally, we use dashboards to help agencies run their sales teams and provide insight for their team to monitor performance daily. See all the different types of reporting that marketing analytics company often gets asked to build:

  1. Client Facing Marketing Dashboard: These dashboards present a high level overview on their marketing activities ran by marketing agencies. A dashboard usually includes performance by channel with metrics such as media cost, impressions, clicks, engagement rates, conversions and cost per conversion and marketing return on ad spend. There are usually tables for campaigns and channels. Trend lines to account for seasonality. Month Over Month widgets to account for changes month to month or year to year. As well as pie charts to identify where the bulk of conversion are spent. Sometimes it comes with customized graphs such as maps of where clicks occur the most or tables with creative images to showcase which creatives perform the best.
  2. Full Loop Reporting: For those marketing agencies that have access to their client’s sales for B2B marketers, it is important to go beyond the lead. But rather see which leads make it to MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) and become clients. This way you can combine data from Salesforce, HubSpot, and other CRM to the source of lead and ultimate to the platforms that drove those leads. This will give marketing agencies information on what campaigns are working, what platforms, keywords, creatives drive the desired leads. This will remove the unknown of lead quality and will increase performance overtime.
  3. Pacing Marketing Dashboards: Pacing dashboards are a way to keep track of spend throughout the campaign’s lifetime or monthly spend. It will ensure you are not overspending or under spending your client’s budgets. By monitoring and projecting spend you can be on top of spend across different clients and campaigns without having to do it manually.
  4. Internal Marketing Agency Reports: Marketing agencies need to manage their own sales, team’s time and internal performance. Example of internal reports that marketing agencies may wish to have includes monitoring of performance by client, split by account manager, this will help directors identify clients which may have issues with performance before they lose the client. Marketing agencies can also report on internal sales, such as leads and revenue by client as well as time management. Identifying which clients cost the most time for their team can help with resource management and increased visibility which will lead to better efficiency down the line.
  5. Other Customized Marketing Reports: There are special circumstances for reporting different metrics that some clients may require or agencies themselves. For example, if marketing companies have app they are marketing, they may want to report on performance of app for the product development team. Or perhaps your client is a big tracking company that wants to keep track of all events in the industry and attendee lists. The good news is regardless of what data you are trying to present, as long as you have access to that data there is usually a solution with Data Studio that a marketing analytics consultant can implement.

Limitations of Google’s Looker Reporting:

While Google’s Looker Reporting has a lot of advantages there are a few limitations that can be overcome for expert Looker analysts. These limitations include:

  • Blending Data: Blending data in other words, combining different sources can be a complicated task which does not only require you to match different data sources but also has a limitation of only being able to match 5 sources. One solution is to use an expensive third party such as which will allow you to match different sources and will combine metrics such as cost, clicks, impressions into one field. Another solution is to hire a marketing analytics agency specializing in complex reporting on DataStudio.
  • Standardization of Campaigns: If you plan on matching campaigns from multiple sources you may need to standardize or rename those campaigns, so the names match between different platforms and GA4 as an example. You can solve this problem by using ‘Case When’ formula to re-classify them. This can be done in multiple ways by hard coding or renaming each campaign found or by automating that process if you have a standardized way of naming campaigns. Either way, this problem can be solved by creating a new field on each data source and then blending the data, your marketing analyst can help build it for you.
  • Connections: Depending on platforms you are running you may not find a connector even with third party connectors, especially offline sources. One way to solve for this is to use and email the report to that connector, but that comes at a high cost. The other solution is to use google sheet and update it manually. While we advise against manual updates, if the effort to update it is minimal and not frequent (in other words at least once a month or longer), and if it does not take long to update there may not be a need for automation.

Outsourcing Marketing Analytics

Marketing agencies may have a marketing analyst on staff, but they are typically busy with daily analysis or campaign optimizations. Hiring a marketing analytics agency can help with building and automating any analysis that is still done in Excel, can help migrate from more pricey or less efficient business intelligence tools and help identify opportunities for improvements.

Cost of building a dashboard

The cost of building a new dashboard depends on the complexity of the task, therefore it ranges. For example, for a pacing dashboard where the budget is set on the account level on a monthly basis the cost of such as dashboard will range from $500-$1,000. While, a complex fortune 500 food company where marketing is running campaigns on over 20 different platforms and where sales data is matched from IRI and eCommerce platforms such as Pacvue and Citrus ads the cost would start at $12,000 to $25,000. Most dashboards however, will fall between $1,000-$5,000 cost range, as typically DataStudio experts or BI consultants, are spending less time building and more time on the strategic side of reporting.

How to choose a marketing analytics agency?

There are many marketing agencies that offer marketing reporting, there are also AI companies that will automate your reporting for you, and then there are marketing freelancers that can help you build a few dashboards. However, the advantage of working with a company that specializes in marketing analytics dashboard automations, is that they typically cost the same as freelancers but provide bigger value. They will start with asking questions such as: why are you building this dashboard? What insights are you currently missing? Are there data gaps or campaign standardization that can help improve reporting? And the list goes on. By being a strategic partner you will get more out of your dashboards then just reporting on how much money you spent and how many clicks you got.

About StrategicDB

StrategicDB is a marketing analytics agency focusing on automating dashboards regardless of the tools you use. They work with marketing agencies which have clients in Fortune 500 list, with the hottest tech and medical start-ups as well as small local agencies. By starting with data first approach, they are able to identify issues and data gaps, standardize your data and focus on automation. The result is you have dashboards that stand out to your clients, they help drive performance and they add time to your team to focus on what they do create amazing campaigns and build client relations. Get a quote for your project today.