Building with Looker: what I learned during my internship
Sep 11, 2019
If there’s one thing I learned during my time at Looker, it’s that the Looker platform is really really cool. Being able to answer any business question with a few clicks of a button is a powerful ability, especially when everyone is enabled to do so.
Connor, our resident Looker Marketing Analytics Manager (and my mentor), knows our platform and how to leverage data with it exceptionally well. He's so knowledgeable that marketers often recruit him when they are building out their own explores or dashboards.
He realized that many of the marketing team’s data requests are similar. However, there wasn’t one single dashboard he could point folks to so they could find and use the metrics they were looking for.
My project was born to help solve this bottleneck and enable the marketing team to easily find and pull the metrics they needed—when they needed them.
There’s more to marketing than just SWOT
To kick off my project, I interviewed people within the Demand Generation team to learn more about their business and how each of their jobs impacted the marketing team and beyond. It was a great way to learn the ins and outs of marketing and how teams impact Looker as a whole. It was especially fun to learn how intricate the Marketing org is.
I took a Fundamentals of Marketing class at Cal Poly, but I didn’t realize just how much more I had to learn. I made a joke with Connor and Brenda, my manager, that there is way more to marketing than what I learned in school.
One of the main things I learned in that class was how to create a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. But my time at Looker taught me there is so much more to marketing than just SWOT analyses.
The beauty of the unknown was that it gave me so much room to learn and grow. I learned the different parts of the marketing funnel, how Marketing and Sales intertwine, and the marketing metrics used to measure all of this in Looker (which was the best part).
Did someone say HTML?
After conducting all the necessary interviews, it was time to get started on my dashboard. I began by compiling a list of all common data requests, such as the number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) in a quarter and Stage1 to Stage 2 opportunity conversions.
From there, I started to create Looker explores based on these common requests. As I was building them out, I would occasionally notice I had missed adding a filter and would have to go back and edit my work.
When I told my mentor about these instances and asked him how to check my work best, he replied “Do you see why we need your project? It’s not just you that’s missing a filter here and there.”
Hearing this was so comforting and made working on this project an even better learning experience. I began to realize that my project would have a huge impact once it was completed.
Once my explores were built and pre-filtered for common marketing metrics, I began working on the layout of the dashboard. One thing I definitely wanted to include was Text Tiles.
You can include anything—from a header for your dashboard to a button that links out to a website or explore—on a Text Tile. To make the most of Looker’s Text Tiles, I needed to format them using HTML. When creating a dashboard with Looker, you can insert a Text Tile and format it using HTML. The HTML will then display the written information on the dashboard.
Since I’ve only taken coding classes in school, I worked through learning HTML and getting the formatting right to display what I wanted. It took some trial and error, but referring to an internal Looker dashboard created to guide anyone diving into the world of Text Tiles helped a ton.
How to use the dashboard
So how will marketers at Looker use this dashboard?
Say you’re a new member of the Marketing team at Looker. In your role, you need to track how many Stage 1 opportunities convert to Stage 2 opportunities, but you’re still learning how to use Looker to find your answer. Or perhaps you know how to make an explore, but you’re not completely positive that the data you’re pulling is correct.
With this dashboard, you can read through, find exactly what you’re looking for, click on a button that takes you to an already created, pre-filtered explore, and then add that explore to your own dashboard. This will enable everyone—in marketing and beyond—to use this information to learn and build dashboards with the metrics they need.
What comes next?
The best (and possibly most exciting) thing about my project is that it can continue to be iterated on. While my dashboard specifically focuses on top of the funnel metrics, Looker lets you add middle and bottom of the funnel metrics or any other metrics you may need for successful data analysis.
Everyone, regardless of technical expertise, should feel empowered to build their own explores and dashboards. I’m proud that my project will enable folks to do just that. I hope that everyone will be able to make the most of their data with dashboards like the one I built.