17 September 15 -

Google Partners Masterclass 2015 event wrap up.

The Google Partners Masterclass is the conference Google holds for members of its Google Partners program. The conference covers the latest Google AdWords and Analytics updates, as well as useful digital marketing tips and techniques.

Mike and I attended the Melbourne event in August. I really enjoyed the 2014 event and was excited that I could attend again.

This year, Dave Booth, one of the co-founders of North American agency Cardinal Path, returned to share his vast knowledge in Google Adwords, Analytics and Digital Marketing. He was the main speaker of the day and so this wrap up predominantly covers off the takeaways of his presentation.

But first, a couple of highlights from Richard Flanagan, Head of Business Marketing at Google Australia and New Zealand. He presented before Dave and subsequently introduced him.

Mobile trends + micro-moments

Richard spoke about the latest mobile trends data Google monitors. We all know how important mobile is these days and Richard gave us some insights on Google’s findings. He also introduced us to some new concepts in the space.

Google researched millions of sites using Google Analytics from 2014–15. Here’s what they found:

  • A 20% increase in mobile sessions
  • An 18% decrease in time spent per mobile visit
  • A 29% increase in mobile conversion rates

The stats are interesting because they prove that more than ever people are using their mobiles to find what they want.

Richard presented a concept he calls ‘micro-moments’. This is the very moment that a user searches for something specific on their mobile device in the context of their situation.

One example Richard provided was of a student – let’s call him Neil. Neil was walking from his university class and noticed water had seeped into his bag. As soon as Neil arrived at his next class, he whipped out his phone and searched for a waterproof laptop cover. He found one at a local JB Hi-Fi store and picked it up on the way home. The micro-moment here is Neil using his phone to search for a laptop cover.

The takeaway is to make sure you understand the significance of these micro-moments and ensure your online experience caters for the user during these times. This includes capturing the search terms and providing a good experience. It could range from finding the product information to making it as easy as possible for them to find your store and buy your product.

Google Analytics Referral Spam

Back to Dave’s presentation, which provide some great insights and memorable moments.

Google Analytics Referral Spam is a huge pain point for anyone working with Google Analytics on a daily basis.

Referral spam traffic is essentially fake traffic from internet bots, those annoying programs that typically crawl web pages and complete repetitive tasks on the web. Referral spam bots fill your Google Analytics account with data that looks like traffic from external websites. This is a problem because the traffic isn’t from real people. You don’t want this. You want the most accurate data possible so you can draw actionable insights.

Dave went over some useful solutions that everyone with a Google Analytics account should consider implementing.

Remove referral spam

If you are new to the fight against referral spam, then you’ll want to start with this article by Ben Travis, a digital analyst from Viget. He explains what referral spam traffic is and what you can do to combat it.

Use the Spam Filter Insertion Tool

The Spam Filter Insertion Tool is a solution from Simo Ahava, a well-known Google Analytics and Tag Manager expert. Use the tool in conjunction with the above article by Ben Travis and with just a few clicks, it will help automate a lot of the work for you. I found this tip especially useful as I had spent a lot of time setting up and updating spam filters in the past. Find it here: Simo’s blog.

Eliminate dumb ghost referral traffic

This last solution was very interesting to me because it uses a different approach,  combining cookies and Google Tag Manager to determine who the real users of a website are. It helps filter out most of the ghost referral spam. This solution is by Sayf Sharif, a Web Analyst at Luna Metrics. His article explains the method.

Data-driven marketing

Dave presented on how marketers should be collecting and using data to help business owners and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) make informed marketing decisions. He went into a lot of depth and showed us how they do it at Cardinal Path.

As more data becomes available to us, companies are finding it harder to make sense of it all. Dave showed some interesting results from a study by The CMO Survey. The study was conducted with some of the top US marketers from Fortune 1000, Forbes Top 200 and so on.  The survey found only 29% of projects in these companies use marketing analytics. That’s crazy.


Dave explained that part of the reason is that marketers often report on the data they think is important, without actually tying those results to their business goals. It’s harder to find actionable insights when you are looking at metrics out of context.

Instead of reporting on metrics, such as bounce rate, cost per click or average positions, marketers should focus and report on the average customer value, revenue, costs and customer satisfaction. This data makes much more sense to a business owner and lends itself more greatly to making informed marketing decisions.

The customer lifecycle framework that Cardinal Path use essentially tracks all the steps a customer would go through when interacting with a business.

Customer Lifecycle Framework

  1. Attract: Get more people in the door and create better brand awareness.
  2. Engage: Provide everything users need and point visitors to relevant content.
  3. Convert: Capture more leads and phone calls.
  4. Retain: Increase repeated business and customer lifetime value.
  5. Advocate: Get happy customers talking about your business and gain more referral business.

Dave explained that marketers should define the goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that determine success for each of the steps. This was interesting to me because marketers generally report on these KPIs outside the context of the lifecycle. Doing it this way presented the same KPIs but within a clear framework of objectives and results, one that a business owner or CMO could relate to.

He suggested that companies should use customised dashboards and display reports of these KPIs and goals against the different steps of the customer lifecycle framework. Cardinal Path are doing some impressive work with their custom dashboard. It collects data from different sources and data points. This enables business owners and CMOs to analyse data for specific marketing goals, as opposed to the usual metrics with no context. The dashboard gives the user ‘freedom to analyse’ their marketing efforts and easily answer questions such as: “What’s the best channel to target different buyer types to get more online orders?”

Pricing and negotiation

The ‘Pricing and Negotiation’ session was an intriguing highlight of the day. Dave presented on a few topics about the psychology of pricing that were fascinating. Here are a few of the things he went through…


Anchoring is the human tendency to rely on the first piece of information they receive, which affects later perceptions and decisions. For example, you walk past the shopfront of a designer store and see a $7000 handbag, $2,000 handbag and a $399 handbag. The high prices are there to make the cheaper handbag seem more affordable, whereas if the $399 handbag was on its own it may itself be perceived as an expensive product.

The power of 9s

Adding a 9 to the end of a price make it seem lower. For example, $99.90 feels much lower than $100 even though there’s only a 10-cent difference. This difference can often be enough to influence one choice over another.


People sometimes get paralysed by too much choice. Just think of a restaurant with hundreds of options on the menu. People subconsciously seek guidance when presented with too much choice. Think about the last time you saw the words ‘most popular’, ‘recommended’ or ‘best value’ next a menu item at a restaurant or when signing up for an online subscription on a website. Chances are, you’ll choose the ‘recommended’ option.

Irrational decision making

One of the topics that resonated with me was research by behavioural economist, Dan Ariely. He discussed irrational decision-making and how people behave when given specific choices.

One example he used was from a study he conducted for a magazine subscription where the following options were given to students:

  1. A web-only subscription for $59
  2. A print-only subscription for $125
  3. A web + print subscription for $125

The clear option would be to choose option 3 – and most people did. Option 2 may appear useless, but in actual fact, when this option was not included the study found people chose option 1 instead. For more information on this fascinating, I highly recommend you watch the TED Talk by Dan Ariely.

Dave explained some ways marketers can use this behaviour to influence the choices customers make when presented by similar options for products. Yes it’s strategic, but it’s evidence and its marketing. The least you can do is use the data, run an experiment and track your results.

Lessons learned

The last topic of the day showed Dave sharing some useful advice collected from the co-founders of Cardinal Path.

Each of them got asked: “What are five things you’re glad you did, or wish you had done differently in business along the way?”

Each one of them provided a different perspective that I found both useful and inspiring.

Here are some notable quotes:

“Steer into conflict.” – Alex Langshur

This resonated with me because one of our values at August is to ‘be transparent’. In doing so, sometimes you need to discuss the ‘undiscussable’ to bring up issues that may be affecting you. While the conversation can be difficult, it’s an effective and open way to resolve issues early on. This is my take on Alex’s advice.

“Celebrate successes and have fun along the way.” – Dave Eckman

Enjoying what you do is important for both job satisfaction and company culture. Celebrating successes helps remind you why you are doing it all in the first place. It’s a simple piece of advice, but one that is easily forgotten in times of stress or worry.

“The most important deal can be the one you don’t make.” – Corey Koberg

I believe that one of the most important things you can do when working with clients is to make sure you’re aligned from the start. Sometimes, prospective clients will push for more while paying less, or they have different expectations of how a project will run. From experience, this can lead to undesirable situations in the long run. Corey’s advice is that sometimes it’s a better option to not accept the paycheck if you think it won’t work down the road.

“Know your long-term plan.” – John Hossack

This may seem like common sense, but don’t they say that common sense is a rare virtue? It’s definitely important to know where you want to be so you can plan how you’re going to get there.

“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.” – Dave Booth

Great advice in terms of personal growth. I would extend this to say learn as much as you can. Surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you or people you can learn from is a great way to push yourself further.


The Google Partners masterclass was a day of insightful information and great people. Dave Booth did a tremendous job in presenting and, as always, was hilarious while doing so.

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights:

  • Make sure you optimise your online experience for your users’ micro-moments:
  • Fix your referral spam in Google Analytics and make your data clean.
  • Use data-driven marketing to report on the right things and make it easy for your business owners and CMOs to understand the context of results.
  • Check out the work of Dan Ariely for some really fascinating research around irrational decision-making, pricing and negotiations.
  • Heed the words of wisdom from the founders of Cardinal Path.

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