The rise of micro-moment: tiny moments, BIG impact

“Be quick, be there, be present.” That’s from Google, when they first coined “micro moments” in 2015. With the age of assistance, that’s exactly what marketers should do with micro-moments, offering fast and relevant answers meant for those spare moments when your target customers are actively looking for what you offer and the chance for conversion is high. 

Micro-moments are something we all experience, and it’s become the ubiquitous way we consume the internet on a daily basis — while in line at the supermarket, while waiting for our train, or Uber, or during a lull at work.  

How widespread it has become is the result of the evolution of our smart devices. You might even look up Amazon deals while waiting for soup to boil, either tapping on your smartphone, or making a voice request to Siri or Alexa. 

It’s vital for marketers to understand this phenomenon and how it can be leveraged for marketing strategies and tactics. 

Meeting consumer needs at every moment

The previous age of information just churned out information. Admittedly, people were in love with the new and improved Internet and its ability to give information. Wikipedia, Reddit and blogs were born because we loved information, and because it was “easy” for content creators to generate that information. 

This also meant we had predictable online sit-down sessions. We were physically, literally glued to our computer screens. For marketers, information was the first intake in the funnel: the consumer needed information, and marketers developed strategies and tactics to hook the audience with information and hopefully convert them while they’re hooked. 

It was the age of stories, of really magnetic content so that your target consumer doesn’t navigate away to another website. 

That’s history now. Gone. 

In recent years, our smartphones meant marketers lost their audience’s attention. News abounded about our diminishing attention spans. YouTube and Facebook had five-second ads. 

Consumer behavior and expectations have changed marketing forever. Every message, every ad, competes for your target audience’s attention. 

The age of assistance: only relevant content is visible

Today, the age of information has evolved to the age of assistance. Marketers only get attention by being absolutely relevant and helpful during short interactions when their audiences happen to be receptive to content — and these moments are small and fragmented. 

Thankfully, we also have richer, better data and tools for analyzing and using that data to anticipate consumer search intent, and design and deliver content around it. How well you answer to the micro-moments can define your marketing strategy’s success. 

Intent-rich moments and the new customer behaviors

The micro-moments according to Google are: 

  • I-Want-to-Know Moments – Customers want answers to questions on their minds.
  • I-Want-to-Go Moments – Customers want directions, maps and local search results, regardless of product information 
  • I-Want-to-Do Moments – Customers want practical, specific guides to specific tasks: cooking/recipes, projects/tutorials, tips, techniques, how-to videos or illustrations
  • I-Want-to-Buy Moments – Customers want to purchase and want the best deals and offers

All four correspond to three consumer behaviors that have emerged right along with the speed of information through smartphones, according to Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas. 

  • The “well-advised” consumer. They look for the “best.” This is how they make decisions. Mobile searches for “best” remains strong after increasing 80% in 2015 to 2017. 
  • The “right here” consumer. People expect personalized digital experiences– including their location at that moment. They look for recommendations “near me” and prefer mobile sites who customize messaging according to where they are, like “free delivery within Brooklyn.” 
  • The “right now” consumer. People rely on their smartphones to get things done in that moment, whether it’s a last-minute reservation or a purchase they’ve been mulling over all week. 

91% of smartphone users look up information while completing a task and consumers, on average, spend 4.7 hours a day on their phones. That’s a lot of micro-moments you can leverage for conversion.  

A fine example of a company using micro-moments and all three of the consumer behaviors right: The Red Roof Inn gets in front of customers whose flights were cancelled. 

  • The micro-moment: I-Want-To-Go: People with cancelled flights, now stranded and searching for accommodation
  • The consumer behaviors: Right here, right now, and well-advised 
  • The strategy: Innovative custom flight-tracking technology to process thousands of cancellation data in real time 
  • The marketing: Ads for “Flight cancelled?” and “Hotels near” specific airports
  • The result: 375% increase in conversion rates and 60% increase in reservations from organic traffic. The tool also won them several awards from The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Mobile Marketing Association (OMMA), U.S. Search Awards, and Digiday’s Sammy/Mobi Awards   

The micro-moment was “born” in 2015, so it can be considered a new technique, but as you’ll notice from Red Roof’s strategy, the idea is still founded on the very basics of marketing and business: see a need, fill a need. Understanding your customers and anticipating their needs. 

Micro-moments: see or predict a need, fill that need, get that customer

Micro-moments have a huge impact in conversions because 90% of consumers don’t care about brands or don’t have specific brands in mind when they begin looking things up online. 

Even when you don’t get conversions, micro-moments are big drivers of brand awareness. More than 50% of smartphone users discovered a brand or product while doing a search. 

As long as you’re in the right place at the right moment, you’ll get or connect to that customer. You can even take that customer away from your competitors: 1 out of 3 consumers purchased from another brand than the one they intended to because of content they got at the right moment! 

Size doesn’t matter: people searching for something you offer won’t necessarily care about your size in the market. They have a need, they want to meet it, and if you’re making it easy for them to understand that you can fill that need, then you stand a good chance of converting them. 

In traditional marketing, lead generation is about cultivating leads, but with micro-moments there’s big potential to deliver content/messaging to users at the moment they’re looking for it — as long as you position yourself well.  

Positioning yourself with micro-moments

Know who your users and customers are. Are they Baby Boomers who look for information more from their tablets and laptops, less on phones? Are they millennials who pretty much get everything from their phones? Or go deeper — are they busy professionals, regardless of age, who conduct searches while at home with Alexa, while cooking dinner?  

Target your users right when they’re looking for services or products you deliver. Find the sweet spot of your customers’ need for your services and products. Not everyone can create and launch a tool like Red Door Inn but you can still predict when your customers will need a service or product. 

People Googling repairs: it’s advisable to have a how-to, and it’s also an opportunity for product placement, since these customers could also be frustrated enough to be persuaded to get a good deal on a new product instead. That brings us to…

Do your research to understand what keywords your users are using to find information. Use data from existing tools and platforms on search volume, or survey your existing customers for information on their pain points to help you understand the language/vocabulary they use. While you’re at it, ask this important question: 

Figure out how people find you, both in terms of search queries, but also where they go on your site to get information, where they spend the most time, and the devices they’re using to get there. 

Asking that is always a good thing. You might discover something new. You might even discover black holes in your mobile presence. 

Make sure you provide a seamless omnichannel experience. You can’t even begin to leverage micro-moments if you’re not there in your target customers’ micro-moments. 

  • When they’re checking their SMS, they just might click the link to order if you’ve sent a friendly SMS reminder that their moisturizer had run out, based on data from your product beta tests. 
  • And if that link redirects them to your mobile site, how fast does it generate the right content for your customer to find what information she needs before, during, and after checkout? 

Meet your users where they are, right that second

Lead generation is always a challenge, but just as everything in this world is subject to change, so is how consumers behave when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Micro-moments are a prime example, so take advantage of this consumer behavior to meet your users halfway.

Dan Baird

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