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This run-down of “micro-moments” from Google puts an interesting name on the small, key experiences users have when they seek to fulfill a need in the moment. With the addition of mobile devices and increased connectivity, users now have hundreds and hundreds of these micro-moments. It’s no wonder many brands are struggling to determine how to identify the micro-moments most relevant to them, and how to adjust their marketing practices to incorporate these micro-moments.
So what are they? Here’s Google’s definition:
“Micro-moment: An intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need—to know, go, do, or buy.”
TL:DR - They are SMALL interactions that can have a BIG impact on user experience and purchase decisions.
Google does a great job of telling us what they are and why they’re important, but we wanted to add our point of view, including a little more color on why and how to take advantage of those moments.
Micro-moments are crucial for brands who want to meet the needs of their users at times when those users are giving off strong intent signals. When your users/consumers have a problem, your brand needs to be there as the solution. When they’re searching for something you offer, your brand needs to show that it has the most attractive, easiest-to-find offering.
For brands, the beauty of marketing to micro-moments is that your assets can be more specific to their needs. Rather than casting a wide net that you hope will catch your customers at the right time, you’re honing in with the right kind of bait and hooking them at the right time.
Why are they so important to users/consumers? Moments like these can make or break a user’s experience and relationship with a brand. These moments can either convert or deter a user, and they can influence a user’s perception of that brand or business — for better or worse. But there’s also a catch: It’s not just enough to be in the right place at the right time. You also need the right content. When users can ignore your messaging with a simple swipe or click, your content also needs to be enticing and relevant to that user.
We asked other experts at Authentic for perspective on micro-moments. Here’s what they had to say:
Kristen (our UX Strategist) & Brad (our Strategy Lead):
In a full-fledged user or purchase journey, there is an awareness stage. The awareness stage is where the customer has traditionally connected their need or use case with a solution or product that can fulfill that need — where they have become aware of a service. But if you think about it, micro-moments are a breakdown of different types of use cases that initiate user journeys regardless of awareness. It's the kinetic energy that is built up to put the user journey in motion, and awareness of a service or product might only be as good as its relevance to the context of a given micro-moment.
Think about a business traveller who searches for “cold brew coffee near me” in Oakland, CA. A brand like Starbucks might be ready to pounce with a search ad that resurfaces something the user is already aware of (e.g., “Delicious iced coffee at Starbucks / .2 miles away”). But what if a challenger could shorten the journey, and push the user from awareness to consideration to purchase within minutes or seconds? For example, “cold brew coffee in Oakland, CA” = Photo-rich optimized Google Business Listing with “Award-winning New Orleans-style cold brew coffee at Blue Bottle / .2 miles away”. If the user is really loyal to Starbucks — or simply wants to stick with what they know — then Starbucks will win that purchase. But Blue Bottle looks pretty attractive (e.g., “Ooooh. What is New Orleans-style? Must be good.”) Blue Bottle has a chance to beat the juggernaut here just by being smart about how it meets the intent of this type of micro-moment.
We can also use micro-moments to more closely define and personalize touchpoints. For instance, with a client of ours that made chemicals for swimming pools, we knew that a micro-moment was something like this: "I have a problem in my pool that I want to identify and fix." They pull out their phone to research the problem. Were they going to search for "Pool Oxidation"? Probably not, but that was what the section of the website was originally called. However, they might search using phrases like, "Cloudy water," or "My water is cloudy," (which we found out by connecting with the customer service reps to find out what users really said when they called for help identifying a problem). Knowing that, we renamed those troubleshooting sections with those phrases and altered the SEO. So a customer searching would likely find the newly named “FIX” section where they could see a photo of the problem, and this would initiate the customer journey to buying our client’s product that would ultimately solve their problem.
Both of these examples show the importance of doing some homework to understand how and when current or potential customers might be giving off intent signals, and what they might be looking for when they’re in these micro-moments.
Wes (our BA/QA/Data Lead):
In the context of websites and apps, aren’t micro-moments just a catchy way to explain what LeanUX, data junkies, and user researchers have been evangelizing for the past couple years? Figure out what specific use cases your customers come to your website or app for, then make those paths quick and easy, so that customers will actually enjoy the user experience enough to explore what else your product or brand has to offer.
How do you figure this out? Endless books and webinars will tell you to check your web and app analytics for top page or feature usage, heatmap your user screens, survey your customers, run user testing, and research your competitors. This is true and those methods are important, but the resulting insights may only unveil what your customers think they need and how users have learned (read: been forced) to do what they need to do. This addresses a lot of “How” before actually addressing “What.”
What’s the underlying problem the user wants to solve in the moment? Figure the What out, and then the How may be the simplest solution. As a brand or product owner, do you have access to customer complaints? Have you looked at path analytics to determine if users are running in circles through you website or app? Are your users using Google to find specific content, products, or actions on your website instead of using your navigation or site-search? Add user stories to your product backlog that address these problems and micro-moments may become the norm for your product or brand.
Christen (our Senior Strategist):
Micro-moments provide a unique opportunity for brands to consider the following: How can we (the brand) provide a seamless experience to current or prospective customers that feels natural vs. disruptive “in the moment” of need?
The rise of mobile and the changes in how consumers are using mobile devices as a tool to make life easier day-to-day, moment-to-moment has paved the way for brands to rethink how they leverage mobile as a channel to reach consumers, and thus the micro-moment was born. Mobile is changing the way consumers think about certain brands, as customers are now often choosing convenience and immediacy over the brands they’re otherwise loyal to. Because of the level of sophistication of data and tools available, brands have a unique opportunity to serve up meaningful and relevant content or offers based on intent and actions in real time, which is a serious game changer from trying to predict intent based on other behaviors such as reading a blog article on a topic or pinning an outfit on Pinterest.
Personally, I’m really excited about the opportunities that new tools and services like Kipp (an in-app advertising service) can provide. Why? They can actually serve up content and offers based on user actions on their mobile device. Think about fitbit serving up an ad to someone who completed a run on the C25K app. Or, an outlet mall sending a 20% off coupon to everyone who checks in at the location. While micro-moments may be focused on the individual actions and intent of users, the possibilities for brands to leverage them are endless.
So how do you even begin finding and utilizing micro-moments?
Try reverse engineering scenarios that may trigger a micro-moment. Imagine that your user has a problem or need; think about what they might do to solve that problem or meet that need; and discover where they are or what they’re doing when the problem or need arises. Then design an experience that meets them on their path to the answer.
To get rolling, here are some starter questions to think about:
- Where will my user look for my service/product/offering in the moment? That is, what digital platforms (e.g., Google or Yelp) will they initially use? What devices?
- What will they be looking for, and how will they express that?
- Why are they looking for it right at that moment?
- What else are they doing in that moment?
- Where (physically) are they likely to be in that moment?
What do YOU think about micro-moments? Let us know on social.
Read More About Micro-moments:
- Google: Understanding How micro-moments Influence Consumers
- New York Times: Marketing in the Moments, to Reach Customers Online
- LinkedIn Influencer Brian Wong: 5 Reasons Why “Moments” Are the Best Mobile Strategy for Brands