Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Advanced in Seattle. There were a ton of great speakers sharing the latest industry trends, best practices, and more. One of the most memorable discussions at SMX centered around micro-moments, fragmented snippets of consumer behavior lived out when people turn to their nearest devices to solve immediate needs.
To understand micro-moments, you have to start by understanding how disruptive mobile, web-enabled devices have been in the world of digital marketing. Prior to the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets, virtually every aspect of a digital transaction happened on one computer. By using cookies, companies could track the steps a person took in buying a product or a service online from start to finish. There were no gaps in tracking, because everything happened on one device. However, as mobile devices became more and more prevalent, pieces of the process people took to buy a product online, moved to those devices. Tracking someone’s movement between devices was virtually impossible, so it has been very difficult to understand a consumer’s buying journey from start to finish.
A micro-moment is any piece of consumer (i.e. buying) behavior that happens when someone picks up their device to find information or solve a pressing need. Chances are, you live them every single day. If you’re trying to find a restaurant, you might use your smartphone to search some local eateries within a block of your location. If you need to buy some new running shoes, you might use your tablet to look up the product reviews on a shoe store’s website. You’re not making a purchase during those activities, but your buying decision is being influenced. You see, a buyer’s journey from first-click to conversion is comprised of micro-moments, sometimes happening over a wide range of time and across many different devices, that all influence the final purchasing decision.
Search engines like Google recognize the challenges and opportunities that the emergence of micro-moments poses for marketers. The fragmentation of the buying journey makes tracking the impact of marketing activity tricky. It also rewards marketers who are intentional about producing content and user experiences that meet the needs of consumers in every stage of the buying process. Furthermore, search engines are working hard to add features and algorithm updates make their platforms better aligned with the needs of their users. Take a search for hotels in phoenix as an example. In the screenshot, you’ll notice results that provide me with an opportunity to read reviews, see star ratings, and get pricing information directly in the search results. This is great for a consumer on the go with limited time and it provides hotels with the opportunity to get their information across to consumers in a more concise way.
Google has also spent the last two years developing technology to measure consumer behavior as they live out micro-moments on a variety of devices. By using the anonymous data of millions of users all around the world who’ve signed in on multiple devices, Google has developed an advanced algorithm to map out and estimate the conversion activity of consumers as they switch between devices. They now provide this technology to their advertisers, so that they can better understand the impact Google ads are having across smartphones, tablets, and PCs. This is another opportunity for marketers to understand and act on micro-moments.
With all that said, micro-moments aren’t just important, they’re essential for digital marketers to consider when planning and executing their campaigns. If you’re a digital marketer and you haven’t considered micro-moments in the past, now is the time to start. Think through the journey your customers take to buy from you. Dive into the data that might indicate how customers might go about finding information on businesses like yours. Finally, use that information to create content and build a user experience that meets the needs of your target customers. Micro-moments are an exciting development in the world of digital marketing. If you seize the opportunities they present, you will be rewarded.