Local micro-moments are creating new opportunities for modern marketers

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Photo: Thinkstock/Prasit Rodphan
Photo: Thinkstock/Prasit Rodphan

Location is rapidly emerging as a critical consumer expectation, says a principal analyst at Altimeter.

I can’t tell you the last time I went to a gas station or used a taxi. Ever since I started using Filld and Uber and Lyft, there hasn’t been a need to go out of my way to do things the old way. With Filld, I can have gas delivered to my vehicle, wherever it is, on demand. With Uber and Lyft, I can have a car come to me wherever I am in real-time. 

Aside from convenience and speed, the other value proposition these modern commerce brands share is that they are inherently location-aware. They know where I am and my location is a given and transparent part of the transaction. Thanks to today’s mobile devices, brands can build upon location to introduce immediate and personalized value in the moment. 

For marketers, location is rapidly emerging as a critical ingredient in the next generation of micro-moments. Consumers now expect location to be a transparent part of their mobile experience. This, in turn, means that brands must now design more thoughtful, engaging and location-aware micro-moments. This is leading to an evolution of mobile behavior that only continues to change the game for micro-moments. 

In recent years, mobile consumers searched by explicitly spelling out some variant of a location. Google searches for "near me" or "nearby" on Google doubled in 2015. But now that behavior is increasingly less explicit. According to Google, comparable searches without "near me" or an expressed location such as a city or zip code have grown by 150 percent over the last two years. And it’s only growing. Nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location.

The point is that location matters more and more, even though it is expressed less and less. At the same time, consumers expect more relevant content in these local micro-moments. The absence of a stated location basically implies that they don’t feel the need to go through the effort of typing in extra keywords since the device (and you) should already know where they are.

For marketers to win in local micro-moments, Google recently observed that "near me" intent is a "near you" opportunity. Modern marketers are now presented with new opportunities to better engage mobile consumers in apps, mobile sites and via search on their terms. By interpreting key contextual signals, marketers can upgrade and personalize content, advertising and information to move users toward their intended outcomes in the moment.

In order to do that: 

  • Start by inferring location (the magic’s already in the device)
  • Understand intent (Study the keywords and questions mobile consumers use to learn intentions and desired outcomes.)
  • Interpret context (device, platform, time)
  • Be present and deliver relevant, useful and simplified content quickly and if necessary, offer a likely next step for them to follow 

Modern brands that cater to location-based micro-moments are already showing signs of growth. Google found that nearly two-thirds of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location. 

Consumers are becoming intrinsically mobile, and their expectations and behaviors continue to evolve with every new device, app and service they use. Micro-moments too, are evolving. Marketers that employ critical signals of intent, context and location to deliver more relevant experiences show mobile customers that they appreciate them and their in-the-moment needs, and as a result, consumers will appreciate them and reward them with attention and engagement. 

Brian Solis is a principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter Group.