Micro-moments: How to survive the new mobile battleground for brands

Silverbean's search marketing consultant looks at the quick, valuable opportunities mobile affords

Mobile technology has forever changed the way we live. Hardly a moment passes when a mobile device is not within reaching distance for you to message friends, use social media, check emails or read the latest news.

There are also times when you will instinctively reach for your smartphone or tablet to learn, find, do or buy something. These are the moments when decisions are made and preferences are shaped.

To describe these intent-rich searches, Google has coined the term "micro-moments" and warned brands that this is the new battleground for winning and losing potential mobile consumers. Google’s Matt Bush also recently stated that mobile is around 10 times more valuable than marketers think.

So, what can you do to ensure your brand not only survives but comes out on top in the micro-moments battle?

What is a micro-moment?
First of all, let’s address the buzzword (or buzz-phrase, to be more precise). A micro-moment is a real-time, intent-driven search that requires just a quick glance to identify, and relevant information to consume or act on immediately.Sounds simple, right?

We agree that this isn’t a totally new concept, but during these micro-moments, consumer expectations are now higher than ever before. Consumers are far more impatient too, thanks to new technology allowing us to act on any impulse at any time.

This means that brands need to carefully consider the quality, timing, relevance and usefulness of their marketing. Ultimately, whoever does the best job of addressing the user’s need in-the-moment, wins.

The micro-moments defined by Google
Google has categorized all of the various micro-moments into four broad types:

  • I-want-to-know

  • I-want-to-go

  • I-want-to-do

  • I-want-to-buy

The shift to micro-moments
This shift shouldn’t come as a surprise to marketers, with mobile search queries higher than desktop in at least 10 countries and conversions up by 29% this year, not to mention Google’s recent mobile-friendly algorithm update.

Even our devices, operating systems and applications have changed, with wearables such as Google Glass and the Apple Watch finally starting to gather steam.

The time to capture a user’s attention and interest is explicitly small as micro-moments occur during lulls in time or complement simultaneous activities, such as waiting in a line, commuting, walking, dining, shopping, relaxing or lying in bed.

Apple has made it very clear that marketers will have no more than 10 seconds to appeal to Watch users with proximity alerts and meaningful messages.

To succeed, you need to be aware of the build up to each moment and the offline problems driving these online solutions. Every moment is an opportunity and your offering needs to be highly personalized and relevant enough to accelerate the customer journey in a short window of time.

How to win micro-moments

The first step is to identify a set of moments that matter the most to your brand. Start by analyzing all aspects of the customer journey and map the various points when people are looking for inspiration, learning about your products, preparing to purchase and everything in between.

There are multiple touch-points to potentially target and your brand needs to be present throughout the whole browsing and discovery journey. It’s about being in the right place all of the time. This will help during the final moments, or the conversion, as users are more likely to be loyal to their own needs rather than specific brands, so any rapport you have built with them will give you an advantage.

Use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools — sorry, "Search Console" — to analyze your site’s mobile traffic and identify which mediums convert best. Multi-attribution modelling can reveal the real lead generating traffic sources and campaigns, while segmenting new and returning users and setting up User ID tracking will allow you to monitor their different behaviors.

For each moment you identify, find out what the user requires and what will help them to convert easier and quicker. Asking the audience directly with tools such as Qualaroo or a simple exit survey can help to gather this insight, as well as in-store feedback, surveys and focus groups.

Next, tailor a unified strategy that works across search, content, social and display. Focus on what kind of information that user needs in that exact moment and incorporate user context into your messaging. For example, if you want to drive footfall to a local store, adding location extensions to your pay-per-click (PPC) ads will include an address and directions to your business, while call extensions will display a phone number to make it easy for people to call you on-the-go.

Simply appearing in these moments isn’t enough though. The content you deliver needs to provide the required information or answer that the user is looking for. Look at the main concerns people have related to your type of products or services and what they want to learn about them, then put the answers at the front and center of your content strategy.

Also, find out what terms people use to describe your products and whether there any particular times of the day, week, or year when some topics become more popular. Tools like Google Trends and Answer The Public can help you to fill in these gaps.

The next step — the conversion from research to purchase — needs to be seamless. This is when you should look at micro-moments from a conversion-rate optimization (CRO) perspective. Give your users multiple ways to convert, and monitor the most frequently used paths.

Results from your site’s search function or product finder can be used to discover how people engage with your site, while heat-mapping with a tool like Crazy Egg can reveal how your main navigation is used. This feedback will allow you to remove any barriers to conversion and provide a pain-free user experience, giving your brand the best chance of turning a user in-the-moment into a consumer.

Finally, make sure to measure all of the micro-moments that you want to win. As mobile technology has fragmented the customer journey, it is not enough to simply measure the final conversion.

Cross-device tracking is essential and you continuously need to evaluate whether you have reached your audience and if they paid attention or not. After all, this is the only way to ensure your marketing changes with the times and provides a high return on investment.

Getting started …
There is no single solution to incorporating micro-moments into your marketing strategy as every brand has a different set of moments and users to target. But by thinking about the entire customer journey, from search to sale, and ensuring you have the right messaging in place at the right time, you will certainly give your brand the winning edge in this fierce new battle for mobile customers.

Tom Etherington is a search marketing consultant with Silverbean.

This article first appeared on marketingmagazine.co.uk.

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