In a time when people carry around powerful computers in their pockets—smartphones—it’s not surprising having fingertip access to the Information Super Highway has changed the way people research and purchase goods and services. When people need something, what do they do? They turn to their phones for a quick search for something relevant to their lives. These are called micro-moments, and they’re changing not only the marketing funnel, but the way successful brands entirely approach their target audience.

What Exactly Are Micro-Moments?

A coworker mentions an amazing coffee she drank over the weekend, so you whip out your phone to search for the café and find out more.

You’re at lunch on your own and browsing social media when a friend tweets about a show they’ve been sucked into, so you quickly search to see if it streams, who the actors are, and any other relevant information.

Someone in your yoga class said they’re dreading school supply shopping and their friend responded by opening their browser on their phone to show how school supplies can be ordered online and delivered straight to the school.

These are micro-moments—individual research moments, discovery moments, purchase moments, or watching moments. It’s smartphone users reacting in real-time to a need for information. In these moments, the expectation of speed and good information is high, as they have literally seconds to find what they’re looking for before resuming their conversation, their lunch, or their work.


Why You Should Care About Micro-Moments

We are inundated with content to the point that we literally have no room for more advertising in our brains. This concept, called “content shock,” is when we have reached maximum capacity for marketing tactics. So in these micro-moments, where consumers are actively seeking information, these are precious milliseconds where your brand has a chance to hit the consumer’s radar.

If you follow a traditional marketing funnel, you’ve planned out the stages of awareness, consideration, and decision. Micro-moments are turning that funnel on its ear. These are the footsteps consumers are taking along the marketing funnel path, and in this way, they’re warping the marketing funnel into a non-linear, enter-quick-and-exit-quicker experience that’s more difficult to predict. These hundreds of real-time, information-seeking moments are small, critical opportunities for that information to shape our decisions about brands. The brands that succeed in capitalizing on these micro-moments are the ones that provide the highest quality, topical information for these few seconds they have to interact with the consumer. And they are unequivocally mobile optimized.

Micro-moments matter because:

  • When we search something on the fly, we’re not necessarily invested in a brand. That’s called opportunity.
  • If brands are in question, it’s a chance for your brand to give better information than your competitor, and therefore winning that micro-moment. If you’re the little guy swimming with corporate sharks, so much the better.
  • Being present in the brand awareness game is also a win. Smartphone usage leads to new brand discovery when users are conducting searches for products on mobile devices.
  • In quick-decision purchases, your brand has the opportunity to be chosen rather than just seen, ultimately giving you the leg up on the competition because you were in the perfect place at the consumer’s time of need.

People no longer have time for lengthy research quests, and consumer behavior is changing because of it. Foot traffic in retail stores has declined, but customers are spending more dollars per visit. That’s because they know what they want going in thanks to the micro-moments leading to that retail excursion. Consumers online are also spending less time on each site, but they’re purchasing more often. This is the product of accumulated information gathered in several micro-moments. They know what they want, and they go straight there to purchase it.

young woman artist holding cellphone

Maximize Micro-Moments in Your Marketing

So how do you take advantage of this as a marketing strategy? First, you need to step back and see your brand as your consumers do: an interruption. Harsh, but true. They’re busy going about their day, and what you’re selling isn’t on their radar at all—until it is. They interrupt their conversation, or their phone call, or whatever they’re doing in the moment to search for information relevant to your product or service. They don’t want to spend any more time doing this than necessary before they go back to cooking dinner or walking the dog.

If you recognize your place in the seconds where your brand intersects with your consumer’s time, then you’ll know you have to reach them quickly before they get back to their lives. You need a clear, compelling message to make them see your relevance to solving their problem. Then they’re on to the next tweet or headline, and you’re a blip in their memory.

For example: Angela is cooking dinner using an online video when she realizes she’s almost out of bay leaves. You, an organic grocer who sells herbs and spices by weight, have positioned yourself in the sidebar with a quick ad about your products. Angela sees how much she can save buying spices by weight, and she makes a note to check out your store tomorrow on her way home from work. Then she resumes the video recipe and wows her family with its deliciousness at dinner time. The next day, she’s in and out of your store in 10 minutes with more bay leaves by weight than she could get in a jar for less than half the price. You’re her new favorite source of herbs and spices.

What just happened? A micro-moment.

You’ve delivered value to your consumer and they’ve absorbed it. The more frequently you can do that, the more you’ll attract your target audience’s attention. If you don’t give them information, some kind of insight, or even opportunities for offers and savings, the less frequently they’ll engage. They’ll see your company name or logo and know they’re not going to find anything relevant to them in the seconds they’re engaged with this subject.

Identify the specific moments of purchase. Once you identify the behaviors surrounding purchase decisions, you’ll have the when/where/how down and can market accordingly.

Be available at the right times in the right places. You have the when/where of these research moments, so you can place yourself in their path, be it on social media, video results, search results through well-considered keywords, or images.

Content is KING. Understand how people are searching and be relevant to them. Are they asking questions a certain way or using certain search terms? Answer their questions and search strings in a helpful, and quick way. SEO optimization is key here, as is making your information easy to consume. The less they have to search for it, the better.

Make buying easy. A quick link to your e-commerce store, straight to the product in question, makes buying simple. So if they have a few moments to purchase before it’s their turn to order coffee, it’s more likely to complete the transaction. The more clicks, the longer it takes.

Measure important moments. Plot and analyze every single customer/brand intersection and understand the ways the different channels work with each other to please your customer. Then create those intersections to be as seamless a process as possible.

Micro-moments are the adult version of instant gratification, and if you can show up when and where your customers need you, with quickly absorbed quality information, the chances you’ll be the brand they go to when the purchase decision is made is greater. Consumers want to experience content shock as little as possible. So your strategic, useful, and easy to understand information will go a long way toward making your brand the one they turn to when they only have seconds to spare.


Still not sure how to capitalize on micro-moments? Our newsletter has info on this and more. Sign up.