What are micro-moments and how can they make your marketing better?

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 5 Dec, 2016
View comments Marketing
Mobile is no longer just a trend and micro-moments are here to stay.

With more internet searches now taking place on mobile devices than desktop computers, more video now being consumed from a smartphone or tablet, more shopping searches being conducted from mobile and more local search queries being conducted on the go than ever before, mobile first is fast becoming the norm.

What is a micro-moment?

Google calls the moment when a searcher turns to their smartphone to find information about a place they want to go, a thing they want to do or a thing they want to buy, a micro-moment. It is an intent-rich sliver of the consumer journey and an opportunity for the brands savvy about these moments to capitalize on the chance to interact with the consumer. It also offers a chance to shape the decision making process in that crucial fraction of the buyer cycle.

The consumer shift to mobile devices offers a huge opportunity for brands, allowing them to be closer to customers at the precise moments of intent. For marketers who want to understand consumer behavior and meet changing expectations, a deeper understanding of micro-moments is crucial.

Where has the need for micro-moment understanding come from?

From shopping to information finding, mobile devices are front and center for many during an average day:

  • Google says one in four people now use a smartphone only for search during the day as they seek to meet an immediate need (to locate an answer to a question, find a local business etc)
  • Adobe calculated that shopping from mobile devices accounted for a record breaking $1.2 billion on Black Friday this year – this figure is the highest ever, demonstrating how consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile at the moment of purchase
  • PayPal says mobile consumers accounted for a third of all money spent online on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Google research shows that those who use a smartphone spend an average of three hours per day on their device. Across a multitude of key industries, the volume of searches is increasing year-on-year. In the home and garden sector, mobile search volume has increased 45% year-on-year for example. In consumer electronics and apparel, mobile search volumes have grown by 40% and in the food and beverage sector, 30%.


This high level of usage means there are many opportunities for marketers to communicate with their target market, establish brand loyalty, strengthen customer relationships and nurture conversions. In all of these key areas, micro-moments understanding can help.

Sitting within the Think With Google site, the search engine has a wealth of analyst and insights on micro-moments. It has studied consumer behavior patterns and methods of consumption across a host of industries including travel, finance, entertainment, beauty and personal care.

Google’s Matt Lawson says,

“In many ways, micro-moments have become the footsteps that lead people to your store or desktop site.“

As a brand, you can therefore turn to micro-moments to elevate your search marketing performance. By being there and being useful exactly when it’s needed, you can use micro-moments as a vehicle to increase engagement and ROI.

To do that, you need to know exactly how to leverage micro-moments and what those moments really look like for you and your customers.

Google identifies 4 key moments when a person turns to a device to act on a need:

Image source: Think With Google

So if you can be there, provide useful answers and a good user experience, you’ll reap the benefits.

How to harness micro-moments

1. Access the micro-moments knowledge center and locate the data relevant to your industry. A number of sectors now have their own collection, which correlates case studies, consumer behavior research, infographics and articles.

2. Study your own data and analytics to see how your consumers are finding you, what devices they are using for search and the type of device driving conversions. With some number crunching (coupled with data from the Think With Google micro-moments research papers if needed), you should be able to determine patterns of behavior. Is there a high percentage of intent rich purchases from mobile? Are conversions from desktop as frequent as orders from mobile devices?

3. Armed with an understanding of where mobile fits into your consumer’s decision making processes, you now need to formulate a strategy to be there in the micro-moments that matter. This means ensuring you are taking all measures necessary to show up in mobile search.

4. An obvious first step is checking the mobile friendliness of your site. Considerations such as page speed can have a big impact on whether or not your SERP positioning is strong on mobile. You can find all of our best practice advice for mobile search here.

5. Making your content visible is also a great way to make inroads into the handsets and tablets of your users just when they’re looking for answers. This means you are present at each stage of the funnel, from the initial “I want to…” discovery phase through to purchase. Using AMP markup will serve your content quicker on mobile devices, giving you the chance to snatch eyeballs from competitors. Find out more about AMP and what it means in our article here.

6. Now, consider your content. With all that you know about micro-moments, you may need to revise your content creation strategy so that it meets the more fleeting needs of consumers using mobile devices.

Content can bridge the gap between the start and end of the sales funnel. Offering useful content means you are more likely to be present in more of those all-important micro-moments at the start of the purchase journey. Useful content gives consumers the information they need in that particular moment.

If you sell lightbulbs, useful content could be a simple calculator which shows compatible energy efficient replacements for common older bulbs. This type of content isn’t designed to sell a particular type of lightbulb but it arms the search user with the information they need to proceed to the next stage of the journey – finding an energy efficient lightbulb supplier and completing that transaction.

lightbulb calculator

Image source: BLTDirect

By being there when the user needed information, and being helpful, they’re more likely to travel through the next micro-moment (finding a suitable bulb) with you.

If you haven’t yet optimized for mobile search, now is the time to do so. With useful content ready to be discovered and a strategy ready to capitalize, the last thing you want is to frustrate your hard-earned traffic with a clunky, slow or hard to navigate site. Optimize for speed, search visibility and the user experience.

How are you using micro-moments? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

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