How Micro-Moments can Win You New Customers

Learn more about micro moments and how Google enables advertisers to granulate the micro steps in a purchase process.


The onslaught of digital information we’re faced with every time we go online has made it increasingly difficult for marketing to remain effective. Google’s micro-moments concept provides an elegant solution, by helping advertisers target influential points in the purchase process. By leveraging micro-moments, businesses can deliver information at precisely the right time to win the attention of consumers.

What are Micro-Moments?

Many models of the purchase process focus on specific stages: the identification of a desire or problem, research, evaluation, purchase, and so on. But what if there’s more to it than that? What if those stages are actually made up of smaller steps? Google did some deep thinking on this concept in 2015 and came up with micro-moments. The idea of micro-moments is that when a consumer makes a purchase, each stage of the process is made up of moments at which targeted advertising can make a difference in their purchasing decision. Understanding what consumers are doing and thinking at these times allows for more specific and problem-focused marketing that’s more effective at reaching its target.

One major problem with other kinds of marketing is simply that today’s consumers are already being inundated with advertising in multiple forms and locations. From old-school TV and radio ads, to the avalanche of online content, in the form of emails, targeted web advertising, tweets, push notifications, pop-up ads, Instagram stories, Facebook posts, blogs, and more. Digital marketing has reached the point of “content shock”, where consumers are unable to consume more content than they already are. The digital marketing arena is already so packed, there’s little room for more.

Google’s approach to this problem has been to change tactics entirely. Instead of coming up with new places to insert advertising, they’ve pioneered a new way of thinking about consumer behaviour, and a new way of targeting advertising to that behaviour.

Micro-moment marketing recognises that consumers are busy, and that they usually see advertising as an intrusive interruption. You don’t have a lot of time to capture their interest: it’s a few seconds, at best. With micro-moment marketing, brands attempt to use those few seconds to deliver quick snippets of highly targeted and relevant information to consumers. In those few seconds, you either win their attention, or you don’t. If you don’t, they’re pulled away by a new tweet, or email, or notification. But if you win their attention in that micro-moment, you then have the chance to influence their purchasing decision in your favour.

Why are Micro-Moments so Important?

While some people display brand loyalty when they make purchases, many consumers aren’t looking for a particular brand. When people use their smartphones to look for an item, up to 90% of them aren’t brand-committed. And when a consumer is item-driven rather than brand-driven, their share of the wallet is available. Any business that captures their interest in that particular moment has a chance to win the sale.

Because of this, around one-third of smartphone users who intend to purchase a particular brand end up going with an entirely different one—simply because that brand was the one that provided information at the moment it was needed. If your message is in the right place at the right time, it can be enough to win a new customer even if you’re competing with leading brands.

This is one of the biggest benefits of micro-moment marketing for small and medium-sized local businesses in particular. It gives you a chance to compete with larger brands that may have an exponentially larger marketing budget. If you can accurately target your demographic, and reach them at the right time with the information they need, you don’t have to be a big-name brand to win their attention.

Micro-Moment Pitfalls to Avoid

Although micro-moment marketing has huge potential, there’s one significant barrier to using it effectively, and that’s the sheer amount of data that’s needed to identify the most influential moments in a customer’s journey. Micro-moments are by definition just a few seconds long, and a great deal of specific data is needed in order to predict when they occur. As a result, it’s only around one-quarter of businesses that have the data they need to make accurate predictions. And even fewer are fully capable of identifying and using micro-moments to their advantage.

So, while micro-moments can effectively help small or local businesses compete with large brands, few small businesses will have the resources they’d need to do so.

Some problems arise because brands just don’t understand how to use micro-moments. One mistake that many brands make is that they push for sales too early in the customer journey. In the initial stages, consumers aren’t necessarily looking to make a purchase. They’re just looking for potential solutions, or comparing products. When consumers aren’t at the purchase stage, trying to funnel them into purchase or lead-capture situations can just end up pushing them away.

Micro-Moments are Integral to the Customer Journey

The old idea of the customer journey as one with a number of discrete stages is still relevant. However, integrating that model with the micro-moment concept shows that the customer journey provides dozens of opportunities to make contact with searchers. Brands that provide relevant and helpful information in those micro-moments are the ones that will ultimately win over consumers.


How to get started with micro-moments

Google has produced some guidance to start and smaller businesses may wish to focus on one specific area at the start and build the moments, step by step.